There is a moment all new parents experience the day we bring our newborns home. After the excitement of dressing our little angel in her going-home outfit, installing the car seat and making sure that her floppy head stays upright during the drive, we find ourselves at home with no guidance. However, at this stage, her needs are basic. There’s no need to panic.
Swaddle your baby to make him feel secure and snug. Newborns are accustomed to living in a confined space before they’re born, so it’s only natural to recreate that sensation by wrapping them up in a blanket. To swaddle your newborn, lay a receiving blanket out flat. Turn down one corner of the blanket just a few inches. Lay the baby down with his head just above the folded corner. Hold his arm down straight and pull the blanket across him securing his arm tightly. Tuck the blanket under him on the opposite side. Repeat with his other arm. Pull up the bottom; tuck it in behind him like a belt.
Feed him only breast milk or formula. Breastfed babies need to be fed every two to three hours. Formula fed babies need to eat every three to four hours. In the beginning, babies should be woken up around the clock according to their feeding schedule. After a week or two, it is fine to let them sleep, wake and eat on demand.
Clean your newborn’s belly button with a few drops of rubbing alcohol once or twice a day. The stump should fall off in less than two weeks. It isn’t unusual to see a small amount of pus or blood, but–if the area turns red or just doesn’t seem right–trust your intuition and see the doctor. Prevent irritation by folding down the front of the diaper until the belly button heals.
Bathe baby only if necessary. Newborns don’t need to take baths the way older kids do. If they need it, wipe them down with a warm washcloth and some mild baby wash. It isn’t a good idea to immerse a newborn in water until the umbilical stump has healed.
Keep circumcisions in check; that’s extremely important. Place a generous dollop of petroleum jelly on the tip of your baby’s penis. Loosely cover it with a sterile gauze pad. This will keep the petroleum jelly from rubbing off on the diaper. That will prevent irritation. Redness and swelling will subside in about a week.
Dress your baby in an outfit suitable for the season, then add another light layer. Newborns have trouble regulating their own body temperature so it’s important to make sure they don’t get too cold. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to make sure baby doesn’t get too hot, either. A study from the University of Calgary showed that overbundling a newborn can increase her risk of SIDS. Keep your baby warm, but recognize that moderation is key.
Give baby lots of love. You can’t overdo the cuddles and kisses and small talk with your baby, and you certainly can’t spoil a newborn. So enjoy these first moments your baby has in the world; they pass more quickly than you can imagine.