Baby Care Basics
Often you hear stories about the pain of giving birth – the hours laboring, huffing-puffing trying to get the tiny bundle out of you. But always, each story ended with “holding my baby for the first time, it was worth every scream.”
For months you carried your baby with you, and then for hours (depending on your baby’s stubbornness) you had to go through the excitement and pain of labor and delivery. After holding your baby – especially for first time parents – everything becomes real and anxieties start to manifest.
“Should we continue carrying her or put her in her crib? Is it feeding time? Maybe we should feed her again? Maybe she should have a change of clothes.”
It can be a bit overwhelming if you think about it, considering the fact that you are responsible for a tiny, fragile creature. But the good news is that baby care basics are actually simple, particularly for a newborn. I’ve compiled below a collection of instructions on some of your baby’s basic needs. This article goes for the mom and dad – whether it’s their first or fifth baby.
Probably the most dreaded task of all baby care basics, but modern times have made diapering easier. Whether it’s disposable diaper or cloth diaper, these baby products are far more better to use and serve their purpose really well – unlike ten years ago.
Before, parents had to go through the ordeal of fastening cloth diaper with pins on a wiggly baby. Although they are still optional, most parents now only have to contend with wiggly babies. Cloth diapers have become user-friendly, as in they are almost like disposable diapers.
Whichever type you use or whatever brand you pick from a variety of costs and feature is up to you – the basics on how to get the diaper on the baby is pretty much the same.
Prepare everything. So as to avoid a screaming baby and for safety reasons, gather all things within reach of you – diaper, ointments, wipes, powder…basically everything you need to change the baby. It’s better if you lay everything out, even opening the wipes and getting them unfolded, so as to avoid searching or doing something with a wiggly baby waiting for you.
Lay down the baby. It’s recommended to have a specific area to change your baby as this can help supplement the rule above about having everything in place. It can be a changing table or changing pad, settle your baby and make sure to strap him or her in for safety measure.
Unfasten old diaper. After unfastening the diaper, don’t pull it out of the baby immediately. Leave it on for a bit of time in case the baby needs to let go still. Afterwards, gently lift the baby’s bottom up by grasping his or her ankles and raising them. Use the wipes to clean the baby’s bottom. If the area is heavily soiled, you can use the unsoiled part of the old diaper to wipe the mess first.
Fresh and clean. After cleaning your baby’s bottom, you can wipe ointment or dab the area with powder, it’s up to you. Place the new diaper under the baby and secure the fasteners. But be sure to place it snuggly as having them on too loose spells disaster for you.
When the baby’s clothed and secured, clean the place. The old diaper should be disposed properly – make it into a small ball, fastened securely, and throw it in the trash. Make sure to wash your hands at the sink. As an advice, keep a liquid disinfectant near the changing table for your hands.
Feeding Your Baby
More than just a matter of nutrition, feeding your baby is also about nurturing and comfort. You can use this as well to increase your bonding time through touch and eye contact. Whether it’s breast feeding or bottle feeding (so, even dads can do a little bonding time too), hold your little one close and talk to her or him.
Choose a comfortable position. This usually varies depending on the baby’s age, your comfort level and the time of the day. Whether seated or laying down, pick the best feeding position for you. Most moms use the cradle hold wherein you’re seated upright, holding the baby like a cradle in one hand, leaving the other to support or move your breast. Make sure to use a nursing pillow or even bed pillows to avoid any neck or back strain from holding the baby up.
Position and comfort. The baby should be able to have a good latch – he or she should be able to suck on the nipple easily and take a good portion of the areola (darker area of the breast) as well. Use your free hand to cup your breast and offer it to your baby. In order to do this, he or she should be belly to belly with you, and chin to breast. Placing your baby in an uncomfortable or twisted position can not only make it difficult for him or her to get milk, but can also make your nipples sore.
Watch them nurse. Sing to your baby or talk to him or her. When you’re baby’s done or when it’s time to change breast, you can use a finger to break the suction of his or her mouth gently to avoid any pain for you.
Prepare. Whether it’s milk formula or a bottle of breast milk, have it at the temperature your baby prefers – or you can use the room temperature for this. It’s not advisable to microwave your baby’s bottle though, as this can cause hot spots, burning your baby even though you may have tested the liquid first.
Position. Find a comfortable position for yourself and the baby. The most effective position is holding the baby on your lap with the baby’s heads in the crook of your arms. Just like in breastfeeding, make sure to switch sides to promote adequate stimulation of both sides of the brain.
When placing the bottle nipple, it should be filled with fluid since a half-filled nipple can cause the baby to swallow too much air. When the baby’s done, simply remove the bottle from the baby’s mouth.
Holding Your Baby
Babies smell good – which is why a lot of people can’t help holding them for hours. For whatever purpose, there are many ways to hold a baby – while doing something, when your baby’s not feeling well, or just bonding with her or him.
Cradle Hold. This is the most comfortable and effective position when you’re feeding your baby, as mentioned above. It is also a good beginner’s position – for siblings or younger kids. This is done by holding the baby with one arm, placing the head in the crook, while using the other arm to wrap around the baby, or place it under.
Shoulder Hold. A natural hold for the baby as babies tends to sleep well in this position. This also allows them to hear you breath and your heart beating. To do this, lean your baby up on a shoulder, using the arm of that same side to wrap on the baby’s bottom. Use your other arm to support the baby’s back and/or neck.
Belly Hold. Though this can depend on how long your arms are, this position is good for gassy babies. Place your baby chest down on a forearm, while using your other arm to hold the baby securely on his or her back.
Nobody’s born with perfect baby care skills. Most, if not all, function by instinct and emotion. But a few helpful tips and guides picked along the way can help taking care of your baby’s basic needs easier and better.