The survival guide for new parents - EVERYTHING you need to know about newborn babies!
This is the ultimate guide for new parents with the essentials for the first time at home with a baby. You'll learn everything from how newborns sleep best to how to manage diaper changes and avoid screaming and panic. Let's go!
BREASTFEEDING & BOTTLE FEEDING
How to start breastfeeding
Ouch! It is not uncommon (no, quite the opposite!) for breastfeeding to be both time-consuming and painful in the beginning. For those who want to breastfeed, skin-to-skin immediately after birth is the best start. Within a few hours, most babies find their way to the breast. The first few days can be tough as your nipples get used to it (!!), the milk production kicks in and the baby gets a good grip on your nipple. One tip is not to leave the maternity ward without breastfeeding working properly. If things go wrong - ask for help! Often, tricks that allow the baby to get a better grip can help.
If you want to bottle feed
If you know before you give birth that you want to bottle feed your baby, it's a good idea to find out which formula you want to use and bring a bottle to the hospital. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, skin-to-skin is a cozy and good start to the bond between you as a parent and your baby. Let your baby show hunger signs and then give the bottle. No stress!
How do I know my baby is hungry?
A good guideline is to simply let your baby eat as often as they want. Some common signs that your baby is getting hungry include moving their head and mouth, sucking on their fingers, or 'buffering' with their face to the breast. It's easier to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby before he or she has time to start crying, so look out for the signs your baby makes.
How much should my newborn baby eat?
Babies should eat until they are full and satisfied, which for newborns usually means they stop actively sucking. They often fall asleep at the breast or bottle. If your baby doesn't finish the whole bottle (check the packaging to see how much you should do), pour out what's left.
SLEEP FOR NEWBORNS
How much does a newborn baby sleep in the first month?
Before having a baby, you've probably been told that newborns do nothing but sleep for the first few days, preferably 14-17 hours a day. The problem with newborns is not the amount of sleep, but the fact that they sleep, eat, and are awake – whether it's day or night. Some will sleep for 3 hours, others will only slumber for 20 minutes at a time. Try not to think too much about how it will be: babies are different and you just have to accept and go with the flow.
More importantly, how do you put a newborn baby to sleep?!
- In a babynest: babies like to have defined edges around them. It simply reminds them of their time in the womb. A babynest is great or a tightly rolled towel as a border around your baby.
- In your arms: your baby is used to being cradled inside her tummy as her mother walks around. Carrying your baby against your chest calms your baby, and he or she will also hear your heartbeat. A baby carrier frees your hands and prevents back pain.
- Buffing your baby's bottom: gently and rhythmically buffing your baby's bottom while carrying them in a sling is an almost magical trick.
- Rocking: you have already understood from this list that babies like movement and rocking. Many babies, therefore, settle more easily when the bed is rocking.
- In a stroller: yes, falling asleep in the fresh air and feeling the vibrations of the stroller is a golden recipe for sleep!
- Using white noise: inside the belly, your baby has been used to constant noise. Therefore, our quiet and calm daily life often has the opposite effect when it comes to a baby's sleep. Start a white noise playlist for babies (here's our favorite on Spotify!) and your baby will probably sleep better and deeper.
- Feed before sleep: for your newborn baby, a full stomach is essential for good sleep. So get into the habit of breastfeeding properly or giving a bottle right before sleep time.
TIP! Newborns can grunt, make noises, and whine in their sleep. Research shows that we as parents are often quick to react to any sound the baby makes, thus waking the baby unnecessarily. So here's a tip: wait a few minutes when your baby makes noises at night, and see if they can settle down again.
DIAPER CHANGES AND OTHER PRACTICALITIES
How often should I change the diaper?
One thing that is not easy to know as a new first-time parent is how often to change the diaper. On average, a baby pees every 20 minutes, but since it's such a small amount, you don't need to change the diaper every time. Every 2-3 hours is usually enough. However, a poopy diaper should be changed as soon as possible.
Ehh... black poop?!
Yep. Your baby's first poop is called meconium and is tough and green-black. In the beginning, they often poop after each meal, and the stool then turns yellow or green-yellow.
How often should I wash and bathe my newborn?
It's a good idea to wash your newborn with a soft, damp washcloth for the first few days. Then pat dry. This is the easiest way to avoid irritating your baby's skin. After that, your baby can be bathed once or twice a week. Some babies LOVE bathing, then you can do it more often if the skin doesn't get too dry. Remember to have lukewarm water, and to hold your baby firmly. A few drops of oil are good for moisturizing the skin, but be aware that the baby can easily become slippery like an eel!
Those little nails, should they be cut?
Newborn babies can have really long nails. But they are soft, and in the beginning it's best to gently tear them off so you don't accidentally cut the skin. One tip is to cut them when your baby is asleep.
Umbilical cord stump - what to do with it?
The cord stump usually falls off within two weeks. It rarely gets infected, although it can smell a bit. This is a sign that it will soon come off. It is normal for the edge of the belly button to be a little red when the stump falls off. If there is some blood or fluid, you can clean it with a cloth (dipped in lukewarm water), and then pat it dry with a clean cloth.
5 TIPS FOR A MORE COMFORTABLE START WITH YOUR NEWBORN
1. Your mood - yes, it can go up a little... and down a lot!
During pregnancy, you're encouraged by the idea that you'll be in a state of total bliss immediately after giving birth. But it is more common for the new mother to feel extra tired, sore, and weepy from hormones during the first few days at home. There's a lot to take care of: feedings, naps, 118 diaper changes, and knowing what every cry means. In other words, it's perfectly normal to be overjoyed, exhausted, in love, worried, and confused all at the same time.
2. The baby will be just as cute in a couple of weeks
It's okay to say no to visits. Really! Or just see those closest to you. Your baby will be just as adorable in a couple of weeks. As parents, you will have had time to get to know your new family member and enjoy the visit more.
3."Well, just read the manual!"
As a new parent, it's easy to wonder how everyone else manages this so brilliantly. What course did they take to learn how to put a baby to sleep or what every cry means? The answer is: everyone is as confused as you are. Don't think otherwise. And there's no magic formula - each baby comes with its own instruction book. Soon you will become an expert on the instructions for your baby.
4. Food in the freezer - but only food that can be eaten with one hand!
"The time at home with a newborn baby is the time of small bites", according to a midwife at the parent training course. And that's right - when you're marathon feeding and rocking a baby, a hot meal is often not a priority. Even though a full stomach, and thus extra energy, is super important. Things you can eat with one hand work perfectly!
5. Choose who you listen to
As a new parent, you will be attacked by well-meaning advice. Being told "He's probably hungry" every time your baby cries is classic - as if you hadn't thought of it yourself (or would deny your baby food for that matter). Choose a few people to listen to - and see the advice as one way to solve a problem. It doesn't necessarily mean it's your way. Let others advice pass you by with an "Oh, that's what you did!".
6. Carry, carry, carry!
Newborn babies love being close to their parents. They are used to lying in their mother's stomach and following her movements. A baby carrier or sling is similar to this and is therefore often loved by newborns. The sling or baby carrier allows your baby to be close to you, rock rhythmically, and hear your heartbeat. It's a lifesaver when your baby has trouble settling down. It also saves your back and leaves your hands free!
And don't forget to breathe, breathe... and breathe!
There will be times when you wonder what you've gotten yourself into. Perhaps in the middle of a late-night screaming marathon, or rocking a baby who never wants to settle down. When both you and your baby are crying and you want to give up, there's only one thing to do. Breathe and start again. Breathe again. You will make it. ❤️
13 July, 2023