A newborn baby is exciting, but no matter how ready you think you are, new parents often find themselves a bit confused and panicked when that new baby comes home. There are many things involved to effectively take care of a baby, but once you have the basics sorted out, the rest just falls into place. Here is how to care for a newborn baby.
The adage about new babies claims they only do three things – eat, sleep, and poop. Many new parents find this to be startlingly true, at least for the first few weeks. Thus, care for a newborn baby involves taking care of these three activities.
A newborn baby eats only one of two things, or possibly both. Breast milk is the preferred choice for its many health benefits, but formula is certainly healthy and the natural alternative if breastfeeding does not work out for any reason. A newborn baby starts a feeding every 2-3 hours if breast fed, and every 2-4 hours if formula feeding.
Most experts agree that feeding on demand, or when the baby wants to eat, is the best way to feed a baby for the first 4-12 months of life. So, when your baby begins fussing, crying, or chewing on his hands, offer him the breast or the bottle. A newborn will eat less than 2-3 ounces per feeding, and may take up to forty-five minutes to complete each feeding. Be sure to burp the baby periodically during the feeding to decrease chances of spit up.
After your baby eats, he will most likely fall asleep. Lay him on his back in a safe sleeping environment such as a bassinet or crib. Avoid letting him sleep on your bed as the blankets may be too thick and your baby is simply safer inside a crib or bassinet. He can sleep in a playpen, car seat, swing, or bouncer as well for the first few weeks or months if he sleeps better in those positions. Dress him comfortably, and consider swaddling as this makes a newborn more comfortable and promotes longer and better sleep.
Caring for a newborn involves quite a few diaper changes. You should change his diaper following every feeding. Most newborns make dirty diapers while eating as the feeding stimulates the bowels. Expect your newborn to have a dirty diaper with almost every meal for the first few days, but after the first week or two, dirty diapers will only appear 1-3 times a day.
Wipes are abrasive on the sensitive skin of a newborn, so consider using warm water and a washcloth or simply letting running water clean away the poop. This will help prevent diaper rash, but you should have ointment on hand to help with any that appears.
Most of all, a newborn needs constant love and attention. His needs and comforts now come before your own, but you most likely won’t mind as he will have easily become the center of your world the moment he was born.
Ah, the nursery! When a new baby is on the way, the nursery presents the most fun and the most challenges. It doesn’t take long to realize you need more than a crib and a few outfits, but how do you know when you’ve gone overboard? Need to plan a nursery? Here’s how:
Pick the Room For Your Nursery
Your nursery should ideally be a room that is away from loud traffic or the neighbor’s barking dogs. You might prefer it have a western window to help your baby sleep later in the morning without the sun streaming in as it rises. It does not have to be large, but it will probably help to have a closet and some wall space for furniture placement.
Pick the Theme
How is the rest of your house decorated? Will this room be similar? Sketch out a rough plan in your head of what you would like the room to look like. What colors do you like? What kind of furniture do you need? Will the wood be dark or light?
Buy the Linens
While it might seem like the furniture would be next, you should buy the linens. The dust ruffle, crib bumper, sheets, quilt and curtains will determine the color and overall look of the room. Neutral will suit future babies in the room, while gender specific colors and patterns can be more fun. Sheets will get the most use, so buy a few extras. Quilts can’t be used in the bed until much later, so consider buying a rod and making it a wall hanging for decoration.
Paint Your New Nursery
After you have the color scheme, buy paint and/or wall paper and get busy putting color on the walls. Remember to let Dad do the painting; pregnant women should avoid the fumes if possible.
Buy the Furniture
Now it’s time to buy a crib, dresser, changing table and any other furniture you might need in the room. Changing tables are often used only for a year or two, so it might be better to get a pad for the top of the dresser. Also consider putting a full or twin bed in the room for times a parent wants to sleep near baby. Be sure to get coordinating linens if you do get a bed for the room. The furniture may take some time to be delivered, but set it up once it does arrive.
Buy the Rocker or Glider
You should have something to rock your baby in. Gliders are popular, and traditional rocking chairs will also do the trick. Buy one that is comfortable and sturdy. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this chair.
Buy the Decorations
Up to this point, you’ve taken care of the big items. You’ve painted, and you’ve set up furniture. You’ve got the linens. Now you get to buy decorations. Buy picture frames, rugs, wall signs or letters, toy boxes, lined baskets and anything else that suits your fancy.
Buy the Extras
Don’t forget to include the extra baby items in the room as well. You’ll need something for wet and dirty diapers, storage for clean diapers, a mobile, a place to store toys and linens, possibly a white noise machine or fan, a humidifier, and a baby monitor.
Buy the Layette
Now, it’s time to buy the layette. Layette is a fancy word for all the clothing and blankets a newborn needs. You should buy a few clothing items in the newborn size along with receiving blankets, burp clothes, washcloths, swaddling blankets and socks or booties to be ready. Be sure to pre wash all linens including sheets and blankets that will come in contact with baby’s sensitive skin.
Put Your New Nursery All Together
Finally spend a few days putting it all together. Remember to get help moving and setting up heavy items and take your time. Put the linens on the crib and hang curtains in the window. Hang pictures and place your rug. Then put the layette into your new dresser, sit in your rocker and anticipate bringing that new baby home.
Babies come with many wonderful surprises, and some of those surprises show up during or after a good meal. Diapers are a necessary part of a baby, and changing those diapers frequently and correctly can prevent diaper rash and help your baby be more comfortable.
How to Change a Diaper
The best time to change a diaper is in when a baby is ready for a feeding. There are different advantages to timing. Some parents change a diaper before feedings so that the baby can drift off to sleep while eating. Others wait to change the diaper after the feeding as most bowel movements occur during meals, and changing a diaper twice in an hour is a waste.
After each feeding, every 2-4 hours, change your baby’s diaper. It may be wet or it might be a dirty diaper. If she makes a dirty diaper, you should change it immediately regardless of meals as it will keep her from eating well and sitting in a dirty diaper for longer than a few minutes can give her a serious case of diaper rash. Wet diapers should be changed no later than every three or four hours.
To Change a Diaper
To change a diaper, first be sure you have a safe location. Babies should never be left unattended for even a second on an elevated surface such as a bed or changing table. You can change a diaper on the floor, on the sofa, on a bed, or on a changing table. Just be sure to bring the fresh diaper and wipes with you so that you are prepared once you get started.
If you are concerned about your surface, put a towel or blanket down, then place baby on top of it. The very first thing to do is open the new diaper so that you can grab it with one hand. Remove baby’s pants or unsnap her outfit to reach her diaper. Unfasten the tabs on either side of the diaper and pull down the front leaving the back of the diaper in place to catch any surprises. If you are changing a little boy, be sure to keep the diaper lying on top of his penis or use a washcloth to cover it to avoid him spraying you or the room should he decide to pee.
A wet diaper is simple to change. Open the wet diaper, make a quick pass with a wipe if you’d like to be sure baby feels clean and fresh, and then pull the wet diaper out. Place the clean diaper under baby’s bottom with the tabs in the back. Fold the top of the diaper through the legs. Fasten the tabs on the front of the diaper repositioning as needed. Congratulations! You’ve changed a diaper!
If you have a dirty diaper, open the wipes and remove a couple so that you can grab them quickly. Then, once the front of the diaper is pulled down, grab the baby’s feet and lift her bottom into the air. Again, leave the diaper in place to catch any surprises should she not be quite finished and to protect your changing surface as poop tends to stick to her lower back as well as her bottom.
Use the front of the diaper to make a big wipe and collect as much of the poop as possible. Then, holding her legs, use your wipes to wipe up the remainder of the poop. After each wipe is used, drop it into the open diaper that is still under her bottom. Be sure to check all of the nooks and crannies to get all of the poop that might be hiding. Open her legs a bit to check the inside of her thighs and be sure that no poop has entered the vagina. If so, of course, remove it with a wipe. If you are changing a boy, be sure to lift the testicles to check for any poop that might be stuck underneath.
Then, when you are sure all poop is removed from baby’s nether regions, carefully pull out the dirty diaper and wipes being careful not to drop baby’s back or rear back into the poop. Put the dirty diaper aside, and place the fresh (already opened) diaper under baby’s bottom. Lower her legs and fasten the tabs from the back to the front. Reposition as needed. Dispose of the dirty diaper. Congratulations! You’ve changed a diaper!
Before you have your first child, it’s easy to plan your future family. Once the first child comes your plans might change. And if you’re completely enamored with your first and can’t image your life without another three or four angels, a second child might make you examine your feelings again. Kids are the absolute best reward for a lot of hard work, but only you can decide how many kids to have.
Your temperament can make a huge impact on the number of children you have. Parents must be patient and able to deal with the daily stress of children making demands of their time and energy as well as the constant issues that will arise throughout the day. Granted this work is paid off grandly with hugs and kisses, but if hugs and kisses won’t keep your emotions in check on a very stressful day, fewer kids might be the answer.
Your age obviously impacts your future family. If you have your first child at thirty-nine, you’re already limited on the number of children you can have. Many mothers over thirty-five have one or two children as thirty-five is considered a higher risk age for child bearing. On the other hand, if you have your first child very young, you may decide to have an only child to give you an opportunity to reclaim your own passions and pursuits as soon as possible.
Your spouse will have a huge impact on the number of children you have. If he wants an only child and you want four, unless he is willing to be convinced a house full of children is really okay, you’re likely stuck at one.
Numbers matter, especially with children. Diapers and formula can add up to hundreds per month and clothes, shoes and food for older children are not cheap either. Every child you have will be expensive even without adding in college costs. Granted the first child will be the biggest budget buster. After that each child represents a few more diapers and another plate at the table.
Your Other Children
If you have a child with special needs, you may decide to have only one child so that you can devote your time and attention to his needs. Some parents have additional children to build a caring family, but every child requires a huge portion of your time and attention. You can’t short one child for the sake of another.
If your marriage is solid and your partner is a partner in parenting and pregnancy, multiple children are natural additions to the family. But if your marriage is not quite this ideal or your spouse works long hours or isn’t as involved in parenting as you are, fewer children will be easier to manage.
Time is a finite resource. There are only twenty-four hours in the day and you likely spend close to eight of them sleeping. The remaining sixteen hours are divided between everything you must do in a day as well as meaningful time with each member of your family. The fewer family members there are, the more individual time each is able to enjoy. If your time is already stretched due to the requirements of your career or your lifestyle, fewer children will allow you to devote more time and attention to each.
Sometimes you just know you’re meant to be the mother of many children and you love the idea of a loud, noisy home. If your instincts are telling you to have many children and your spouse is willing, there is absolutely no reason to not indulge yourself. Fill up your home with racing children and bouncing babies. Each child brings so much magic to a home, a home filled with kids is a home brimming with love.