Caring for your newborn, especially if he’s your first, can be an intimidating experience. Sure, you’ve read the books, gotten advice from family and friends and asked your physician dozens of questions, but nothing quite prepares you for those first few weeks home from the hospital.
Don’t worry; soon you’ll be a parenting pro. In the meantime, here are a few things to expect with your newborn and some tips to help you cope.
The stump left after the umbilical cord is cut will dry up and fall off seven to 21 days after birth. Keep the stump dry by giving your baby sponge baths and folding diapers away from the stump. You also can buy newborn diapers that have a cutout in front to allow air to circulate around the stump. The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends using alcohol to clean the stump area, as untreated cords have been shown to heal faster.
Expect babies to eat every two to four hours, measured from the start of one feeding to the start of the next. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk or formula is all a baby needs for the first six months. Whether you are nursing or bottle-feeding, you will want to have a comfy spot handy, as you will spend a lot of time feeding your baby!
Frequent eating results in frequent diaper changes for your little bundle of joy. A good indication she is eating enough is six to eight wet diapers a day and three to six poopy ones. Urine should be light to medium yellow, and feces can range from brown to green to yellow. Every baby is different, however, and there is a wide range of “normal.” Keep track of your baby’s diaper changes and bring the chart to her next doctor appointment.
According to Children’s Mercy Hospital, newborns sleep around 16 hours a day, broken up into several naps. Sleeping through the night probably won’t happen until he’s a few months old, but to encourage independent sleeping, avoid turning on lights or playing with your baby when he awakens at night. Stick to a routine of feeding him, changing him and putting him back in his crib. Remember, always put your baby to sleep on his back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Newborns do not need daily baths; three times a week is enough until they start crawling around and getting into messes. Sponge baths are the way to go until the umbilical cord stump dries up and falls off. Have all the supplies within arm’s reach and keep a hand on your baby at all times—babies are slippery when wet! Place him on a towel and gently wash him with a warm, damp washcloth and baby wash. When the umbilical stumps falls off and the area heals, your baby can have a tub bath. Start with a small plastic tub filled with warm water rather than a regular tub and never leave your baby unattended. Babies can drown in less than one inch of water and in less than one minute.
Tisha Foley and her husband have two “babies,” ages 8 and 12. They live in Belton.
As always, consult your physician if you have any questions or concerns.