Life has changed now that your baby is here, and you might have lots of questions about what to do. These tips can help first-time parents feel confident about caring for a newborn in no time.
How Do I Handle My Baby?
Wash your hands (or use a hand sanitizer) before handling your baby. Newborns don't have a strong immune system yet, so they're at risk for infections. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands.
Support your baby's head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby. And support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
Always fasten your baby securely when using a carrier, stroller, or car seat. Limit any activity that could be too rough or bouncy.
Avoid rough play with newborns, such as jiggling them on the knee or throwing them in the air.
When Should I Bathe My Baby?
For the first few weeks, babies get sponge baths. Then, after the umbilical cord stump falls off and the circumcision heals (if your baby was circumcised), babies can have baths in a sink or small plastic infant tub.
When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first ones should be gentle and brief. If your baby gets upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the tub bath again. A bath two or three times a week in the first year is fine. More frequent bathing may be drying to the baby's skin.
How Often Should I Feed My Baby?
It's recommended that babies be fed on demand — that is, whenever they seem hungry. Your baby may show you they're hungry by crying, putting fingers in their mouth, or making sucking noises. A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2–3 hours.
Another good way to tell if a breastfed baby is getting milk is to notice if your breasts feel full before feeding your baby and less full after feeding. If you're formula-feeding, you can easily see if your baby is getting enough to eat. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your baby's growth or feeding schedule.
Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them fussy. To help prevent this, burp your baby often.
What Should I Know About My Baby’s Sleep?
You may be surprised to learn that newborns sleep about 16 hours or more. They typically sleep for periods of 2–4 hours. Many babies sleep through the night (between 6–8 hours) at 3 months of age, but if yours doesn't, it's not a cause for concern. Like adults, babies develop their own sleep patterns and cycles.
Always place babies on their back to sleep to lower their risk of SIDS. Do not use blankets, quilts, sheepskins, bumpers, stuffed animals, or pillows in the crib or bassinet because they can suffocate a baby. Remember changing the position of your baby's head from night to night (first right, then left, and so on). This helps prevent a flat spot from developing on one side of the head.
Before long, you'll have a routine and be parenting like a pro. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your doctor. They can recommend resources that can help.