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75% of each meal goes to build your baby’s brain. Or that over 80% of your baby’s brain is formed by the age of 3.
With every hug and every kiss, with every nutritious meal and game you play, you’re helping to build your baby’s brain.
- Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before handling your baby. Newborns don’t have a strong immune system yet, so they are at risk for infection.
- Support your baby’s head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
- Never shake your newborn, whether in play or in frustration. Shaking can cause bleeding in the brain and even death. If you need to wake your infant, don’t do it by shaking — instead, tickle your baby’s feet or blow gently on a cheek.
- Make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller, or car seat.
Bonding and Soothing
Bonding, probably one of the most pleasurable parts of infant care, happens during the sensitive time in the first hours and days after birth when parents make a deep connection with their infant. Physical closeness can promote an emotional connection.
- Provide ways for your baby to see, hear, move freely and touch you.
- Talk to your baby in soft tones and ‘baby talk’.
- Look into your baby’s eyes and smile in response to his smiles.
- Swaddling, which works well for some babies during their first few weeks, is another soothing technique first-time parent should learn. Proper swaddling keeps a baby’s arms close to the body while allowing for some movement of the legs. Not only does swaddling keep a baby warm, but it seems to give most newborns a sense of security and comfort.
- Before diapering your baby, make sure you have all supplies within reach so you won’t have to leave your infant unattended on the changing table.
- After each bowel movement or if the diaper is wet, lay your baby on his or her back and remove the dirty diaper. Use the water, cotton balls, and washcloth or the wipes to gently wipe your baby’s genital area clean.
- When removing a boy’s diaper, do so carefully because exposure to the air may make him urinate. When wiping a girl, wipe her bottom from front to back to avoid a urinary tract infection. To prevent or heal a rash, apply ointment.
- You should give your baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1–4 weeks)
- A bath two or three times a week in the first year is fine. More frequent bathing may be drying to the skin.
- Sponge baths. For a sponge bath, select a safe, flat surface (such as a changing table, floor, or counter) in a warm room. Fill a sink, if nearby, or bowl with warm (not hot!) water. Undress your baby and wrap him or her in a towel. Wipe your infant’s eyes with a washcloth (or a clean cotton ball) dampened with water only, starting with one eye and wiping from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a clean corner of the washcloth or another cotton ball to wash the other eye. Clean your baby’s nose and ears with the damp washcloth. Then wet the cloth again and, using a little soap, wash his or her face gently and pat it dry.
- Next, using baby shampoo, create a lather and gently wash your baby’s head and rinse. Using a wet cloth and soap, gently wash the rest of the baby, paying special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and in the genital area.
- Tub baths. When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first baths should be gentle and brief. If he or she becomes upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again.
Feeding and Burping
- Whether feeding your newborn by breast or by bottle, you may be stumped as to how often to do so. Generally, it’s recommended that babies be fed on demand — whenever they seem hungry. Your baby may cue you by crying, putting fingers in his or her mouth, or making sucking noises.
- A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. If you’re breastfeeding, give your baby the chance to nurse about 10–15 minutes at each breast. If you’re formula-feeding, your baby will most likely take about 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) at each feeding.
- If you’re formula-feeding, you can easily monitor if your baby is getting enough to eat, but if you’re breastfeeding, it can be a little trickier. If your baby seems satisfied, produces about six wet diapers and several stools a day, sleeps well, and is gaining weight regularly, then he or she is probably eating enough.
- Another good way to tell if your baby is getting milk is to notice if your breasts feel full before feeding your baby and less full after feeding.
- Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them fussy. To help prevent this, burp your baby often. If your baby doesn’t burp after a few minutes, change the baby’s position and try burping for another few minutes before feeding again. Always burp your baby when feeding time is over, then keep him or her in an upright position for at least 10–15 minutes to avoid spitting up.
- Newborns typically sleep for periods of 2–4 hours. Don’t expect yours to sleep through the night — the digestive system of babies is so small that they need nourishment every few hours and should be awakened if they haven’t been fed for 4 hours.
- It’s important to always place babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Other safe sleeping practices include: not using blankets, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed animals, and pillows in the crib or bassinet (these can suffocate a baby). Also be sure to alternate the position of your baby’s head from night to night (first right, then left, and so on) to prevent the development of a flat spot on one side of the head.
- Many newborns have their days and nights “mixed up.” They tend to be more awake and alert at night, and more sleepy during the day. One way to help them is to keep stimulation at night to a minimum. Keep the lights low, such as by using a nightlight.
- Reserve talking and playing with your baby for the daytime. When your baby wakes up during the day, try to keep him or her awake a little longer by talking and playing.
Even though you may feel anxious about handling a newborn, in a few short weeks you’ll develop a routine and be parenting like a pro! If you have questions or concerns, ask your doctor to recommend resources that can help you and your baby grow together.