With 2022 behind us, 2023 ushers in a period of promise and renewal as we embark on a brand new year. And if you've recently become a parent, congratulations! Some parents experience feelings of anxiety and confusion as they prepare to introduce their newborn to the world. For this reason, we have produced a list of helpful tips for parents to follow. This short guide covers everything you need to know to get the new year started off right with your new bundle of joy, from how to feed and bathe your newborn to how to keep them safe and healthy.
Physical Care for Your Newborn
Newborns have very delicate, sensitive skin so it is important to keep their skin clean and healthy. You can clean your baby's skin with an unscented, non-drying cleanser (you can even use water, warm water is best for cleaning your baby's delicate skin). Be sure to pat your baby dry after their bath or skin cleaning. You may moisturize your baby's skin, especially if they have any dry patches or sensitive areas. As for sun protection, it is important to keep your newborn's skin covered and out of the sun, especially during the hottest times of the day.
Newborn hair can be a bit of a mess, but you can keep it clean and healthy. Use shampoo that’s formulated for baby’s sensitive scalp. Be careful not to get shampoo in your baby's eyes.
Newborn nails can be a little bit harder to clip than adult nails, but they can be clipped safely. It is best to wait until your baby is a few weeks old before you try to clip their nails. Never cut your baby's nails with an adult clipper. Baby's hands, feet, and nails should be washed and trimmed every time they are bathed.
Bonding With Your Baby
It is important to remember that newborns can't communicate as well as older babies and toddlers, so it's important to pay close attention to them and their cues. Newborns are still getting to know you, their surroundings, and their emotions. What may make you happy (such as a favorite food or a song) may not have the same effect on your new baby.
If you are breastfeeding, it is important to remember that newborns need to eat often, every two to three hours during the day and every three to four hours at night. Newborns need to eat more frequently than older babies because they are growing and developing so quickly.
If you are able to, skin-to-skin is a great way to bond with your newborn. Skin-to-skin is when you place your baby skin-to-skin against your bare chest. This allows your baby to feel warm and secure while also making it easier for your baby to regulate their body temperature. This can help your baby to feed better because it makes them feel more calm and relaxed.
Sleep Training for Your Newborn
A newborn usually awakens every two hours or so to eat. Breastfed infants typically need to nurse every two to three hours. Babies who are fed exclusively from a bottle eat less frequently, every three to four hours, on average. Babies that are able to sleep for extended lengths should be awakened to feed. Until your infant shows a healthy weight gain, which should happen during the first two weeks, you should wake them up every three to four hours to eat. After that, you can feel safe leaving your baby asleep for longer periods during the night.
Parents often have to get up several times during the night in the first few months of their child's existence. All infants have their own unique rhythms of sleep. By the time they are 2–3 months old, many babies are sleeping "through the night" (for 5–6 hours at a time). The purpose of sleep training is to instill in your child the confidence that they can go to sleep without assistance. You want your child to be able to go to sleep without being held or rocked to sleep.
Newborns are usually not able to fall asleep on their own. This is normal, especially in the first few weeks of life. Newborns should be put down drowsy but awake. It is important to put your baby down while they are still awake. Make sure your baby has a fresh diaper, has fed, and that their crib is secure before putting them to sleep. There are four sleep training methods that you can use: Cry It Out, Ferber (also known as Check and Console), Pick Up Put Down, and the Chair Method. Sleep training, regardless of approach, requires time and effort. It can be frustrating sometimes, but hang in there, Mama!
Nutrition for Newborns
While breastfeeding is the best option for infants, parents may choose to use formula as an alternative. Always check the expiration date and discard any leftovers. If you choose to use formula, follow the instructions on the can to a tee. Getting the proper dosage requires consulting with your doctor. Even if your baby doesn't drink the bottle, sticking to a regular feeding schedule is essential. It's also crucial to encourage frequent burping before, during, and after feedings to relieve gas and bloating. To avoid the spread of bacteria, always use a bottle sanitizer or the dishwasher to thoroughly clean and sterilize bottles, nipples, and any other feeding accessories.
Babyproofing Your Home
Newborns are so little and still developing, which means they are at a higher risk for injury. To keep your baby safe, it is important to babyproof your home. Make sure to remove houseplants or anything that could be toxic to your baby. Though newborns are not as curious as toddlers, it’s still important to be mindful of electrical outlets. Be sure to keep all hazardous items out of reach. Use outlet covers, drawer latches, and door and window guards to keep your baby safe. You can also use a baby monitor to keep an eye on your little one when you cannot be in the same room.
Building a Support Network for New Parents
Caring for newborns is extremely taxing, both physically and emotionally. It is important to make sure that you have a support network of friends, family members, or people you can talk to when you need help. A support network can help take care of your other children, do grocery shopping, or watch your newborn while you take a break.
Having a support network is a great way to relieve some of the stress of new parenthood while still maintaining your independence. New parents can also consider joining a support group or attending parenting classes, where they can meet other people with similar life experiences and challenges. Many cities and towns also have support networks for new parents through hospitals, birthing centers, or local parenting organizations.
Baby-friendly Activities for New Parents
- Exercise - It’s a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental and physical health. It is important to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
- Reading - It’s a wonderful way to relax and spend some time alone or when breastfeeding. If you’ve been trying to catch up on your reading list, now is the perfect time to get started.
- Listening to music - Music is a great way to relax and reduce stress. You can enjoy your favorite songs or mellow music to help soothe and calm them.
- Spending time with friends and family - It is important to also spend time with friends and do normal activities while you can. The best way is to have your besties over to catch up while the baby is napping. Newborns can be a lot of work, so you should try to make time for your friends and family, especially if you have older kids. Even if it is something as simple as coffee or a meal, it is important to maintain your connections with other people.
Finding Professional Support When Needed
It's helpful to seek a venue where you can talk about your problems, meet other parents, and get assistance, such as a support group, therapist, or online community. Anxiety, despair, and feelings of loneliness can all be alleviated by joining a support group. Online support groups, for example, provide a secure setting for therapeutic help when interpersonal contact is crucial but difficult to attain. Some of these support groups include National Parent Helpline, Hand to Hold NICU family support group (for parents who have newborns in the NICU), Working Moms support group, Postpartum Dads, and more!