Your baby is here, and you are all excited. know how
you can give him the best care
Your newborn is not as delicate as he looks. However it is important to handle him with care.
A baby has little control over his head until his neck muscles strengthen when he is about 6 months old.
Bathing a newborn can be challenging. This may be a new skill to you, so don't be afraid to ask, learn and practise. Some pointers:
Wash each eye gently with a wet cotton ball (use boiled water that has cooled down).
Ears are self-cleaning. Ear wax and dust will gradually be pushed out to the surface so that these are easy to get rid of. A gentle wipe with a soft washcloth or a damp cotton ball of the outer ear is adequate. Never insert anything into your baby’s ear canal.
Use a wet cotton ball dampened with warm, boiled water to gently clean off any dried mucus around your baby’s nose. Never insert anything into your baby’s nose.
Use a wet cotton ball to wipe the area. For girls, always wipe from front to back to avoid transferring bacteria from the anus to the vagina / urinary opening.
Bathe the baby as you normally do, then lightly dab the stump dry with a clean towel. Do not put any medicated oil on it or in your baby’s belly button. The stump will change colour from yellowish-green to brown and black, and eventually fall off by itself in 1 - 2 weeks. In the meantime, keep diapers below the stump so that it is exposed to air, not urine. When the stump falls off, there may be a little blood or yellow discharge for a few days.
Newborns may have long, sharp and soft fingernails and toenails. Put mittens and booties on him so that he will not scratch himself. Avoid trimming these during the first few weeks as the nails are very soft. When the nails have hardened over a few weeks, use baby clippers or scissors to trim them. You may find it easier to do this while your baby is sleeping, and get another adult to help.
Newborns pass out meconium - stools that are thick, sticky, black or greenish-black for the first 2 - 3 days. Thereafter breastfed babies tend to have yellow stools that are mostly runny with small seed-like objects. Newborn babies generally use up to 6 - 8 diapers a day.
In the hospital, you will see babies all wrapped up. Swaddling provides newborns with a sense of security and comfort as this is the position they were cocooned in while in the womb. You’ll need a thin large square blanket (wrap) to do this:
Enjoy bonding time with your baby by holding him close to your chest, cuddling or giving him a light massage. Giving your baby a massage after his bath each evening before he goes to bed is a good way to calm him down, indicate to him that it is bedtime and get him in the mood for sleep.
Babies love attention and sounds, so talk, sing and coo to him often. If he is fussing, try singing or reciting nursery rhymes. The beat and rhythm of these will soothe him as well. Some babies like the long “shh” sound. They can calm down when this is repeated to them. It is normal to pick your baby up and carry him when he cries. He needs to know that someone is there to comfort him.
Newborns may swallow excessive air while feeding, especially if they are drinking from a bottle. It is important to burp the baby after each feed, to relieve the gas in the stomach. You may even need to stop a feed halfway to burp him if he is getting irritable. Here are some positions that will help your baby burp.
Crying is a form of communication. Below are some reasons why he/she may cry.
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This article was last reviewed on
15 Sep 2023
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