The moment you have long been waiting for is finally here – you’re ready to take your newborn home from the hospital. Like any other parent out there, you’ve probably spent the last nine months of your life preparing for this wonderful day imagining all sorts of cute things happening around your place. Now that your little one is home and sleeping peacefully in the crib, you can rest-assured that the most exciting adventure of your life has begun.
Parents all over the world make mistakes. In a majority of cases, these mistakes occur due to poor information and at times even poor judgment. In my opinion, the poor judgment bit is just part of getting to learn about the art of parenting. You get to learn about it bit by bit as time passes by. The problem here is with poor information. Parenting is an ever-evolving science – things our parents had no idea about are crystal clear to us today. In order to dispel a bit of the misinformation out there, here’s a list of things that I believe all new parents should know about their newborns:
7 Your baby may look a bit ‘funny’
That’s right – at birth, your baby’s head may be a bit squished owing to his journey though the birth canal and he may have a lot of fine hair on his body known as ‘lanugo’. Oh and, your precious angel may even have a puffy-face with eyes that are gooey and often shut. Now don’t go about doubting his looks because, well, he just spent a full nine months tucked away in his mother’s womb and he will start looking like prince charming really soon.
A majority of newborns don’t have those ‘beauty contest winner’ looks that their parents imagine them to have upon birth. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering all that they’ve been through during pregnancy, labor and delivery. At birth, your little one may have a pointy head and even swollen genitals – but for good reason. If you have a vaginal birth, you will probably look at your baby’s head and think, ‘No wonder the birth was so painful’ because it will be bigger than the rest of his body. Apart from that, his head may be a bit misshapen too because of having to squeeze through the birth canal. With time (in a week or two), his head will return to its original shape.
What about his arms and legs?
Your baby has spent a lot of time curled up in your uterus. For this reason, he requires a bit of time to stretch out a bit and adjust to his freedom. In a week or so, you will start noticing his arms and legs getting uncurled.
6 It’s best to give him sponge baths till the umbilical cord falls off
The umbilical cord falls off faster if it is kept dry. In such a case, it may fall off within two weeks. Besides, you can’t deny the fact that newborns don’t get very dirty so there really isn’t a need for a shower right away. In case the umbilical cord get wet, it is best for you to just pat it dry. In case the stumps bleeds a little when the cord falls off, there’s nothing to worry about – just like a scab, a little bleeding is normal.
When you give your baby a sponge bath, you will spare yourself from having to put him in a tub. For this purpose, you just need to lay your baby down on a towel and clean your little one with a wet washcloth. Just so you know, you shouldn’t sponge bathe your baby more than 2 to 3 times a week. If anything, it shouldn’t take you more than 5 to 10 minutes to give your precious little angel a complete sponge bath.
Your baby’s skin
When it comes to your baby’s skin, it is necessary for you to know that it is extremely sensitive and fragile. It is for this reason that you should wash him with warm water only during the first month after delivery. In case you use soap, it is best for you to only use gentle baby soap on parts that you believe are fairly dirty. Also, make sure that the soap you choose to use on your little one does not have any alcohol, preservatives or perfumes in it as these may harm his skin.
5 Your baby will tell you if she’s getting enough food
Your baby needs to be fed every two to three hours. However, when you start nursing, it may become a bit hard for you to know how much milk he is getting. To work out whether he is getting enough or not, it is highly recommended for you to consider his weight. In the early days, your pediatrician will continue to check your baby’s weight particularly during the first few days after discharge. Just so you know, your baby will lose about 5 to 8 percent of his birth weight in the first few weeks. However, he will gain it right back in the second week so there’s nothing for you to be worried about.
Another means of gauging your baby’s feeding is to count the number of diapers he uses. His schedule during the first week after delivery will be pretty much haphazard. However, once that’s over, you will probably see about five to six wet diapers a day together with at least one or two poop-filled ones. As long as he is healthy, seems contented after most breastfeeds and is steadily gaining weight, you can assure yourself that your precious one is getting all the milk his growing body needs.
Some babies feed rather predictably whereas others don’t. In this case, it is perfectly normal for you to lose count of the number of times that your baby has fed – come to think of it, you may also lose track of when one feed ends and the other begins. Just remember that your baby is not going to space out his feeds until he grows bigger.
4 It is normal for babies to have dry skin
Yes, your baby’s skin may be fairly soft to begin with, but this is soon going to chance. Think of it this way – if you were soaked in liquid for a full nine months and then suddenly let out in the air, wouldn’t you be dry? This is how things work with newborns and why they have dry skin. To keep things simple, there is no reason at all for you to do anything about your baby’s dry skin because if will peel and flake off on its own. If you are very worried, just use a fragrance-free hypoallergenic baby lotion. With dry skin, your baby may even have little pink bumps, baby acne and even diaper ashes. Apart from diaper rashes, there isn’t much for you to worry about as the other problems will go away on their own. So stop worrying and just focus on your little one’s well-being – that dry skin will flake off soon enough.
A majority of newborns tend to have some area of dry skin. To be honest, during the newborn stage, there is no need as such for baby lotion to be applied on the little one’s skin. At times babies naturally have skin that is extremely dry and may split particularly around the hands and ankles. If need be, you should consider using Vaseline, olive oil, or A-D ointment on the affected areas. However, do this only if there is a genuine need because dry skin typically goes away by itself in newborns.
Which lotion should I use?
If you are interested in using a lotion on your newborn, make sure that you choose one that is free of perfumes and dyes. In case of dry skin, don’t bathe your baby too often as it may add to the dryness too.
3 Babies cry to communicate
With those piercing wails, your baby wants you to know that he’s hunger, has a dirty diaper, is feeling cold or even that he wants you to hold him. Yes, your baby will communicate with you by crying and although these early conversations may seem frustrating, you can assure yourself that you will get a better handle on your baby’s demands with time.
The thing with babies is that they have a single mode of communication with their parents – crying. Here, it is vital for you to respond to your little one’s cries as soon as possible. For those of you thinking that you will spoil your baby with responding to his cries immediately, rest-assured that you won’t. On the contrary, you will actually teach your baby to trust you, which in turn will help you bring up a confident, positive and happy child. However, the one thing that you will need to learn is to differentiate between his cries. If he is crying in pain, he will start off with a shrill scream followed by a silent phase and a series of short gasps. If he is crying due to hunger, it is going to be a loud demanding wail. With time, you will be able to distinguish between other cries as well such as those of discontentment and the need to be held.
Let your baby rely on you
At such a young age, your little one does not understand intentions and consequences. However, what he will learn to understand is that you can be relied on when you start responding to his cries immediately.
2 Don’t give your baby solid food until he is at least months old
In the past couple of years, the recommendation on when a baby should be given solid foods has been through a major change. These days, experts believe that babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are at least 6 months old. After that, parents should slowly and gradually start introducing solid foods to them. This is because by the 6months mark, babies have better chances of being protected against illnesses and food allergies because it allows their digestive systems to mature. Apart from that, it also provides protection against obesity and has plenty of other benefits to offer too.
See there are plenty of reasons why you should wait for your baby to become 6 months old before introducing solid foods to him. To begin with, solid foods are not as nutritious as formula or breast milk. If anything, it may end up being higher in calories and lower in nutrition which may lead to obesity. Apart from that, babies obviously find it harder to swallow solid food as compared to milk. Your baby may not even be developed enough before the age of 6 months to start swallowing solid food. Also, solid foods that are given way too early can trigger eczema and allergies along with chronic diseases like celiac disease and diabetes.
Don’t be tempted
Even with so many bits of advice, you may find yourself getting tempted to start feeding solid food to your baby right away. However, you need to keep calm and keep those thoughts of, “He will sleep better after having solid food” away from your mind.
1 Your baby may be ‘explosive’
Yes, your newborn looks extremely adorable and delicate, but when it comes to thinks like poop and spit-up, you need to know that he may pack a punch. That’s right, babies can be very explosive in terms of their poop an spit-up. A recent survey shows that nearly 41 percent of new moms find spitting up to be their biggest feeding nuisance. Hence, you really shouldn’t be surprised by the number of times you may have to change YOUR OWN clothes.
So why do babies spit-up so frequently? See, there’s a tiny muscle that acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus. After delivery, this muscle is a tad bit immature, which is why much of your baby’s food may end up coming back up. In case your newborn spits up too often, it is highly recommended for you to burp him and make sure that he remains upright after every feed for a while. This is going to play a major role in reducing the frequency and volume of his spit-ups. Oh and, you may assure yourself that this phase of your baby’s life is going to come to an end too – he will not be taking his burp cloths to school you know. If anything, his spitting phase may come to an end by the time he’s 4 or 5 months old.
When should I start worrying?
You should start worrying about things and take your little one to the doctor in case he seems uncomfortable after feeding, is steadily losing weight or has ‘projectile’ spit-up. These are signs that he may be suffering from a medical problem like reflux.