Suddenly being responsible for a small human being can be terrifying. There are many opinions about what should and shouldn’t be done when caring for a newborn baby. To narrow it down, here are several ways to care for your child in the first few weeks of their life.
Your newborn needs to have a follow-up appointment when they’re three to five days old, as well as seven to fourteen days old. This can be arranged while you’re in the maternity unit with the help of your nurse or as you’re leaving. Choosing a doctor is simple as you can choose between your family doctor, a new one entirely or a pediatrician.
Your baby should be fully bathed once or twice a week, regardless of whether or not their umbilical cord is attached. The ideal temperature for maximum comfort is 75°F. To prepare, make sure you have clean baby clothes, towels, soap and a diaper nearby. Fill the sink or bathing tub with enough water to cover your baby so they don’t get cold before gently easing them in.
Choose the most comfortable position for both you and your baby as you wash their face and eyes with only water. Once that’s done, you can add mild baby soap and wash the rest of their body. Use a soft nailbrush to wash their hair. When you're finished, be sure to dry the umbilical cord, skin and hair thoroughly.
Newborns don’t usually need lotion for any dry areas that may appear, but for extremely dry or split skin, apply olive oil or natural botanical oils such as Weleda’s Baby Comforting Calendula Flower Oil. If you prefer using lotion, choose something without perfumes or dyes. Bathing can dry out a baby’s skin, so don’t do it often and use a minimal amount of soap.
While very fine, a baby’s fingernails can be sharp and cut their faces. The safest method is to use a nail file to shorten nails, or you can try baby nail clippers. Using adult clipper can potentially cut the tip of their fingers or toes. Sleeping is the best time to do this and only needs to be done once a week.
First, clean the newborn’s bottom with a warm washcloth. For girls, always clean front to back, and gently between the folds. White discharge is normal and temporary if you spot any. For boys, make sure to clean all the folds and creases. Don’t pull back the foreskin for cleaning if your child isn’t circumcised, as this will happen naturally during puberty.
When applying the diaper, try to keep it below the umbilical cord so it can dry out more quickly. Any pinkish or red staining on the diaper is normal for the first three to four days, indicating that they need to be fed as often as possible.
Dress your baby for whatever temperature is in the room. If it’s around 70°F, a shirt, gown and blanket will do. As they get older, it’s safe to turn the temperature down to 62°F at the most. You’ll be able to tell if your child is too warm, as their skin will be hot to the touch and sweat will appear. Extreme heat can cause a heat rash. If their body is warm but their feet and hands are cool, they’ve reached the ideal temperature.
As they’re still quite vulnerable to illnesses, keep your newborn away from large crowds and avoid anyone who’s sick at all costs.
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