When i was sent home with my newborn, I felt waves of panic and disbelief. Friends and family assure me that since I’m a doctor, I’m all set.
I can’t even keep my cactus alive. How would I manage a newborn? Shouldn’t there be a manual for newborn? There were so much preparation for birth, but then you are expected to just know how to take care of a newborn? So here is your manual for your newborn, to get you through the first 30 days.
RULE OF THUMB
- If your baby is on a surface above ground level (changing station, bed etc.) or near water (bath), NEVER leave your baby unattended, however briefly. Have everything you need before starting any task.
- Get help if possible. It takes a village, they say. They are not lying.
- Baby less than 6 month should be fed nothing else other than breastmilk/formula. Not even water.
You may have practiced bathing on a cute, smiling, obedient and totally still doll. Kudos! Just know that except for the cute part, your newborn will bear no similarity to that doll. Here are some practical tips:
- Agree before hand who will handle the bathing (i suggest your partner) and also where you will be bathing your newborn.
- Your nurse will demonstrate bathing while you are in the hospital, most likely once. Instead of watching, volunteer to do it and have your nurse guide you.
- Always raise the room temperature before undressing your baby.
- Sponge bath only until the umbilical cord falls off. Lay your newborn on a towel, on a wipeable surface.
- After the umbilical cord falls off, your baby can now have baths. Remember to keep yours baby’s head up at all times.
- I suggest using a baby bathtub in your bathtub or shower (saves clean up time). Line bathtub with a towel and then fill it with luke warm water (3-4 inches). Babies are slippery when wet. The towel adds friction so your baby does not slip into the water.
- Use 1 cloth lathered with soap, start neck down and then groin. Rinse off the soap with a small bucket/cup of water.
- Use another cloth lathered with soap for hair and lastly face. Rinse off the soap. I suggest doing this part last because your newborn may hate this.
- Your newborn may hate bathing (mine did – kicking and screaming). You are not a bad parent. Just do it quickly.
- Place your newborn in a hoodie towel (babies lose heat quickly from their head) right out of shower.
- Newborn does not need a bath everyday.
- I suggest either changing on the ground (on a wipeable mat) or *your* waist high changing table. Any in between height will give you a backache.
- Dab off pee with tissue. Wipe poop with diaper wipe. DRY very well. Apply diaper cream (optional but I suggest using it to prevent rash). Fresh diaper. In that order. Repeat. (many times)
- If you have a boy, aim his penis down before you put on fresh diaper. This ensures pee goes into the diaper, and not towards his face.
- Run your finger along the leg openings so that the leg cuffs (the ruffles) are pulled out. This prevents leaks.
- Secure the diaper tightly at the waist. Baby poop is liquid. This will lessen (not guarantee) diaper blowouts.
- If there has been one too many leaks or diaper blowouts, consider going one size up, even if your baby has not exceeded the weight limit stated on the diaper box.
- Speaking of blowouts, those shoulder slits on onesies allow you to pull the onesies down, instead of up over your baby’s head.
- Use overnight diaper for night time. It is worth the extra cost. That way you do not have to change diaper overnight unless there is poop. When you change diaper at night, your baby wakes up completely. (read: you get even less sleep).
- Do not stock up on diaper. Babies outgrow them frequently.
- For outdoor diaper change, get some disposable chucks. Changing table in public restroom can be disgusting.
- Breast feed as often as your newborn wants, which can mean every 1-2 hours.
- Newborn should feed at least every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours overnight. You will have to wake your newborn up if necessary.
- Burp after each feed.
- If your newborn is sent home with a machine for jaundice (UV blanket), ask if you can remove the blanket when you breastfeed. Otherwise, your baby will be too drowsy to feed while wrapped in the warm blanket.
- If you are told not to remove the UV blanket, do your best to keep your newborn awake while breastfeeding (gentle shaking, tickling, cold towel to face etc). Your breastfeeding session could become very long. Pump in between session to encourage your milk supply. After all said and done, it will be time to feed again. This is SO tough. Please get help for everything else.
- Get help as soon as you encounter problem with breastfeeding. Most women struggle for too long before seeking help. Most hospitals offer lactation consults.
Babies are miracles of life. Miracles are often complicated and cannot be covered in 1 page. Please also read BRINGING BABY HOME (Part 2)