Bringing your new baby home is such an exciting time! It is completely normal to have lots of questions. In this article, I share what you need to know about caring for your baby at home.
Newborn babies feed very often – usually every 2-3 hours however, it is also normal for babies to cluster feed. Cluster feeding is a period of time where a baby may feed very frequently. A newborn’s stomach is tiny, and can only hold a small amount of milk, which means that they can be hungry not long after a feed has finished. Babies usually feed 8-12 times in every 24 hour period.
Feeding really is a full-time job in those first few weeks and will consume much of your day. See if your partner/family can help out by cooking meals, putting on a load of washing, or washing the dishes so you can focus on caring for your baby.
Tip: Set up a ‘feeding station’ with snacks, water, nappies, wipes, and cloths so you have everything within easy reach if your baby is feeding frequently.
Handling your baby
It is important to support your baby’s head and neck when lifting or carrying them. A newborn baby doesn’t have very good neck strength to be able to hold up their own head. When lifting your baby you can gently place your hand under their head and neck to help support them. This is important to do anytime when your baby is being held or carried. As your baby gets older their strength will improve, with most babies being able to support their own head by 3 or 4 months of age.
Your baby’s sleep
Each baby needs a different amount of sleep each day, but most parents find their baby can be quite sleepy in the first week or two, and then they start to become more alert between feeds. You will likely find that your baby tends to generally feed and then fall back asleep in the first few weeks. In time, they will begin to have longer awake periods where they will enjoy playing, tummy time and interacting with you.
Babies are constantly rocked and held in the womb, so they often need to be held and rocked to fall asleep. This is very normal for a newborn, and many parents find that their baby falls into a deeper sleep when they are held for some time before transferring to the cot.
Reducing the risk of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. Rates of SIDS have reduced as safe sleep guidelines have been implemented, and thankfully the chance of a baby passing away from SIDS is very low. However, it is important to ensure that your baby has a safe sleep environment.
Safe sleep recommendations:
- Place your baby on their back to sleep
- Keep their face and head uncovered (this means no hats, cot bumpers, loose blankets)
- Keep baby smoke free before and after birth
- Ensure that your cot and mattress meet Australian standards
- Sleep your baby in their own cot in your room for the first 6-12 months of age.
For further information on safe sleeping and reducing the change of SIDS please visit the Red Nose website.
Bringing your baby home can be overwhelming – unfortunately, they don’t come with an instruction manual. But with a little preparation and being gentle on yourself, you will get there! What will be challenging in the first week will be second nature once your baby is a few weeks old.
Article written by PBC Expo Midwide Hannah