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Caring For Your Baby

As new parents we tend to have such unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our new baby. Remember they do not come with care tags and instructions. Give yourselves time and as the days move forward, you will find your confidence and strength increasing as you settle into routines with your infant and household.

Holding Your Infant

When holding your baby, support the back and head with your arm and hand. Touch your baby often. Use skin-to-skin contact and hold your baby close to you.

What Does Crying Mean?

Crying is a baby’s means of communication. Babies cry when they have to burp, are wet, soiled, tired, bored or just lonely. As time goes by, you’ll learn what your baby’s crying means. If feeding cues accompany crying, it’s usually a sign of hunger.

You will not spoil your baby by responding promptly to crying. Your baby only cries if he or she needs something. When you satisfy his or her needs, your baby is learning to trust people and begins to know that someone cares for him or her.

Calming a crying baby

After taking care of physical needs, there are many things you can do to calm a crying baby. Try holding your baby over your shoulder, or place your baby on his or her stomach across your knees or arms. You can also try to rock your baby, swaddle your baby in a blanket, use an infant carrier, run the vacuum cleaner to provide a soothing noise or consider the use of a pacifier. If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid the use of a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established (3-4 weeks).

Fussy periods

Some babies have regular fussy periods each day. These are usually in the late afternoon, around dinnertime or early evening.

If nothing works

If you have tried all of these ideas and your baby still cries, talk with your pediatrician to be sure there is no medical reason for crying. Ask for help from a trusted family member, friend or your spouse so that you can take a break. Listening to a crying baby can be very frustrating. Remember; never shake your baby, because shaking can cause brain damage.

Cord Care

Many parents wonder when the umbilical cord stump will fall off. The cord stump should fall off within 1 to 3 weeks after birth. At each diaper change, clean the cord with alcohol on a cotton ball or gauze pad.

When changing diapers turn the diaper down in front to allow air to reach the cord and help it dry. Do not be worried if you see a small amount of blood or mucus from the navel just before and after the cord falls off. If there is pus, drainage, odor or a reddened area around the cord, call your healthcare provider.

Nail Care

During the first days of life, nails may be long and adhered to the skin high on the nail.

Trim nails frequently with blunt edged small scissors or file with an emery board to prevent scratching.

Cut nails straight across.


Sponge baths

Sponge bathe your baby until the cord falls off. Afterwards, tub baths may be given.

Bathing every 1-2 days is all that is necessary. Shampooing two to three times a week is adequate.

Bathing can be done any time of day. It should, however, be given before a feeding or at least one hour after feeding.

Gather baby equipment before you begin. The bath can be given in a basin, a small tub or kitchen sink. Never leave your baby unattended during the bath. If you have forgotten something, bring baby with you!

Be sure to test the water temperature with the inside of your wrist to make sure that the water is not too hot!

Use a mild soap sparingly, but not on baby’s face. Lotions and oils are unnecessary.

Always support the baby’s head and neck and keep a good grip on the baby while bathing.

Babies can get very slippery. Wash the baby from head down leaving the diaper area for last.

Don’t leave any soap on baby.

Clean the outside of the baby’s ear with a washcloth around one of your fingers.

Cotton tip swabs should not be used in the nose or ears.

Diaper Changing

Diapers should be changed when wet or soiled. After each bowel movement or wetting, wash and pat dry.

For girls

Separate the folds and gently wash area from front to back, using a clean area of washcloth with each swipe until thoroughly clean.

For boys

Wash penis, creases and folds near the scrotum. Do not push back the foreskin of an uncircumcised baby. Your pediatrician will instruct you how to care for your uncircumcised baby.

Taking Your Baby’s Temperature

There are two ways to take your baby’s temperature. Ask your baby’s doctor which method you should use.  Ask your baby’s doctor what temperature readings should concern you.

Axillary (armpit) temperature

Make sure baby’s armpit is dry and that there is no clothing between the armpit and his or her chest.

Gently place the silver tip of the thermometer high up in the armpit.

Hold arm snugly against body.

Hold the thermometer in place until temperature is read.

Read the number on the thermometer.

Rectal temperature

Put petroleum jelly on the silver bulb of the thermometer.

Lay your baby on his or her side or stomach and spread the buttocks until you see the anus.

Slowly and gently, insert the thermometer into the anus about 1/2 inch. The silver tip will no longer be seen.

Hold the thermometer carefully in place until temperature is read. Do not forget to hold the baby still with the other hand.

Read the number on the thermometer.

Clean the thermometer with rubbing alcohol after each use.

Dressing Your Infant

Dress the baby according to the weather, season, etc. Avoid bundling the baby in too many blankets or overdressing.

Taking Baby Outside

When weather permits, it is fine for you and baby to enjoy the fresh air. It is best not to expose your baby to crowds for the first few weeks. Avoid direct sunlight and drafts.