A newborn baby is extremely fragile. And if one were to ask how fragile, the answer would be China porcelain fragile with a capital F. They are unable to fend for themselves, properly express their wants and needs, see clearly and most importantly, they have neither the means to feed, nor burp themselves.
Their entire existence depends on their caretaker, their mum, their guardian. Their very lives depend on us.
Truth be told, newborns are a great responsibility (but never ever a liability) that countless are willing to sacrifice anything for. Who in their right mind wouldn't want to protect and nurture those innocent, tiny (but sometimes monstrous) little beings? Provided they don't keep you awake the whole night, you could fall asleep smiling just by looking at them.
And since they are practically helpless for the first few months of their lives, making sure that they get fed properly is your responsibility. It is no easy feat, especially for new moms but feeding and burping the baby will get easier as they grow. So here we present to you the 20 things you should do before, during and after feeding the baby. Ready? Get, set, go!
20 Before: Clean The Milk Supply
If you happen to belong to the direct latch breastfeeding club, then you should know that the milk suppliers need to be kept clean. Like squeaky, super duper clean. So much so that the word bacteria doesn't even exist in your dictionary.
Babies tend to salivate a lot during the feed, and sometimes you, the milk cow might sweat a bead or two too.
Not to mention, you might also get some cracking from getting chomped on by the hungry little babes. Mix all these elements and one might just have an infection or two waiting for the baby's mouth.
So remember to clean them, at least with some warm water before the little ones start latching and sucking for dear life. Yes, warm water is sufficient. Do away with soap and disinfectants. Contrary to popular belief, soap and disinfectants will only dry your girls out and damage your areola even more.
You'd be surprised how effective warm water can be. Not only do they provide a soothing feel to those sore nipples, the heat from the water also kills the germs. Talk about eliminating two birds with one stone! You'll never look at warm compressions the same way again.
19 Before: Sterilize The Bottles
Babies, especially newborns have extremely low immunity towards bacteria and viruses. It would take a while before they can start putting up a good fight against pesky mister flu and annoying miss phlegmy cough.
Hence, it is of utmost importance for you to sterilize everything that might come into contact with them.
EVERYTHING! (OCD mum sweeps into action). Just kidding. But one of the most important items to sterilize would be the baby bottles, nipples, and pacifiers. Wash them, boil them and hang them dry. These are the basic steps to keeping baby safe from harm.
The ancient practice of sterilizing baby bottles included placing bottles directly in a pan boiling water has recently come under fire after too many mothers ended up melting the bottles instead.
Today, the options to sterilize the bottles come aplenty, from electric steamers, microwave steamers to sterilizing pills. The methods are endless and physically far less destructive. Financially though it is a lot more damaging than the ancient method. Sob! Empties wallet to purchase the steamers.
18 Before: Prepare The Formula
Preparation is the key to a happy, well-fed baby and a joyfully, stress-free mum. So get the baby formula ready. Measure the amount in advance and store it in easy-to-use milk dispenser containers.
You wouldn't want to race against time with a wailing baby in the background while you frantically make milk and accidentally decorate the whole kitchen floor with spilled milk and powder, would you? Would you???
Now, milk dispensers come in a great variety of designs. You could opt for hand me downs from the older siblings, or pop into any departmental stores and you might just have a whirlwind of choices from the pricey electrical dispensers (the ones that automatically add in warm water based on pre-programmed settings) to the conventional manual dispensers with pop up lids to the downright dirt cheap but extremely useful mini containers.
It doesn't matter which kind of milk dispenser you choose. Whichever one that floats your boat will do. The important thing is that the milk gets made right before the baby goes into a savage crying mode.
17 Before: Prepare The Guard (For Direct Latching)
For some, nipple guards are a must. This is especially so when the baby has gnawed, pulled, sucked and bit the nipples so badly that the mother can no longer stand the soreness and pain. Cue to some low budget movie starring monster baby, the not so damsel in distress and the superhero.
Baby:" Me want milk! Now! Arrr!" *Bares toothless mouth and waves soiled diaper around*
Mummy: "Nooooo.....leave me alone! Someone save me!"
Then suddenly Nipple Guardman comes to save the day! Yay! End of movie.
So for those adopting the nipple guards, always remember to think of them as your very own Twinkies. Keep them clean, and better yet, use disposable ones. They can be easily obtained from pharmacies and even places like Target. So have no fear if you run low on your ammo, just quickly pop into any store that sells them before the next feed. Nipple guards might just end up being your BFF for the next few months or so.
16 Before: Have Clean Burp Cloths Close By
Right after your baby is fully fed, it is impeccable for you to start burping them immediately. This is especially true for those who bottle feed their babies. Burping enables the little ones to sleep better and not wake up to suddenly cry from stomach discomfort (aka gas inside their stomach).
It also prevents the baby from choking on his or her own spit ups after they are laid horizontally in the crib. Studies have shown that burping the baby reduces SIDS.
It might not be of significance to adults but it is a matter of life and death to the little ones. So start burping them, ladies.
Sometimes though, when you burp the baby, spit ups will occur. These spit ups are never a pretty sight. They don't smell that great either. Hence, a hanky will come in extremely useful for times such as these.
Burping takes time. Some babies burp immediately upon being propped up on your shoulders or having their neck supported by your hand while you gently pat them on their backs. Others, however, can take up to more than 20 minutes for a complete burp. And bear in mind that often times, one burp does not signify the end of the burping session. There might be a few more along the way. Therefore, always have more than one burping cloth ready.
15 Before: Prepare The Pillows
At times, your baby can finish their milk at lightning speed. Pop the bottle or the nipple into their mouth, blink and they'll be done with the feed. Other times, however, a millennium might have passed and they still haven't passed the halfway mark.
Staring (albeit lovingly) at your child while they suck can be mesmerizing but you might just end up with a crick in the neck by the time they finish. Holding them lovingly in your arms while they feed will also put extreme strain on your muscles.
So just in case feeding the baby takes an awfully long time, always prepare a prop up pillow. You'll thank your lucky stars for the pillows in the future. It will save you a lot of muscle ache, backaches, neck ache and every ache you can think of.
One can get the pillows from specialist stores but if you're not one to spend a fortune on those weird looking pillows, then simply get normal pillow which you find comfortable. Anything that can support your arms and neck will do.
14 During: Drink Or Steal Some Snacks
Being a mum means you will have to get used to multitasking. Imagine you with octopus hands. Yes, that will be your mantra for many years to come. With all the things you need to do to care for the little one, you will be left with little to no time for yourself. So while feeding the baby, try to feed yourself too. You will need all the energy you can get.
Sip on a glass of juice or munch on some bread and crackers if you can. The carbs and protein will be necessary for you to cope with taking care of the baby so do not be shy.
Gorge yourself with all your favorite food whenever you are able to. By the time they hit 6 months old, they might just start prying your mouth open to dig out whatever food you managed to shove in there.
We don't suggest preparing Michelin star meals. Simple ones (but packed with nutrients) will do. You could prepare your favorite snakes or meal the night before and simply heat them up the next day. Or, you could just move your fingers and dial for the nearest Chinese takeaway or pizza joint. Whatever makes you happy.
13 During: Sing To Your Baby
Babies love music. It is calming and soothing and more importantly, if it is you singing to them, the melodious (or broken tunes) sound of your voice makes them feel safe. There is a sense of security in a mother's voice. Babies have learned to identify the sound of your voice way before they popped out of the womb.
Back during the time when they were still buns in the oven, they had already gotten used to hearing you talk and sing so if you happen to be feeding them, why not enable them to enjoy their meal even more? By listening to their favorite sounds in the whole wide world: your voice.
Professionals recommend baby songs (annoying but catchy and easy to sing along tunes that make us adult feel like idiots) like lullaby and wheels on the bus. You can choose to break the norm and belt out Adele's 'Hello' or even Bon Jovi's 'It's My Life' provided your baby likes it (and the plants do not wither every time you try to hit a high note). We want them to feel relaxed, not enraged or skirmish.
12 During: Check For Obstructions
While feeding the baby, one might be tempted to take a snooze or close one's eyes just for a few minutes to unwind. After all, you have been up the whole night tending to the baby and cleaning up after all the mess. Surely you deserve a little rest? The answer is definitely yes. You do need to rejuvenate and one of the best times would be when the baby is feeding.
But before you start to chill, always remember to check that the baby's nose is not obstructed in any way. Some mothers are 'blessed' with extra large boobs you know.
And by blessing, we don't mean it in a positive way. Heh. Those D, E and F cups can be rather burdensome at times.
Bottom line is, make sure your baby doesn't suffocate in the process of gulping and sucking milk. Peek at them once in a while. Feel their backs or chests for a rhythmic breathing pattern while you yourself are getting a breather.
When their airways get blocked, babies will usually put up a struggle as a sign of distress. But one in a few thousand actually don't. So do take note when you position the baby's head for the next feed.
11 During: Netflix, But Don't Chill
Nipples primed? Check. Bottles cleaned? Yeap. Milk ready? Oh yeah. Pillows available? Here. Baby happy with milk? Definitely.
Okay then, time to grab the remote control or turn on your tablet to catch up on the latest episode of GoT or lip sync battle.
Not a fan of entertainment channels? No problem. Tune into the latest world news or just check out carrot top's latest antics in the white house is. Take the opportunity to catch up on your favorite TV shows or just surf the net to get your mind off the baby for a little while.
Unwind. Relax. Check out the outside world via the internet. Ironic it may be but it will definitely keep your sanity in check.
Do not feel bad about indulging in a few guilty pleasures. So long as you don't overdo it, updating your social media or even having your eyes glued to the TV is not wrong. Taking care of a baby is not easy. It is challenging and pressuring so reward yourself whenever you can. After all, all work and no play makes Jack (in this case a Jane will do) a dull boy.
10 During: Feed The Other One Too
Is your baby feeding? Yes. Then great! Time to relax and unwind! But whoa.....hold your horses there, lady. Always remember to switch your baby from one boob to the other.
Do not, I repeat do not (under normal circumstances) ever have your baby latch onto only one side of the chest.
The boob produces milk based on demand. Usually, the more your express or the more the baby sucks, the more milk you'll get from that particular boob. If you concentrate on only one side of your twin peaks, you might just end up with Mount Everest on one side and the little Prairie hill on the other. Not exactly a pretty sight.
Many women who breastfeed are guilty of taking the easy way out. Whenever they realize that the baby prefers boob A and throws a fit when presented with boob B, they will usually allow the baby to keep sucking from their favorite outlet.
Less chance of a meltdown, they will say. But patience goes a long way. So if both boobs are healthy, then encourage the little one to switch from side to side. This will serve to benefit not only you but also the baby in the long run.
9 During: Check For A Latch
If you happen to be one of the lucky ones with a baby who loves to latch directly from your boobs, then congratulations! You belong to the privileged minority who get to save on milk powder and avoid endless bottle washing. Think of all the extra cash you can save! You could actually use the money and buy some stocks, err, or designer socks.
But before you start rejoicing and stick your assets in baby's face, always remember to check that your baby actually manages to latch onto the nipple. Some babies have trouble latching but never make a fuss about it, preferring just to simply suck on whatever their tongue and little mouth can bite onto.
Others might just find solace nesting their little face between the speed bumps. Therefore it is imperative that you, the milk machine check if your baby latches on well before you start dozing off for some much-needed sleep.
Often it is impossible to tell whether they are sucking merely by the 'feel of it'. You might feel as if your baby is happily sucking a truckload of milk when in fact he or she is just nibbling around. So look down and gently guide your little ones mouth to their elixir of life.
8 After: Burp Your Baby
One of the most important things to do right after feeding the baby would be to burp them. This is especially true for newborns whose gastrointestinal tracts have yet to fully develop. Because of this, they are unable to burp themselves and to regulate the stomach gas.
This, in turn, can cause great discomfort for the babies and make them fussy and render them into an endless bucket of tears.
So burp your babies ladies. And remember to use a burp cloth too, lest your favorite dress becomes decorated with spit-ups.
As with many things in life, there are set rules for burping your baby (even if there was you could just bulldoze the stone to pieces). One of the easiest but most time-consuming methods would be to perch your baby's chin on your shoulder and gently cradle his or her head with your hand to prevent any backlash. Then use your other hand to gently pat out stroke the baby's back in upwards motion.
Another method would be to set the baby on your lap facing away from you. This method, while being the trickiest is the most effective one of all. Babies usually burp almost immediately with this method. Use one hand to support the baby's chin bearing in mind not to choke the little one and the other hand to pat the baby's back.
Or you could just flip them over on their stomach while they lie on your lap (with their head supported of course) while you drum out a burp or two.
7 After: Clean Those Gums
Strangely, many new mothers are unaware that they need to regularly clean their baby's mouths at least once a day. Sure they have no teeth....and hey they have saliva to break down any of the remaining milk droplets in their mouth but let's keep in mind that there are such things called bacteria that are invisible to the naked eye.
These icky little things can give our little tots oral thrush, which shows itself in the form of a white thick layer on the baby's tongue. Sometimes it can even cause the little one to have a fever.
Prepare a little washcloth or if you have extra cash to spare, buy a baby oral brush to clean their mouths. Babies love it when you stick them into their mouths...it gives them something to nibble on.
If you are using a cloth, or even the finger slip on a toothbrush, always remember to wash your hands prior to inserting them into your baby's mouth. Heck, even if you use a silicone baby tooth bristle, check for any particles that might be stuck on them. You want to clean your baby's mouth, not introduce any foreign particles or dirt into them.
Also, take every opportunity to look into the baby's mouth whenever you can. Sometimes they might have inflamed throats or white patches at the back of their mouth due to the food they take or the environment itself. This can give a lot of discomfort to your little ones.
6 After: Check The Diaper
Some babies have a habit of pooping right after feeding. Others pass motion during the feed. Now that's a multitasking baby. Often times you will get telltale signs. Either they become suspiciously quiet, or their faces go red, and sometimes they might even cry from exercising too much strength pushing the poop out.
But every once in a while, babies can pass silent bombs without even leaving the slightest hint or smell. This only happens during the first few weeks...after that, the smell will only become more and more pungent.
So before you start dancing your victory dance from having successfully survived a feeding session, take a peek at their diapers, take a whiff and see if they did indeed poop or not. Don't worry, baby poops aren't that bad. They are just slimy brownish good, which can sometimes border on being black little lumps of coal like balls. There is a joke that many wives tell their spouses that baby poop is edible and unsurprisingly the husbands usually fall for it. This goes to show how 'clean' baby poop can be compared to normal adult stools.
5 After: Play Time!
As important as it is to keep your baby well fed, one must not forget the significance of playing with the baby.
Research has found that playtime with babies (even those blurry newborns) play a vital role in shaping their characters and stimulates brain growth.
While playing peekaboo or making clucking sounds with your tongue might seem downright silly, it actually stimulates the baby's interest and helps them distinguish different sound patterns. So go ahead, play with your child once they are burped and fully fed. And by exposing the baby to an environment rich with colors, sounds, and different sights, you could actually be helping your baby reach their milestones faster and become a smarter baby. Goodbye, average Joes and Janes! Baby might even turn out to be the next Stephen Hawking (minus the ALS).
Smart baby aside, what matters more is that these play sessions could very well form sweet memories that will be imprinted in your mind for many decades to come.
4 After: Wash The Bottles
Hygiene is a must in our everyday lives. Even more so even we have a baby in the house. So after the little tot finishes his or her bottle, always remember to wash and sterilize the bottles. Washing is a must to rid the bottle of milk residues and sterilizing, well, many experts have argued (very logically I might say) that sterilizing the bottles are an important step to not only clean the bottles of milk and grime but to also rid the bottles from germs and bacteria.
The funny thing though is that more than one gynecologist and pediatrician have sworn that sterilizing is unnecessary so long as the bottles are well washed.
So there you have it, if you feel more at peace after sterilizing the bottles then, by all means, do so. A little extra step can go a long way.
As for the washing, many mothers have opted to use organic bottle washing liquids that are supposedly environmentally friendly but a heck lot more expensive. Many have claimed the wonders of the organic liquids, being healthier for the little tots. But the past generation has grown up on normal dishwashing liquids and hey, we're still here, aren't we? Heh.
3 After: Clean Yourself Too
Mums who breastfeed your babies via a direct latch, do not ever forget to clean the nipples after the little ones are happily fed. This is to ensure the nipples do not get infected and to discourage them from being a bacterial breeding ground (eeewwww). Imagine the bacteria having rock and roll on the tits. Not exactly what you'll want.
Breastmilk is essentially your baby's basic food so you'll be wanting to keep the juice flowing with all the goodness of minerals and vitamins. So ladies, go and wash 'em up. Pat them dry and put on some cream, tea leaves, aloe vera (whatever is necessary to make them feel comfortable after a tug of war) if necessary. Just remember to wash them off before the next feed. Or you could just run them under a warm shower. That would be exceptionally refreshing.
If however, you are too tired to even get up from the chair after tending to the little one, you can squeeze a small amount of milk and rub them around the nipples to help soothe them before your shower at a much later time. This will give you a chance to rest a little after the feed.
2 After: Finally, Bed Time!
After taking all the necessary steps to ensure a happily fed baby and fresh diapers with well-sterilized bottles / nipples, the next step would be to put the baby to bed. After all, a happy, well-fed baby falls asleep much easier than a hungry and colicky one. So go ahead, soothe your baby, swaddle them, rock them gently and sing a lullaby if you have to.
Unless you have an infinite level of energy then it would truly be best to wind them down. Dim the lights in the room and put away anything stimulants that might make the baby excited.
There are very few people who have been able to put an overly excited or active baby to sleep to try to be as soothing, calming (and downright dull and boring) as you possibly can. The trick is to make them think that sleep is a lot more interesting than mummy.
Once you they have fallen asleep, put them down in the crib and usher them to dreamland. Rainbows and ponies await them there. Then switch to stealth mode and use your ninja skills to slip out of the room. That would be your ultimate victory.
1 After: Get Some Rest, Then Repeat
And finally...(Drumroll please)...the moment you've all been waiting for. The most anticipated event of the day. No, it's not a rendezvous with your spouse (although the thought can be rather attractive) or a trip to your town's biggest departmental store sale. When all is said and done, the time has finally come for you to get some rest. Yes, you! That exhausted mum who's been up the whole night caring for your little one.
Now that he or she is happily tucked in bed, it is time for your to get a little wink of your own. Time for some rejuvenation! Go!
Quickly take a leak (or a bath, wash your face and brush the yellow stained teeth that have not been in contact with any toothbrush for more than 2 days....but the heck with it. Who has time for that?) and prop yourself on your favorite pillow next to the baby's crib or in your room, or on the sofa or simply plonk yourself on the floor and close your eyes. Your very own version of rainbows and ponies await you too. Zzzzzz. Cue to baby waking up and going 'Waaaaaaaaaaahh!' and the whole cycle begins again.
References: Babycenter.com, Wikipedia, and Parents.com.