Parenthood is something that you can plan and study for but not truly experience until you have your little one in your arms for the first time. Parenting is a duty and responsibility like no other—and one very important job that has no manual. Here are some tips about basic newborn baby care:
- Prior to the birth of your child: Gather basic baby equipment (a car seat is essential) you'll need to care for your child. Throw a baby shower and put some essential gear on the list!
- Once you bring home baby, don't invite the neighbor's kids over to spread germs! You might want to keep visitors to a minimum for the first few days at least— and wash your hands before handling baby!
- Keep the umbilical stump clean and dry. Treat it gently.
- Keep your baby's genitals clean. That means changing a lot of diapers! Your newborn will need to be changed from 8 to 12 times a day.
- Learn your baby's early signs of hunger and feed your baby before he begins to cry. Early signs of hunger include stirring, crying, lip smacking, stretching, sucking motions, and fussiness.
- Until the umbilical cord falls off, you should not give the baby a tub bath at all. The baby should be given sponge baths until then. If you are changing the baby as soon as the diaper is soiled and wiping off the baby's hands and face each time you change his diaper, your baby only needs a bath two or three times a week.
- Allow your baby to get as much sleep as he needs. Newborns up to 3 months old generally sleep for most of the day, somewhere between 16 and 20 hours. The sleep periods are divided evenly between night and day. The longest time they usually sleep at stretch is about four or five hours, and then they will wake up because they are hungry.
- Support your baby's head and neck. And never—under any circumstances, shake a newborn.