Taking Care Of Your Newborn While Maintaining Your Sanity At The Same Time
Congratulations on your brand new bundle of joy! You have now joined the ranks some of the most fulfilled (albeit, exhausted) people on earth. By now, you’ve undoubtedly realized that caring for a newborn is a full time job. And since you’d probably like to keep your research time to a minimum and get as much sleep as possible, I’ve listed (and answered!) here some of the most frequently asked questions in the realm of newborn care.
If caring for the baby is your job, just think of crying as the baby’s. Keep in mind that this is their only mode of communication, the only way that they can tell you that something is wrong. Some of the most common issues (and places you should check first) are:
Hunger: When was the last time that your newborn was fed? Might they have not drunk enough milk the first time? Watch for signs that your baby is, in fact, hungry. Things like lip smacking and putting their hands to their mouths are dead giveaways.
Clothing Issues: Check to make sure that their clothes are not uncomfortable, too tight, or too loose. Newborns enjoy being swaddled and held, but ensure that clothing is not inadvertently cutting off circulation.
Dirty Diapers: This is fairly self-explanatory. Just make certain that the baby’s diaper is not soiled in any way. It is also important to note that some babies are more sensitive to the feeling of a soiled diaper than others, so take that into account as well.
Sleep: Although some might assume that babies can just nod off whenever they get the urge, sometimes this is not the case. Babies must be comfortable before they can go to sleep. Just place your newborn in a position that they find cozy, whether this is their crib in the nursery or cuddled up in your arms.
Babies like to be held, especially newborns. It is entirely possible that the baby is just asking for you to hold them. And while some parents are afraid of “spoiling” their child, you can rest assured that, at least for the first few months of their life, this is actually impossible. If your baby has been crying for two to three hours, and seems unable to be soothed by pacifiers or any by any means, do not be afraid to call your pediatrician.
Feeding comes more naturally to some mothers than others, and is harder than it looks. If your baby does not latch on right away, formula is definitely the next best option. No matter which you choose, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- At the start, babies should be fed every two to three hours (if breastfeeding) or every 3-4 hours (if bottle feeding with formula). Both the feeding time and the amounts eaten at each feeding will grow with your baby.
- If you are bottle feeding, try to choose a formula and stick with it. This will allow your baby’s digestive system to get used to it. Do not change your formula suddenly without speaking with your pediatrician first.
- If you are experiencing continued difficulties with breastfeeding, you can contact your local hospital.
Do not allow yourself to be daunted by the thought of diaper changing. As with feeding, once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy. Take these factors into account:
For Girls: The most important thing to note is that you should always wipe from front to back, instead of the other way around. This keep the stool from contaminating the urethra and help avoid urinary tract infections.
For Boys: Diaper changing is only tricky if they are circumcised. If they are, use lots of Vaseline on the area each time you change the diapers. Call your doctor if you notice that the area looks infected.
Diaper ointment is always a good idea. In addition, diaper rash cream can be used for the prevention of diaper rashes.
The most important thing to remember with the umbilical cord is that it should be cleaned regularly, at least once a day. This can be accomplished at bath time using mild soap and warm water. Use a cotton swab to clean the area directly surrounding it, and make sure to be gentle. It should fall off within 10-14 days. You should let your physician know if the area starts to smell odd, or turn a reddish color.
When it comes to your newborn’s health, safe is always better than sorry. Be vigilant for signs of illness. Your pediatrician should be called if you notice any of the following:
- Fast breathing (if the baby is younger than 12 weeks old, more than 60 breaths per minute is cause for alarm.
- A rectal temperature of more than 100° F
- Discoloration about the mouth
- Turning down of food
- Extreme ill humor that lasts more than two hours
Know that your sleep is just as important as that of your newborn. A great tip to ensure that you get enough rest is that you should sleep when your baby sleeps in their crib, even if that’s the middle of the day. A baby’s sleeping pattern is fairly erratic, and a full night’s sleep is not guaranteed. You can also hire a babysitter who has experience to watch your baby while you sleep.
Finally, make sure that you fully enjoy the experience. While it can be tempting to grouch about the many difficulties that will arise, it’s important to note that there are couples out there who would give all that they have in the world for a child that they could call their own.