Getting to know your newborn can be an exciting adventure (exhausting too, but worth it). During the first six weeks or so, there are a lot of changes taking place in you and your baby. For instance, if you or your wife is breastfeeding, your milk will be coming in, changing from something called colostrum to breastmilk. This will cause the color and consistency of your baby’s poops to change as well. Sleeping schedules will (hopefully) begin to be determined, and you’ll start to fall into a rhythm with your little one. To help with the transition, we’ve compiled a list of 35 infant baby care tips to get you off on the right foot.
The Hunger Games: Newborn Edition
No one prepared my wife and me for the way newborns can eat. They are insatiable! You’d think that since they just lie around all day pooping and looking cute, they wouldn’t need to eat that much, but you’d be wrong. We certainly were…(Find out more about our story here.) Newborns have a voracious appetite, and they can get real hangry real fast, so watch out. (I’m already getting sideways glances from my 3-week-old daughter that give me chills.) We’ve assembled a few infant baby care tips to help with nursing your newborn, and if you’re a mom, these first ten are for you.
Infant Baby Care Tips: Nursing
1. Be prepared to breastfeed a lot. Infants can breastfeed up to 12 times a day, which is about every two hours for those of you doing the math. Don’t get too caught up with trying to feed every two hours though. Some babies eat less, some eat more. You can trust your baby to let you know when it’s time to eat again.
2. Take time to get ready. Feedings can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on your baby’s size, mom’s supply, and baby’s technique, so prepare for a breastfeeding session with a glass of water, a good book, and (you’ll thank me later) a potty break!
3. Don’t give up right away. Studies indicate that up to 97% of new moms have trouble breastfeeding at first, so don’t let it stress you out (stress can lead to low supply).
4. Consult a breastfeeding professional. If you and your spouse experience issues breastfeeding, see a breastfeeding consultant. Your hospital may provide you with one, or your pediatrician may be able to recommend someone in your area. Consultants will do things like analyze your technique and test your baby’s latch. If your newborn is having trouble latching, be sure to ask the consultant to check for tongue tie. It can prevent your baby from latching and drawing out the breast milk effectively (this happened with our son Ben). If tongue tie is an issue, a simple procedure will set it right.
5. If you have a blocked duct, try a warm compress. Sometimes while breastfeeding, you may find that your breasts are engorged or that you have a blocked milk duct. If this happens try a warm compress. It can help get the milk flowing again.
6. Apply olive oil or vaseline to sore nipples. You shouldn’t have sore nipples very often while breastfeeding (my wife did with our firstborn because he had trouble latching), but if you do experience this, try putting olive oil or vaseline on them after each feeding.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every mom we talk to has a different story to tell. No two breastfeeding experiences are alike, and it won’t help to compare yourself to other moms. Let things happen naturally, and enjoy time spent with your baby (which brings me to my next point).
8. Prepare baby for sleep after night time feedings. You can do this by changing her diaper and swaddling her before starting to breastfeed.
9. Take the time to enjoy your baby outside of breastfeeding. Some moms love breastfeeding their infants, others don’t. Either way, take a chance to enjoy your baby when you’re not breastfeeding. Remember, they won’t be little forever, so take lots of pictures and make some happy memories.
10. Stay hydrated. Duh, right? It seems obvious, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. It can be tough to remember to do things like eat and drink when you’re sleep deprived and constantly tending to a newborn. What works well for my wife is keeping a water bottle nearby so she can take frequent sips and keep track of how much she’s drinking throughout the day.
Eat, Play, Sleep
One of the hardest parts of having a newborn is adjusting to life without uninterrupted sleep. Newborns typically need to be fed during the night at least once (usually more), and several weeks of this will begin to take its toll. For this reason, we’ve put together another list of helpful infant baby care tips to hopefully save you from complete exhaustion.
Infant Baby Care Tips: Sleeping
11. Swaddle like there’s no tomorrow. Swaddling can help your newborn feel a little more at ease in her new surroundings and keep her warm throughout the night. It can also help to prevent her from startling herself awake if she has a dream that causes her to flail in her sleep (that happens to our daughter almost every night).
12. Sleep when your baby does. This is key if you want to feel even a little like yourself at the end of the first six weeks. Sleep deprivation from constantly interrupted sleep cycles can make you feel like one of the walking dead. But if you sleep when your baby sleeps, you may just be able to outrun the zombie apocalypse long enough to make it through. Keep in mind, this strategy becomes infinitely more complicated as you have more children. If your toddler sleeps at night and your newborn tries to stay awake, you sleep, well, never. If this is the case for you, don’t get discouraged. It’s hard, but it won’t last forever, so keep implementing the other infant baby care tips outlined in this guide, and you’ll soon see progress.
13. An overtired infant will sleep less not more. A lot of parents think that if their newborn struggles to sleep at night, it’s a good idea to keep them up during the day to reverse the behavior. But overtired babies will actually sleep less not more, so doing this could make life harder for everyone.Instead, try waking your baby up only if she sleeps longer than 2 hours during the day, breastfeed, then keep her awake to play and tire herself out before putting her back down for a nap. This can help to establish a rhythm for your baby, which leads me to my next point.
14. Try to establish a routine early. It’s a well known fact that children thrive with structure in place, and infants are no different. So, number 14 in our list of infant baby care tips is to do your best to establish a pattern of eating, playing, and sleeping as early as possible. This will hopefully help you find a rhythm with your baby and get more uninterrupted sleep.
15. Put baby down when she’s drowsy. Okay, so number 15 in our list of infant baby care tips is admittedly a tough one, and I’ll admit, my wife and I aren’t very good at this. Your baby will likely have a hard time falling asleep on her own at first, so it’s a good idea to lay her down when she’s drowsy, but not asleep. This will begin to form good independent sleep habits in your baby as she discovers how to sleep on her own. Your baby will probably make it clear that she is unhappy with the arrangement, but don’t give in immediately. Fight your urge to rescue her, and give her a few minutes to discover she can fall asleep on her own.
16. Lie baby down on her back. This is crucial. Again and again research has shown that babies who sleep on their backs have a much lower risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).Lie baby down on her back in a bed without pillows or blankets to prevent her from ending up with something covering her mouth. There are baby clothes available that will monitor your baby’s breathing and heart rate while she sleeps. They alert you of any abnormalities in your baby’s vitals during the night, which can help you sleep better as well.
The Green Mile
Changing an infant’s diapers can feel like a full-time job. Newborns can go through 300 diapers or more in the first month alone! Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to help make life a little easier.
Infant Baby Care Tips: Diapering
17. Purchase diapers with a wetness indicator. Some diapers come equipped with a wetness indicator that turns blue when your baby needs a diaper. We highly recommend these for newborns and for toddlers. They will help take the guess work out of diaper changing.
18. Make sure your baby’s diaper is the right size. Your newborn’s diaper should fit snugly around the waist and upper thighs. Be sure to pull the frills out around the legs and buttocks to prevent blowouts (if you don’t know what I mean by blowout, you will). Use the weight range printed on the box to determine what size diaper your baby needs.
What we recommend: Pampers Swaddlers
My wife and I use Pampers Swaddlers for both our kids during the day. They have a wetness indicator, they’re less bulky than other brands, and they have a tighter seal around the legs and waist. (They’ve only leaked a handful of times over the last two years. Huggies Lil’ Snugglers, on the other hand, leaked as many times in a week.)
19. Unless you enjoy changing sheets every morning, use a night time diaper. Once your baby starts sleeping for several hours at a time without waking, you’ll want to put them in a more absorbent night time diaper. It’ll help prevent leaks and nasty surprises in the morning.
What we recommend: Huggies Overnights
The best night time diapers are Huggies Overnights. (We were more than a little surprised, but they had the best reviews online, and when we tried Pampers Baby Dry night time diapers, they leaked like crazy.) Our son Ben wears Huggies Overnights and they last over 12 hours and almost never leak.
I should mention, we use Sposie Booster Pads in the front of the diaper as an extra line of defense against accidents since boys’ anatomy can make them more prone to leakage. (The Sposie Booster Pads are wonderful. We use them every night and they’ve wiped out leaks completely.)
20. Use sensitive wipes when cleaning baby’s bum. Using sensitive wipes will help to prevent common skin irritations like diaper rash or allergic reactions. This will make baby more comfortable which will make you much happier!
By purchasing the Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes refills and the reusable Baby Wipe Tub above, instead of the box of travel packs, you can save a significant amount of money each month (up to $30 per box of wipes).
My wife and I use Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes because they’re soft, thick, and they aren’t made using any harsh dyes or chemicals. We like to buy the packages with the green plastic pop-top to keep in the diaper bag for outings because it’s much easier to open and close with one hand than the sticker top; however, for home use, the refills above are by far the most economical.
The Sore, the Red, and the Itchy
Baby skin is a beautiful thing. It’s soft and supple, untarnished by the elements or the harsh products we use on a daily basis. That being said, it doesn’t take much for things to go south, especially… down south. Your baby’s bottom needs constant attention to avoid uncomfortable diaper rash. So here are some infant baby care tips to help protect your baby’s squishy tushy.
Infant Baby Care Tips: Skin Care
21. Stop and change a soiled diaper right away. It may be inconvenient at times, but it’s important to stop and change your baby’s soiled diaper right away to help prevent diaper rash. If you live in a warm climate, a little baby powder can help prevent diaper rash caused by the heat.
22. Apply cream or powder at first sign of irritation. Applying an ointment such as Desitin Diaper Rash Cream to the affected area can help soothe baby’s rump. Baby powder can be a powerful defense against skin irritation, so apply it whenever you change your baby’s diaper to prevent diaper rash and maintain that new baby smell.
23. Use cloth diapers if baby’s skin is extra sensitive. Cloth diapers can be a pain, but they can also keep your baby’s extra sensitive skin feeling cozy and comfortable since they have no dyes or harsh chemicals to speak of.
24. Keep baby’s bottom clean and dry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The best defense is a good offense. Keeping baby’s rear clean and dry is the best defense against skin irritation.
25. Bathe your baby 2-3 times a week at most. Until your baby becomes mobile, bathing 2-3 times a week should be sufficient to keep your baby clean. This will also help prevent your baby’s skin from drying out.
26. Apply lotion after bath time to keep your baby’s skin moist and healthy. Applying lotion after bath time will help prevent baby’s skin from drying out and starting to flake. If you live in colder climates or your baby has naturally dry skin, you can apply moisturizer daily to prevent dryness and irritation.
What we recommend: Aveeno Baby Daily Moisturizing Lotion
My daughter Joanna had dry skin around her feet and ankles when she was born. We apply Aveeno Baby Daily Moisturizer to the area to keep her feet feeling soft and silky, and the lotion is fragrance-free, so there’s no messing up that new baby smell!
Skin conditions that are often present at birth:
27. Cradle cap is a common occurrence among newborns, so don’t fret. Sometimes, baby will be born with dry, flaky, or scaly patches her head. This could be the result of overactive oil glands near the hair follicles. It isn’t contagious and it usually clears up in a few months. A mild shampoo can help to remove the flaky patches or you can just wait it out (our son had cradle cap, but it was gone by the time he was 6 months old).
28. Baby acne may show up with 2-4 weeks after birth. Baby acne is quite common in infants. It usually goes away on it’s own, but if the problem persists for several months, you may want to have a doctor check for elevated hormone levels.
29. Tiny white bumps on your baby’s face are nothing to worry about. These bumps are called milia, and they can show up on your baby’s nose, cheeks, and chin. Milia is caused by skin flakes getting trapped in small pockets beneath the skin. Don’t worry though, they usually clear up in a matter of days or weeks. Milia can occur at any age, but they are most common in newborns.
Our final five infant baby care tips are just for dads. The first six weeks can take an emotional toll and put a strain on any relationship. Dads, during this time your wife may feel like all she does is feed, burp, diaper, and repeat, so it’s important to show her some extra love and affection. Tell her she’s beautiful and you’re proud of her (she did just give birth to your child after all). Be a partner, not a spectator. Do laundry, make dinner, clean the shower (I know my wife appreciates that more than anything). Everyone will be tired, and emotions will be running high, but taking care of things around the house can go a long way towards making your wife feel like you’re in this thing together.
Infant Baby Care Tips: Daddy, Do It
(As my two-year-old son would say)
30. If your baby refuses to sleep at night, take turns napping. My wife and I have had to do this with both our kids at one point or another. When she gets tired and starts to grow impatient with our crying baby, I take over for a while so she can get some rest. I’ll take the baby out of the room, check her diaper, burp her, walk her up and down the street, drive her around in the car, whatever it takes to buy my wife a few minutes of peace and quiet so she can hold onto her sanity.
31. Give your baby a bottle. Jealous of all the time your wife is spending with your newborn baby? Volunteer to give baby a bottle at her next feeding. This won’t apply to you if your wife is breastfeeding, but if you’re supplementing with formula, this is an easy way to get in the action.
32. Volunteer for diaper changes. With up to 300 (or more) diaper changes in the first month alone, there should be plenty to go around. So tell your wife to share the love, get in there, and get your hands dirty! (literally)
33. Burp your baby after mom finishes feeding. An excellent way to get involved and score some time with your newborn is to burp her after she feeds. Baby will feel better, and mom will appreciate the break. You’ll be scoring point left and right!
34. Give your newborn a bath. Some newborns love to take baths. If you’re looking for an opportunity to bond with your little one, this is it!
35. Snuggle with your baby, it’s important. Research shows that skin to skin contact is extremely critical to the development of your newborn. Take some time to snuggle with your baby while she’s not hungry. She’ll be warm and happy, and you’ll be making memories!
Infant Baby Care Tips: The Takeaway
There you have it, 35 of the best infant baby care tips on the internet! Which ones have you tried, and what worked best with your baby? Let us know in the comment section below.