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This topic is overdue. I have a three-year-old and my head is wrapped up in caring for a toddler that sometimes I forget what the first few weeks of taking care of a newborn were like. All I remembered was that I had fun taking care of a tiny, fragile child and I found newborn care easier compared to handling a toddler. But since I know some friends who are giving birth soon or have recently given birth, I would like to share first-time mom advice on dealing with a newborn.
Note that every parent’s first-time experience is different. You may be dealing with a newborn with ease while your friends may be ranting about how exhausted and how close they are to losing their minds. And if you belong to the former, you are one of the lucky ones; if the latter, don’t worry – you’re definitely not alone. Here are newborn care tips to help you deal with your baby’s first three months at life.
Newborn Care – What to Expect
These babies are extremely fragile and you might be concerned about not knowing what to do, especially since you don’t have any previous firsthand experience. Here are the things you will need to expect when taking care of a newborn.
Bathing – This was the scariest part for me and I’d thought about it even before my kid arrived. I feared that the fragile, tiny guy would slip from my arms. The good thing is that I lived with my mom the first five days after birth and she assisted me with newborn bathing. My mom was sort of primitive, she didn’t even need those bath items like sophisticated tubs and bath nets that moms of today have.
Once I got home, I only got the bath seat, which is like a reclined seat with a foam padding that I put in the tub. That’s because I didn’t know bath nets existed and other tubs are so expensive. See? I had no clue then. But eventually, it was just a matter of days before I became a pro at bathing a baby.
If you’re still not confident about using a baby tub for a fragile weeks-old baby, you can simply lay him down on his rubber mat and clean him using a washcloth. Bathing a baby can be so much fun, at least it was for me.
Remember: NEVER. EVER. Leave your baby in the bath even for just a second.
How often to bathe?
You really don’t have to bathe your child every day, especially infants. You can do two to three times a week so as not to dry out their delicate skin. Only use mild baby shampoo or soap. (Check out products free from chemicals by Human Heart Nature!)
Diapering – Prepare all your diapering items (like baby balms, diaper (disposable/cloth), gentle wipes/washcloth/cotton balls with water) before laying down the baby for changing and make sure those items are within reach. Wipe the baby’s bum from front to back — this is most important when you have a girl.
For boy moms, prepare for peepees as you change your diapers – this was one of the funny moments I missed when Kai was a newborn. I was a victim. I thought I’d get through that phase without getting pissed at. Tip: cover your boy’s little dingdong with a tiny washcloth as you change diapers.
The Umbilical Cord – Cleaning my baby’s umbilical cord was one of my favorite things to do as a first-time mom. I just enjoyed the fact that I can be so careful and meticulous about giving newborn care. The stump usually falls off by itself by three weeks but I remember so well that Kai’s fell off in just a week. Keep the stump clean and dry at all times and make sure diapers are clear of it.
Trimming nails – Those mittens and booties are there for a reason – it’s to protect your baby from scratches because they can have long fingernails. But if you’re up to it and you have 20/20 vision, you can go ahead with trimming the nails using baby nail clippers. This aspect of newborn care can be scary at first but you just have to be extremely careful and meticulous about this. If not, you can just file your baby’s nails instead of trimming them.
(Have a baby grooming kit around to help you with your newborn care)
Handling a baby – When taking care of a newborn, always hold him or her with your hand and fingers supporting the head and neck. Do this as you carry baby, cradle and put him down on the bed.
How to get through the newborn phase with sanity intact
Tip #1 Lower Your Expectations
When it comes to newborn care or taking care of a baby in general, make sure you don’t have high expectations. Do not expect your child can sleep through the night or that he or she needs to be fed every four hours or so. Babies can be erratic and they will form their own patterns. Adapt and don’t set high expectations just because you read this and that from a motherhood book.
Tip #2: Welcome Some Help
Your close friends and family will, at some point, offer you help with newborn care and when they do, say Yes. Do not do everything on your own just because you want to prove that you can or that you think work around the house is best done by you. Set limits, though, on what help you want. Maybe you can welcome offers of doing laundry and shopping from relatives and friends.
Tip #3. Don’t Set Your Standards Too High
Because if you do, you’ll just end up frustrated and exhausted. You’re already a supermom because you endured the pain of labor and childbirth, yet you come to love the little human that came out. It’s okay if you don’t have squeaky clean floors. Also, you’re not a Bad Mom if you ditch home-cooking and prefer take-outs. Be forgiving and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Tip #4. Don’t Welcome Visitors For The First Few Weeks
Family and friends can’t help it – they would want to visit you and see the baby. Although it may seem harsh, you might want to ban them from visiting you, especially during the first two or three crucial weeks after delivery. You will still be a mess by then trying to get your rhythm right with newborn care. And you know how they are – they can be loud and overly enthusiastic and you, on the other hand, might be feeling miserable from all the sleepless nights or breastfeeding pain (if you’re breastfeeding).
Tip #5. It’s Just a Phase
And everything will pass. I’d like to say, “This, too, shall pass” to a friend who’s a new mom. And while being a mom can make you lose your mind at times, you have to remember that everything is just a phase. Your baby will grow up fast and you won’t notice it. You might miss the days when you’re changing diapers because your child has learned to use the potty. It’s a cliche but I believe in this: savor each moment, no matter how challenging things were for you.
Life with a newborn can be exciting and exhausting at the same time. But it’s a wonderful journey that will reward you with love and kisses from a tiny human whose world revolves around you. Hang in there! You will be great at taking care of a newborn.