Newborn Care: What You Should Know
“Is the baby ok?” ....this is one question that parents keep asking repeatedly during the first few months. Here are a few important things you need keep in mind while taking care of your newborn.
Breast Feeding Is The Best
- Breast milk is the best food you can give to your baby. Make sure you give your baby only breast milk (exclusive, on demand feeding – day and night) for the first six months.
- Breast provides ideal nutrition for your baby and contains antibodies that fight viral and bacterial infections.
- Make sure you supplement breast milk with other food only after the first six months, unless instructed otherwise by the doctor.
- Breast-feed your baby till 2 years of age or beyond; the benefits will last for many, many years.
- Babies do not understand the sleep-wake cycle; you can help set the rhythm by adjusting the noise levels and lights accordingly.
- Make sure you burp the baby after every feed to reduce the occurrence of colic pain.
Keep Your Baby Warm & Comfortable
- Your newborn needs to be kept warm and cosy, especially to ensure proper weight gain.
- Put on a soft, clean, dry dress; wrap gently in soft, clean blanket/ cloth; cover the head with a cap; put on socks and mittens.
- Keep the room warm and cover your baby with a warm blanket – or just hold the baby’s skin against yours.
- Don’t over-wrap or use too many layers of cloth as too much of warmth can lead to increase in body temperature.
Always keep the umbilical stump dry and clean. Dry the area around the stump
- gently with a clean towel after washing/ bathing.
- There’s no need to apply any ointment or powder.
- Tie the diaper under the stump to allow it to heal faster.
- Always wash your hands before and after cord care.
The Safe Way To Clip Nails
- Your baby’s fingers and toes are very tender; make sure you clip the nails gently and carefully.
- Use a safe baby nail clipper.
- Clip the nails gently while your baby is asleep.
- Keep a gentle but firm hold on the baby’s hand while you clip the nails.
- Cut fingernails along the curve of the finger.
- Cut toenails straight across.
- Don’t cut too close to the skin to avoid nicks.
- You can use mittens to cover your baby’s fingers – this will prevent scratches
Eye, Ear & Nose Care
- To clean your baby’s eyes, use a clean cotton ball/ pad soaked in clean, warm water.
- Clean the corners of the eye and wipe gently from the inside corner to the outside.
- Use a fresh cotton pad for the other eye.
- You don’t need to clean the nose and ears unless there’s something sticking on the skin and needs to be wiped off.
- If you notice that your baby has nose block that disturbs feeding or sleep/ difficulty in breathing, please seek medical health.
- Make sure you keep your baby’s genital area clean and dry.
- Use soft cotton nappies more as frequent use of diapers may lead to rashes.
- Change the nappy immediately if soiled.
- Wash thoroughly with water after passing urine/ stool.
- Dry well with a soft, clean cloth.
- Avoid perfumed and alcohol wipes.
- While travelling, make periodic checks to see if the nappy is wet. Change the nappy at regular intervals.
- Give your baby some nappy-free time to allow the skin to breathe and prevent nappy rash.
- Wash your baby’s cloth separately with a mild detergent.
Gentle Care For Your Baby’s Skin
Your baby’s skin is extremely delicate and requires tender, loving care
- Do not give dip baths until the umbilical stump is dry and falls off.
- You can just wipe the baby’s with lukewarm water till then.
- Towel dry thoroughly after wiping.
- Bathing time should not exceed ten minutes.
- Use only a mild, dermatologically-certified soap to bathe the baby.
- Do not apply oil till one month of age.
- Do not rub in oil into the skin roughly.
- Do not use cosmetic creams, powders and oils (use only if directed by the doctor).
- Wrap up your baby well after bathing and breast feed.
Traditional Practices You Should Avoid
- Do not give any alternative medicines (like herb concoctions and powders)
- No pre-lacteal feeds should be given
- Do not give water, honey or gripe water to babies, especially if the baby is below 6 months of age.
When Do You Need To Seek Medical Help?
You should get expert medical consultation without delay if you notice the following symptoms or anything out of the normal:
- The baby refuses to take feed
- Decrease in activity levels
- Faster/ shallow breathing
- Yellowish discoloration of the skin
- Abnormal movements
- Fowl smelling umbilicus/ redness around the umbilicus
- Skin pustules
- Bleeding from the umbilical stump
Why Do You Need Follow-Up Visits?
Follow-up visits with the neonatologist/ paediatrician are necessary to keep track of your baby’s development and physical and medical wellbeing.
This helps the doctor
Assess the growth and development
Diagnose or manage illness in the early stages
Create awareness on health issues.