How to care for a newborn in the first week? Here’s a handy guide for new moms

Published on: 6 February 2022, 11:05 am IST

The tips mentioned in this piece can help you stay prepared and prudent in the first week with your newborn.

tips to handle newborn
It's okay to feel nervous with a newborn. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Having a newborn in your arms can be a pretty overwhelming feeling, especially for first-time parents. After gliding through pregnancy and delivery, you are already on your edge. The confusion and exhaustion that comes with having a newborn may feel intimidating at first. Constant fretting about taking good care of your newborn without making any mistakes might heavily cloud your mind in the initial few weeks. Well, worry not, for the fear of messing things up is nothing new for first-time parents and for the most part is quite understandable.

A newborn child is more fragile than anything you have ever handled, and thus requires extra care and precaution. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, as after all taking care of a newborn, much like anything else in life, is a skill and can be learned with time.

Tips to handle a newborn in the first week:

1. Cleanliness and hygiene

The immune system of a newborn is very weak, and thus cannot fend off a lot of infections. It is of prime importance that you keep yourself sanitized all the time, while around the baby. Do wash your hands or use a sanitizer before touching the baby every time. You should also ensure that the baby’s surroundings are hygienic. Any toys or things that may come in contact with the baby need to meet a certain level of sanitation to avoid the possibility of him/her contracting any infections or diseases.

Talking about cleanliness, one thing that inevitably springs up is bathing. Bathing a newborn can be tricky because of its small and fragile body. A newborn does need to be bathed more than twice or thrice every week. Also, when you do bathe them, always make sure the water is mildly warm to avoid irritating the baby’s skin with excessively hot or cold temperatures. A key thing to always keep in mind is to never leave the baby unattended, while bathing. This is because bathrooms have a lot of water and thus babies are prone to drowning or other accidents there.

2. Feeding the baby

A newborn is usually required to be fed every two to three hours. It is important for you to be able to assess when your baby requires feeding and how much. Typically a baby would give certain cues like sucking on fists or smacking lips to give away its hunger. You can try feeding them when this happens. Do not wait till they start crying to feed them, as it will unnecessarily irritate the baby and might make things harder than they need to be. You can stop feeding the baby once they stop suckling and burp them gently. It is crucial that you burp your baby after every single feeding to avoid any choking hazard.

new born baby
Breastfeeding benefits both the mother and the child! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Support your baby properly

A newborn baby’s body is very fragile. It needs proper and correct support to stay in a healthy posture. Parents must always make sure to especially support their baby’s head and neck to avoid bending, which may cause unfortunate accidents or long-term health problems in the child. It is also important for them to ensure that the grip that they have on their child is secure yet gentle so as to avoid putting excess pressure or strain on the newborn’s body.

4. Do not be rough with the baby

One must be mindful of the fact that a newborn does not have the capacity to tolerate even the slightest pressure or jerks. It might feel tempting to move around your baby a little bit to soothe them when they are crying, but you must be careful with how you move the baby. You should never shake or move the baby fastly or roughly. It can cause internal bleeding and can even prove to be fatal in infants. You can carry a baby and move it in your arms ever so gently to soothe it if you must.

You do not have to physically move the baby to wake him/her up. You can do so by gently moving your finger around their soles and tickling them there. You can also blow on them lightly to wake them up.

new born baby
Shower extra care and love on your new born baby.

5. Dressing the baby

As established, a newborn’s skin is still in the making and is thus not very rough and tough. While dressing the baby, this must be kept in mind. A baby should be dressed in soft, comfortable fabrics that have a loose-fitting. Making your baby wear uncomfortable or tight fitting clothes and fabric might irritate their skin or cause rashes and infection. Instead, breathable and light fabric like cotton could be a great choice for a newborn.

The last word

Taking care of a newborn is an intricate task and must be done with utmost mindfulness. The parents of a newborn are already quite tired after the pregnancy and the delivery, which takes a toll on their peace. The added stress of keeping a newborn safe can be challenging if they are not well prepared. To be able to take good care of their newborns, parents must educate themselves on how to do so. They can rely on books, blogs, and expert advice for the same.

Dr Madhu Jagalasar Dr Madhu Jagalasar

Consultant – Paediatrics & Neonatology, Milann Fertility & Birthing Hospital, JP Nagar, Bengaluru