It feels like your life is starting all over again the second you first take your newborn baby into your arms. Time and time again, your baby will still steal your heart. Still, new parents, however much they try to prepare, might be anxious about taking care of a newborn, especially if it’s their very first child. You could read all the books in the world but you can never really prepare for what it’s like to have a person’s entire life in your hands!
Bright Side has collected some unexpected pieces of advice that can help parents of newborns.
1. Don’t underestimate the importance of body language.
Crying isn’t the only way your baby tries to communicate with you. Pay attention to your baby’s body language. Clenched fists could indicate that your baby is stressed or hungry. Repeated kicking suggests your baby might want to play. Even something like pulling on their ears could suggest they are starting to teethe.
2. When breastfeeding, hold your baby with the arm closest to the head.
On television shows, when breastfeeding, mothers are often shown holding their baby with the hand closest to their baby’s head, holding their breast with the opposite arm. While this is okay for older children, it is better to do the opposite with newborns. This allows your free hand to move your baby’s head and makes it easier to switch sides.
3. Make sure you feed your baby when they ask, which they will...
Feed your newborn on cue. Generally, babies need to be fed around 8 to 12 times a day — think one feeding every 2 to 3 hours. Look for signs that your baby is hungry such as sucking on a fist.
4. Tickle your baby if you need to wake them up.
If you need to wake your baby up for whatever reason, it is never a good idea to shake them. Even in play, shaking them can cause bleeding in the brain which is dangerous and life-threatening. Instead, tickle your baby or blow gently on them to wake them up. Seriously, you’ll want to tickle them anyway, so put it to good use!
5. Don’t give your baby a pacifier before breastfeeding.
Babies have an instinctive reflex to suck, making bottles and pacifiers easier for them to use. However, if you plan on breastfeeding your baby, it’s better to wait until your baby is used to feeding before being introduced to pacifiers. Generally, in this situation, waiting until they are 2 to 4 weeks old is suggested.
6. Your baby’s first bath should be a sponge bath (or close to it).
It’s about time you realize your baby deserves special treatment, like getting a personal sponge bath, but there is a special reason to indulge your newborn in such a way. A newborn’s umbilical cord is more likely to fall off if it’s regularly kept dry. Remember, if there is a little bleeding as the cord comes off, it is perfectly normal, much like a scab.
7. Use a laundry basket as a nonslip baby bath.
If you’re worried about your baby’s transition to using the tub for baths, there is a hack so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it before. Just place your baby in a laundry basket! Water seeps in through the holes so your baby gets clean in a contained space. The laundry basket can even help prevent slipping! Just remember to fill said basket with bath toys.
8. Heat can help while breastfeeding.
When breastfeeding, if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts, remember that a little heat can go a long way. Placing a warm compress, heating pad, flax pillow, or warm washcloth on your breasts will help the milk flow. That said, a cold pack can also help if your breasts are sore after nursing.
9. Mimic the womb to comfort your baby.
If your baby is acting fussy, all you need to do is remind them of a happier time...the womb! This can include swaddling, swinging, holding babies on their sides, and even allowing them to suck their thumb. After all, babies suck their thumbs to relax in the womb in the first place! Just remember, nobody grows out of being nostalgic.
10. Music can soothe the most savage baby.
The idea that having babies listen to music will make them smarter, also known as the Mozart Effect, is probably nothing more than an old wives’ tale, but letting your baby listen to music likely has some benefits. Listening to music can help your baby stay calm.
11. Be aware of your baby’s skin sensitivity.
Be careful before applying lotions. Babies admittedly do have dry skin after birth, but their skin is also very sensitive and putting lotion or oil on them so soon could actually cause allergic reactions. If you want to get into the habit of applying lotion or oil to your baby, try using a spot on a small part of the baby’s body to see if there is a reaction.
12. Oral and dental health are important at every age.
Babies usually don’t have teeth, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your baby’s oral health. Use some wet gauze to wipe down your baby’s gums. Also, make sure that your baby is getting enough fluoride; ask your dentist to provide supplements if fluoride-rich water is unavailable. Remember, cavities can appear once teeth have erupted.
13. Put your baby to bed while they are still awake.
If you go out of your way tiring out your baby so that it will already be asleep when you put it to bed, you are making more work for yourself. It is better to put them to bed while they are awake but sleepy so that they’re conditioned to their bedtime routine. Eventually, your baby will learn to fall asleep independently.
14. Layer your baby’s crib in case of nightly changes.
When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night because it needs to be changed, it can be a huge hassle trying to fix the situation at hand. Layering the baby’s crib with sheets and waterproof mattress covers can help make the cleanup process easier than having to completely unmake the crib.
15. Understand that babies are all kinds of beautiful!
When babies first come into your life, they don’t always look the way you think they would. They often are covered in fine hair called lanugo. A baby’s face might be puffy and they might rarely open up their eyes. Some babies are even born without eyelashes or eyebrows. This is all normal. Most of this is usually temporary and even if it wasn’t, remember that all babies are beautiful. Seriously, they already make the bald, short, and chubby look work for them!
What did you think of our advice? Are you going to put any of it to good use? Do you have any advice to share? Let us know!
Preview photo credit mommy.labornurse / Instagram