Caring for a newborn in the early days

Arriving at home with your newborn baby is incredibly exciting but also can be overwhelming and maybe even a little terrifying. What to do with a newborn in the early days? Anything to look out for with a newborn? These may be questions that are going through your head, or at least will be on that first day home.

Here is a rundown on some of the things that may help you care for your new little bundle of joy in those early days.

1. Feeding your newborn baby

First up, feeding. within the first 24 hours of birth, baby may only want to feed for 3-4 times and that’s perfectly normal. Offering your baby a breastfeed or bottlefeed more often than this is important though, as well as keeping your baby close to you with plenty of skin-to-skin. This will help with bonding as well as ensuring that you are ready when baby shows feeding cues.

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After the first 24 hours, baby should feed at least 8 times in a 24 hour period. This doesn’t mean every 3 hours. The same way you don’t eat every 3 hours on the dot, your baby most likely won’t do this either. Baby may feed every hour in the evening then go for 4-5 hours in the day. This is very normal. Feeding on demand is important for both a breastfed and bottle fed baby.

2. What about sterilising my breast pump?

Most people know that they need to sterilise their baby’s bottles, but often breastpumps and other equipment gets overlooked. Anything that is used in the process of feeding your newborn should be sterilised. This includes; bottle lids, teats, breast pumps and even dummies if you choose to use them.

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Sterilising before each use is important as it reduces the risk of your baby getting infections, particularly diarrhoea and vomiting.

3. Is my baby weeing enough?

Wet nappies are a great way of seeing if your baby is getting enough milk. In your baby’s first 24 hours, they should do at least 1 wee. At day 1-2 baby should be having at least 1-2 wet nappies, day 3-4 baby should be having at least 3-4 wet nappies and by day 6, baby should be having 6 or more wet nappies. Many nappies now have a blue line that changes colour when there is urine in the nappy. This can be really handy in monitoring baby’s wees in those early days.

4. When should my baby’s poo be yellow?

By about day 6-7, your baby’s poo should be yellow in colour. It won’t start yellow though, a baby’s first poo is black, like treacle, it’s sticky too! This is called meconium. A baby’s poo will stay black until it’s all flushed out of his/her system. This can take up to a week, and within that time it will turn brown, a dark green, until by day 6-7 where it becomes yellow. This is another sign that baby is feeding well as the change of baby’s colour poo indicates that baby is having enough to flush the meconium through their gut. 

5. When should I bath baby?

There is no right or wrong time with this. I personally am in favour of delaying bath time and here is why. Your baby is born with a thick, white substance covering all or parts of their skin, called vernix. It is like frosting and is filled with natural antioxidants and goodness for your baby’s immunity. It is also very moisturising. Although a bath in itself won’t get rid of vernix as it is waterproof, the towel dry after will most likely wipe some of it off. Even as late as a few weeks old, vernix can still be seen in their armpits and groin area. Leaving this on for a little longer has great health benefits for baby.

 

Another reason why I am team “delay the bath”, is because when a baby is inside they have their temperature regulated for them. When they are learning this adaption, we don’t do them any favours by undressing them and getting their skin wet from a bath. A simple top and tail is all a baby needs, cleaning their nappy area and face and neck, paying particular attention to under their neck where milk can accumulate. More important than washing your baby is drying, so anywhere you do wash make sure the area is dried thoroughly to prevent sores and bacteria growth.

6. Do I need to clean the umbilical cord?

The umbilical cord is the last physical reminder of the attachment baby had to you for a whole nine months! If you ever need to touch baby’s cord, make sure you have clean hands. If you do need to clean the cord for any reason (i.e a poonami situation) then just use plain water and make sure it has been dried properly by dabbing with cotton wool or a clean towel.

7. Should I put anything on my baby’s dry skin?

No, baby’s skin should have no creams or oils put on. The only caveat to this is if baby has nappy rash or you’re using a cream to prevent nappy rash. Babies, especially if they arrive after their due date, often have dry, flaky skin on their feet, hands and even their backs. This is really normal and you don’t need to do anything for this. A baby’s skin will regulate their own oil production to rectify the dry skin. If products are added then it can affect the balance of baby’s delicate skin.

Hopefully that run down has given you some peace of mind in caring for your new baby. If you have any questions about your newborn (or yourself postnatally, because you matter too!) then always speak with your midwife or health visitor.