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Congratulations on your new baby!

You might have been dreaming about your baby for months, and now that dream is finally in your arms. Welcome to motherhood, a phase that's full of surprises.
When having your baby, you might have gone through an overwhelming, emotional experience. It doesn't end there. When you get home, you'll have this sudden realisation that this tiny, fragile being is completely dependent on you. And if this is your first child, you might not know much about taking care of a newborn.

To help you get off to a good start, we have created this guide for navigating the basics of newborn care – everything you need to know in those exciting and equally frustrating first weeks of your baby's life. 

About your Baby

Your newborn knows only two things: eat and sleep. If both these needs are met, you are quite sorted. In this chapter, we'll cover newborn behaviour in various situations that you need to be aware of. 

A. Newborn Behaviour

B. What to Do If My Baby Is:

Colicky

If your baby is colicky, you needn't panic because at least 20% of all babies are colicky. But you'll have to bear with the agonising screams that are a result of crying, fussing and irritability. Your baby can cry for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week and for more than three weeks. These multiple episodes of colic usually start in the second week, peaks at six weeks, and resolves when the baby is four months old. The colic symptoms usually occur in the evenings. There are a few medications that can help relieve colic symptoms. Ask your paediatrician for recommendations.

Crying

All newborn babies cry for up to three hours a day. That's a way they communicate.
Common reasons why babies cry
Babies cry when they are:
• hungry
• wet (indicating that their diaper needs a change)
• too cold or too hot
• sleepy
• uneasy and need to be burped

Hot

During the first six months, Newborn babies usually have a higher temperature, approximately 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5 degrees Celsius). If the temperature is above 100.4 F (38.0 C), call your doctor immediately. Using a rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to check your baby's temperature.

How to take your newborn's temperature rectally?

1. Place the baby across your lap, belly-down.
2. Use petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to coat the tip of the thermometer.
3. Insert the tip into the baby's rectum.
4. Remove the thermometer when it beeps, and check the digital reading.

Baby Holding Basics

A. How to prepare yourself to hold a newborn baby?

1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
Since babies' immune system is not fully developed, they may contract infections easily. For emergencies, keep a sanitiser handy.
2. Get physically comfortable.
Also, be confident and calm before you pick up the baby. Remove watches or safety pins from your clothes that can potentially scratch the baby.
3. Choose your best baby holding position.
Figure out the most comfortable position where the baby is well supported and cradled.
4. Provide neck support.
The baby's neck is heavy, and they have little or no control of their neck muscles. Ensure that you hold the baby in such a position that her neck is supported adequately until she turns three months old and starts controlling her neck independently.

B. What are the different baby holdin...

Football hold

B. What are the different baby holdin...

Shoulder Hold

B. What are the different baby holdin...

Chair Hold

B. What are the different baby holdin...

Hip Hold

B. What are the different baby holdin...

Cradle Hold

B. What are the different baby holdin...

Face-to-face hold

C. How to pick up the baby?

Here are the steps you need to follow while picking up a baby:
1. Place one hand under their head.
2. Place the other under their bottom.
3. Raise them up to your chest level while ensuring support to the baby's head when picking up and also when holding the baby.

D. How to hold the baby the right way?

These tips can help you hold the baby the right way:
• Ensure that the baby's head is free to breathe and move.
• Keep the baby warm by maintaining skin to skin contact.
• Use both arms to hold the baby when you are climbing or descending the stairs.
• If you're not comfortable standing, sit and then hold the baby.
• Invest in an infant support pillow and a baby carrier if you have to hold the baby for too long.
• Don't hold the baby when you are cooking, cleaning or near dangerous items.
• Don't hold the baby when you're frustrated or arguing.

E. How to hold your baby while bathing?

Use these positions to hold your baby and make the bath time fun and enjoyable:
• Place one hand on the bottom and the other on your baby's back and shoulder, and slowly lower the baby into the tub.
• After settling the baby in the tub, use the hand supporting the bottom to wash your baby. Continue using the other hand to support the head while keeping it above the water level.

F. How to hold a crying baby?

Below are steps to instantly stop the baby from crying:
• Cross your baby's hands, place it on the chest, and keep it in place with your hand.
• Support the baby's chin using the same hand.
• Place your other hand on your baby's bottom to provide comfort.
• Hold the baby at a 45-degree angle and gently swing her to stop her from crying.

Feeding Your Baby

If you are new to breastfeeding, you'll have quite a few doubts about how to breastfeed a newborn baby. This quick guide will help you clear your doubts and have a better understanding of the importance of your breast milk.

A. Benefits of Breastfeeding

• Breastfeeding develops a special bond between a mother and her baby.
• Breast milk is suited to meet the nutritional needs and bodily development of your baby.
• Breastfeeding helps protect your baby from infections and diseases.

To help you get started with breastfeeding, here is how you can prepare yourself:

B. Before Breastfeeding

• Wash your hands
• Make yourself comfortable and be in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere.

Note: Before you even begin nursing, you might experience a "letdown." This reflex action makes your milk flow from the back of your breast to your nipple every time your baby suckles. Each woman has different signs of a letdown, and this may include a slight pain or tingle in the breast, cramps in the uterus, a sudden feeling of heavier breasts, or milk leaking from the breast that's not suckled on.

C. Breastfeeding Positions

Hold your baby so her head is a little higher than her tummy. If you are sitting up for breastfeeding, place a pillow on your lap and position your baby with her body facing you. There are different breastfeeding positions you can experiment with to figure out the best one for you and your baby to latch properly.

D. While Breastfeeding

Let the baby take the initiative:

For the first few days of their lives, most newborns don't nurse vigorously. Hold her close so that her lips touch your breast. This will encourage her to open her mouth and look for your nipple. Let her take the initiative to find the nipple. If your breast is full and firm, ensure that you press it away from your baby's nose to help her breathe easier.

Make sure the latch is proper:

When you touch your nipple to your baby's lips, the rooting reflex encourages her to latch onto the nipple and areola. Make sure your baby doesn't take just the nipple but also as much of the areola into her mouth.

Help her hold the latch:

Once your baby latches onto your breast, help her hold the latch. You can do this by using your thumb to hold the top of your breast while keeping your fingers out of the way.

Don't pull the nipple away:

If you abruptly pull the nipple away from your baby's mouth, you can hurt your nipple.

Break the suction properly:

Insert a clean finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to break the suction.

Try alternate breast every time you feed:

Your nursing time can range from 5 to 30 minutes. With each feeding, start from the breast not fed from in the last feed.

E. Between and After Breastfeedings

• Burp your baby after each feeding or sometimes even during feeding. Hold the baby upright over your shoulder and gently rub or pat her back. You can also make her sit on your lap, supporting her with one hand and using your other hand to rub or pat her back.
• You'll experience uterine cramps during breastfeeding. Two types of hormones are released when your baby suckles: prolactin (causes you to produce milk) and oxytocin (causes you to release milk). Oxytocin also causes uterine contractions that control bleeding and gets your uterus back to its normal size.
• If your baby isn't positioned correctly or hasn't latched on properly, it will damage your nipple or make it sore. To ensure that you aren't applying pressure to the same area every time you feed, try to change your baby's position at each feeding. If you have cracked or sore nipples, air-dry them and then apply ointments containing pure lanolin. If you have severe nipple soreness, consult your doctor.
• Wear a nursing bra. This will help you nurse easily while providing support to your breasts. You can insert nursing pads inside your bra to avoid your nipples from sticking to your bra.

Formula-Feeding Basics

Some women can't breastfeed, while some prefer to use the formula for their babies. There are three types of formula milk:

Types of Formula

1. Soy-based (contains soybean protein)
2. Milk-based (contains cow's milk protein)
3. Simple protein formula (for babies with gastrointestinal issues)

Before Formula-Feeding Your Baby

• Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing the formula.
• Use clean drinking water to prepare the formula.
• If you decide to boil the water, bring it to a bubbly boil for 1 or 2 minutes and then let it cool.
• Don't use hot water to prepare the formula milk as it can lead to separation or clumping.

While Feeding

• Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed while feeding. Cradle the baby in a semi-reclined position, and as your newborn is feeding, look into her eyes to sense any kind of behavioural signs of satisfaction, comfort, distress or hunger.
• Your bottle's nipple holes should be big enough for a steady flow of milk. The bottle's nipple and neck should be filled with milk to ensure that your baby isn't swallowing air.
• When the baby sucks the nipple of the bottle, a steady stream of air bubbles should enter the bottle. If you do not see the bubbles, it could mean that the bottle cap is too tight or the nipple holes are too small.
• Some babies will take 5 minutes to empty the bottle, while some will take as much as 30 minutes. Always burp your baby halfway through the feed and also after each feed.
• Don't let the baby feed alone to reduce the risk of insufficient consumption, ear infection and choking.
• Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle.

Pee & Poop

Do you know that your baby's poop can be an indication of their health? You can guess if your baby is getting proper nutrition or if they have any underlying health issues based on their poop colour and thickness.

A. Types of Poop

Following is the description of some common newborn poop types for your reference.

Dark Green & Black Poop

For the first week, your baby will poop a sticky green-black tar-like substance. It's meconium which is a mixture of amniotic fluid, secretion from intestinal glands, and bile. She might also occasionally poop brown and green substances. It's the meconium mixed with breast milk.

Yellow Poop

If your baby gets proper nutrition through breastfeeding, the poop will be bright yellow and watery. It may smell like yeast. This is an indicator of healthy digestion.

Yellow-brown Poop

If you are feeding formula milk to the baby, the poop will be yellow-brown or a green-tan poop with a consistency like peanut butter. This poop will also have a yeasty aroma. Formula combined with breast milk also gives the same poop colour.

Green or Brown Watery Poop

A watery poop indicates diarrhoea, mainly caused by viral infection. It can also be a result of food allergies or the consumption of antibiotics. If watery poop continues, contact your doctor as it may cause dehydration in babies.

Hard Dark Brown Baby Poop

Hard poop indicates constipation. It can occur due to milk-protein allergy or fluids and fibres not getting absorbed properly. Contact your doctor to get it treated.

Bright Green Poop

A bright green poop can be an indication of a tummy bug. Contact the paediatrician for a check-up. Green poop with smelly gas is a sign that your baby is quickly drinking the milk or formula, making it rush through her system. Consult an expert for techniques to slow down her swallowing.

Dark Green Poop

If a dark green poop is staring you from the diaper, it means the veggies you fed to the baby went undigested. It can also be a result of iron supplements.

Brown Poop

Once your newborn grows up and starts eating solid food, the colour of the poop will turn brown. The smell will get intense, and it will have a thicker consistency. It's an indication that healthy gut bacteria are doing their job well.

Unusual Colours

If you witness poop in colours like red, green, orange, white, grey, black, and blue, contact your paediatrician immediately. All these colours might indicate issues related to the baby's liver, intestine, or other body parts. Blood in poop should also be immediately checked by the paediatrician.

B. Diapers Basics

You can't skip the diapers part while taking care of a newborn baby. Here are some basic details about diapering your baby, which you need to know.
• Some babies pee and poop more than 10 times a day in the first week of their life. So be prepared for a diaper marathon!
• Make sure you keep diapers in your hospital bag for delivery.
• Cloth diapers for newborns are environment-friendly, and they also prevent diaper rashes. Try using cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers for the sake of our planet and your baby's skin.
• Change the diaper the moment it is soiled or wet to minimise skin irritation and diaper rash.
• Put diaper rash ointments if you notice any small bumps or redness in the genitals or bottoms of your baby. Call a paediatrician if it doesn't get resolved in a few days.
• Don't wake the baby up only for a diaper change at night. That will disturb their sleep. Do that at the time of feeding or when the diaper gets soiled.
• Wash the bottoms of your baby with warm water before putting on a new diaper. You can also use baby soap occasionally.

Preventive Care

The immune system of newborns is not strong enough to protect them against all allergies and infections. Parents need to learn to navigate through all the preventive baby care required for their well-being. One of your primary tasks is to protect your baby against infections that can inflict permanent damage.

Apart from a healthy and nutritious diet, giving timely vaccination to newborns and babies is the best way to develop their immunity.

Healthcare Schedule and Vaccination 

Vaccinations begin right from birth. Below is the national immunisation schedule for newborns approved by the Health Ministry of India. 

National Immunization Schedule

All the vaccinations mentioned in the below table are mandatory. 

 

Vaccine

Due Age

Max Age

BCG

At birth

Till one year of age

Hepatitis B Birth Dose

At birth

Within 24 hours

OPV-0

At birth

Within the first 15 days

OPV 1, 2&3

At 6 weeks, 10 weeks & 14 weeks

Till 5 years of age

Pentavalent 1, 2 & 3 (Diphtheria+ Pertussis + Tetanus + Hepatitis B + Hib)

At 6 weeks, 10 & 14 respectively

1 year of age

Fractional IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine)

At 6 & 14 weeks

1 year of age

Rotavirus# (Where applicable)

At 6 weeks, 10 weeks & 14 weeks

1 year of age

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) (Where applicable)

At 6 weeks & 14 weeks.

At 9 completed months booster

1 year of age

Measles / Rubella 1st dose

At 9 completed months / 12 months.

5 years of age

Japanese Encephalitis - 1 (Where applicable)

At 9 months-12 months

15 years of age

Vitamin A (1st dose)

At 9 months

5 years of age (1 lakh IU)

Bath & Body Care

A. How to Bathe a Newborn Baby

There are two ways you can bathe the baby. They include:

Sponge Bath
You can give only a sponge bath to your baby for the first few weeks as their umbilical cord stump takes time to heal.
Things to keep handy for a sponge bath
• Soap
• Cotton
• Washcloth
• Safety Q tips
• Towel

Steps to give a sponge bath
• Wash your baby's eyes, nose and other parts of the face gently with the washcloth.
• Remove wax from the ears once a week with a washcloth only.
• Gently sponge the body.
• Wash the scalp and hair of the baby with baby shampoo.
• Keep the head wash as the last process as you don't want their hair to be wet for a long time.
• Do not wash the inside of your baby's mouth. If you see the thick white patches, ask your paediatrician that if it's a thrush.


Tub Bath
Follow these steps to give a tub bath to your baby:
• Wash the parts of the face first.
• Lower baby's body in the tub for a wash. But be extra careful not to scare the baby.
• Protect her body with your legs and hands.
• If the baby seems frightened, cover her body with a washcloth before you lower her into the tub.
• After the bath, lift her up gently.
• Lie the baby down. Gently and carefully pat her skin dry with a soft towel. Remember not to rub the skin.

B. Body Care of Newborn Babies

These tips help in keeping your newborn baby clean and dry, from head to toe:

• Sponge or wash your baby's face daily. You can use mild baby soap.
• Dip a cotton ball in warm water and use it to wipe her eyes.
• Wash baby's hair and scalp with baby shampoo. Brush her hair with a gentle hairbrush.
• Unclog the nostril with an infant-sized nasal bulb syringe. You can insert saline solution with the eyedropper to loosen the mucus.
• To clip her nails, use a baby clipper after her bath or when she is asleep.
• Bathe her for only 10 minutes with baby soap and water. Moisturise her whole body afterwards.
• Change diapers frequently and rinse the baby's bottoms in-between.

C. Newborn Swaddle Basics

Swaddling is essential for a newborn baby as it provides a sense of security to the newborn, similar to the mother's womb. It keeps the baby's arms and legs in a closed position keeping them warm and preventing the startle reflex. Find the steps to how to swaddle a newborn baby below:

• Fold one corner of the blanket and keep the rest of it spread out.
• Put the baby face-up on the blanket. The head of the baby should be placed in the top-folded corner.
• Bring the left corner of the blanket over the body and tuck in below the right arm.
• Bring the bottom corner to the shoulder of the baby. Don't get too close to the neck and face.
• Keep the swaddle loose around the hips and knees of the baby.
• Bring the right corner to the left side of the back and tuck it underneath.
• The swaddle shouldn't be too tight or loose. Ideally, you should be able to insert 2 fingers between the swaddle and the baby.
• Stop swaddling the baby once she is 2 months old.

Newborn Baby Toys

Here is the list of the 7 best baby development toys:

Activity Mats

Place an activity mat on the baby's mattress. It will not only provide a clean space for her to wiggle and stretch but also play with the toys she likes.

Music Playing Device

Listening to music soothes the mind and also improves your baby's listening skills. So, play music on your device or, better still, would be you singing for her.

Activity Gym

An activity gym contains wooden arches, removable hanging toys, and plush mats to keep your newborn occupied and help keep her physical and mental development on track.

Flash Cards

Flashcards contain bright coloured illustrations on both sides. The colours catch the attention of the baby. It visually stimulates the baby and aids in the development of her vision.

Clip-on Toys

These brightly coloured newborn toys are hung on to your baby's stroller or bed. Their exciting shape and colour quickly catch your baby's attention, encouraging her to grab them. This activity helps your baby develop motor skills.

Teething Toys

Once your baby reaches the stage of teething, she'll have a strong urge to nibble on things. You can give her teething toys or pacifiers to chew on. The teething toys are made of silicon or rubber, and they help soothe the baby's gums.

Home & Travel

Your baby is an addition to your family. She needs her space in her home as much as you do. That said, you need to make sure that your home is safe for her to grow into a healthy child. Here are few tips you can follow:

A. Making Space at Home

Declutter

The first step you can take to make the home safe for your baby is to declutter it.

Create a Nursery

Choose a corner of your house that can be your baby's den.

Place Mosquito Net

It's important to keep your baby safe from mosquito bites and other insects. Put a net canopy on your baby's crib.

Get a Convertible Crib

A crib must be on top of your newborn baby shopping list. It is recommended to get a convertible crib as it saves a lot of space in the room. You can convert it into a full-size bed if you need to sleep with your baby.

Create a Flexible Partition

You need to have a clear distinction between the baby's space and the rest of the room. You can hang soft cotton curtains to define the areas.

Store Smartly

It's understandable to get overwhelmed by the massive pile of baby care products and other items for newborn babies lying in the room. Plan a storage area for the baby stuff. Create vertical walls or floating shelves that won't occupy much space in the room.

B. Newborn Sleeping Time and Patterns

Your baby might have ruined your sleeping routine, but definitely have her sleeping time and pattern in check. Here are some interesting and useful facts about newborn sleep patterns.

• Newborns sleep for 18 hours a day, but they don't sleep at a stretch. They divide their sleep time ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours per nap in the day and at night. You need to feed, comfort, and change their diapers in-between.
• Their time and pattern of sleep change as they grow. When they are 6 months old, they wake up less at night. Once they reach the age of 8 months, they can put themselves back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.
• Consider babies as jet legged tourists. They don't know the difference between day and night. When your baby turns 6 months old, keep her busy in the daytime, so she is sleepy at night. Also, decrease the stimulation around her at night for her to get a sound sleep.
• As babies grow old, their curiosity grows and that keeps them awake. Ask an expert for tips on how to make the baby sleep at night.
• You will know when your baby is tired by the behaviour of your newborn. They will yawn, cry, and act fussy or cranky. They might be overly quiet or hard to calm down. These signs indicate that your newborn's sleep schedule is disturbed, and you need to put them to bed immediately.

Air travel with a newborn baby

• Ask the doctor before travelling long distances or internationally with your newborn. Ideally, you should wait for 40 days to travel from when the baby is born.
• Pick a CRS (child-resistant system) seat on a plane for your child. It's the safest seat for a baby in case of an emergency.
• Nurse your baby with a bottle or breastfeed her during the landing and take off. It will prevent the pressure from building up in her ears.
• Keep your baby bag ready with diapers, formula feed or bottle of breast milk, sanitiser, and an extra pair of clothes.
• Avoid crowded places as much as possible.

Travelling with a newborn by car

• A rear-facing car safety seat is a must for newborns, which can be used up to age 2.
• Small car seats with handles are ideal for infants.
• As your baby grows, you can get convertible car seats.
• Check the tightness of your car seat. You shouldn't be able to move it more than an inch on any side.
• Check the angle of the seat so that the baby's head does not flop forward.
• Place the harness of the seat correctly. It should be fixed in the slots below the baby's shoulders and clipped at the mid-chest level.

Travelling with a newborn on a two-wheeler

• Travelling with a newborn on a two-wheeler is a common occurrence in India. Be sure to travel safely. Invest in a helmet and other safety gear for your baby. You can find baby safety helmets with corner guards in newborns baby products list on many online portals.
• You can use a child safety seat belt to keep your baby safe while you ride the bike.

Travelling with a newborn by train

• Doctors advise not to travel by train or any other means of transport for at least 40 days from when the baby is born. However, train journeys are relatively long. So it would be best if you don't take your newborn on a train journey until she is 3 months old.
• Pack all the essential baby care items in double quantity for a long journey.
• Pack baby food in enough quantity with multiple sterilised bottles and thermos flasks.
• Don't forget the first-aid box for the baby containing a thermometer, antiseptic, bandage, medication for fever, stuffy nose, nausea, etc. Also, keep your doctor's contact number handy.
• Travel in AC class for comfort.
• Keep your baby entertained with toys, picture books, etc.

A newborn can bring a whirlwind of excitement and joy to your life – and plenty of fatigue and stress too. If you are a first-time parent, you can be quite perplexed about one too many aspects of newborn care. Remember, the newborn days won't last. So, step back and enjoy every moment with your baby. We hope this guide on newborn care helps you in taking care of your baby with confidence.

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