10 Tips on Handling a Newborn
10 Tips on Handling a Newborn
New parents are thrust into dealing with a tiny person that is completely and entirely reliant upon them, often without a whole lot of help from the outside world unless they are fortunate enough to have family nearby. Even with that, having a newborn means dealing with certain things that most parents never think of when they are expecting a baby. It isn’t until after baby is born that all of these questions come about when caring for a newborn. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Tip #1: Colic vs. Reflux
Your newborn won’t stop crying and it seems there is nothing you can do to console your little one. Additionally, baby spits up every time after feeding, making you think there isn’t enough being absorbed. Baby also seems to want to eat every hour on the hour and you wonder what is going on as baby is in a constant state of crankiness. Doctors may claim colic as the cause, but colic is basically an umbrella term that is supposed to cover everything that cannot be explained. More often than not, all of this is actually a result of acid reflux or GERD which is incredibly common in newborns up until about 6 months of age. The esophageal flap has not fully formed at this early age resulting in inconsolable crying because acid reflux hurts. Don’t be too quick to claim colic because there might be an underlying cause like acid reflux that can be treated. If you aren’t sure, do not be afraid to press for a better explanation until all options are exhausted.
Tip #2: Sleeping
Sleep when your newborn baby sleeps. Your little one is not going to be on any kind of routine or schedule right out of the womb and is going to be about as predictable as the weather at first. The only thing you can reliably expect is that baby is going to be hungry every couple of hours. Remember, tiny tummies fill quickly and so baby can’t always eat a lot every time which results in frequent feeding. This can be handled differently depending on which way you decide to feed you baby.
Tip #3: Nursing vs. Formula Feeding
Baby will either be nursing at the breast or ready for their first bottle fairly soon after birth. As most medical professionals agree, nursing at the breast is healthiest, especially in the first few hours after birth because of the colostrum or first milk. It is loaded with antibodies which protect baby since baby does not have an immune system at all just yet. If you decide to exclusively breast feed, be prepared to have your baby suckling at your breast every couple of hours. It may be exhausting, but it does get easier as baby is able to eat more at every feeding. The most difficult time is at night, but remember if you choose to let someone else feed baby via expressed breast milk or with formula, you will lose that milk that would otherwise be available at that time. It is more difficult to get the milk back once you lose it, so you may decide that it is just easier for you to do all of the feeding or pump while someone else is feeding your little one. With formula feeding, you and your significant other can better alternate feeding times so it feels more like you’re actually sharing the responsibilities.
Tip #4: Parenting Styles
There are so many different parenting styles out there right now. Between attachment parenting and parenting in slightly more detached ways, the differences are endless. The best thing for you to remember is to not necessarily devote yourself to any specific parenting style because once you’re there you may not feel right about things. Do what feels natural and trust yourself to take care of your baby. Sometimes it means picking up your crying baby and other times, it means giving yourself and your baby a little space.
Tip #5: Crying
Babies cry and there is no way around that. As much as parents might wish they came with volume controls, unfortunately, that isn’t the case at all. The thing to remember about crying newborns is that crying is their primary way of communicating that something is going on. Their needs and wants are essentially the same thing because they cannot distinguish between the two and so a newborn cannot be spoiled. They cry because they are hungry, hurting, tired, and need to be close to their parents. Remember, a newborn just spent the past 9 months in his or her mommy’s tummy, so that closeness is something that a newborn is accustomed to. Removing that entirely can be harsh for a newborn. Be sensitive to baby and understand that if baby cries, there is usually a reason. Do what you can to find that reason.
Tip #6: Bowel Movements
Poop will be a number one topic of conversation between new parents believe it or not. You will wonder if the poop is normal from day to day or why it is different colors, etc. Hard poops are never normal for a newborn and can signal an intolerance of some sort. If you are nursing, this is less likely, but still possible which means that you may be eating something that baby can’t tolerate. Most common culprits include dairy, eggs, and other allergenic foods. Eliminate them and see if bowel movements change. Add foods back accordingly, slowly, and monitor changes. If formula feeding, it may be a dairy intolerance which means switching to a soy-based formula or some other alternative. As always, discuss with your doctor if you have any questions.
Tip #7: Lots of Button-front Tees
These are easiest to change on your newborn, especially because of the umbilical cord. Have plenty of them because you may end up changing them 3-4 times per day or more as baby eats and spits up or has what you will come to know as a poop-splosion. They are also great for layering if you live in a cooler climate.
Tip #8: Swaddling
Baby just spent 9 months tightly bound in mommy’s womb. As a result, swaddling can be very comforting to baby and can help baby fall asleep. There are blankets especially designed for swaddling, but the reality is that you don’t need those specialized blankets. A regular baby blanket works just as well. If you need help on how to swaddle, ask a nurse, midwife, or experienced parent for help. You can also click here for a YouTube video showing how to swaddle a newborn.
Tip #9: Accept Help
Don’t be resistant to accepting help for basic household chores. Even if things are not done the way you are used to, just be glad that they are done. If someone offers to help with laundry, accept it. If someone offers to help with cleaning, accept it. Keep a leash on the inner control freak because the bottom line is that as much as you can’t stand the way your mother-in-law might re-organize your kitchen, at least there won’t be a sink full of dishes.
Tip #10: Keeping Your Sanity
Do what you need to do to keep your sanity. For some moms, it means taking some time to go out and get a manicure while baby is napping at home with someone else for the time being. For other moms, it means taking some time to read a book or watch a movie. Take the time you need to keep your sanity because handling a newborn isn’t easy, but it doesn’t mean you need to give up what you love either.