For every new parent, the thought of taking care of a tiny human seems daunting. Rest assured, that with just a few simple tips that your parenting skills will kick in naturally and it will all become second nature over time! So, lets explore your new little ones daily duties. For the first few weeks your baby will probably spend sleeping, crying, feeding, and soiling diapers with those pauses in the middle that you will learn to cherish.
Your little one is going to sleep a lot in the first few days and weeks. This is natural. As the days go by your little one will start staying awake for longer periods of time. When your baby is ready for bed make sure that they are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions. Babies have little body weight to help regulate their body temperature and can get hot or cold very easily. You did it in the womb and you will have to when he is finally here. Your baby should be wearing a onsie under a footed sleeper that fits well if it is cold. If it is warm you should dress your baby in a onsie and that is all. When you lay your baby down to sleep, make sure that you lay him or her on their back. 1Back is best for baby to sleep to help prevent SIDS. You can swaddle (cold) or lay a small blanket (warm) over your baby from the waist down to help keep them warm. Make sure to keep your baby’s sleeping area free of any items besides bedding, to prevent suffocation or injury.
Crying is a good thing for your baby. It helps strengthen their respiratory system and will be their first form of communication. Not that I am saying let your baby cry all the time but just know that the little you do let them cry, that it is healthy and beneficial. Babies need to be handled in a smooth, gentle and soft manner. You should 2NEVER shake, jerk or yank your baby ever! It can cause serious injury and death! For most new parents your instincts for crying will to be to sing, rock gently or bounce softly, that’s great! These are all tried and true soothing methods, and will become part of your day to day life! When your baby becomes fussy check for the top three causes: 1. Needs diaper changed 2. Hungry 3. Sleepy. I tend to check in this order so that if it does end up that they are hungry, then they can fall asleep after eating with out me having to getting him all riled up again.
When it comes to feeding your baby you will have a choice of breastfeeding or formula. Research shows that breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for your baby and will also be cheaper on your pocket book. Don’t worry formula is a great alternative for your baby if you choose to bottle feed. Whether you choose to breast or bottle feed there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First make sure you are in a comfortable upright position. Cradle your baby in your arm so that his or hers head is elevated higher than their feet. This will allow for good latching on, swallowing, and less tummy bubbles. Now that your baby is eating you will have to stop and take a break every so often and burp them. You will have to typically need to burp your baby every 1-2 oz at first for bottle fed babies, or when he or she is sucking slow, or sluggish for breastfed babies. Each baby is different, so use your best judgment when it comes to your own unique child. For bottles, make sure to test the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist BEFORE feeding it to your baby. You should not microwave formula it destroys nutrients. Heat water separately then add formula powder or liquid. To warm your water, try using a bottle warmer or setting it in a glass of warm water for a few minutes. Another perk for breastfeeding, no bottles! One tip for getting your breastfed baby to latch on good is to tickle their bottom lip with your nipple and pull them in when they open wide. It might take a few tries but it will all become second nature to you after a little while.
Now let’s get down to the knitty gritty. Diapers! Once again you do have choices when it comes to diapering your baby. You can choose to either go with disposable or cloth. If your baby will be born at the hospital, it will more than likely be wearing Pampers brand disposable diapers. Which is fine but pricey. When you bring your baby home it will be your choice. I prefer Huggies when I can get a good deal or print a coupon off the Internet. Otherwise there are some good store brands out there available for a better price. Cloth diapers are almost a thing of the past and aren’t very convenient, but do save money as well. When it comes to your baby’s poo it should look yellow/green with some little curds in it, as I call them. If your baby’s poo is dark, hard, or watery, you should call the Dr. to see why. It may be as simple as changing formula. Some helpful tips on changing your new little ones diapers will be to make sure you allow space for the umbilical cord, by folding the diaper down or buying ones with cut outs. Make sure your diapers are the right size for your baby. Lay baby on a safe flat surface or changing table, remove soiled diaper, clean area well with cloth or wipes. Place clean diaper under baby tabs in the back for disposable diapers and fasten snug but not tight on to the baby. I recommend NOT using a lot of powders or creams since your baby’s skin is new and powders can be inhaled by your little one causing respiratory problems. If by chance your baby develops a rash, I prefer to use the Original Desitin Cream. It has always worked very well for me. The creamy version has alcohol in it and will sting their bottoms so make sure it says ‘original’ not creamy.
As for those pauses in the middle, take time for yourself and relax. Being a new parent is exhausting for everyone involved and it’s like that for everyone. One good way to help you take care of your baby is to take care of your self too! Try to take naps when your baby sleeps or take time for a relaxing shower. You are the key to success. If you try to stay healthy and rested, it will be easier for you to cope with the trials of new parenting physically and emotionally. So, remember to take time out for you every day, even if its only for 10 minutes. You and your baby deserve it!
There you have it! My little tips on sleeping, crying, feeding, and diapering to help make new parenting a little easier one reader at a time!~
1 NICHD – National Institute of Child Health & Human Development – Back to Sleep Public Education Campaign – http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/
2 – National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, www.dontshake.org