Newborn Care: The Complete Guide For Parents
Bringing a newborn baby into the world is one of life’s most wonderful experiences. As a parent of a newborn, it’s impossible to describe the joy and love you’re surely feeling.
Now that your little one has arrived, you may have some questions about newborn care. In this article, the baby experts at Mustela will explain everything you need to know about taking extra special care of your newborn baby.
Your Newborn Baby’s Development
At birth, baby boys are typically around 19.7 inches (50 cm) in length and have an average weight of 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg). Newborn girls are normally about 19.3 inches (49 cm) long and weigh 7.1 pounds (3.2 kg) on average.
Remember that every baby is unique, so your newborn’s length and weight may differ from the averages listed above.
In the first few days of life, your newborn may actually lose weight. If you notice your little one dropping a few ounces, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal due to the loss of excess fluids built up inside your baby’s body. Your newborn baby will regain any weight they lose. Most infants are back to their birth weight at nine or ten days old.
At that point, you can expect your newborn to gain around one ounce per day for the remainder of their first month of life. That means they will have put on almost two pounds by the time they are one month old.
Your Newborn Baby’s Senses
In the very beginning of life, your newborn baby’s senses are not very sharp. They’re simply not accustomed to processing all the new sights, sounds, smells, and sensations in the world around them. After all, they’ve spent the last nine months inside your womb — an environment with very few stimuli.
Generally speaking, your newborn baby will only be able to see a few feet in front of their face. That’s why it’s helpful to put your face very close to theirs during playtime. It will allow your little one to become familiar with your facial features and study your expressions.
While your baby can’t recognize most sounds, research suggests that newborns recognize the voice of their mothers upon birth. Scientists theorize that newborns get to know the sounds of their mother’s voices while still in the womb.
As for their sense of smell, your newborn is unfamiliar with almost all of the new scents they come across. However, research has again provided evidence that babies are born with a special link to their mothers.
One study suggests that babies can recognize the scent of their mother’s milk from the very first days of life. Another study found that premature babies find the scent of their mother’s milk soothing. The bond between a newborn and their mother is truly special.
Your Newborn Baby’s Feeding Schedule
Your newborn needs to eat every two to three hours, whether or not they are awake and crying for a feed. Sometimes, you’ll need to wake your newborn so they can eat. This is true for both breastfed and formula-fed babies.
If your little one is sleeping and you have to rouse them for a feeding, take a few minutes to make sure they’re wide awake before giving them breastmilk or formula. Otherwise, they may doze off again before getting enough to eat.
Don’t forget to burp your baby for around five minutes after a feeding. This will help the milk to settle and allow your newborn to digest it more comfortably.
It’s also important to remember that there’s really no such thing as feeding your newborn baby too much. They’re developing extremely quickly, so they need all the nutrients they can get.
Expert tip: Apply Mustela's Nursing Comfort Balm in-between feedings to keep your skin healthy. This soothing nipple cream will ease discomfort and moisturize sensitized nipples. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly, made of 100% naturally derived ingredients, and safe for both you and your baby during prenatal and postpartum pregnancy.
Your Newborn Baby’s Sleeping Habits
As you surely know, newborn babies sleep a lot. In fact, newborns need to sleep between 15 and 18 hours per day. Similar to feeding, there’s really no such thing as too much sleep for a newborn.
It is essential to always put your newborn down to sleep on their back. This is the only safe sleep position for your little one. Putting your baby down to sleep on their side or on their tummy greatly increases the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
To decrease the risk of SIDS as much as possible, put your newborn to sleep on a firm mattress. Remove all blankets, stuffed animals, toys, and pillows from the crib. It’s OK to put a sheet over the mattress, but it should fit tightly.
As noted above, you may sometimes have to wake your newborn to let them eat. This will be very tough on your sleep schedule, but it’s crucial for your baby’s development. Plus, your little one will begin sleeping through the night before you know it.
Your Newborn Baby’s Immunizations
Most of the time, newborn babies receive a vaccination shot on the day of delivery. Your newborn most likely got the first round of the Hepatitis B vaccination at the hospital. The doctors probably also drew a bit of blood from your baby’s heel to perform a Tuberculosis test.
If these things weren’t taken care of on the day of your child’s birth, don’t worry. Your newborn’s first baby checkup should be three to five days after birth. The doctor will be able to test your newborn for TB and give the first Hep B immunization during that appointment.
Bathing Your Newborn Baby
- Use water that is around 98 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take two degrees)
- Never leave your newborn in the bath unattended, not even for a few seconds
- Keep baths to 10 minutes or less
- Have a soft towel ready to wrap your newborn in as soon as the bath is over
We recommend bathing your baby every day with gentle, baby-friendly products, like Mustela’s Gentle Cleansing Gel and Foam Shampoo for Newborns. All of Mustela’s products are made with natural ingredients that will gently cleanse your baby’s soft skin without drying it out or causing irritation.
If you prefer, however, you can bathe your newborn every other day. As long as you’re changing your baby’s diapers the right way and thoroughly cleaning your baby’s bottom, there won’t be any hygiene concerns.
Try Mustela’s No-Rinse Cleansing Water, a baby-safe micellar water, to cleanse your little one’s skin on the days that you don’t bathe them. It’s a quick and easy way to keep your baby’s skin clean and soft.
General Childcare Tips For Your Newborn
It probably seems like all your newborn does is eat and sleep, but they are rapidly developing even when you can’t see the evidence. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help their development along.
First, hold your baby as often as possible. A huge body of research has established the link between touch and a child’s development. For example, one study found that infants who receive less touch from caregivers experience more distress. Another study found that a lack of touch and bonding at an early age may cause long-term developmental and emotional issues.
The science is clear: hold your newborn close as much as possible!
Speak, read, and sing to your little one frequently. Your baby can’t yet understand you, and sometimes it may even seem like they can’t hear you or aren’t listening. But research has shown that children who are spoken to and read to more as infants develop language skills faster.
To promote your newborn’s physical development, make sure to give them plenty of tummy time. Even if your newborn can only handle tummy time for a few minutes at first, make it a part of your daily routine. They’ll be wiggling and squirming around on the floor for longer periods of time soon enough!
Safety Tips For Your Newborn
Nothing is as important as your baby’s safety. Follow these tips to make sure your newborn is as safe as possible at all times:
- Take the time to babyproof your home
- Keep small objects out of your child’s reach to prevent choking hazards
- Never leave your baby unattended for any length of time
- Always put your newborn down to sleep on their back
- Keep your baby’s crib free of all pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals
- Head to the doctor immediately if your newborn ever has trouble breathing
The first few weeks of your child’s life are some of the most precious. Remember to take plenty of photos to save all of the incredible moments with your newborn. And with all of the tips in this article, your little one will grow up as healthy as can be.