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Childbirth Preparation 104: Newborn Care


Our last class! Now we’re completely ready to keep a child alive and well right? Right?!?

My husband and I are both only children who grew up a fair distance away from our families and certainly not around many newborns or babies. I have a number of years of babysitting under my belt, but I mainly worked in the 4+ years old age group. Needless to say, we’re novices.

Luckily for us, our hospital offers a newborn care class where we learned not only how to swaddle a baby and put the baby in a carrier, but we learned valuable information about what happens and when with a newborn. Some of which I’ve listed below, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten a ton of the information – good thing we have a binder!

  • The remnants of the umbilical cord could take between one and three weeks to fall off.
  • The cord site requires cleaning/care with some hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a cotton ball.
  • Newborns only need full baths a couple of times a week barring an extreme diaper blow out situation. Otherwise, a sponge bath (my mom called them spit baths) are sufficient.
  • Lotions are not encouraged for newborns unless they are medically required or your pediatrician recommends them. (Some babies actually are born with dry skin!)
  • Newborns lose weight initially, but generally regain the weight to return to their birth weight by two weeks.
  • The first 5 days of bowel movements are special in colours/textures. I was really glad to learn that Days 2-3 produce greenish coloured movements because that would have really concerned me as generally green = bad in the medical world. It’s also completely normal/ok for newborns to go several days without a BM.
  • Keep a wet washcloth handy near the changing table for your hands because you can’t leave your baby on the changing table while you go and wash your hands!
  • Pacifiers are not encouraged until breast-feeding has been well-established (the timing on this varies depending on your source, our instructor told us 6 weeks, but I’ve heard as low as 4 weeks and as high as 9 weeks – ask your pediatrician or lactation consultant if you plan to use a pacifier).
  • Burping a baby seems to be an art form with countless approaches including (but not limited to): the simple back rub while holding the baby on your shoulder, bicycling the legs while they lay face up on your lap, putting the baby on their stomach on your lap and massaging/rubbing upwards, etc.
  • Always support the baby’s neck and head by supporting more the neck and the base of the head. Like adults, most babies don’t like it when you palm the back of their little heads.
  • Babies are ninjas who can escape most swaddles, but keep at it and you’ll be able to keep them secure.
  • Babies should always be put on their backs to sleep – this is contrary to what was taught 30 years ago, but has been proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death (commonly called SIDs).
  • Crib bumpers are a no-no as they can cause¬†suffocation/SIDs. They now sell “breathable” mesh bumpers which are acceptable to keep little baby arms/legs and if you’re using them, pacifiers, in the crib.
  • You can call your local fire department for free instruction/demonstration on installation of car seats.
  • Accept help when offered. Normally the type of person that says “oh no, we’re ok”? Resist the urge and accept that offer for grocery shopping, doing your laundry or cooking a meal for you.
  • Set expectations for visitors low in the first two weeks, allow people to stop by to drop off flowers/gifts/food, but keep visits short or non-existent except for those closest to you who are there to help not to visit/chat.

I’m sure I’ll add to this list during another post after the baby is born, but I think that’s a decent class summary. If you have little to no experience with newborns and don’t have family around to tell you everything is normal, I highly advise one of these classes. The power of information and knowledge should never be underestimated!

One Comment leave one →
  1. 09/29/2011 12:17

    I recommend setting “visiting hours.” Even if you have to be flexible with the hours, it sends the message that random drop-bys are discouraged and limits the amount of time guests stay. Just announce it from the get-go. None of our guests have seemed surprised or offended by this. We didn’t establish visiting hours at the hospital and before we set visiting hours, we had a hard time getting people to leave.

    Our pediatrician said we could use the pacifier after my milk came in. The nurses at the hospital said 4 weeks, but my pediatrician said there really isn’t risk of nipple confusion with a pacifier.

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