Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you were handed a newborn care guide on your way home with your baby? Alas, it is just not that easy. Motherhood is more of a ’Learn-As-You-Go’ type of situation, and boy, it can present some interesting situations – and solutions!
I’m preparing for the birth of baby #5 over here, and if I have learned anything so far, it is that every single baby is different. What works for one may not work for another. Some of my babies were happy with socks on, and others couldn’t sleep with their feet covered. These tiny creatures are strange indeed. One of my babies screamed when we bathed him and laughed if we stood in the shower together. Another baby would sleep swaddled, while his brother had to be rocked and kept upright to finally close his eyes. Again, these little beings are so different from one another.
You will learn your baby. It will take trial and error – and more trial and error before you figure everything out, and then, just as you do figure it out, that little baby will start teething, go through sleep regression, get a cold, or make a developmental leap that places you all the way back to where you started: clueless. The good news is that this happens with every single new mom. If you add more kids down the road, you just learn to accept all the craziness a little easier.
With all of that being said, there are a few things that new moms should know about those first few months. Keeping in mind, what works for one may not work for another, but trusting the gut and following Baby’s cues can save you a lot of stress and anxiety.
New Mom’s Guide to Newborn Care
Work with a Lactation Consultant: The first few weeks can impact the entire breastfeeding journey. Both Mom and Baby may need help working together to get the perfect latch.
Throw Away the Schedule: This tiny baby is not ready for a schedule just yet. She should be fed on demand, sleep when tired, and held constantly. Sleep training can lead to several lifelong problems, especially when done throughout the first few months after birth.
Learn Baby’s Cues: Before crying of hunger, your baby will show signs that it is time to eat. She may suck on her fingers or hand. She may ball her hands into tiny fists. She may bob her little head around with an open mouth. If you can recognize these cues, you can avoid the screaming, fussy time while trying to latch baby and nurse.
Bathe Sparingly: Bathing daily can dry out baby’s skin, so skip those baths and enjoy that newborn scent as long as possible.
Umbilical Cord Care: Skip the alcohol and squirt a little breast-milk on the cord area. Make sure it stays dry or it may end up looking ugly and infected. Sunshine and breast-milk can pretty much solve all newborn problems.
Cradle Cap: A dry scalp with flakiness or peeling can be linked to a food sensitivity (cutting dairy or gluten from your diet may help heal baby) or it could just be a normal balancing of hormones in baby. Letting a little coconut (or other) oil sit on there for awhile and then brushing the scalp should help a bit.
Swollen Breasts and Genitals: The hormones that made you a bit crazy while pregnant also play a role in your baby’s development. Some babies will have swollen, lumpy, or hard breast tissue and enlarged genitals after birth. As the hormones balance out, the swelling will disappear.
Baby Acne: Those hormones are probably behind this one too. Again, it could be linked to a food sensitivity, or it could just be a shift in hormones. Breast-milk, sunshine, probiotics, and time will help.
Strange Noises: Newborn sounds can be compared to just about every animal sound possible. You will lose sleep over these sounds, but they are normal and will fade over time.
Reflexive Jerking Movements: Baby is adapting to a new -and much larger- world; her tiny body will go through many developmental leaps that trigger strange body movements.
Baby Poop: There are several stages of poop you will see. Meconium is like tar and lasts the first few days before the seedy, mustard poop arrives. There will be times when poop is a bit mucusy, changes in color, and is just gross!
A few other notes for taking care of a newborn:
- Proper installation and use of the car seat can save your baby’s life. Most car seats are improperly installed and baby is not buckled correctly. Take the time to learn how to keep your baby safe.
- Always hold the baby while supporting her head and neck, babies may not ‘break’ easily, but they do not have the strength to hold their head up for a while.
- Pets can be jealous and act out, never let an animal be alone with the baby.
- Clean all the cracks and crevasses when changing a diaper. Any dampness or soil left behind can cause infection or yeast to grow.
- You are the mom. You are amazing. You will do an amazing job – even when you think you won’t.
Elizabeth is a researcher, author, and content writer for My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear – a leading online store for creative baby shower gifts and manufacturer of plush toys; stuffed giraffe, sloth stuffed animal and much more. She spends her days as the ringleader of a never-tiring circus; one full of tightrope walkers, Nerf-guns shooters, mess makers, and danger-seekers. Find out the do’s and don’ts and other important things about pregnancy on our pregnancy blog.