When a baby is born, a mother is born too. The first three months as new parents is a period of adjustment for both parents and the newborn baby. You transition into your new role as parents, and now you have to care for another little human being. Your newborn baby also adapts to his/her new environment outside the womb. Being prepared for the arrival of your newborn baby will help you adjust to your new role. Here are some tips on how to take care of your newborn baby:
Tips for Caring for a Newborn Baby
Self-care for Mom
The nine-month pregnancy journey and delivery might be different, but all mothers need to help themselves recover and bounce back to their self. Since you are your newborn's primary caregiver, your overall well-being and recovery are essential.
- Maximize the time with your kraamverzorgster - let your kraamverzorgster help you get familiarized with a new routine with your baby. Learn tips from her on how to handle, feed, bathe, and clothe the baby. Be assertive to ask her questions and tell her about the changes you notice about your body, thoughts, or, feelings. Your kraamverzorgster is there to support and guide you on how to take care of the baby and yourself.
- Ask for help from your partner and family members - get you partner and family members involved with caring for the baby. It will not only give you some time off but will also give the baby and his/her daddy and siblings time to bond with each other.
- Catch the morning sun - a quick walk under the warm morning sun can help you get Vitamin D and can help in regulating your mood.
- Squeeze in time for yourself - whether it is a quick but relaxing shower or quiet time, you need to squeeze in time for yourself to relax and take a break.
- Hydrate and eat healthy - drink lots of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and help you with breastfeeding. Eat nutritious food to nourish your body and give you the energy to fight off low immunity and produce more milk.
- Catch up on your sleep when the baby sleeps - it can be tempting to catch up on chores while the baby sleeps. While this may be a worthwhile task to be completed, getting some sleep will help your body rest and recover.
Newborns sleep most of the time during the day, but they usually wake up every 1-3 hours because of hunger or diaper change. This sleeping pattern often leaves parents sleep-deprived and exhausted. You may adapt these tips to help your baby normalize his/her sleeping patterns and ensure his/her safety when asleep.
- Always lay your baby on his back - babies can breathe better while lying on their backs. This position also lessens the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Deatg Syndrome)
- Swaddle your baby - swaddling can help comfort your baby as it mimics your womb. It can soothe and help your baby to sleep comfortably.
- Keep the crib free from unnecessary baby toys or pillows - put away plush toys, pillows, loose blankets from the crib to avoid the items getting into the baby's face.
- Put your baby down while he is tired and sleepy - as much as possible, let your baby sleep on his/her crib and not in your arms. Help your little one learn how to self-soothe and sleep on his/her own by laying him/her on his crib until he/she falls asleep.
- Introduce a bedtime routine - a warm bath, infant massage, and swaddling are some bedtime routine you can establish with your baby. Having a consistent schedule for bedtime will help the baby adjust and have a predictable sleeping time.
- Bring your baby outdoors - give your newborn baby a daily dose of vitamin D by bringing him/her outdoors in the morning. The morning sun will also help your baby's body clock reset and know that he/she should be awake during the day.
- Watch out for hunger cues - your baby will feed every 2-3 hours. He/she will most likely start putting his/her hand in the mouth, start looking for your breast or bottle or fussing. Feed your baby as soon as he/she displays these hunger cues before your baby starts crying.
- Burp the baby after feeding - babies tend to swallow air as they feed, and this may give them discomfort or lead to spit-ups. After feeding, gently let your baby's head rest on your shoulder and then lightly pat his/her back until he/she burps.
- Check on the baby's latch - if your baby is still fussy even after breasfeeding him/her, he/she might not be getting enough milk from you. Consult with your kraamverzorgster or lactation consultant so that she can advise you on how to correct the latch or if there are other issues like tongue tie, nipple confusion, or plugged milk ducts.
- Keep your baby awake during feeding - most babies often fall asleep even before they get full during feeding. Because of this they tend to wake up more often to feed. Gently massage your baby's cheeks to keep them awake during feeding.
- Relax - high-stress levels may decrease your milk supply, so take it easy and relax. Don't hesitate to seek for help.
- Use lanolin to soothe nipple "crack" - breastfeeding can leave your nipple sore and cracked. Soothe lanolin cream over your breast to help it heal. Don't worry; lanolin is considered safe for babies.
- When bottle-feeding, always keep baby upright - do not let your baby feed from the bottle while lying down. This feeding position increases the risk of ear infection and choking.
- Use the right size of teat for your baby's bottle - baby bottle brands have recommendations on which teats to use according to the baby's age. Use the guideline as a reference only. You may need to adjust depending on how your baby responds to the teat. The goal is to ensure that the milk flow is appropriate so that the baby gets the right amount of milk.
- Dress the newborn according to weather - you need to dress up your baby in several layers (shirt,diaper,pajama and swaddle) during cold weather. In warm weather, your baby can just wear one layer of clothing. Be sure to check on the baby's temperature and make sure that the baby is not too warm nor too cold.
- Organize your diaper bag - it is useful to use your checklist of baby essentials before you head out with the baby. Make sure to double-check your diaper bag before you leave the house to make sure if you have all you need while are out.
Caring for the newborn baby might be challenging, but the happiness and fulfillment you get being with your little one makes all the hard work and sleepless nights worth it. Remember that is just a phase and that you can get through it!
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