Bringing a newborn baby home is an exciting and joyful experience, but it can also be overwhelming for new parents. The first month is a crucial time of adjustment for both you and your baby as you navigate the joys and challenges of parenthood.
Things That Every New Parent Should Know
Feeding: During the first month, your baby's primary source of nutrition will be breast milk or formula. Follow your baby's hunger cues and feed on demand. Aim for frequent feedings, typically every 2 to 3 hours, to ensure your baby is adequately nourished. Try to breastfeed from the very first day to create a good latch.
Recommended Reading: Newborn Feeding FAQs: Essential Information for New Parents
Sleep Patterns: Newborns sleep for most of the day, usually between 16 to 17 hours in total. However, their sleep is often in short intervals of 2 to 3 hours. Establish a soothing bedtime routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and be prepared for nighttime awakenings.
Bowel movements: Many newborns have at least 1 or 2 bowel movements a day. By the end of the first week, your baby may have as many as 5 to 10 a day. Your baby may pass a stool after each feeding. The number of bowel movements may go down as your baby eats more and matures during that first month.
Follow good diaper routine: Newborns need frequent diaper changes, typically every 2 to 3 hours or whenever they are wet or soiled. Use gentle wipes or warm water and mild soap to clean your baby's diaper area. Apply diaper rash cream or Vaseline to protect delicate skin from rashes.
Recommended reading: What Should Be in a Baby First Aid Kit?
Soothing Techniques: Babies cry to communicate their needs or seek comfort. You should be prepared for lots and lots of crying. Try different soothing techniques, such as rocking, swaddling, gentle shushing sounds, or offering a pacifier, to help calm your baby. Bond with them to make them feel comfortable and secure. Sing to them, talk to them, and hold them close. They will outgrow your laps very soon.
Bathing and Umbilical Cord care: Until the umbilical cord stump falls off, give your baby sponge baths instead of immersing them in water. Use warm water and a mild, baby-friendly cleanser. Ensure the room is comfortably warm to prevent chilling. Keep the umbilical cord stump clean and dry until it falls off naturally. Avoid submerging it in water and gently clean around the stump with a cotton ball or swab. Let the stump fall off on its own.
Burping is important: After feedings, take time to burp your baby to help release any trapped air and reduce the chances of discomfort or gas. Not being burped often and swallowing too much air can make a baby spit up, or seem cranky. Keep your baby upright after feeding for 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if your baby spits up to burp them. If your baby was bottle-fed, and she slept while drinking, prefer keeping your baby upright with your shoulders to avoid any spit-ups while sleeping.
Swaddle your baby while Sleeping: Swaddling protects your baby against its natural startle reflex, which means better sleep for both of you. It helps eliminate anxiety in your baby by imitating your touch, which helps your baby learn to self-soothe. It keeps her hands off her face and helps prevent scratching. They should only have their body wrapped and not their neck or head, to reduce the chance of suffocation.
Massaging is an important bonding technique: Making time for infant massage in your caretaking routine can reap massive rewards. Infant massage releases hormones that improve the bond with caretakers, and reduce colic and emotional stress. Gentle massage encourages the development of flexibility and motor abilities. Infant massage is shown to help increase attachment between baby and parents, and can even benefit mamas experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety.
You should know to Trim nails: Trimming your little one's nails can be a bit scary, especially at first. But keeping nails short is important to your baby's safety. Because they lack muscle control, infants can easily scratch and cut their own delicate skin while happily waving their hands and feet. Experts recommend using a file or soft emery board if your baby is under one month old.
Temperature Control: Ensure your baby's environment is comfortably warm, neither too hot nor too cold. Dress them in appropriate layers and use lightweight blankets or sleep sacks for added warmth in winter but Don't overdress your child. If you feel they are feeling cold, hold them tightly to you. According to the AAP, the ideal temperature for a baby's room is between 68 and 72 degrees(20-25 degree Celsius). Keeping a baby's room cool is especially important when they sleep, as overheating can put an infant at risk for SIDS.
Make a Vaccination/Immunization Calender: Schedule regular check-ups and vaccination calendars with your pediatrician to monitor your baby's growth and development and provide necessary vaccinations, and offer guidance on baby care.
Tummy Time: Tummy time should start soon after birth. You may begin with a minute or two of tummy time each day, and build up to around 15 minutes(2-3 min each session) a few times a day. Tummy time should always be supervised — never leave your baby on their stomach without supervision. Encourage short periods of supervised tummy time every day to help strengthen your baby's neck and upper body muscles.
Know the Term Growth Spurt: Growth spurts are short periods of time when your child experiences quick physical growth in height and weight. Growth spurts are a normal part of your infant's development. Babies may go through growth spurts during the first month. They may seem fussier, feed more frequently, or have changes in sleep patterns. Be patient and provide the extra nourishment and comfort they need.
Managing Visitors: Limit the number of visitors and ensure they follow proper hand hygiene and avoid close contact if they're unwell. Protecting your baby from potential infections is crucial during the early months. Don't let everyone kiss your child. Learn to say no. Make a sign for everyone visiting.
Introduce Simple Stimuli: Infant stimulation can help improve your baby's attention span, memory, curiosity, and nervous system development. Introduce your baby to simple stimuli such as high-contrast black-and-white images, gentle music, or soft toys with different textures. Smile, stick out your tongue, and make other expressions for your infant to study, learn, and imitate. Use a favorite toy for your newborn to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find.
Self-Care: Take care of yourself to ensure you can provide the best care for your baby. Get rest when you can, eat nutritious meals, and accept help from family and friends. Remember, a happy and healthy parent is better equipped to care for their baby. Don't hesitate to reach out for support. Join parenting groups, connect with other parents, and consult healthcare professionals for guidance and advice.
Recommended Reading: Newborn Care Guide: Mistakes that every parent should avoid