I can still remember bringing my son home from the hospital. It was exciting to be sure, but I was also absolutely terrified. What if I did something wrong? Would my boy still love me if I couldn't deliver the goods? There is no shortage of advice for new parents, but I figured I could throw my baby care tips for new parents into the mix as well.
The information covered here might seem extremely basic, but I would've been extremely grateful for a similar article to ease my mind when I was headed home with this whole new person in my arms. Before my child was born, I had spent almost no time around babies. I was starting from zero, and I don't want that for you!
When my son was handed to me I have to admit that I was mortified. Such a sensitive little being. It felt like one wrong move could break him. The truth is, that sort of careful reaction is a good thing. Washing your hands is a supremely important first step. When holding your newborn, always support the neck. Move slowly and gently, and never shake or jiggle. Rocking is OK, but baby isn't ready for rough play quite yet.
Baby poop doesn't start out smelling awful, so you'll need to be vigilant. If you have a little girl, wipe from front to back to avoid a UTI. If you have a little boy, be prepared for a laser beam of urine the instant his giggly bits feel the cold air. Diaper rash is a common struggle no matter how attentive you are, but a bit of diaper rash ointment and some time out of diapers should have your baby's bottom looking smooth again in just a day or two.
Giving baby a bath every day isn't a good idea during the first year they're with you. It dries the skin, and I generally limit it to two or three times per week. They're not rolling in the dirt yet anyways. You want the bath to be warm, but definitely not hot. Test the water with your wrist or elbow. Fill 2 or 3 inches and place baby inside for what is more rub than scrub. As you're bathing your child make sure to pour that warm water onto their skin so they don't get cold. Never leave your child unattended. If you need to leave, wrap them in a towel and bring them with you.
Babies smell great, but that might change as they get older. If that's the case then try out Silly Feet's shoe deodorizer powder. Maybe your little one doesn't need shoes quite yet? If that's the case, we've still got you covered with our deodorizer foot spray!
Feeding and Burping
Newborn babies have tiny stomachs and new parents will need to have huge patience. Your child will likely show signs that they're hungry every 2-3 hours. Some babies cry, others make sucking noises, some even shove fingers in their mouths. Most kids will eat around 2-3 ounces of formula. If you're breast feeding it can be difficult to gauge, so just give them around 10-15 minutes at each breast. When switching breasts or between bottles, hold baby upright while supporting the head and tap their back to encourage a burp. If your baby swallows air and doesn't get to burp it can quickly lead to a fussy child. You can't over-burp them, so go right ahead!
Sleeping Baby Tips
Always lay your baby on their back to avoid the risk of SIDS, and alternate which side of the head they lay on to prevent a flat spot from developing. I mentioned that babies have tiny stomachs in the previous section, and that means you will be waking up right along with them about every 4 hours if you're lucky. This is probably the hardest adjustment for new parents to make. Hopefully at around three months your baby will develop a regular sleeping pattern and settle in for around 6-8 hours, but until that point? It's going to be slightly chaotic. Just take a deep breath and know that it won't be this way forever.
Umbilical Cord Care
Never submerge the umbilical cord in water. Swab the area surrounding the cord with rubbing alcohol until it falls off, which can take anywhere from 10 days to around 3 weeks. Some doctors recommend letting the process happen naturally and doing nothing at all to the umbilical, but rubbing alcohol never hurt either of my little ones so I don't see any reason not to apply a bit every now and again.
Bonding with Baby
This is positively the greatest part of parenting. Cuddle them as much as possible, if you can create some skin-to-skin contact that's even better. The only thing you'll want to do more than holding that bundle of love right next to you is to talk to them. Sing to them, coo at them, tell them about anything you want to. Something as simple as "I'm going to make some lunch, what should I eat today?" can be comforting for an infant to hear. During the first few weeks swaddling baby in a blanket can soothe a child like nothing else can!
Asking for Help
Don't be afraid to ask for help. This can absolutely be an overwhelming time for a huge variety of reasons, even for parents who have been to this rodeo before. Feel free to call in friends and relatives who will surely be more than happy to help, even if their advice might differ from your ideas their experience is indispensable.