This next chapter of your life is going to include a lot of firsts. And when figuring out anything new, there will be a learning curve. Give yourself a break and don’t expect to know how to do everything from the get go. You’re bound to make mistakes, but try to laugh about it and grow. Allow yourself the time to find your own comfort zone with the basics of babycare.

Newborn care

Having a newborn can be overwhelming and coping at home can feel like a bit of a challenge. There’s no need to worry, everything that once seemed daunting will eventually become second nature to you.

CORD SENSITIVITY
When your baby is first born, he will be left with a 2cm- to 3cm-long stump of umbilical cord. It’s important that you keep this free from infection until it falls off naturally. This will happen anytime between five and 15 days after birth. The stump will gradually shrivel up and change from a yellowish green to a brown or black.
You need to keep the stump clean and dry – it’s best to use a liquid baby cleanser and then gently pat it dry before putting on your baby’s nappy.

STEP-BY-STEP: SWADDLING
1. Lay your baby blanket on a flat surface and position it like a diamond. Fold down the top corner and place your baby on his back with his neck on the fold.
2. Hold your baby’s right arm down at his side and pull the left corner over it and across the body. Tuck it under his left arm and roll him to your left to wrap around the back. Tuck it in tightly making sure your baby can still bend at the hips.
3. Repeat on the left side.

Nappy changing

No matter your brand, changing a nappy is bound to be fiddly at first but you'll get used to dealing with them. Choose between eco-friendly, cloth nappies or disposable ones.

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO CHANGE A NAPPY?
It is important to make sure that you change your baby's nappy regularly so he doesn't get sore skin, which can lead to a nasty nappy rash. Change his nappy before or after every feed to get into a routine.
Change the nappy just before you put him down for the night, to avoid a nappy change that will disrupt sleep.

STEP-BY-STEP: CHANGING A DISPOSABLE NAPPY
1. Lay your baby on a changing mat and unfasten the tabs on the dirty nappy. Fold them over to stop them from sticking to your baby but don’t remove the nappy yet.
2. Pull down the front half of the dirty nappy. If your baby has done a poo, use the front half of the nappy to wipe the bulk of it off his bottom and dispose of it. Clean your baby’s front with a damp baby wipe or cloth. Grab another wipe and gently clean his bottom, also carefully wiping in the creases of your baby’s thighs and bottom.
3. Let your baby’s skin air dry for a few moments or pat it dry with a clean cloth. Apply a barrier cream.
4. Slip the new nappy underneath and bring the front up between his legs and hold it firmly across his tummy.
5. Pull the adhesive tabs firmly over the front. If the nappy is a good fit you should be able to fit one of your fingers between it and his tummy.
6. Always wash your hands after every nappy change to avoid infection.

Bathing

Bathtime should be a fun and special experience with your baby. However, it can also be tricky to keep your little one comfortable and secure.

KEEPING SAFE

  • Never leave your baby unsupervised, even if it is just for a minute
  • Make sure the bathroom is warm, as babies can get chilly quickly
  • Don’t put your baby in the bath when the tap is still running. He can easily get scalded or the water can get too deep
  • Make the bath safe: Bathtubs are often slippery, so install a rubber mat for more secure seating for them
  • Keep electric appliances away from the tub

STEP-BY-STEP: BATHTIME
1. Keep the water shallow – up to 4in deep. Check the temperature with a thermometer, it should ideally be 37°C. Swirl the water just in case there are any hot spots.
2. Lower your baby gently into the water.
3. Keeping one hand underneath, gently splash water over your baby’s body – there is no need to shampoo unless he has lots of hair.
4. Lift your baby out of the bath, and wrap him in a warm towel drying thoroughly.

Handling

It’s often hard to feel confident when you’re handling your baby for the first few times. They are delicate, but you shouldn’t be afraid to pick them up. Their fragility can be intimidating, so here are a few basics to remember.

HOLDING THEM TIGHT
Picking up your baby may seem scary at first, but there are a few simple things to keep in mind. Newborns don’t have a strong immune system yet, so it’s vital that you wash your hands before handling them.
When you pick up your bundle of joy, support his head and neck and be careful not to shake him, whether in play or frustration as they are not ready for rough and tumble yet.

STEP-BY-STEP: DRESSING HIM
1. Put your baby on a warm, comfortable, flat surface and stay clam.
2. Hold the garment at the neck bunching the material so you can get it over his head, stretching it wide.
3. Keep the head supported, easing one arm at a time gently through the sleeve. Watch out for catching little fingers and thumbs.
4. Pull the garment down and fasten it up if necessary. If there are any zips keep your fingers between the zipper and baby.

Breastfeeding

One of the most difficult things to get used to as a mum is breastfeeding. It's a natural instinct, but not always simple. Many new mums find it hard to learn the ropes with breastfeeding. If you’re feeling discouraged, use this advice to help.

ENGORGEMENT
Between the second and fifth day after giving birth, it is normal for your breasts to become heavier and larger as you start to produce more milk. If this continues after the first two to three weeks, you are more than likely engorged.
If your baby is struggling to latch on due to your engorgement, express milk by hand or with a pump to relieve the fullness.

STEP-BY-STEP: LATCHING ON
1. Sit down and place a firm pillow on your lap.
2. Lay your baby on his side, with the front of his body facing you. His head, shoulder and hips should be in a straight line, and mouth level with your nipple.
3. Place your fingers underneath your breast and lift up and forward, pulling your baby close touching your nipple onto his top lip. Make sure the whole nipple is in his mouth, pointing upwards.
4. When he’s full he’ll probably let go himself. If you need to unlatch him gently slide your finger into the corner of his mouth.

Bottlefeeding

If you formula-feed your baby, you'll have plenty to think about. You need to know about sterilising the bottle, making up a bottle, and how to cope when you're out and about.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT FORMULA
Baby formula can be made from cows’ or goats’ milk that has been treated to make it suitable for your little one’s tummy. Whatever the brand, all are required to meet strict health standards. First infant formula is best for newborns as it is thought to be easier to digest. Your baby can stay on this until you start to introduce solid foods at six months. When your baby is around one they can start to drink whole cows’ and goats’ milk.

STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO MIX A BOTTLE OF FORMULA
1. Until your baby is at least one year old, boil water to make formula.
2. Follow the directions on the packet precisely.
3. Use the scoop that comes with the formula and use a knife to scrape off any excess.
4. Give the formula and boiled water a good shake.
5. Let the formula cool, but for no longer than 30 minutes.
6. Test the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist.

Images: Shutterstock

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