Remember that you cannot spoil a newborn baby! He or she will need plenty of holding and cuddling the first few months of life. Crying means that the baby needs attention (although some babies cry for no apparent reason). He or she might need to be fed, changed, burped, rocked or cuddled; or a simple position change may do the trick. Never shake a baby; this can cause permanent brain damage.
Your nurse can help you with diaper changing, bathing, dressing and feeding your baby. Be sure to change a diaper as soon as it is wet or soiled to prevent diaper rash. If you are concerned that your baby might be constipated, contact your pediatrician; do not give laxatives or enemas to a baby.
Babies can be bathed every two or three days. Plain water is best for the first month, and lotions, powder and oils are not necessary. Sponge-bathe the baby until the umbilical cord has fallen off (two to three weeks); then you can use a basin or infant tub. Never leave the baby alone in the bathtub, and never put the baby under running water (the water temperature could change unexpectedly). Hold your baby securely; wet babies can be slippery!
When dressing your baby, remember that infants usually require the same amount of clothing as adults. Babies lose a great deal of heat from their heads, so keep the head covered in cool or drafty places.
Become familiar with the signs of a hungry baby: chewing on a fist, looking around or crying with an open mouth. Feed until the baby stops sucking, pushes the bottle or nipple away or lets the milk run out of his/her mouth; these are signs that he or she has had enough. Burp your baby frequently during feedings (usually after every ounce of formula or when you are changing breasts) and afterward.
If you are going to be breastfeeding, your nurse will help you get started and will provide you with information to use when you go home. If you are bottle-feeding, remember to boil bottles and nipples in water for 20 minutes before their first use. After that, you can just wash them with hot, soapy water and let them air-dry.
Follow the directions on the formula can for mixing formula. Do not use water out of the hot tap. Don’t try to make the formula last longer by adding more water than the directions state. If your home has well water, you must boil the water for 20 minutes and let it cool to room temperature before mixing it with formula.
Your baby should have a first pediatrician’s visit when he or she is one or two weeks old.