Caring for Your Newborn Baby at Home
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of bringing a new baby home! While the joys of parenthood are certainly present, it’s important to remember that caring for a newborn is an immense responsibility. New parents may find themselves overwhelmed by all the tasks that come with caring for a newborn, so here are some tips to help make life a bit easier.
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
First and foremost, make sure you get as much rest as possible — both you and your partner. Caring for a newborn can be exhausting and sleep deprivation will only add to stress. Try taking turns caring for the baby at night, or even trading off with family members or close friends when possible. Babies sleep and feed frequently, so try to get as much rest as you can while your baby is resting. Your newborn can spend 14-20 hours per day sleeping, and awakens every 2-3 hours if breastfeeding. Their sleep can be in short bursts as well, so catch up on sleep where you can.
Good Newborn Sleep Habits
Infants should also be slept on their back, and never their sides or stomach, as this reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The amount of time they spend awake is just enough to get some food in their stomach, and have their diaper changed. Your baby may also sleep during the day and awaken more during the night, so try to start a bedtime routine with your baby to indicate it’s time to sleep for a longer period. This can include changing your baby into their pajamas, feeding, swaddling, and reading / singing to the little one. Babies will start to understand how the flow of the day goes and what to expect during certain times.
Feeding Your Newborn Baby
Feed your baby according to their needs — whether breast milk or formula. Making sure your little one gets enough nutrition is key for their growth and development. Usually a newborn is pretty good at letting you know they are hungry. Nutrients at this age are very important, and ensuring your baby is well fed helps them grow. You may be surprised at how much and how frequent your baby eats if it’s your first child. Your baby will go through many growth spurts in the first year, at the 2 week, 6 week, 3 month and 6 month marks. Ask your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you have any questions about feeding schedules or amounts.
Breastfeeding a Baby
If you’re choosing to breastfeed, a mother’s body will begin producing breast milk at around the 3 day mark, and will have produced colostrum before that. Colostrum is extremely nutrient dense for the newborn baby in their first few days of life. Breastfeeding comes with the need for your baby to latch on to the breast, which some mothers struggle with. Lactation specialists are found in most hospitals, and can lend their expertise in getting your baby to latch, and there are also private lactation consultations if necessary.
Infants should always be fed every 1 to 3 hours with breast milk or formula and should be eating 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. A newborn will initially lose some weight after birth, so the frequent meals help them regain that weight and more.
Take Time for Self Care
Make sure to take time out just for yourself, even if it’s just taking a quick walk around the block or enjoying a cup of tea in peace and quiet. Focus on self-care so that you can be more present and patient when caring for your newborn. Your baby starts to learn from you the moment you bring them home, and being in a good frame of mind is always important when caring for a child. Your partner or family members can be a huge help during the first few months of a baby’s life, especially if they have experience raising children.
Ask Friends and Family to Help
With that in mind, don’t forget to ask for help when needed! It often takes several people to care for a newborn properly and that includes relying on other people who care deeply about you and your little one. Reach out to family members, friends or neighbors who may be able to lend a helping hand – they will appreciate being asked!
Caring for a newborn may seem daunting at first but with some planning, patience and understanding you’ll soon find your groove as parents.