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.
It is perfectly normal to prefer, or at least think you prefer, one gender over the other when trying to conceive. Of course many parents are shocked to discover just how quickly they adapt to either gender, but this is necessary as only genetic engineering or embryo selection can absolutely determine sex. But if would like to tip the odds, and you’re wondering how to have a baby boy, consider the following:
The Shettles Method
Doctor Shettles has developed a method for conception that has a relatively high percentage of success. His theory is based on the nature of sperm and the speed with which they travel.
All eggs produced by a woman are X chromosomes. Sperm can carry a Y or an X chromosome. Two X’s make a girl baby, and one X (the egg) and one Y make a boy. The Y carrying sperm are smaller and faster than the heavy X carrying sperm. So according to Dr. Shettles, to conceive a boy, you simply need to get the “boy” sperm to the egg before the “girl” sperm.
Chart Your Cycle
The first step to conceive a baby boy is to chart your monthly cycle so that you know when you are ovulating. You can check for ovulation by keep track of your basal body temperature, checking mucus or by using ovulation strips or a kit. Once you know when you will be ovulating, you can give conceiving a boy a try.
To conceive a boy baby you must have intercourse no sooner than twenty-four hours before ovulation and no later than twelve hours after ovulation. Boy sperm live shorter, more frantic lives, so this gives them the best range of time to get to the egg and beat out the girl sperm that move more slowly and live much longer lives. The conditions inside the vagina and cervix are also at their least hostile during ovulation as the mucus is less acidic.
Tips for Success
To be successful, you should consider additional steps in the conception process. Boy sperm can use a running start as many are killed in the vagina due to its hostile environment. To get them closer to the starting gate, consider positions for intercourse that have deep penetration such as penetration from behind the female. Also, caffeine has been shown to make sperm move more rapidly, so have the man drink a quick cup of coffee or soda before beginning intercourse.
Finally, it is encouraged that the female partner have an orgasm during sex. An orgasm makes the vaginal environment more alkaline which is hostile to girl sperm giving the boy sperm that much more of a fighting chance.
Considering babies are said to only “eat, sleep, and poop,” they certainly manage to make the eating portion of their existence complicated. Here is how to feed your baby by age:
Babies need only breast milk or formula through month four. Contrary to popular belief, solids or cereal will not help your baby sleep better, but they can mess up her sensitive stomach.
Some babies are ready to begin solid foods at four months. Signs of readiness include being able to sit assisted, excellent head control, showing marked interest in the food you eat, and not being satisfied after 24-32 ounces of milk or formula each day. Speak with your pediatrician about the right time to start solids as every child is different and many now feel that waiting until six months is the best option.
When you do offer your baby solids for the first time, use a soft tipped baby spoon to protect her gums. You can offer essentially any baby food, but rice cereal is usually the first choice as it presents little chance of allergies and is mixed with familiar milk or formula. Feed a tiny bit and wait for it to come back out thanks to the tongue thrust reflex. This reflex will go away shortly.
After you have introduced cereal, continue to introduce other grains such as barley and oatmeal, then fruits and vegetables. Wait 3-5 days after each new food to be sure no allergic reaction is present. Most parents wait to introduce citrus and strawberries as these have high rates of allergic reactions in many children. You should also begin offering your baby a cup at this age, and she is also most likely ready to chew on a biscuit or piece of toast that she can grip with her fist.
You can now introduce dairy and protein foods. Proteins include beans, meats and yogurt. Dairy products should be full fat yogurts, cottage cheese and other soft cheese your baby can gum up. Your baby is now developing the pincher grip which allows her to pick up individual bites and put them in her mouth. You should greatly encourage this self feeding, but watch her very carefully as she learns to chew and swallow properly.
Gradually encourage greater use of the cup, spoon and self feeding of finger foods. By her first birthday, your baby should be eating the same table foods that you are eating at every meal.
The rules to dressing a baby are simple. Once a baby has learned to regulate her body temperature, which happens within days of birth, she should be dressed the same way as you, but with one additional layer.
What this means is that if you are wearing a t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes, you can dress your baby in essentially the same outfit. Pull on a one-piece t-shirt, or onesie. Then put on the coordinating pants or skirt. Your baby won’t need shoes for many months, but she should wear socks to help keep her feet warm.
General Tips for Dressing a Baby
For the additional layer, you have a few options. Many parents put a hat on their baby and this is an excellent idea. But a lightweight jacket, hoodie, or sweater may be an excellent idea as well.
Dress a Baby in Layers
The best bet to dress a baby is to always have her in layers. This way you can remove a jacket when it’s warm outside, but put it back on should the air conditioning make a room cool. Babies sitting in strollers are not especially active, but they may not be getting much air circulation either. To check your baby’s temperature and comfort level, feel her chest or back. Baby’s feet and hands are often cool to the touch thanks to developing circulation.
Your Baby’s Shoes
Babies don’t need shoes until they start crawling or pulling up to stand. And even then, they are not really required unless the baby is outside on an abrasive surface. Hard sole shoes should be avoided while your baby is learning to walk. Use soft soled crib shoes or even slippers to protect your baby’s feet but to let her feel the ground as she is learning to balance. Babies also tend to curl their toes and feet, and hard soled shoes can fit their little chubby feet uncomfortably.
Your Baby’s Socks
Many parents have a hard time finding socks that stay on baby’s active feet. Socks help keep your baby’s temperature stable, but can be kicked off in seconds with the right movements. Find socks that roll or cuff at the top as these stay more securely on baby’ feet without making indentions around baby’s ankles the way elastic topped socks might.
Naming a baby is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy and childbirth. The name you select will have a profound impact on your child’s life and should not be taken lightly. To choose from all of the baby names available, consider the following steps:
Clear the Air
Be open-minded when you settle down with your significant to dream about baby and his or her name. Women are not the only ones who have ideas from childhood about what their baby will be named. The first step in discussing names is to get dreams, preferences and expectations out in the open.
If you’ve always dreamed of naming your baby girl Samantha, but your significant other only likes creative and highly unusual names, you need to clear the air. Offer your own general opinions and the thoughts you’ve already had. Listen to his. Then put those on the back burner and work toward a compromise that suits both of you and the unborn child.
Is there a tradition in your family that you would like to continue? If your husband is a junior, perhaps your son should be a junior. If girls are names after members of the family, you might prefer to follow the tradition.
Examine your heritage. Are there specific names or customs that are especially meaningful and applicable to your baby? Is the due date on the pregnancy calendar symbolic in anyway?
Use a baby naming website or book to browse through and brainstorm about possibilities. Each parent should make a list of top choices and then share the lists to look for similar or identical selections. If one partner has a strong opposition to a name, cross it off the list. Naming your child is about reaching a decision together, not forcing a name on both your spouse and your child.
The Short List
Whittle down names until you have a short list. Then practice the names. Do they sound right with your last name? Do the initials spell anything embarrassing? Yell them up the stairs – does it fit your home and lifestyle?
You then can keep a short list until delivery or pick the name that appeals the most to both parents. If you are stuck between two names, ask a trusted friend for her opinion or use one name as the middle name.
Finally, be prepared to change your mind. It is perfectly acceptable to change your mind during delivery or even the last few weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes babies need names like, “Hope” or “Joy” that have extra special meaning you would never have known about before delivery. And other times you just realize that your little boy looks more like an Aaron than a Zebidiah once you’ve gotten a good look at him. Be flexible – you’ll need it the rest of your parenting career.
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!
A baby stroller is one of the most fundamental essentials of baby gear. Popular parenting advice will suggest you purchase a large travel system complete with coordinating infant seat, but that may not be what is best for you situation. If you’re ready to buy a baby stroller, consider the following:
If you are having a singleton, or one baby, there are plenty of options for you in regards to stroller selection. But if you are having twins or this baby is closely following his older sibling, you must consider your need for a double stroller. For our purposes today, we will assume you are looking for a standard, one-baby stroller.
If you live in the city, your needs will be different than if you live in the country on rougher roads. Your location can make a difference in the style of stroller you buy. In suburban or rural areas, much of baby’s travel will be by car, but in the city, walking or public transportation is most common.
This means urban dwellers must consider the durability and portability of their stroller more so than suburban dwellers. If your stroller is traveling miles every day and bumping up and down stairs, it is most likely worth the extra cost to have a stroller that folds in a single swift motion to be throw in the back of a cab and can withstand more than a few bruises and bumps.
There are four kinds of baby strollers that have varying uses. You should buy a stroller that suits as many of your needs as possible.
Prams – A pram or baby buggy is the oldest style of stroller. To ride in a pram, the baby lays flat on his back. These are most suitable for very young babies who are usually sleeping and not interested in seeing the world. They also tend to be expensive and are considered a luxury item as they are used for only a short period of time and their function can be handled by other, most practical varieties.
Travel Systems – The travel system is a life saver for many parents. The stroller usually has a means of snapping in an infant bucket car seat for convenience until your child is ready for the standard seat with its multiple reclining positions. The system has other available options such as cup holders, compartments, and a basket underneath for storage. Travel systems are bulky, however, and the more conveniences yours has, the larger it is – even when folded.
Umbrella Strollers – The simplest of strollers, umbrella strollers, collapse into the smallest storage option. This means they lose many of the perks of travel systems including multiple cup holders, storage compartments, and baskets. But many still do come with a tray for a baby stroller and attachable storage bags or cup holders. The primary drawback of umbrella stroller is that they do not accommodate infant car seats or even very young infants as they do not recline more than forty-five degrees.
Jogging Strollers – Finally, a jogging stroller has large rugged wheels and a special design to make it easy to handle one handed. It is the largest of the stroller options, but best for rural or bumpy roads. A jogging stroller can go places other strollers can’t but the one place it probably won’t go is into the trunk of your car as it is exceptionally large even when collapsed.
Babies can sleep in many things, but the most traditional bed is a full-sized crib. Other options include a bassinet, a play yard, a co-sleeper, or a Moses basket. But if you’re ready to put the nursery together, here’s how to buy a baby crib.
Assess Your Needs
Baby cribs come in many forms. Some are just a crib and others transform to toddler beds, and then headboards once the baby is grown. If you already have a full bedroom of furniture, you probably don’t need to buy a convertible crib. A basic crib will do for the two years before your baby is ready to graduate to the existing bed.
If you are starting from scratch and the nursery is bare, a convertible crib might be the best option. These cribs usually have matching furniture available, so you can purchase an entire bedroom of furniture and the crib will coordinate for years in one form or another.
Assess Your Price Range
There are sturdy cribs in every price range. Some baby cribs start as low as $100 and are just as safe and sturdy as those that retail for $1000 or more. Find an amount that is comfortable for you. Remember, most babies are out of the crib by 30 months of age, so this is not a long-term investment unless you are buying a convertible crib or plan on using the crib for more children.
Start the Search
Begin searching for cribs that appeal to you. You can find cribs at baby specialty stores, large retailers such as Wal-Mart or Target, department stores, furniture stores and many online retailers. Many of the different locations carry the same brands of cribs, so it is wise to do a bit of price comparison before buying. You can also look for cribs at garage sales or baby resale shops, but be careful to check for quality and safety with used cribs.
Keep it Safe
Keep in mind the recommended safety guidelines for cribs. Your crib should have a drop side to allow you to get the baby in ad out of the bed safely. The level of the mattress should be capable of raising and lowering for safety and convenience. The mechanism that controls the raising and lowering of the mattress should be sturdy and foolproof to keep your baby or toddler from knocking it loose.
The slats on a crib should not be more than 2 3/8 inches apart. This prevents your baby from slipping through or getting stuck. When the drop side is lowered, it should be 9 inches above the top of the mattress to keep the baby from rolling out. When the drop side is up, it should be at least 26 inches from the top of the mattress.
Give the crib a good shake in the store to check for stability. If it’s wobbly or rickety, pass on it. Your toddler will do more than a simple shake to this crib and you want it solid. Also check to see how snug the mattress fits inside the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers into the crack around the edges, it isn’t safe.
Keep it Easy
The drop side should lower quietly and easily – preferably with one hand since you’ll be holding a sleeping baby when using it. Try it out in the store a few times. A crib on casters will be easier to move around the room – a feature that is especially nice when trying to change the sheets.