When I was pregnant, all I wanted was to meet my baby. And then the day finally came, we were walking out of the hospital, and the minute I stepped into our house with that little infant, I felt terrified, asking myself how was I supposed to know when to feed her or how to calm her. Every book and article I read just walked out of my memory, and I doubted myself. All you need to know is they have basic needs, and if you get the clues soon, you will find out why your baby is fussy. To help you during these chaotic first weeks, I have an essential list of needs and how to satisfy them correctly to allow you to enjoy those few newborn days.
How to handle a newborn. Infants look small and fragile; they do not control their movements or their head. If you do not have experience with babies, the first thing to do before holding your newborn is to wash your hands. When you hold your baby, support his or her back, and cradle the head. Never play rough, bounce, or shake them. Bond with your newborn with skin to skin moments; this technique will soothe your baby.
Feeding and burping. You will be surprised by how many times a newborn must be fed, especially if you are breastfeeding. I breastfed my baby, and there were days when it seemed like someone glued us together. Depending on your choice between bottle and breast, you can make a schedule to be aware of when your baby needs to be fed again and the quantity eaten. There are apps available that will help you keep track of it. If you decide to breastfeed, keeping track of how much your baby eats is harder. But you can have an idea by the number of wet diapers, the time they sleep, and the weight they gain. While your baby eats, air could be swallowed; that is why you need to burp your baby. You will find the right technique with practice. Start by holding your baby upright, and while supporting the head with one hand, gently tap their back with the other. A hungry baby will be upset, perhaps crying, moving their arms, and making sucking noises. This will let you know when it’s time to eat.
Sleeping. A newborn typically sleeps for 2 to 4 hours at a stretch, and they can sleep up to 16 hours a day! Yes, you read that right, 16 hours. You need to make sure your baby sleeps enough, and safely, always on their back, with comfortable clothes, an empty crib (no stuffed animals or heavy blankets). My baby only wanted to sleep in my arms, so I found a bouncer that recreated that movement, and it was my lifesaver. I always recommend you try to sleep when your newborn sleeps, so you get enough rest and can keep up with your little one.
Bathing time. While I was in the hospital, nurses would bathe my baby, and it looked like the easiest task in the world. My baby’s first bath at home was a disaster, water everywhere, lots of crying, and I almost cried with her. Let me share with you the big secret to a successful bath – have everything you will need ready before you start, shampoo, washcloth, towel, cream, diaper, and clothes. Once the baby is in the tub, you cannot move from there, and you will only have one hand free because you need to support your baby’s head with the other one. Remember that the first week, or until the umbilical cord dries and falls off, you should give your baby sponge baths and not submerge the baby.
Newborns are magical. Everything is new to them. They grow and change with every passing day. I recommend you enjoy the first days, treasure the first looks and moves, and capture them with a newborn photographer’s help. They know precisely how to safely handle your baby and photograph incredible moments.