How to Care For Your Newborn Baby
First off congratulations on your newborn baby! While at the hospital, ask the nurses and doctors as many questions as you can think of there is no dumb question. The nurses working with you have been around a lot of babies and will be happy to show you anything they know on extra tips to help with your baby. Don't forget to enlist any family and friends to help out for the first few weeks. The granny's are already pros, and can teach you a lot. So keep this in mind when they are giving advice. Do not feel obligated to use every ones instructions follow your instincts.
First and most important is the car seat. Follow the instructions, if you need help the hospital nurse will help, and there is always a number to the manufacturer. Just do not buy a used car seat. You have no way of knowing if the seat has been in a car wreck. If a car seat has been in a wreck, this impairs the protection that a car seat is meant to provide. If your in a wreck call the manufacturers some will send you another car seat just for asking.
Do not be afraid to hold your baby. While this seems intimidating as long as you support the head there are many positions you can hold your baby in. Against your shoulder, across your lap. With your hand under the baby's chest, neck, and jaws you can actually lay the baby on your forearm, good for leaving your other hand free.
If your going to breast feed ask the hospital to send a lactation specialist to your room, and let them know you want a pump. This will help out so much. In addition ask where you can rent a pump. This will make a big difference in milk production as well as keeping the breast from overfilling. Just remember to ask to be shown how to nurse, and do not get frustrated if this does not work the first time. Give the baby about 15 minutes on each breast.
When formula feeding give them a couple ounces of course ask the doctor first. If the baby has any problem with feeding call your doctor for advice. Whichever method you use be sure to burp the baby often. This is easy enough, you can pat the baby's back gently and hold in whichever position is most comfortable to you. If the baby still seems to have gas you can lay the baby in your lap, and lightly bounce, your knees while patting the baby's back, and supporting the head.
Changing your babies diapers. At the hospital diapers are provided, you may choose to use cloth, and this is a personal preference. Just remember a baby's bladder is no larger than a peanut, so check them often, and remember you will be going through a lot of diapers for the first few months about 10 per day. If you do not have baby wipe warmer, at least run a few through warm water. Always clean the back too, as urine and feces can go up the back. Make sure with a female to always clean front to back and get in all the folds. Keep diaper rash medicine on hand and use as a preventative with each diaper change. An old home remedy, if you brown some dry flour in a pan, this can be used as baby powder without all the dust. Now that the diaper change is done this is the time to clean the umbilical cord with alcohol as directed by your doctor.
Bathing your baby is relaxing for the baby. This is best done at the changing table even if it is the baby tub since all the baby supplies are right there. Until the umbilical cord falls off it is best to sponge bath, this is quick and easy. Since your sponge bathing you can leave the diaper on until you get to that part. Get a little container of warm water, use the washcloth to wash the baby from head to toe all but the face, start with the hair, and leave the private area for last. To wash the hair just use the damp cloth or baby brush lightly to clean the head, and be careful when cleaning soft spot. While washing the baby keep dipping the wash cloth in the water to keep it warm, and be sure to get in all the crevices. Take your time with the fingers and toes. You can use a q-tip to clean the creases around the neck. After your all done with the body, wash the face and eyes with a cotton ball with just water. Quickly dry the baby, then give them a nice light massage all over with a little lotion, then dress. When the baby graduates to tub baths, make sure the room is warm. Lay a towel on the changing table to set the baby tub on. Fill the tub with just a couple inches of water check the water with your elbow, to make sure it is not too warm or cold. Most important is the support, put your hand under the babies head with one hand, and use the other hand to wash the baby, soak up water and keep squeezing this over the baby to keep them comfy. To wash the back you can lay the baby over your arm long ways and support the head while working quickly to wash the back. Just make sure you give one last rinse over, and until the baby then quickly wrap baby, and dry the baby. Dress the baby so they will not be cold.
Finally the bathing, and feeding are done. So you can put the baby to bed. The baby's bed, should not have a bunch of covers, blankets stuffed animals or cute items in the bed with the baby. As long as the baby is swaddled, and you keep the temperature warm in the home this is enough. The baby needs to be trained to sleep on the back. You can not be too careful because of sudden infant death syndrome. It is best to keep the bassinet in the room with you if you can, until the baby is 3 months or be sure there is a baby monitor next to the baby's bed so you can hear them if there is any problem. It can take weeks for a baby to sleep all night, so catch your sleep when the baby is napping so you can get your strength up.
Some vanity items that you will find useful. A baby swing which can not be used until baby can hold the head up, a baby wipe warmer, a battery operated bottle warmer/cooler combo, baby Einstein lullaby music, sun protection-all year round, portable changing pad, a diaper genie, a nursing pillow-this can be used even when not nursing to help support baby, netting for the top of a playpen when outside, baby monitors, sleep position blocks, and a baby sling.
Recommended reading topics. Sudden infant death syndrome. Shaken baby syndrome. What to expect the first year is the best book I ever read about child care be sure to buy it or check it out from the library.
Important tips: Do not shake your baby. Do not ever leave a baby unattended in a car even for a minute. Always completely engage the belts and support for placing baby in the car seat per the manufacturer instructions. Never leave a baby unattended on changing table, or in the baby bath, or anywhere except the baby bed, not even for a second.
I am not a physician, and all information is from my personal knowledge. This information is not intended to be used in place of medical advice. Any questions always call your pediatrician first.