Even if you read a dozen books about what to expect when you bring home a newborn, there’s going to be a learning curve, from feeding and bathing, to changing diapers. Books can’t teach you everything. Some of your knowledge will simply have to come from experience.
That said, knowing certain things going in can help you to stay calm and avoid freak outs. Here are a few basics every parent should know.
Keep the Umbilical Cord Dry
If you’re like most people, you haven’t given the umbilical cord, or the stump that remains, much thought. However, when you give your baby a first bath, you need to know that it’s best not to get the umbilical cord wet. If it stays dry, it will fall off within a couple of weeks.
This isn’t to say that getting it wet is an unforgivable faux pas. If it gets wet during bathing, simply pat it dry. In preparation, though, try using a Natural Sea Sponge so you have better control over where the water goes when you’re bathing your newborn.
Dry Skin is Normal
When newborns go from a wet environment like the amniotic sac to a world that is mostly dry, it’s not unusual for their skin to experience some changes. If you start to notice flaking and peeling, there’s no need for alarm – this is fairly normal for newborns and you can use baby lotion to treat it.
Also fairly common is the appearance of baby acne and diaper rash. Baby acne typically clears up on its own within a few months, but for diaper rash, consider a natural and organic product like Bud Coat to treat and prevent discomfort.
Crying is Normal
As adults, we have many tools to communicate our needs. Babies have only one – their wail. It tells you when they’re hungry, tired, or in need of a diaper change. This can be very frustrating for new parents, especially when you’re sleep deprived from waking for feedings every 2-3 hours.
Eventually, you’ll learn to interpret your baby’s cries and anticipate his/her needs. In the meantime, try walking your baby around to simulate the familiar movement of pregnancy, or try a bouncer like the 4moms mamaRoo 4 with multiple motions and built-in sounds to soothe your baby and let you get a little rest at the same time.
Tips to Tell if Your Baby is Eating Enough
Your baby will definitely let you know when hunger strikes, and in the beginning, this will happen every 2-3 hours, most likely. How do you know if your baby is eating enough, or alternately, too much? There are a couple of ways. After about the first week, a regular feeding schedule should start to produce about 5-6 wet diapers a day, and at least 1-2 stools.
In addition, you can always track your baby’s weight. Do not be surprised if your baby loses a bit of weight right off the bat after birth. He/she should start gaining in week two, and your doctor can provide you with information about normal weight gain as you baby grows.
Getting on a Sleep Schedule
There’s just no way to sugar coat this – your sleep schedule is going to be all over the place for the first couple months. Your baby requires frequent feeding and you must accommodate.
The best way to work toward a sleep schedule that includes a full night of rest is to make sure you’re waking your infant to feed at least every three hours during the day, but then allowing uninterrupted sleep at night (i.e. letting baby wake when hungry). By about the three-month mark, many babies can sleep six or more hours at a stretch at night.
You Can Take Your Baby Out
You might be afraid to take your baby out into the world, but being cooped up in the house with naught but a newborn for company can make you a little stir crazy. As long as you take precautions, like avoiding rooms full of other kids, skipping crowded places like the mall (where your baby could be exposed to a plethora of germs), and choosing a covered stroller like the Bugaboo Buffalo Classic Stroller that keeps the sun off baby’s sensitive skin, you’re going to be fine.
You’re Not Alone
Being a new parent can feel like living in a bubble, but you’re not alone. You have family and friends that can help you with advice, household chores, and even sitting with the baby while you take a nap, have a bath, or grab a bite. When people offer to help, take it with gratitude.