Parenting Do's and Don'ts for a Newborn Baby
Becoming a parent is exciting and overwhelming. After months of waiting, it's finally time to bring your newborn home from the hospital and care for them unsupervised. Many first-time parents find themselves with questions about caring for a new child, but it will become more natural over time. Here are the parenting do's and don'ts for a newborn baby.
Do Ask for Help After the Birth
A great way to reinforce your confidence about caring for your newborn is to seek help. While you're in the hospital, take advantage of doctors, nurses, and specialists to answer any questions you have. Asking for help doesn't make you a bad parent! Learn extra tips on how to hold, burp, and change your newborn to improve your parenting skills.
Taking your baby home for the first time will be a special experience. But you should stay open to the idea of including others. If you want assistance with your new baby, talk to friends and family members. They can offer new viewpoints and visit your home to lighten your load.
Do Remember Your Newborn Is Fragile
Brand-new babies are sensitive in many ways. Their immune systems aren't very strong, so remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often. Don't be afraid to ask visitors to do the same.
Always support your child's head and neck. They don't have the muscles needed to do it on their own. Whenever you hold your baby, hand them to someone else, or lay them down, cradle their head.
Remember that your newborn is fragile. You can't shake them, in a playful or frustrated way. You have to buckle them securely into car seats and strollers. You need to play gently with them until they’re stronger.
Do Interact with Your Newborn
Your baby probably won't be very exciting in the first weeks of their life. You should still engage with them in gentle, age-appropriate ways. Let your baby watch, hear, and touch you. As your baby observes you, they will slowly bond with you and learn to move in a more controlled way.
Make plenty of eye contact and facial expressions. When you smile, your baby will learn to mirror the expression back to you. Hold your newborn often. The more often you soothe and comfort them, the closer your relationship will be. If you're comfortable with skin-to-skin contact while holding your child, this can improve your baby's mood.
Don’t Put Your Newborn on Their Stomach at Bedtime
Tummy time is a great way to help strengthen the muscles in your baby's head, neck, and arms. While your baby is still a newborn, sleeping on their stomach can be dangerous. Similarly, you should avoid putting toys, stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, and sleep positioners in your baby's crib.
Encouraging your baby to sleep on their back without unnecessary soft objects is safer for them. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, and strangulation are common reasons for infant deaths. To protect your baby even while you're sleeping, make their crib or bassinet environment as safe as possible.
Don’t Let Your Newborn Sleep Through the Night
This seems counterintuitive, but it's not recommended for newborns to sleep through the night. During both the day and night, your new baby might only sleep for two or three hours at a time. This is normal! Your baby had no schedule in the womb, so they are starting to learn the difference between day and night.
Your new child also has a very small stomach and should eat every few hours. While their stomach is so little and their body is working hard to grow, eating often is extremely important. With time your baby will sleep for longer periods of time. During this initial stage, you should wake your baby for frequent night feedings.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Your life will change significantly when you bring your newborn home. You might have less time to cook, clean, shop for groceries, do laundry, or many of the other normal things that typically fit into your routine. In the first days you spend at home with your child, there will be many memorable moments.
Your newborn will be small, but you can go on walks, nap when they do, and do other simple activities. Fresh air is good for you and your baby, and exercise is great for your physical and mental health. Sleep will be in short supply once you bring your newborn home, so it's wise to take every chance you get to rest.
You and your newborn will quickly establish a routine, and things that are difficult at first will become easier with time. If you find yourself unsure about something, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional to learn more about how you can best care for your newborn.