The first 30 days with my newborn was a surreal experience. I thought medical training prepared me well, with gruesome 36-48 hour shifts. But parenthood is no shift work, you do not get to go home and crash. Sleep deprivation made me delirious. I wept, more times than I care to remember. I was completely overwhelmed.
So I vowed that if I survive this (yes, melodramatic, but only in hindsight), I will write a manual for new parents. So here is part 2. Also read BRINGING BABY HOME (Part 1)
You? Too little. Your newborn? 16-17 hours. The cruel joke is that he/she may only sleep 1 or 2 hours at a time. There is not much you can do about that. Here are some tips:
- Place your newborn on his/her back, even for naps.
- Sleep alone with nothing in bed. No bumpers( I know, they are cute!), pillows, blankets or toys.
- Sleep in a crib or bassinet, on a firm sleep surface (not couch, sofa, car seat or any other chair). In my humble opinion, do this from day 1 and you will not have to wean your baby off from sleeping in your bed later on.
- Newborns have day night reversal. (Read: Wide awake at night). To help them reset their body clocks, keep daytime bright, noisy and active. Keep night time dark, calm and quiet.
- It is never too early to establish a bedtime routine. Make it short and sweet. This helps your newborn recognize bedtime.
- No BEDTIME SLEEP TRAINING now. Babies do not have regular sleep cycles until about 5-6 months of age.
- Pay attention to sleep cues (eg. yawning, eye rubbing, uninterested in surrounding etc). When your newborn displays any cues, put him/her down drowsy but awake. This sets the foundation to good sleep habits. It may not work and you may still have to rock your newborn to sleep. But keep trying.
- When your newborn gets cranky, he/she is now overtired and this will make bedtime harder.
In the first 28 days, fever (rectal temperature ≥ 100.4 °F) may be considered an emergency and your newborn may be subjected to a lot of tests, potentially including a spinal tap.
- Traffic control your visitors. Definitely keep sick visitors away.
- Do not bring your newborn to crowded places (eg. concerts, airplane), especially during flu season. In fact, infant cannot get flu vaccine until 6 month old. So personally, I avoided air travels until after 6 month.
- If you have an older child in daycare/school, you may want to limit contact as much as possible.
- If you are sick, wear a face mask and sanitize your hands frequently. If you are breastfeeding you will most likely be passing along your antibodies, so keep breastfeeding.
- Wash your hands before each feeding. If you are using bottles, sanitize bottles at least every day. You can either boil them in hot water or use a bottle sanitizer.
Tummy time is important to strengthen muscles needed for important milestones (eg. Rolling), helps relief gas and prevents flat head.
- Start as soon as you get home.
- At least 2-3 times a day. Start with just a few minutes and gradually increase the time.
- Your newborn may just face plant and absolutely hate it. That’s ok, keep trying.
- Entice your newborn with colorful toys. (They have fuzzy eyesight).
- You can also place your baby on your chest. Your baby finds your face very enchanting. (Bless their hearts!)
Sunscreen is not recommended for under 6 month so:
- Keep your newborn in the shade.
- Use long sleeve and hat.
- Avoid period of peak sun intensity, typically between 10am to 2 pm depending on season.
Wriggly fingers, soft and tiny nails are recipe for nail clipper disaster. Nail file takes too long. Buy a battery operated nail file instead.
Am I feeding too much or too little? What if I read hunger cues as well as I read tea leaves?
- 75cc, per pound of body weight, per day. This is your guide.(not an ironclad rule).
- He/she may take more or less from feeding to feeding, and from day to day. Follow his/her cues.
- Newborns usually take 2-4 oz (60-120cc) per feed.
- Aim for appropriate weight gain, number of wet diapers and poop.
- Be aware that sucking may not be hunger, some babies just need to suck. Try pacifier if you think your baby has had enough.
Most of us are not baby whisperers. I mentally check this list to try to decode baby’s cry:
- Dirty diaper.
- Overstimulated or bored (Newborns are almost never bored. That’s for later).
- Too hot/cold.
- Not feeling well.
- Uncomfortable (eg. Scratchy clothes, something poking them etc.)
- Sometime they cry to let off steam. Just like us. Well, I curse…..
To stop it, try:
- Addressing above issue(s).
- Movement: rocking chair, bouncing, walking, car ride. I like to use a baby carrier. It is much easier on your arms and back.
- Rhythmic shushing sssshhhhhhh…..
- Pacifier. Avoid pacifier if breastfeeding to avoid nipple confusion.
- Sometimes, you need to walk away. Compose yourself. It is ok to let your newborn cry for a few minutes as long as he/she is safe.
When done correctly, swaddling calms your newborn and helps with sleep.
- Learn from the nurses. Their burrito wrapping skill is amazing!
- If you have a Houdini baby, then you might want to invest in a swaddle with Velcro. We like Miracle Swaddle.
- Stop swaddling immediately as soon as your baby rolls.
- Make sure swaddle does not ride up and cover baby’s nose.
UMBILICAL CORD CARE
- Keep it dry (naked time helps).
- Do not touch it. (It’s tempting).
- Newborn diaper has a notch for umbilical cord.
- If your baby is too big for newborn diaper, just fold the diaper down.
You will sleep again. And it does get better. This phase shall pass. That is my mantra. Just know that this phase is right after that last phase. Let’s keep it real….