Congratulations, mom, for bringing new life into this world! It is truly a blessing and a magnificent experience that you will never forget. If you think the hardest part is over, well, you are wrong. The next 18 years will have its miraculous days, but it will also have some really trying days. Taking care of a newborn can be challenging, especially for new moms who are experiencing a lot of firsts and are walking into caring for a newborn blindly. While the nursing staff may offer mom some useful tips and advice after her baby is born, it is nothing compared to experiencing it firsthand.
Babies are not brought into this world with instruction manuals, and it may seem like everyone is quick to offer a new mom advice on how to care for their newborn, but the truth is that everyone may have differing strategies for doing the same thing.
New moms and moms who have not had to care for a newborn in a very long time are at a higher risk of doing things the wrong way that could potentially be harmful to their little one. Moms mean well, but they sometimes just need a tiny bit of guidance to learn the proper ways of caring for their special delivery. Here is a list of some basic everyday care tips on how to care for a newborn baby.
15 The Baby's Neck Needs Support While Breastfeeding
With first time moms who are breastfeeding for the first time, trying to find good position can sometimes become an issue and moms may forget that they still have to support their baby’s neck and head while still allowing them to be close enough to feed. New moms may also sometimes fall asleep while breastfeeding in bed, and think that nothing could potentially go wrong.
If you are sitting to nurse, you want to sit straight and tall and be vigilant when bringing your baby to your chest to avoid hunching over. The use of a nursing pillow can help bring the baby to chest level and it also aids in giving extra support. You should try switching to different nursing positions every so often to keep from overworking the same muscles which can cause you some discomfort in the end. It can be very helpful to stretch out after your baby’s feeding session.
No matter how tired you are, you must avoid falling asleep while your baby is feeding to decrease the risk of potentially fatal and harmful accidents such as choking.
14 Never Peel, Bite, Or Nibble
If new moms listen to their grandmother’s, they probably have been told to nibble or bite off the tips of their newborn’s nails. It also used to be said that a mom could simply peel off the tips of their baby’s nails as ways to keep them trimmed.
Both these methods are what is considered to be an old wives tales and are both something that should not be done. You don’t want to bite off the tips because you risk passing on mouth germs to the susceptible newborn and risk infection. You don’t want to peel the nail off either because a newborn’s nails are so frail that you could accidentally peel too much off.
You want to either a baby nail clipper, a scissor trimmer specifically for babies with the rounded tip, and for the new moms that are scared they will hurt their baby, they could use a baby emery board.
13 Q-Tips Are Never Safe
When new parents try to clean their baby’s ears for the first time, they may be tempted to use a cotton swab and try to clean the inside of the ear canal, especially if they notice a lot of wax build up. New parents may also be tempted to use their finger to clean the baby’s ear as well, especially if they see a chunk of wax that it is sitting right near the ear canal.
Parents should never, ever stick anything inside the baby’s ear canal. This is how accidents happen, and an eardrum could rupture if it goes into far because the baby moved or something. That includes not sticking a finger inside the baby's ear as well. Instead, wet a washcloth with warm water, and make sure to wring it out very well, so no water drips inside of the baby’s ear. Gently rub the washcloth over the outside of the baby’s ear, and never actually enter the canal.
If there is a wax build up, you could try administering baby ear drops as well. If you are going to a cotton swab, make sure that it is the ones that are larger to avoid it accidentally going into your baby's ear.
12 How Do You Properly Burp A Newborn?
A common mistake some new moms make is only burping their baby once they have finished eating. Some new moms also try burping their newborn by putting them on their tummies bent over their knee to the point that it looks like the baby’s head and legs are dangling at opposite ends. This is not the best way to burp your baby.
A breastfed baby should be burped when switching breasts, and a bottle-fed baby should be burped after every 2-3 ounces. Then the baby should be burped again after they have completely finished eating. There are two methods that work the best. The first one is where you put the baby facing you so that their head is over your shoulder, and one hand holding the baby while you burp them with the other hand.
The second method is, while you are sitting, place your baby in your lap using your arms and hands to support the baby’s body and head, then use your other hand to gently pat the baby on their back to burp them.
11 The Umbilical Cord Should Never Get Wet
A newborn’s umbilical cord stump usually falls off on its own two weeks after the baby is born. New moms are typically told to keep the stump area clean, so sometimes new moms will wipe it off with their hands, and they may even be tempted to pick at the stump to ‘help’ it fall off sooner. They may also be tempted to submerge their newborn in a bath and clean the stump while it’s inside the water.
However, none of that stuff is a good idea. While the stump does need to stay clean, moms should never use their bare hands to try to clean it. Doing so could cause an infection. Mom should use a washcloth with warm water and thoroughly wring out the washcloth, so it is not dripping water. The stump should also be kept dry, so when cleaning it with water, fan it dry. Whatever you do, do not rub it try. The baby should also not be submerged in water until the stump has fallen off. Never pick at it because doing so increase the risk of infection and halts the healing process. If you need to bathe the baby while the stump is still present, only give the baby a sponge bath.
10 Side, Stomach Or Back?
New moms sometimes put the baby in their crib and have it loaded up with items inside of the crib, or even have stuffed animals that rest with the baby. Moms spend the time to make the inside of the crib look warm and inviting for their baby. Sometimes mom will lay the baby down on their tummy or on their side, thinking that this is the most comfortable position for their baby. The images with the "Red X" are deemed wrong since they are potentially harmful positions... and can even be fatal for mom’s little one.
Putting items inside the crib with the baby, something that was once seen as normal has now been commonly linked with increased fatality rates in the newborns and young babies. Babies also should only be put to sleep lying on backs to ensure that there is nothing obstructing their air flow. The above has been linked with increasing the chance of the baby developing SID’s, sudden infant death syndrome, so moms should be very cautious about how they are lying their baby down and what, if anything, they are putting in the crib.
9 The Bottle Must Never Leave Your Hands
New parents may be tempted to prop the baby’s bottle up on a bunch of blankets or even on a stuffed animal to make feeding time a little more relaxed and to free them to do other things that need to get done.
It is never a good idea to prop a bottle up in order to feed your baby because it increases the risk of injury and could pose as a choking hazard for the baby. If their head is lying back, and milk is sitting in their mouth, and they start to choke, they are unable to move out of the way themselves, making it very dangerous. You should always hold the bottle for your baby and hold it, so it is tilted, and so that there is always milk in the tip. The bottle will need to be tilted a little higher the more it starts to drain.
8 Don't Neglect The Baby's Gums
Moms sometimes like to think that just because their baby does not have teeth yet, that they do not need any form of oral care. Some moms believe the opposite to be true and will try brushing their baby’s gums with toothpaste and a toothbrush. Both complete polar opposites. Actually, as a new mom, you should know that you do have to clean your baby’s mouth. Teeth actually start to develop in the second trimester of pregnancy while the baby is still inside the womb. To care for a baby’s gum, all you have to do is wet a washcloth with warm water, or take a clean piece of gauze that has warm water on it, and literally just wipe off the baby’s gums after every feeding. You can also use the same to clean the baby’s tongue. This will help keep the bacteria that is inside your baby’s mouth at bay.
7 Where Does The Thermometer Go?
Sometimes new moms will attempt to get their baby’s temperature by placing a digital thermometer under their baby’s tongue as they would do for themselves or an older child. Or the mother may think that she can accurately guess the baby’s temperature by placing her hand on the baby’s forehead to see if their baby feels hot.
If you try to get your baby’s temperature by doing either of the above methods, you are wrong. The most accurate way to take a newborn’s temperature is rectally. However, a lot of moms no longer like to use the old fashion method, and lucky for us, we can now check a baby’s temperature by auxiliary measurement. What that means, is that you could place a digital thermometer under the baby’s armpit to get an idea of what their internal temperature really is. Also, even though this is rare these days, never use a mercury thermometer on your baby. Always use digital.
6 There's A Method To Changing Diapers
A lot of new moms think that changing a newborn’s diaper is actually the easiest thing that they will have to do. But sometimes a diaper can be on too tight, or it could cause friction and irritate the baby’s umbilical cord stump if not put on in the recommended manner. Babies can also get injured if their mom doesn’t lift their tiny little legs properly, or if it is done too rough. Other issues could be lying the baby on dirty surfaces that some moms may see as being okay.
Moms should lay their baby on a soft, yet clean, surface. Moms should gently lift the baby’s feet in the air with one hand while placing the new diaper under the baby’s rear with the other hand. Move the dirty diaper off to the side, and it can also be used to place dirty wipes on. Then, either use baby wipes or a washcloth that has warm water on it to wipe the baby’s front and rear clean. Always remember to wipe front to back to avoid bacterial infections. With newborns, make sure to fold down the front of the diaper just enough that it does not come into contact with, or rub, the baby’s umbilical cord.
5 The Baby's Eyes Are Vulnerable
Sometimes new moms will assume that in order to have the baby’s eyes clean, that all the baby has to do is cry and it is all taken care of. After all, as an adult when we have something in our eyes, and we cry, it helps get rid of whatever irritant was in there. Or sometimes mom will try to clean the baby’s eyes with just her finger.
A baby’s eyes often get neglected when it comes time to the baby’s cleaning routine. To keep your newborn clean and healthy, you have to include daily eye care and cleaning into the routine. To clean your baby’s eyes, wet a washcloth with warm water and wring it out, or you can use a cotton ball soaked in warm water and squeeze it to get rid of excess water, and just wipe the outside of your baby’s eyes, one eye at a time, from the inner corner to the outer corner. If using a cotton ball, use a new cotton ball for each eye. That’s literally all there is to it.
4 Is There Enough Support?
New moms sometimes make the mistake of holding their baby like it has some kind of infectious disease, by holding them in their arms or by holding them under the armpits because they don’t know the proper way to hold the baby, yet. Some moms do not offer any support for the newborn's head and neck which can be harmful or even damaging to the baby. Improper holding can also lead to the baby accidentally getting dropped.
The correct way to hold a baby is to always offer support for their fragile neck and tiny heads. Mom can cradle the baby in her arms or by holding the baby in one arm on its head by the crease in her elbow. It is also like a perfect fit and area for the baby to be in. It, maybe, almost seems like the human body was designed to be able to hold and cradle a baby.
3 The Mucus Needs To Be Sucked Out
Some parents will try to use a cotton swab or even their own fingertips to try to clean the mucus out of their baby’s tiny, adorable nose. They may even put a tissue on their finger and then try sticking it in the baby’s nostril in an attempt to clean it out.
All those ways are actually wrong. You never want to insert anything into the newborn’s nostrils unless it’s the tip of a rubber bulb syringe. To do this, put your baby in the sitting position. Take the bulb and squeeze the air out of it. Continue to keep the bulb pinched as you insert the tip into the baby’s nostril, then release the bulb to have it suck out the mucus. Remove the rubber bulb syringe from your baby’s nostril and then clean the tip with a tissue. Remember to rinse the bulb thoroughly before it’s next use.
2 Bathing A Newborn?
Moms may be tempted to bathe their little one shortly after bringing the baby home. If a new parent forgets to put an item in the bathroom with them, they may feel that it’s safe enough to step out for a moment as long as their baby is inside a baby bath basin.
As a new mom, if you do any of those things you are very mistaken. The first rule is to never leave a baby unattended in water no matter how shallow you think it may seem. It only takes an inch of water for things to turn fatal for a baby. The next thing is that you should not be bathing your newborn, or setting them in water, until after their umbilical cord stump has healed and has fallen off.
If you need to clean your baby, the best thing to do until the stump has fallen off would be to give your baby a sponge bath and to try the stump by fanning it. Always make sure that you check the water temperature on your forearm before putting the baby in water.
1 The Baby Should Nap Alone
A lot of moms will conclude that their baby’s naptime is also their nap time, and will bring their baby into the bed with them so that they are right there when the baby wakes up for whatever reason. After all, mom only plans on napping for a few minutes, right?
This is a common theory that is so horribly wrong to do. You should never, ever under any circumstances allow the baby to nap in bed with you. This is because when we are sleeping, we move and roll over without even realizing it and usually it does not cause us to wake up either. Unfortunately, there are too many horror stories of accidents that could have been prevented because the parent accidentally rolled on top of their baby. This is potentially a very harmful and fatal mistake. Always put your baby down for a nap in an empty crib or playpen.
Sources: parents.com, fitpregnancy.com, mayoclinic.org, thebump.com, momjunction.com, allabouttwins.com, shishuworld.com, todaysparents.com, newmomsneed.marchofdimes.org, tommeetippee.us, whattoexpect.com, thebabycorner.com, kidspot.com.au, hopkinsmedicine.org