Newborn at Home. My Essential Advice

You are preparing to welcome a new child or girl.

And you will soon realize that your baby has more capacity than you think.

These are the most important advice I give to new parents, to start off on the right foot.

Nutrition

Give only breast milk, or, if it is not possible for any reason, formula milk for the first 5 or, better, 6 months of life.

Do not follow schedules, but breastfeed “on request”, that is when the newborn is hungry. The signs that a baby is hungry are: she starts to get nervous or cry, she puts her hands to mouth, sucks.

In the same way, the meal is over when the child is full, she has eaten enough. The baby relaxes and turns his head away.

The number of feedings varies, but they are usually between 8 and 12 a day.

If the baby pauses while feeding, or at the end, you can hold it upright for a few minutes to burp.

During the first 2 weeks wake up the baby to eat, if she sleeps more than 4 hours. To wake up the baby you can rock her, pick her up or undress her to change the diaper.

Give milk, avoid other beverages.

When your newborn is 1-week old, start giving Vitamin D, about 400 units a day.

Breastfeeding

Avoid smoking and alcoholic beverages such as wine or beer.

You can have problems with your nipples or breasts. For example, they cause pain, or they are red, inflamed. In this case, call your doctor.

To know if the baby is eating enough, it is useful to check the number of wet diapers. They should be at least 6 a day.

Formula feeding

Hold the baby in a way that you can look at each other, and hold the bottle with your other hand. Do not prop the bottle.

Avoid microwave heating, but use a bottle warmer.

The first days prepare a baby bottle with about 60 ml of milk and give it every 2-3 hours. Then adjust the quantity according to your newborn’s hunger.

Use of pacifier

It is advisable to propose a pacifier when breastfeeding is going well. Usually after a few weeks from birth.

In case of formula feeding, you can give pacifier from the first days, better in the evening before sleep.

Family organization

Try to find some time for yourself and your partner.

Consider the older brother or sister. And think how they can participate or help, even in small things, in the care of the new little brother or sister (for example, they can hold their hands when changing diapers, etc …). But never leave the newborn alone with the little brother or sister.

For parents caring for a newborn is sometime heavy. Get organized on time and tell relatives and friends how they can help (cooking, shopping, etc.).

Try to rest when your baby sleeps.

It’s normal for mom, and sometimes even for dad, to have a feeling of sadness. If this concern lasts more than a week, or if you feel depressed, overwhelmed, talk to your doctor.

Talk with your newborn

Talk to your child often. Look into his or her eyes (in the first 1-2 months the newborn see your face if it is at a distance of 20-30 cm).

Hold her often in your arms, play with your newborn with massages, and cuddles. When he cries, cradle her. Never shake her.

Try to calm your baby when he or she cries

Your baby will cry often, and at the beginning it is not easy to understand why. By ignoring crying, these become more intense and more difficult to calm down.

The three most common causes of baby crying are hunger, the need to be picked up or the discomfort due to the need to change the diaper.

In particular remember that, the first months of life, your newborn needs close contact and touch with mom and dad, skin to skin.

Safe sleep

At the beginning the newborn spends much of his time eating, crying or sleeping. Many newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.

To help your baby get the right rhythm, with more sleep during the night, it is useful to keep normal home noises during the day, even if the baby sleeps.

Instead, at night, even if he’s awake, turn down the lights and reduce noise, for example, speak with reduced tone of voice.

To reduce the risk of SIDS, always put the child to sleep on his back, day and night.

Use a crib or a bed with bars, with no drop-side rail. The slats must be close together to prevent the head or other parts of the baby’s body from getting stuck, if he or she moves during sleep. The distance between slats must not exceed 6 cm.

The crib must meets current safety standards. You can find more information on the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commision.  (mettere link)

To cover the newborn, you can wrap it, or use only a sleepsuit, or place a sheet and a cover over it, which must be well tucked up.

Do not leave toys, or soft objects such as bumpers, pillows or quilts in the crib or bed. There is a risk of suffocation if the baby moves.

Keep the baby to sleep in your room, but not in your bed.

The temperature of the room where the baby is sleeping should be kept between 18 and 20 degrees. Not less than 16 degrees and no more than 22 degrees.

Safety

Car

To protect your child in a car, always place it on a suitable and safe seat. Even for short distances, never keep it in your arms. Put the seat rear facing and in the central part of the back seat.

Always use an anti-abandonment system in the seat.

Never leave the child alone in the car, even for a few minutes.

Smoke

Never smoke in the house and, if you do it outside, change your clothes when you come back.

Accident Prevention

To avoid the risk of burns, never drink a hot drink, such as tea or coffee, while holding your baby.

Health

How to measure fever

The most accurate way to measure a baby’s fever is to take rectal temperature with a digital thermometer.

Up to 6 months of age, it is best not to use an ear thermometer.

The contactless thermometers are not very reliable.

What temperature is fever?

The newborn has fever if the rectal temperature is equal or greater than 38 °C (100.4 °F). If a baby younger than 2 months has a fever, he may have a serious infection. You must contact your pediatrician or family doctor.

Prepare for emergency

Prepare a list with emergency telephone numbers, including poison control centers.

Register for a pediatric first aid course, which is organized by the Red Cross.

Other measures

Wash your hands often and ask family members to do the same, before touching or picking up the baby.

Avoid contact with people with an infectious disease, even if they have a simple cold.

Avoid sun exposure.

Hygiene

Use non-perfumed baby soaps and lotion, to clean the baby’s skin.

It is advisable to bath the baby when he’s calm and relaxed. Do not put too much water in the bathtub, only a few centimeters are enough.

Check the water temperature with the elbow or wrist.

Change the diaper often.

At any change, if possible, leave the area uncovered for about ten minutes. This allow the skin to breathe, then put a new diaper. This reduces the frequency of irritations.

Do not use talc or powders.

Keep the umbilical cord dry, placing the edge of the diaper under it. Call the pediatrician if the umbilical area is red, or you smell a strong odor, or there is liquid or secretion.

Development

Check that, if you put your baby on your back, he or she made spontaneous, harmonious and symmetrical movements of arms and legs.

Your baby should start to follow your eyes, even for a few seconds.

If your baby cries and you hold him in your arms, he should calm, even if not immediately.

He keeps his hands clenched in fists. And if you put your finger or an object in the palm, the baby closes his fingers to grab it.

References

TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. November 2016, VOLUME 138 / ISSUE 5

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