9 things to know about caring for your newborn

Caring for a new baby can be scary, so wise up to challenges that new parents can expect to face.

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New parents like to think that they have everything under control, but all it takes is a paranoid thought — “Is baby drinking enough?” or “Is all this crying unusual?” — to send them into a heightened state of distress.

And not only is baby pooping, peeing and spitting up on basically everything, you also have to give him your undivided attention 24/7. Thomson Medical Centre’s assistant director/ lactation consultant (Parentcraft Centre) Fonnie Lo tells you
how to stay sane!

1. Monster eater

Be prepared to spend lots of time nursing your baby — for a good reason, too. Your mini-muncher needs frequent feedings — between eight and 12 each day — as his tummy is tiny, which means nursing every two to three hours in the first month. At birth, your baby’s tummy is about the size of a small marble — after three days, it’s the size of a ping-pong ball. Do look out for signs of underfeeding: Baby is not alert (lethargic) or has fewer than six wet diapers a day!

It’s normal if baby grunts when doing a poo as he is learning how to coordinate his body’s muscles for the bowel movement.

2. Doesn’t sleep much

If you’re woken up at night for what seems like the umpteenth time, take a deep breath and chant to yourself, “This won’t last forever”. A newborn sleeps 16 to 18 hours day, at intervals of two to four hours. Make sure to get some shut-eye when your baby naps. If things get too much, express your breastmilk and ask family members to help tend to baby at night.

3. How much they poop

Baby’s first poop is a sticky, greenish-black substance called meconium. Breastfed babies usually pass runny, seedy poop that’s mustard yellow in colour. The stool of formula-fed infants is more solid and appears pasty, like peanut butter.

A formula-fed infant may poop three to five times a day, while a breastfed infant may go after every feeding or as infrequently as once every five to seven days. It’s normal if baby grunts when doing a poo as he is learning how to coordinate his body’s muscles for the bowel movement.

4. How often their diapers need changing

The number of wet diapers is a sign that baby is eating well — look for six or more per day with odourless/very pale pee from day four. If baby’s urine output doesn’t seem to increase, check if baby is latching properly, express your milk and feed baby by spoon, syringe, or baby cup feeder. Consider giving formula or seek a lactation consultant’s help.


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5. Their noses get snuffly

If baby is grunting or snorting because of a blocked nose, use an infant nasal aspirator (manual or battery operated) to clear the mucus. You can also moisten baby’s nostril secretions by putting two to three drops of saline solution into each nostril if their nose is dry. If the blocked nose affects baby’s feeding or sleeping, or if baby appears to be cranky, consult a paediatrician.

6. They will spit up

Worried baby’s losing nutrition through spit-ups? No need if he is feeding well. This is because your baby’s stomach is small and has yet to develop a strong and fully functioning digestive tract. Seek a paediatrican’s help to exclude medical or surgical issues if baby is fussy and spits up often, vomits, spits up blood or has yellowish/green bile.

A newborn’s hormone levels drop right after birth, which causes him to lose the hair he was born with. It may take six months to three years for new hair to fully grow.

7. They keep crying

Babies cry when they need a diaper change, food, are gassy or are uncomfortable. Attend to your baby’s needs as soon as you identify the cause. Soothe your little one: Burp him frequently; swaddle him; have skin-to-skin contact; bring baby for a car or pram ride; give him a warm bath; massage him; let him listen to white noise like a washing machine or hair dryer. Consult a paediatrician if baby is crying excessively.

8. They’ll lose their hair

Don’t fret if baby’s losing the fuzzy hair on his head during the first six weeks. A newborn’s hormone levels drop right after birth, which causes him to lose the hair he was born with. It may take six months to three years for new hair to fully grow. To prevent a bald spot, put baby on his tummy when he is awake but supervise him. However, make sure he sleeps on his back.

9. They’ll jerk strangely when they are asleep

The Moro response (to a sudden loss of support) or startle reflex happens when babies throw their arms and legs up because of a loud noise or sudden movement, bright light or other stimulus. Swaddle baby in a blanket to lessen the incidence as he’ll feel more secure. When laying baby down to the cot, keep baby’s body as close as possible to your body. Release him gently only when his back touches the mattress to prevent him from feeling startled.

Photos: iStock

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