Did you just bring your first baby home from the hospital? Or are you getting ready to give birth soon?
When you first hold your new baby, you are overcome with wonderful emotions. You feel joy, wonder, and a deeper sense of love than you knew was possible.
As exciting as being a new parent is, it can also be overwhelming and make you question everything you thought you knew. All of a sudden, you have this tiny human to take care of. No matter how prepared you felt before giving birth, everything changes when the reality of caring for your new baby hits.
While your first few days and weeks home from the hospital will be a blur of emotions, sleeplessness, and worry, things will get better! Soon you will be taking care of your new baby like a pro and taking great joy in watching her grow and develop. To help get you to that point that you feel confident and comfortable taking care of your newborn.
One important thing to note is that every baby is different. If you hear of something that worked for someone else, it may or may not work for your baby. There will be a lot of trial and error that go into finding the best strategies for your baby and establishing a routine that will work for the two of you.
Little Angels has a wonderful website that you can visit during your parenting journey for additional support. They have articles for everything from childproofing to your baby’s pooping habits.
Holding and Transporting a Newborn
Your new baby needs to be handled with care.
Always be careful to provide support for the head and neck whenever you pick up your baby.
You want to be very careful not to shake your baby when you are playing with them, or if you get frustrated. This can possibly cause brain damage or other harm to your baby.
To protect your baby from germs, always be sure to wash your hands before picking him up.
Remind friends and family members to do the same; sometimes people are so excited to hold your new baby that they might forget this step. Your newborn baby will not get his first round of vaccinations until he is two months, so you will want to be extra cautious during this period.
When you need to take your baby somewhere in the car, be sure that they are placed in their car seat correctly and that the straps are secure. If you haven’t already, have a professional examine the installation of your car seat. Many people do not have their car seats properly installed, posing a risk for their baby. Many states or cities offer free car seat safety checks.
Feeding Your New Baby
Regardless of whether you plan to breastfeed, use formula, or do some combination of both, you will need to feed your baby very frequently, especially over the first few months. Babies are born with a very small stomach that does not hold much. Thus, they cannot drink too much milk at one time.
So, you will be feeding them small, frequent meals to ensure they get enough nutrients to grow and develop. Many babies will let you know when they are hungry by crying. But, some babies, especially newborns, will need you to wake them up to be fed to ensure that they do not miss a feeding.
Sometimes it can be challenging to know if your baby is getting enough food, especially if you are breastfeeding. If your baby is producing at least six wet diapers a day, it is generally a good indication that they are getting enough to eat.
If you are breastfeeding and you are worried that your baby is not getting enough to eat or they have not been gaining enough weight, a lactation consultant may be able to help you. They can observe your baby’s latch and offer suggestions for obtaining a better latch and letting your baby transfer more milk. Additionally, they can look for a tongue or a lip or a tongue tie that may be impacting your baby’s ability to breastfeed.
To reduce or avoid gassiness in your baby, be sure to burp them a few times during each feeding. Burping them will allow them to release some air bubbles, so they don’t get trapped in their belly as gas.
While you’re probably dreaming of a full night’s sleep, don’t expect it to happen for a little while.
Young babies need to be fed often, so you are going to need to be up frequently in the middle of the night to feed your baby. A newborn baby may sleep for as much as 16 hours a day. But each period of sleep is only a few hours and is separated by feeding and diaper changes. To help provide your newborn comfort when they are sleeping, you should swaddle them.
Swaddling mimics the feeling of being in the womb and helps to soothe your baby. However, once your baby is able to roll over, you should not swaddle them anymore.
It is very important that you always place a baby on their back to sleep. This is the safest way for an infant to sleep and can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Additionally, you should never place anything in the crib with your baby. This will help reduce their risk of suffocation.
Connecting with Your New Baby
Developing a bond with your baby will help them develop and grow, both emotionally and physically. Practice skin-to-skin with your baby. This not only will help the two of you bond, but it can also help regulate your baby’s temperature. You can also increase the bond with your baby by stroking them, telling them you love them, and singing or talking to them.
As your baby starts babbling, be sure to respond back to them. They will love being able to interact with you.
Tummy time is very important for babies. Tummy time is more than just playtime; it helps infants develop their core and neck strength. Set aside time each day for tummy time. When your baby is only a few weeks old, you will only need to do a few minutes of tummy time. As your baby gets a little older, you will want to increase the amount of time they are on their tummy. As babies get older, tummy time can also help with skills such as rolling, crawling, and sitting up. While some babies enjoy tummy time, others do not.
If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, there are a few things you can do. Sometimes if you get down on the floor with your baby where they can see you, they will tolerate tummy time a little more. Some babies like looking at themselves in a mirror during tummy time. You can purchase baby-safe plastic mirrors to use during tummy time.
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It can be very overwhelming when you first bring your baby home from the hospital. Everything changes instantly. However, after a few weeks, you will have developed a routine and will be much more comfortable taking care of your new baby.
It is such a wonderful thing to be able to watch a baby grow and develop!