Essential Newborn Care – A Guide for Parents

When the baby is born and even before the birth of the baby, every parent thinks about the newborn’s care and essential needs. First-time parents are more worried as well as excited about their newborn. During pregnancy, every parent does a lot of research about their baby. They prepare for newborn care and comfort for him. During the first few weeks after a baby’s birth, parents get excited and sometimes get frustrated while handling their child. Here is a guide to essential newborn care for first-time parents that you can follow right after the baby’s birth.

1. Breastfeeding and Burping
  • Feeding is essential for the newborn. As soon as the baby is born breastfeeding is important. During the first half an hour a newborn should be breastfed. He should have skin-to-skin contact with the mother. During the first few hours after delivery yellow colostrum is produced also called “golden milk”. It is very nutritious for the baby. Baby gets sufficient milk from his mom if latching is correct. There are caretakers and nurses at the hospital, if you don’t know how to feed them they can help you. A deep latch is the correct way to feed the baby.
  • Always feed the baby on demand. It will produce more milk. During the first few months, it is required to feed the baby after every 2 hours. Sometimes babies may go into a deep sleep, especially when they are newborns, so it’s necessary to wake them up and feed them.
  • Due to some reasons, mothers can’t breastfeed their babies, so with the pediatrician’s advice, it is recommended to feed formula milk to the baby. You should prefer cup feeding or spoon-feeding. Yes, it may create a mess also but if you can’t handle then you can choose bottle feeding.
  • Working moms can use breast pumps to pump out milk and any caretaker at home can feed their babies with cups or bottles. You can store the breast milk in the freezer for 24 hours or at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Never warm the breast milk directly on gas. You can warm the milk by putting the container in the hot water. Also never shake the container which contains the breast milk.
  • Burping your baby after every feed is required as they swallow air while feeding which may cause gas in the stomach and make them fussy. Some babies during the burp may spit out curdled milk which is fine. But if they spit out the milk as it is during the burp then consult your doctor.

 For the first 6 months, it is recommended to breastfeed or formula feed your baby.   Never give cow’s milk, semi-solids, or solids to the baby until he turns 6 months old.  As the baby’s digestive system is not so strong that he can digest solids or cow’s milk.

2. Give warmth to the baby and choose the right dresses

As the baby feels warmth in the mother’s womb, after delivery if you give the same warmth to the baby then he will feel secure. You can use the swaddling technique for the first month to soothe your baby. Always use cotton clothes as using other fabrics may cause rashes to the baby. So choosing the right dressing for the baby is also important.

3. Handle newborn with care
  • Wash or sanitize your hands before holding the baby. Babies are so delicate and sensitive that they can catch infections very quickly.
  • While holding your baby always give support to the neck and head during the first few months they can’t handle their neck on their own.
  • Never shake your baby or throw them in the air while playing as it may cause bleeding in the brain. It’s very harmful to them.
  • If you are putting the newborn on the car seat or in the pram or stroller, then always fasten the seat belt.
4. Umbilical cord care

Umbilical cord care is required for the first few days. Clean the area around the navel with sanitizer or water and immediately make it dry. It may take 5 days to 3 weeks for the cord stump to dry and fall off. If there is any type of discharge or swelling then consult your doctor immediately.  

5. Bathing and Massage
  • When the newborn arrives in the new world, clean them immediately. Nurses give them a sponge bath with a warm towel. Nowadays doctors advise giving a daily bath to the baby. But it’s also fine to give a bath to your newborn 3-4 times a week for the first few months or in winters.
  • Before a bath, massage your baby with oil. It will help them to relax their muscles.
  • Make sure to give a sponge bath to the baby with a towel dipped in warm water as it is very important to maintain hygiene.
  • For the first few days, you can use curd or milk for bathing. There are gentle baby washes available in the market which can also be used for bathing.
6. Diapering
  • Choosing the right diaper is necessary for the baby. Change the diaper after every 3-4 hours. Clean the bottom area every time you change the diaper.
  • In a girl’s case wipe the area from front to back to avoid urinary tract infections (UTI).
  • Always give some diaper-free time to the baby whenever you change the diaper.
  • Apply coconut oil before wearing diapers as it helps to cure rashes. There are diaper rash creams or ointments available in the market which can also be used as advised by your pediatrician.
7. Sleeping

Newborn babies sleep for at least 16 hours a day. Some babies may sleep for fewer hours as every baby is different. But always wake your baby after 2 hours to feed them by poking on their feet or ears. At night they can sleep at a stretch for 4 hours but after that baby must be fed milk otherwise it may cause dehydration in them. They may take small naps during the day or wake up the whole night, it’s totally fine.

Yes, it is difficult to remember and follow all the things mentioned in this guide to essential newborn care. But, once you start following it as a routine, things will get easy for you and your baby too.