Bringing your little one home is exciting. No matter how well you've prepared, you're bound to be surprised as you learn about your new baby -- and new life.
As you get started on this adventure, get to know some of the basics of what can happen in your baby's first week.
1. How can I help my baby bond with me?
Bonding with your child is one of the great joys of parenthood, but it doesn't always happen right away. You’re adjusting, and your newborn is getting used to being out in the world. To jump-start the bonding process:
- Spend time skin to skin. Hold your infant close to your chest while you feed them or just when you’re cuddling. You can also stroke or gently massage your little one.
- Talk to your baby. Coo, babble, sing, and speak to them -- they love the sound of your voice.
- Look into your baby's eyes and smile. In time, they'll start to mimic your expressions.
2. How much will my newborn sleep?
A lot, at first -- as much as 18-20 hours a day. But not all at once. By 6 months, many babies sleep 6 hours a night.
Use these tips to help your little one snooze:
- When they fuss at night, wait a minute or two to see if they calm themselves down and go back to sleep.
- Be quiet during nighttime feedings or diaper changes. Try not to wake them up too much.
- Be active and play during the day, so they stay awake for longer periods. That can gradually help them sleep more at night.
3. How often will my baby nurse or take a bottle, and how can I be sure they are getting enough?
They should eat every 2 to 3 hours if you give them formula and every 1-2 hours if you breastfeed them. You can tell that they are getting plenty to eat when:
- They spend 10 to 15 minutes at each breast actively sucking and swallowing, or they drink 2 to 3 ounces of formula at each feeding.
- They have six or more wet diapers and four or more poopy diapers every 24 hours after day 4.
- After losing a little weight the first week, they start to gain it the second week. If you're concerned about their weight, check with your pediatrician.
4. How often should I bathe my newborn?
Three baths a week or fewer are plenty. More than that can dry out your baby’s skin. Just be sure to wait until the umbilical cord has fallen off before you give them a bath.
5. How can I keep my baby from getting diaper rash?
The key is to keep them as clean and dry as possible. That means changing diapers often to keep poop and pee from irritating their bottom.
Newborns have super-sensitive skin, so you need to clean them thoroughly, but gently. Use warm water and a soft cloth or cotton ball, and pat them dry with a soft towel (don’t scrub or rub hard).
Baby wipes that have alcohols or fragrances can irritate their sensitive skin, so it’s best to avoid them for now. And don’t keep their diaper too tight -- it could chafe their skin.
6. How should I care for my baby's bellybutton?
Keep the umbilical cord stump and the skin around it clean and dry until the stump shrivels and falls off.
Give your little one sponge baths, and don't submerge the cord in water. Fold diapers below the cord to keep pee from soaking it.
Call the doctor if your baby cries when you touch the cord. They might have an infection. Redness at the base and foul-smelling, yellow liquid are also warning signs of an infection.
7. How should I care for my baby's circumcision?
Your son's penis will be quite red for a few days. This should disappear within about a week. If it gets worse, if you see any crusted sores with cloudy fluid, or if you're concerned, call your doctor.
Keep your son’s penis clean, especially after a dirty diaper. Use just water, or a mild cleanser and water, as needed. Dab a little petroleum jelly on the tip to keep it from sticking to the diaper.
8. What else should I do?
Enjoy this time! As you get to know your little one, remember these basic safety tips:
- Always put your baby to sleep on their back.
- Empty their sleeping area -- no pillows, crib bumpers or wedges, toys, or soft bedding like a blanket.
- Your baby should sleep in your room, or vice versa. But don’t sleep or snooze in the same bed.
- Keep up with doctor visits and immunizations.
- Breastfeed your baby if you can.
- Keep them comfy. Don’t overdress them. You want to prevent overheating.