Having a baby is a big change for parents, and there are big and small things that they need to remember. For example, few of them think of the fact that when their little one is born, they will have to somehow handle their soft spot, trim their teeny tiny nails, and perform infant massage. On the other hand, few moms realize the challenges of breastfeeding, many parents don’t know what meds their baby needs in case of catching a cold, and many don’t have any idea what they need for bathing their tot.
In fact, all of the above-mentioned things are basic when it comes to caring for a newborn, although future parents usually don’t think much about them. For this reason, when their baby is born and they realize that they’re not ready to trim their nails, give them a bath, or the rest, it can turn out to be a huge stress.
But since we don’t want this stress to strike our readers, we came up with a list of 20 newborn basics new moms are usually not prepared for. Read it to be ready for whatever happens during the first weeks or months with a newborn at home.
20. TRIMMING THESE TINY NAILS
One of the most intimidating tasks for a new mom is trimming her newborn’s nails. After all, these fingers and toes are so tiny – even the idea of grooming them seems to be next to impossible. What if your baby squirms and you cut their skin open? Oh, just… no thanks.
However, it’s not something you should ignore. If your newborn’s nails are not trimmed, they can scratch themselves, and you’ll have to deal with far worse circumstances. So don’t worry and take a look at the products offered today in the market. There’re nail clippers designed specifically for the tiny nails of newborns. Using them, you’ll make the whole procedure much more comfortable.
19. YOUR BABY NEEDS THEIR OWN MEDICINE KIT
Even at this early age your baby already needs their own medicine kit, because, according to WebMD, in case of any illness they can’t use most of the over-the-counter meds, including many cough and cold drugs. So for the event of your little one getting sick, you should have special medications in stock.
Among others, it should be infant acetaminophen (or Tylenol), nasal saline drops, nasal bulb, antibacterial cream, and small bandages. Also, get a cool mist humidifier and use it to add moisture into the air if your baby has a stuffy nose.
To get recommendations on what specific meds your child requires, talk to your pediatrician.
18. GET A SPECIAL THERMOMETER
According to Danelle Fisher, MD, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, “An ear or forehead thermometer isn’t accurate on babies younger than 12 months.” When choosing a thermometer for your baby, you should also avoid old-fashioned glass mercury thermometers, because even a slight crack in it can be very dangerous to your baby. Besides, don’t use pacifier thermometers (they’re inaccurate).
What does it leave you with? It’s a good idea to purchase a digital rectal or under-the-arm thermometer to measure your tot’s temperature.
Remember that in case your baby has a fever (meaning that their temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher), you need to contact the doctor immediately.
17. AND WHEN IT COMES TO FEEDING…
Even to feed a baby, you’re likely to need a bunch of different stuff. WebMD recommends new parents to stock up on bottles (glass or BPA-free plastic) with tight-fitting lids and nipples, as well as a bottle brush and a nursing pillow. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll also require a pump and milk storage bags. If you chose formula, talk to your doctor and other formula-feeding parents to see what brands you can try and stock up on it, too.
Besides, you should also be ready for the emotional and physical toll breastfeeding is likely to take on you. Talk to your doctor or other parents and do research on how to deal with it.
16. QUITE A FEW THINGS ARE NEEDED FOR BATHING
Until your newborn’s umbilical cord falls off, you should avoid bathing them. As per WebMD, it takes about a week or two. So during that time, stick to sponge baths and clean your baby’s diaper area.
When your little one is ready to take their first bath, ensure that you have all the essentials for it. It includes a bathinette or plastic tub, plastic cup for rinsing, baby soap, baby shampoo, baby lotion, hooded towel, and washcloths. When choosing skincare products for your baby, don’t stock up on a certain kind right away. You should check your baby’s reaction to them first and only if it’s fine, you can buy a lot.
15. DID YOU THINK YOU’D NEED A SPECIAL CLOTH FOR BURPING?
Yeah, babies are messy. They can explode not only from the side safely covered with a diaper but also from their mouth, when you burp them after feeding. This explosion can range from a tiny dribble to a mini spew, to a massive attack you won’t want to wash off your clothes.
So make sure to have a burp cloth on your shoulder when you burp your baby. It’s also a good idea to add this item into the list of things in your diaper bag. You might want to use it as a burp cloth anytime or even an impromptu change table on the grass during a walk in the park.
14. KNOW WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR DIAPER BAG
Even if you already have a stroller, a baby carrier, and a car seat, there’s still at least one thing you can’t do without when it comes to leaving the house with your baby for some time. This thing is a diaper bag.
It doesn’t have to be something very special or something sold “specifically” as a diaper bag, which usually makes it more expensive. It’s enough to just get a large bag or backpack with multiple pockets that will have enough room for your baby’s diapers, diaper cream, baby wipes, changing pad or paper liner, bag for a dirty diaper, and a change of clothes for your tot.
13. KNOW HOW TO HOLD YOUR BABY
Some new moms who have never spent much time around newborns can freak out when handling their baby during the first days or even weeks because this tiny being looks so fragile. It seems that even one wrong move can be such a big deal.
But, as soon you know how to hold your baby, it’s going to be fine. And it’s not as hard as it seems. Just support their head and neck with your hand. Kids Health also advises to “support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.” And also remember to wash your hands before taking your newborn into your hands to protect them from infections.
12. AND HOW TO PLAY WITH THEM
Playing with your baby also shouldn’t be intimidating, as long as you know what you’re doing and consider certain important safety measures. First and foremost, remember that you should never, ever shake your baby, even when playing with them, because shaking can cause damage to their brains. For this reason, you also mustn’t shake them if you want to wake them up. Instead, gently blow on their cheek or tickle their feet.
Besides, be aware that all games you play should be very gentle. It means no jiggling or throwing in the air, at least at the newborn stage.
In other words, the rule of thumb in playing with a newborn is no brisk movements.
11. PAY ATTENTION TO THE CRIB
Many new moms want their babies to have the prettiest and cutest cribs ever and they go a long way to decorate it with stuffed toys, cute pillows, and other things. But they should know that it is actually unsafe to do it because any foreign objects inside the baby’s crib can lead to SIDS, so it’s not recommended to put anything into the crib. Danelle Fisher, MD, recommends, “Keep it as bare as possible.”
Besides, it’s best if your baby’s crib has fixed side rails with no more than 2 3/8 inches between slats, as well as a firm mattress and a snug-fitting crib sheet.
It’s also important to alternate the position of your baby’s head from left to right every night, so that they didn’t have a flat spot on one side of the head.
10. EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SOFT SPOT
Another thing about newborns that makes a lot of new moms freak out is this soft spot on their head. Even Robin Scherbatsky from the TV series How I Met Your Mother once said, “Babies are [stressful], ok? They have giant eyes, and come on, the soft spot? If there’s gonna be a self-destruct button, at least hide it somewhere it won’t accidentally get pressed.”
But this opening in the skull is actually essential because it helps the baby go through the birth canal. It becomes thick, like the rest of the skull some time after birth, but even while it’s still soft and pulsating with vessels covering the brain, you shouldn’t be scared of handling it. “It’s okay to touch the soft spot and baby’s hair near it,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls.
9. YOU’LL NEED A SLING MORE THAN YOU THINK
Sling is a wonderful modern invention. It allows you to do multiple things around the house, while still cuddling with your little one. Katelyn Hendricks, a mom on WebMD, says, “Mine allows me to be hands-free to play with my toddler, make dinner, catch up on email, or grocery shop.”
Isn’t it awesome? So don’t underestimate the value of a sling and be sure to get one. Another great thing about it is that you’re not the only one who can use it. Your hubby, your mom or friend can also wear your baby in a sling and keep them happy, while you’re taking rest or doing something else.
8. LEARN HOW TO PERFORM AN INFANT MASSAGE
All babies, especially preemies and those with medical issues, benefit from infant massage a lot. It doesn’t only relieve any kinds of pain or discomfort, but it also helps them grow and develop better and quicker. Besides, performing a massage enhances the bond between the baby and their mom (or dad, if he’s the one performing it).
So if you want your baby to get benefits from it, too, ask your pediatrician to refer you to a good specialist who can teach you to do infant massage. And remember that you should be very gentle massaging your baby because they’re far from being as strong as an adult.
7. AND HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THE CORD
Doctors have different opinions on how to take care of the umbilical cord. Some recommend rubbing it with alcohol and others say that it’s better to leave the area alone and let it heal by itself. To see what is best for your baby, talk about it to your doctor and learn their opinion on it.
Whatever you and your doctor decide to do with your newborn’s navel, you should always remember that you can’t submerge this area in water until it’s healed and the cord falls off completely.
The cord can change color until it falls off. It can be anything from yellow to brown, but if it turns red or has a bad smell, talk to your doctor.
6. DRY SKIN IS NORMAL
At first, your newborn’s skin will be nice, soft and silky. But sometime after birth, it will change. Laura Jana, M.D., pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn, explains it on Parents, “If you soaked yourself in liquid for nine months and then hit the air, you’d be dry too!”
So it’s absolutely normal if you suddenly notice that your baby has dry skin that peels and flakes off. But if you don’t like this dryness at all, try a hypoallergenic fragrance-free baby lotion.
Another typical skin issue in newborns is acne. “Acne tends to last for a few months,” Dr. Jana says. “So get those cute newborn pics before one month!”
5. BASIC CLOTHING ITEMS FOR YOUR TOT
It’s never recommended buying too many pieces of clothing for your baby because they grow so quickly and will outgrow each one of them in no time. But it certainly doesn’t mean that your baby should only wear their birth suit. You should certainly have some clothing items for them, but choose them wisely.
WebMD recommends only getting 6 to 8 shot- and long-sleeved onesies, while The Bump also offers new moms to have a few undershirts, pajamas, jackets, and rompers. It’s also good to have a hat for warm summer walks and blanket sleepers for winter, as well as a few pairs of socks (no shoes is needed until your baby starts walking).
4. PUT IN EFFORT TO REDUCE DIAPER RASH
Red and bumpy diaper rash is common in newborns. It’s usually caused by your baby’s gentle skin being irritated by the wet diaper. But if you take certain steps, you can either prevent or alleviate it.
Change your baby’s diaper as soon as they peed or pooped. Use mild soap and water to clean the area (use wipes only rarely because they can irritate the skin) and then apply a good layer of diaper cream. Use a cream with zinc oxide because it’ll form a barrier against moisture. In case you use cloth diapers, wash them in detergents with no artificial coloring or fragrance. And give your baby some diaper-free time every day, so that their skin can air out.
3. PASS ON SOME POPULAR PRODUCTS
Even though today we have multiple useful baby products that make the lives of new parents much easier, there are also those that will just be a waste of your money and will bring you no benefit.
So be sure to pass on such products as wipe warmers, because, as per WebMD, “they cool off so fast that they seem pointless.” Also skip diaper genies, since they’re not only useless but also disgusting to clean out. Besides, don’t even think about buying shoes for your baby until they start to walk and pass on apps for newborns, as specialists recommend no screen time for babies until 2 years of age.
2. BONDING WITH YOUR BABY IS IMPORTANT
Bonding between a mother and a baby is incredibly important. It’s best if you start developing it right from the first hours and days after your baby was born because this way you can build a really deep connection with them.
Remember that the emotional connection is best ensured by the physical closeness with your baby. So hold your baby as often as possible and don’t worry that this way you’ll spoil them. You definitely won’t. In fact, you’ll let your child thrive from this physical contact and contribute to their growth and development.
Besides, talk to your baby every day, sing to them, and practice kangaroo care, ensuring skin-to-skin contact, while feeding or cradling.
1. TIP FOR YOUR SELF-CARE: GET FROZEN MEALS PREPPED
We’ve talked a lot about how you should take care of your newborn, but now it’s time to discuss how you should take care of yourself because your baby needs a happy and healthy mamma!
Few future moms realize how little time they’ll have when caring for their baby, so they end up not having a chance to even cook a decent meal for themselves. In this case, they have to either order food or ask their partner, relative or friend to cook for them. To avoid making this kind of mistake, get some frozen meals prepped a few weeks before you give birth. This way, cooking won’t be such a big deal and you’ll have more time for yourself and your new baby.