I don’t know about other mothers but I have never really read nor heard about the newborn care basics here, not until I got home with my baby from the hospital. I’m sure all first-time parents have been told about the lack of sleep, etc., but the specifics of what to expect the first few months, no one really discusses it not until you’re really taking care of your baby.
If you really want to know what the hell will happen when you take your baby home and how you can cope and handle it better, below newborn care basics for first-time parents:
You just need to concentrate on 4 major baby activities: eating, playing, cleaning, sleeping.
For the first 3 months, during the 4th trimester, your baby will mostly be doing these things. And that’s your newborn care basics 101, that’s what you mainly have to concentrate on. It seems simple but trust me, when you’re holding a very fragile, tiny human being in your hands who can’t talk and who never seems to stop crying, you’re extremely sleep deprived and you have a mountain of chores to do (if you don’t have any help), that can drive you nuts.
It will also help if you can establish this routine early on:
1. drink milk >> 2. play >> 3. bath >> 4. sleep then repeat.
This routine will help your baby avoid becoming dependant on milk for sleeping.
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the newborn care basics and just focus on these 4 things:
Milk is milk, whether it’s breastmilk or formula milk
It doesn’t matter to your little one, as long as they’re getting the proper milk for them. So if someone is pressuring you to either give them solely breastmilk or just formula milk, tell them to fuck off and mind their own business. Or just don’t listen to them at all.
All formula milks are apparently the same
I went to an antenatal class before and I was surprised to hear these from the doctors. Maybe it’s just marketing, maybe the taste is different, maybe the packaging contributes to it but I’ve always thought that some formula milks, especially the more expensive ones, are better than the others. So this was surprising to learn. But of course, please do your own research and ask your doctor.
You will need to record the feedings, diaper output, etc.
You need to track how much milk your baby is getting, to figure out how much they’re getting to gain weight. The nurses/doctors will also ask about this during your baby check-ups. It’s also a way for you to get a sense of how much they usually drink so you don’t have to make that much formula milk.
If you’re breastfeeding, you need to record which side of the breast you used every feeding so you don’t just use one and have lopsided titties forever.
You can choose to either download an app for recording the feedings or just write it down on a notebook. You can use some of these apps, they can also record the diaper output of your baby:
Put in the date, time, how much milk you made and how much milk your baby took if you’re going to record manually.
If you’re breastfeeding, add which side of the breast you used. I think other breastfeeding moms use a wristband for them to remember which breast side they just used. Or you can just use an app for that.
Exposing your breast would become a norm
Yes, you will come to a point where you’re freaking tired that you don’t give a damn anymore to how you look and who’s looking at you. Sometimes, you’d be pumping milk in the living room without a cover then you’ll have someone who lives in the same house, but is not your husband, walking in. You’ll feel slightly embarrassed but then again, you’re so exhausted that you don’t want to stand up and stop what you’re doing so you don’t care anymore and eventually, exposing your breast becomes a norm.
Making formula milk can be stressful at times
Or maybe it was just me, but I remember getting stressed while making my baby’s milk, especially when I’m extremely sleep-deprived and her wailings are starting to sound otherworldly. She’d be waking up every 2-3 hours and it was really difficult, especially at night. I’d be jolted out of whatever little sleep I was supposed to sink in, hearing her cry for her milk then I would groggily go to the kitchen, where I would feel panicky when my baby’s cries were getting louder and scarier. Those were the days.
Get ready for your baby to occasionally vomit
Expect a few or more of this. If I remember correctly, it’s because they haven’t burped properly or they drank too much milk. So don’t panic if your baby does this occasionally. But if your baby vomits quite often, violently and does projectile vomiting, then that’s the time to worry and to go to the clinic.
Sometimes your newborn will refuse the milk bottle
Don’t give up though. I never had this problem with my little one but I’ve read other moms going through this. Just try again, then try in a different way, check if somethings wrong with the bottle, or the milk, then finally, try a new bottle or maybe try a new milk.
Newborns can already do tummy time
I seriously did not know that newborns can already practice doing tummy time, not until after your first monthly checkup to the doctor. But I’m kinda glad I did wait, until after my baby was a month old as I was so scared to do it, she looked so small and fragile. You can try doing it as early as 2 weeks apparently but maybe I’d wait until a month then you can start exercising your newborn for some tummy time. Just google or watch videos on how to do it because I didn’t freaking know what I was doing then.
You can already introduce some educational activities to your newborn.
Talking a lot to your baby would expose them early on to different words, kick starting their development. At first, you’d probably get self-conscious and think you’re losing your marbles but you’d get use it. Just describe to them your day, what you’re doing, etc. You can also put up some simple black and white illustrations around them and let them listen to some fun and at times, soothing music.
Suntanning is a must
A must. My little one had a slight jaundice a month after or was it before we took her home…can’t really remember but I do remember spending the mornings with her, by the large, opened windows of my in-laws house, basking under the sunlight, getting rid of her newborn jaundice in a couple of weeks
Bathing your newborn can be daunting, at first
It depends on you whether you want to give your baby a bath everyday or not but you need to establish a routine early on. Skip the bath though if they just drank milk, just vomited or is sleeping.
Prepare everything before giving your baby a bath and make sure everything is within reach.
Make sure that the water is cold nor too hot. Check also if the room is reasonably warm and free of drafts, as newborns can get cold easily.
Hold your baby gently and securely. You can’t hold them tightly but you don’t want them slipping from your hands either. In the first few weeks, you can wrap them first in a towel, hold them like you’re holding a football in your arm, your hand supporting their head, then clean their eyes first using damp cotton balls. Then unwrap them and dunk their feet slowly and carefully in the bathtub.
You gotta hold them like this first:
Then unwrap the towel and hold them like this in the tub:
Then you flip them over and hold them like this:
Okay I can’t find a picture where it doesn’t look like the baby is being strangled but you basically have to support their head and heck while still holding securely their shoulders.
Don’t forget to wash the folds and creases – groin, armpits, neck, back of knees, arms, hands, back of ears, etc. Girls might have a bit of discharge but don’t worry it will go away. Be gentle also with the boy’s private parts and clean them thoroughly.
Prepare for them to poop when you’re giving them a bath. Have something to wipe them with.
Prepare for your newborn to poop during bath time.
This will happen occasionally. It only happened to me once and unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for it since I had no idea this could happen.
So always be prepared. Have an extra towel, plastic bags, baby wipes, a large basin and some cleaning items nearby. Here’s what you need to do if your baby poops while bathing:
1. Let him/ her finish. Cover her with a towel if you think she’s cold but make sure to wait until no poop is coming out of their cute butt.
2. If you have someone with you, have them hold the baby while you clean the shit in the bath tub. If you’re alone, use the baby wipes to clean your baby first then get the large basin. While holding your baby, fill that basin with warm water then give your baby a quick wash.
3. Take out your baby, dry them and put her/ him in the crib. Then clean the bath tub.
4. Give your baby a bath again.
You can do it your way but just remember, don’t leave your baby unattended in the bath and make sure to clean them up again.
Don’t forget to clean their umbilical cord.
Dry them gently then clean their umbilical cord. Ask your doctor what you can use to clean your baby’s umbilical cord. I I can’t recall what I used but I remember I’d dip a cotton ball and a cotton swab in that thingy and clean my baby’s umbilical cord twice a day until it fell out.
Cutting nails won’t be that hard.
People would always be warning me about how hard it was to cut the nails of their little ones, but for me, it was a breeze. Especially when you’re sleeping. I find it a bit difficult since your nails were so short and seemed so delicate but I would sometimes use a baby nail file as it seems easier to do so.
Diaper changing hacks and tips
Some girls might have a discharge so keep a look out for it, its normal, it should go away in a few weeks.
Get ready for some non-stop, should-breaking-carrying
Oh my god, I remember one record breaker time, I had to carry my baby for 5 hours straight. And not just carry, I had to walk around and sway and hum a tune. Everytime I tried to put her in her crib or every time I stopped swaying or humming, she’d start crying so I had no choice but to carry her. Come to think, I can’t remember now I managed to take care of her while doing household chores..maybe I just didn’t notice how dirty our house was then as I was extremely sleep deprived.
Making your baby sleep longer will be a priority
Learn the tips and techniques in getting your newborn to sleep through the night here.
Find out why they’re crying
Sometimes they just want to stay close to you, especially during the 4th trimester. But other times, it could be serious. I remember seeing an article where they’re baby was crying non-stop that they had to go to the doctor and they finally discovered that a single strand of hair was wrapped around the baby’s toe, almost cutting off the circulation. So be vigilant. Make sure nothing’s wrong with them.
With my baby before, we finally discovered one of the reasons why she would be crying so much at night and that was mostly because she was gassy. We gently massaged her tummy and did those bicycle exercises on her legs and she seemed to be better after that.
Whenever she’s crying, I have a mental checklists that I go through in my head, you can check it out here.
You won’t be sleeping and feeling the same anymore. Not at least for the first few months. Or maybe for years.
Enjoy napping and lounging and sleeping for as long as you like now because when you have a newborn, you will be waking up every 2-3 hours. And a lack of decent sleep can make you a little crazy, a little resentful, a little frustrated, a little emotional, maybe you’ll feel a lot of those things or maybe not and both are perfectly okay.
Don’t let anyone get to you when they tell you to feel grateful instead, that you shouldn’t be feeling that way instead, that you should be able to do your job as a mother smoothly and easily because you know what, this motherhood didn’t come with a manual. You can read every book and blog articles on taking care of a newborn, you can watch videos, listen to podcasts, talk to actual seasoned mothers for advice and tips but everyone’s different, everyone handles motherhood in their own way. And as long as you are keeping your baby fed, cleaned and alive, you’re already doing well, you are already a great mother.
We didn’t have a pediatrician
We just went to the polyclinic and sometimes, when I know queuing there would take ages, I would go to the other regular clinics. It didn’t seem like a big deal to have a pediatrician here in Singapore and my baby is still fine and healthy today.
All this newborn care basics might seem overwhelming to a new parent but keep in mind, everyone felt the same way. Reading articles, watching videos, listening to podcasts might help you but nothing can prepare you when the real deal comes.
Remember to just concentrate on your newborn’s 4 major activities – eating, playing, bathing and sleeping. Sooner or later you will get the hang of it then when your baby becomes a toddler, you will wish to go back to the easier newborn days.
Are you excited and ready to meet your little one? Or reading this made you a bit worried about taking care of your newborn? Let me know by commenting below.