Tips for Bringing Your Newborn Home
Dads: How to Care for your Newborn Baby
With the birth of our first child just days away, my wife and I have diverted our attention from labour and childbirth to the question "What do we do with this child when we get it home?" Much of antenatal parent education is centred around labour and birth; it is easy to forget you are left with a little person to look after when the pain and pushing are done. Just a few hours after delivery you could be walking out of the hospital door with a newborn baby, who is still basically a stranger...particularly to Dad.
As a new parent, you are about to put in some serious time with this demanding stranger. This hub gives some ideas of what to expect when you bring your newborn home, from how to change a diaper (nappy), to how your newborn should sleep, to when to call for help. Before you know it you will be parenting like a pro!
Feeding your Newborn
- Is Breastfeeding Best for Infants?
A comprehensive review of breast-feeding contains useful how-to videos, takes a closer look at breastfeeding myths, compares breastfeeding and formula feeding, and looks at the benefits of breastfeeding
How to Prevent SIDS
You can expect a number of health visitors in the first few weeks after you bring baby home. These visitors will be a mix of doctors, midwives and health workers. They are there to check on baby's progress but also how Mum is recovering after the strains of childbirth.
Although you will have regular checks on your baby's health, it is important to recognise that any problems do not have to wait for one of these appointments. You can request an additional midwife or healthworker visit if you are concerned. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
When to Call for Help
You will very quickly get to know what is 'normal' for your baby. You should seek medical advice from a doctor or midwife if your baby:
- Has an altered or weak cry;
- Less responsive than usual;
- Grunts with each breath;
- Not interested in feeds;
- Passes less urine, blood in stools;
- Is dehydrated (fewer wet nappies, no spittle in mouth);
- Has a fever (it is not normal for babies to sweat).
When to Call an Ambulance
There are occasions when you need to call immediately for an ambulance. Call the emergency services if your baby:
- Stops breathing or turns blue
- Is completely unresponsive
- Has glazed eyes/eyes rolled back
- Has a seizure (fit)
- Has a rash that does not disappear under pressure (Tumbler Test)
How to Change a Diaper Video
Diaper Changing Quiz
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How to Change a Diaper
I have been reliably informed by parents and friends with children that newborn babies can fill a shocking number of diapers a day. Still, this is an ideal opportunity for Dad to help out Mum - particularly as Dad cannot help with night feeds for the first 2-4weeks (babies should be exclusively breastfed during this time, and not use a bottle - this can confuse young babies as it requires a different set of muscles to feed from a bottle).
- Collect all your necessary items before you start.
- Change your baby on a safe surface. Changing mats with raised sides can prevent your little one from rolling away.
- Up to six weeks, newborns should be cleaned with cotton wool and water only.
- Clean from front to back to avoid causing infections.
- Only use a nappy rash cream if your baby has nappy rash. Using them pre-emptively can actually cause a rash as your baby's skin becomes sensitive to the cream.
- Nappy rash creams should be avoided if possible for the first six weeks.
Changing Baby Boys
- Beware projectile urination. After undoing the straps, wait a few seconds. Once you have the diaper off, keep the penis covered at all times. It will only take a few shots in the eye before you remember this.
Changing Baby Girls
- Make sure you clean all the creases. Girls are more likely to get urinary tract infections if the whole area is not properly cleaned.
- Don't be too gentle. Thoroughly wipe the opening of the vagina to prevent it from closing up.
Diaper Contents Day 1-28
1+ Dark black and sticky (meconium)
3+ (heavier diaper)
2+ Yellow (Watery if Breastfeeding)
2+ Yellow and Watery (seedy appearance if Breastfeeding)
The Umbilical Cord Stump
Sleep Safe: How Babies Should SleepClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to get Baby to Sleep
How Babies Should Sleep
Medical advice on how babies should sleep has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Advice given to my parents is now not only out-dated, but wrong and dangerous!
- Babies should not sleep in their own room until they are at least 6 months old. Baby should sleep in a crib or cot in a room with you. Research has shown a baby who sleeps in a separate room is nearly twice as likely to die as a cot death than a baby who shares a room with his parents
- Babies should sleep on their backs. Baby is not going to choke on its own vomit - studies show that they tilt their heads and are sick over your lovely clean bedsheets instead!
- Babies should sleep feet-to-foot. This means baby's feet should be placed at the foot of the cot/crib - this prevents her wriggling under the covers.
- Babies do not need pillows and should not be given them. The same goes for quilts and duvets.
- Babies should not sleep near a radiator or a window. Babies have underdeveloped thermostats and cannot regulate their temperature well. Keep an eye on the temperature using a room thermometer.
- Babies should not wear hats to bed. For the same reason as #5, babies will lose excess heat readily through their heads. If you prevent this, baby can quickly overheat.
- Babies do not need heavy bedclothes. Any bedclothes should be secured and not go above baby's shoulder. Babies should not sweat, so if you see sweat, remove a layer. Baby sleeping bags are a great way to keep baby warm without the risk of bedclothes rising up.
- Babies should sleep with a dummy (after 1 month old): Whilst a dummy reduces the risk of SIDS, the risk is actually much lower in the first month of life. It is important that breastfed babies are not given a dummy/pacifier until breastfeeding is firmly established (~1 month)
Sleep Safe Advice
Burping a Newborn
Wind is caused by babies swallowing air whilst feeding - this gets trapped and can become painful. Sometimes babies need a little help shifting this trapped wind - this is where burping comes in. It is important to realise that some babies just don't get wind - it has nothing to do with being bottle-fed or breastfed.
- One way of clearing wind is to hold baby upright against your shoulder and then rub your baby's back
- Another position is to lay baby flat on your knee and rub baby's back.
- Make sure baby is not scrunched up when winding as this prevents the trapped air from being released
- If your baby has gone to sleep whilst feeding, it does not have wind. You do not need to wake the baby to wind it. Baby will not thank you for this.
How to Bath a Baby Video
How to Bath my Baby
Even the most inexperienced new dad can learn to give baby a bath. This can be a great way for baby and dad to bond and can be a fun way to finish the day. This also is a great part of a bedtime routine. There are a few things to keep in mind when bathing your baby:
- Get your supplies first: You must never leave baby unattended near water. Don't forget a fresh nappy ready for after the bath...particularly for boys. Remember projectile urination? You will...
- Put baby in a comfortable position: they are less likely to squirm. You may want to take all clothes off (leave nappy on...wee, remember?) on the changing table or bed, and then take baby to the bath.
- Work as a team: Eventually you will be able to manage 6 things at once with only one pair of hands. Until you do, team up with your partner and have fun!
- Wrap up warm: Once the bath is over, wrap baby up in a towel quickly to stop her getting cold. You can get towels with little hoods to make wrapping up easier. Ensure baby is dried thoroughly - get into all those nooks and crannies...then get the nappy on!
Baby Bath Supplies
These gift sets are great for slightly older babies. Newborns should be bathed only in water for the first six weeks whilst their skin becomes more robust.