About Me

A first time mum blogging the journey.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Back to Basics - Caring for a one week old.

Caring for a newborn baby can be daunting.  That first night at home brings all sorts of emotions.  Whilst in the hospital you have midwives to help you with your baby.  Once you're home its down to you to figure it out and your journey into parenthood begins.  

Try to get as many supplies as you can before the baby is due; nappies, wipes, baby clothes etc..  I recommend distributing nappies, muslins and wipes around the house so that they are always handy.  I bought little baskets and boxes which I store all her changing equipment in, and keep them in different rooms.  If you are bottle feeding, get everything ready and make sure you know how to sterilise and make up a bottle, you will need to be even more organised now that bottles have to be made up one at a time.  For mums planning on breastfeeding you are the supply!  I will do a separate post on my experience of breastfeeding with some tips, lets call it a survival guide.

A baby brings a lot more laundry into your life, a little less, now that we have disposable nappies than previously, but still a lot to cope with on top of caring for a newborn baby. Firstly it is important to use a non-biological washing detergent for baby clothes.  This is because babies skin can be sensitive.  Also I recommend a sensitive fabric conditioner such as Fairy.  Make sure you wash all your babies clothes and blankets before using them.  Lots of baby clothes are white, to keep them white dry outside on the line as much as possible.  I have found that most things wash out......eventually.  

When you first bring your baby home you will notice that they sleep a lot.  Sleep is important for their development.  Some babies need more help to get to sleep than others, the same as adults.  Getting the temperature right can be key to getting a baby to sleep, it is also very important that your baby doesn't over heat.  The temptation is to swaddle babies in lots of warm layers.  They only need one more layer than you.  You can check a baby's temperature by touching the back of their neck.  Do not worry if their hands and feet feel cool, this is normal.  Babies should be placed with their feet at the foot of the cot, this ensure they do not wriggle underneath their blanket.  Ideally they should be placed on their back.  Poppy has slept on her front since she was only a few days old, she loves being on her front.  She could however lift her head very well from the day she was born.  After a few nervous days of her sleeping on her front we decided to go against the health visitors recommendation and let her sleep how she wanted.  Now that she can roll over she always rolls onto her front anyway.  

Sleep pods are very common now because babies cannot move down under them like blankets.  You can get summer and winter ones.  We have tried them on and off and found them useful but not essential.  

When Poppy was first born I used to put her to sleep in a moses basket and keep her downstairs with me.  We don't have any pets so didn't have to worry about leaving her alone in a room.  If you have dogs and cats, make sure your baby is never left alone with them.  Cats love to snuggle up next to a warm baby, who can blame them!  Although a moses basket can't be used forever I would highly recommend them and they make a beautiful storage piece in the baby's nursery (Check out my post on Poppy's nursery).

My parents cat Stanley looking at Poppy longingly!
When Poppy was first born it would take me forever to dress her!  You are so careful to begin with and its very hard to pull a wriggling baby's arm through a sleeve.  Don't worry you will get the hang of it very soon.  When dressing a baby start with a clean nappy, followed by a vest if it is chilly, then a baby grow or outfit.  By layering up this way it means baby is nice and warm and if you need to you can easily take a layer off.  If you are planning to take your baby out in the pram during winter, pramsuits are great, they keep your baby's hands and feet nice and snug.  Babies don't like to stay put under blankets!  Poppy falls asleep very quickly in a pramsuit probably because it is so cosy.  

I'm in here somewhere mum!
Changing nappies is not as bad as its made out to be, especially if your baby is breastfed because the baby poo doesn't smell.  You need to change a lot of nappies to begin with (every few hours) so it is worth buying a good changing mat and getting some old towels.   We used to change nappies over the bed, this led to back ache and the odd accident on our white sheets!  I recommend kneeling on the floor over a changing mat.  First put a towel on the changing mat,  then remove the dirty nappy and place in a nappy sack.  Clean your baby either using wipes or warm water and cotton wool.  Baby lotion and cotton wool is also useful.  If your baby has any nappy rash then apply some nappy ointment straight away, it can also be used as a preventative too.  I use Bepanthen nappy ointment,  it's a little more expensive but lasts a long time and really does the trick. 

Bathing your baby is not necessary everyday.  We didn't give Poppy a bath until she was a week old.  Traditionally babies were bathed everyday and were even given a bath in the hospital.  Nowadays its not considered necessary, in fact it can dry babies skin out. Until you are ready to give your baby a full bath, all you need to do is top and tail with warm water and cotton wool.  It is best to used cooled boiled water.  Wipe each eye with a separate cotton wool.  Wipe behind the ears, round the mouth and in the neck.  Then clean baby's lower half.  Make sure you dry your baby thoroughly otherwise their little creases can get sore.  Babies have a little stump where the umbilical cord used to be, this will drop off after a few days don't worry about washing it, just check it looks clean.  

The most important thing out bathing a baby is getting the temperature of the water correct.  The water needs warm but not hot, which you can check with your elbow.  Also make sure the room is nice and warm and that you have a warm towel ready.  It goes without saying to to never leave your baby in the bath, if someone knocks at the door, ignore it.  We decided to buy a bath seat for Poppy and it has been fantastic.  We have a very small cottage so didn't want to buy a baby bath as it would take up room.  Leaning over the bath really hurts your back, which is the last thing you need after pregnancy so the bath seat (also called bath support) was perfect.  Poppy has always loved the water so baths have always been such an enjoyable experience.  

For mums and dads with babies who don't like the water try introducing it a little at a time.  Just wash their head first, then baby's bottom.  Don't put your baby fully in the water.  I also recommend singing to your baby.  Poppy always listens to me avidly, she is my biggest fan!  Keep eye contact so they know there is nothing to be afraid of.  

When you take your baby out of the bath be sure to wrap them up straight away to stop them getting cold.  I use a little talc to make sure she is completely dry, and get a towel in those creases (of which there are many!).  Poppy hates being dressed so I put a Winnie the Pooh video on to distract her.  Distraction is key with a lot of these tasks!  It took me weeks to bath Poppy by myself, I always used to get my partner to lift her out the bath for me.  At first one of us would always sit in the bath with her for extra comfort.  I have to say bath time is great, I treasure every one of them.

Well done, you've made it through your first week!  This truly is the hardest part.  Everyday gets a little easier as your confidence grows and and your bond with your baby gets stronger.

If you have any more specific questions on looking after your baby be sure to comment or e-mail (abigailworthington1989@googlemail.com).  From sore nipples and difficulty latching to crying babies and trouble sleeping!  

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