When you’re pregnant, you study books and take classes to prepare for your upcoming arrival. Then the baby is born. And that tiny person just doesn’t want to follow the rules. Read on for 10 Newborn Tips for New Parents that will help you succeed in your first few weeks home from the hospital.
How to Swaddle
In the parenting book, Newborn 101, Carole Kramer Arsenault explains, “Most babies under three months are soothed by the sensation of being wrapped up in a blanket or swaddle cloth, as it mimics the womb.” Swaddling your newborn can also repress their startle reflex, leading to a calmer baby and longer stretches of sleep. You can swaddle a newborn with a blanket or a specially designed swaddle wrap. Your newborn may resist the swaddle at first, but most will settle down after being fully swaddled.
Fed is Best
There are many ways to feed a baby. As a parent, choosing the right method of feeding an infant is crucial. Do whatever works best for you, your family, and your baby. If you have questions, ask your pediatrician or lactation consultant.
If you choose to breastfeed, know that there is a learning curve for both you and your baby; you can learn together. According to Arsenault, “Most babies are instinctual suckers… they may not be instinctual latchers.”
Feeding Time Prep
By preparing for feedings in advance, you can reduce stress when the baby starts crying out in hunger. If you use formula, prepare and refrigerate enough formula to last a full day. Each bottle can be heated in just a few minutes. If you’re breastfeeding, assemble a breastfeeding basket to have nearby when you are feeding your newborn. Include snacks, water for Mom, burp clothes, and a few nipple products. Try to drink 8oz of water each time you nurse as hydration is so important to help produce breast milk.
Newborns have sensitive skin so rashes are common. Arsenault advises that, “For the first few weeks, clean your baby’s bottom with warm water using a washcloth or paper towel,” instead of store bought baby wipes. Apply a barrier cream, such as Aquaphor, to prevent a rash after every diaper change. If a rash appears, put on a thick layer of diaper rash cream that has zinc oxide in it.
The uterus was a warm, cozy place for your baby to grow. Outside, a lot is happening. Besides being cold and noisy, it’s huge. Infants can become overstimulated very easily. Signs of overstimulation include fidgeting, disengaging, and fussing. To settle your baby, try gently rocking, dimming the lights and hushing in their ear.
Create a Routine
Even though your newborn might be too young to keep a schedule, it is still beneficial to have a routine. A routine helps your baby to learn day versus night and recognize when an activity transition is coming. Always try to order your activities the same way. Many families order their activities as feed, play, and nap, but it is best to figure out what works for your family.
Sleepy Time Routine
Sleeping habits are formed from birth. Swaddling and dimming the lights can help signal that it’s time for sleep to babies younger than twelve weeks old. Keep the lights dark and the sound low at night. During naps, you can let a bit of light and sound in.
Nap When Baby Naps
Newborns have sleep cycles that can be unpredictable, so try to catch as much sleep when you can. Your first priority is to take care of yourself and your newborn. If this means that the sink is full of dishes, laundry doesn’t get done, or visitors need to wait, then that is okay.
Ask for Help
Newborns are hard work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your visitors. Carole, the founder of Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny, reminds us that, “It’s important to remember that you need to rest, not run around doing chores if there is another capable adult in the house.” Visitors can help with shopping, preparing meals, folding laundry and walking the dog.
Engage in Self-Care
As a parent, you have also just been born. Your newborn needs a happy, healthy parent. Schedule time apart from your regular responsibilities to walk, rest, or simply process all of the changes. Trust your instincts. You are the best person to care for your baby and you know what is right for your family; simply enjoy your time with your new bundle of joy.
To learn more tips to aid you as you bring home your new baby, message Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny on their Flourish Fund Provider Page or pick up a copy of Newborn 101. Don’t forget to add a gift card for Newborn Care to your Flourish Fund baby registry! We offer daytime newborn care, overnight newborn care, postpartum support, sleep coaching, lactation consultations, nanny placement, and more!