As exciting and beautiful as parenthood is, it can get daunting too, especially when you’re caring for a new-born. Considering that there’s no training for this job and every parent’s experience is unique, it can be especially overwhelming for new parents. Right from the time you had a positive till you hold the baby for the first time, you feel your nervousness only growing. All your emotions are natural and a part of the process. While every parent makes up the rules along the way, a little help in taking care of a newly born baby can make things easier for you and your partner. That is why, we’ve put together a list of tips that all new parents will find handy when it comes to looking after a new-born baby.
For the first six months, the baby needs to be breastfed exclusively. Breast milk has all the nourishment that your baby needs. The mother’s body has prepared for this throughout the days, and her milk contains all the essential nutrients as well as immunity-boosting antibodies that protect the baby from diseases and infections.
Avoid giving the baby pre-lacteal foods. Pre-lacteal food is traditionally given to babies before breast milk comes in, generally on the first day of the baby’s birth. Many such foods might not be good for the baby. For example – honey, which is a prelacteal feed, can cause botulism, a rare kind of fatal poisoning.
Feed your baby after it wakes up as opposed to feeding before sleeping. This way, the baby does not get conditioned to sleeping only after being fed, and the baby can then fall asleep on its own.
Some ways to tell if the baby is feeding well include – the mother’s breasts feel softer after the baby has fed, the baby is alert when it is awake, you can see the baby swallow milk in a rhythmic pattern and your baby’s poop is yellow in colour by the time it’s 5 days old.
It is important to maintain the baby’s body temperature i.e. 26-28 degrees Celsius. Make sure your baby is covered according to the temperature outside. If the climate is too cold, then make sure the baby is swaddled properly, covering its hands and feet. It is important that you ensure the baby’s hands and feet are warm to touch at all times. However, don’t swaddle too tightly – the baby should be able to move its hips and knees freely within the blanket.
Nurse your baby on its back for the first six months. Changing, feeding, sleeping, bathing, massaging, and all such activities should be carried out while the baby is lyingon its back. Keeping them on their tummy might be fatal. Avoid applying anything on the spinal cord since it is not strong enough to take any pressure.
Stay close to your baby as much as you can. The natural warmth boosts growth and development, as well as builds a better bond and affection between you and the baby. The baby also understands things mostly via touch in the early stages, until it can process sounds.
Change the diaper regularly to avoid any rashes on the baby’s skin. Babies urinate up to 20 times a day, so a diaper change every 2 to 3 hours is ideal. Make sure you fold down the front of the diaper, so it does not disturb the healing umbilical cord.
If your baby appears to be yellow in the first week, consult the paediatrician immediately. About 60% of the healthy babies have jaundice, out of which only 20% require medical attention. So, do not panic. Just check with your doctor for a thorough diagnosis and precautionary measures.
Get your baby vaccinated for BCG (a vaccine against tuberculosis), Hepatitis B and oral polio right after birth or before getting discharged from the hospital.
It will take about 36-48 hours after deliveryfor the mother to generate milk. It takes the baby around the same time to attain its normal body temperature. During this time, avoid bathing the baby. Bathe the baby only once the mother is generating milk and the baby’s temperature is regulated.
Minimise visitors in the first few days after the baby is born. Ensure that everyone handling the baby have their hands washed properly with soap and water.
Some particularly worrisome things that you should keep an eye on include: the baby not feeding well (ideal frequency of feeding is up to 8 times a day), or not passing urine frequently (6-8 times in 24 hours is considered normal), and if the baby doesn’t gain weight by the time it’s 14 days old.
Some other things that should be checked for consistently are yellow hands and feet, excessive discharge from the eyes, and skin lesions. In each of these cases, consult your paediatrician immediately.
It may seem overwhelming, but with a little practice you’ll know just what your baby needs. Remember, a little vigilance and effort can reap great benefits. Happy parenting!
Have any more tips that have worked for you? Tell us in the comments section.