During the first days at home with your baby, some things will come very naturally, others may not. To help you we have put together some tips to help you navigate your way through.
Your newborn may feel fragile and delicate to you, but don’t be afraid to touch, handle, or hold your new baby.
Because your newborn’s neck muscles are not yet developed, you will need to support your newborn’s head whenever you pick them up. You should also support your newborn’s head against your shoulder or with your opposite hand, while carrying them.
Some health care visitors recommend cleaning your baby with a sponge bath until the umbilical cord heals and falls off (usually in a week or two).
Some parents prefer to delay bathing until the umbilical cord has fallen off but there is no evidence showing that this practice prevents umbilical infection or alters healing time
Make sure you have all of the necessary bathing supplies ready before your baby arrives.
The main things are:
- A baby bath as a normal bath is too big and difficult to support a baby in.
- A water thermometer to make sure the water is the right temperature.
- A sponge or soft flannel.
- For newborns cotton wool to clean the face and eyes with.
- Warm towels.
- A plentiful supply of nappies.
- Clothes to dress baby in.
Many first-time parents are surprised by how many nappies they go through in a day. To make life easier for yourself, have plenty of nappies on hand before you bring your baby home. It is not recommended to use baby wipes for the first 28 days so you will need cotton wool to help clean baby.
What baby poo looks like
Your baby’s first poo is called meconium. This is sticky and greenish-black.
Some babies may do this kind of poo during or after birth, or some time in the first 48 hours.
After a few days the poo will change to a yellow or mustard colour. Breastfed babies’ poo is runny and doesn’t smell. Formula-fed babies’ poo is firmer, darker brown and more smelly.
Some infant formulas can also make your baby’s poo dark green. If you change from breast to formula feeding, you’ll find your baby’s poos become darker and more paste-like.
If you have a girl, you may see a white discharge on her nappy for a few days after birth.
It’s caused by hormones that have crossed the placenta to your baby, but these will soon disappear from her system.
How often should my baby do a poo?
Babies do an average of 4 poos a day in the first week of life. This goes down to an average of 2 a day by the time they’re 1 year old.
Newborn babies who are breastfed may poo at each feed in the early weeks, then, after about 6 weeks, not have a poo for several days.
Formula-fed babies may poo up to 5 times a day when newborn, but after a few months this can go down to once a day.
It’s also normal for babies to strain or even cry when doing a poo.
Your baby isn’t constipated as long as their poos are soft, even if they haven’t done one for a few days.
To comfort your baby, first try to determine the cause of your baby’s discomfort. Is your baby hungry? Does your baby have wind? Does your baby’s nappy need changing? Is it time for a nap? Is your baby overstimulated by noise, lights or activity.
To help soothe a sleepy or overstimulated baby, hold your baby on your shoulder while gently rocking them. Sing or speak softly to your baby — reassure them with a calm voice. It can also help to rub your baby’s back as you do so. Try different positions to find one that’s comfortable for both of you.
Something else to consider: Your baby doesn’t have much mobility in the first few weeks and may cry for help if they are lying uncomfortably in the cot. You can help your baby get comfortable by gently shifting your baby’s position. But for safety, always place your baby on their back for sleeping.
Research has shown that massage can relax babies, improve their sleep patterns, and calm them when they are irritable. Giving your baby a massage is also a great way to bond with your baby, and it’s easy to do.
Many healthcare professionals agree that nothing is better for your newborn baby than breast milk. Nutritionally speaking, it’s tailor-made for your infant. Of course, sometimes mothers cannot breastfeed, due to medical problems or other special circumstances. Discuss with your health care professional how best to feed your newborn.
No matter how you decide to feed your baby, always make sure you hold your baby while feeding. The cuddling that comes with nursing and feeding helps to build a strong, loving bond between you and your baby.
The way your baby sleeps changes as they grow. Newborns sleep a lot throughout the 24-hour day, waking up frequently throughout both day and night. Even so, you can still begin to develop a bedtime routine for your baby, even as early as 6 to 8 weeks. And as your baby develops and starts to consolidate their sleep into night-time sleep with fewer daytime naps, you can help them gradually develop a sleeping pattern, learning that night-time is for sleep, and not play.