Author: Melanie Coombs-Bynum, MD, FAAP
So you just brought your new baby home from the hospital and you don’t know what to do. Well just remember that taking care of a newborn isn’t rocket science, let us not make it too complicated. Newborns have spent their entire existence in their mother’s womb in a tight small environment, that is warm (body temperature), dark and surrounded by the constant sounds of their mom’s blood flow and heartbeat. Once they are born, they have been suddenly disconnected from all they have known. It is now cold, there are bright lights everywhere; they can no longer hear their mother’s heartbeat or blood flow and their arms and legs are everywhere. So let us swaddle them in a thin blanket to keep them warm and their arms close; put your baby skin to skin with either mom or dad so they can feel warm and connected to their you. These things do a long way to consoling your newborn and calming them down.
Now they can get cold easily but we don’t want to make them too warm either. Dress your new baby as you would yourself. If you’re cold then dress them warm and vice versa. Use thin receiving blankets with babies, muslin blankets work great. Please avoid soft bulky blankets that can make babies too warm; they can’t tell you they are getting hot and may have artificial fevers.
When it comes to feeding, whether breastfeeding or formula feeding, just feed them on demand. Most breastfeeding babies will feed 10-15 minutes each breast every 1-3 hrs and formula babies take 2-3oz every 2-3 hrs. Don’t expect your baby to sleep through the night anytime soon. They will feed every 2-3 hrs during the day and night for several months. There is no need to supplement their diet with cereal to help them sleep. Milk is all they need.
When they do sleep, which is quite a bit in the first two months, they should sleep on their backs to decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). They should sleep in their own space on a firm surface. To decrease the risk of SIDS, there should be no loose blankets in their sleep area, no pillows or stuffed animals. Only the baby should be in the crib or bassinet. You may swaddle your newborn, but it should be a tight swaddle so that it doesn’t loosen and cover their face.
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