Every new parent is in the same boat. You wait longingly and perhaps impatiently for your baby to be born. Then he arrives—a soft, helpless bundle—dependent on you for everything. And you, no doubt,
have moments of sheer panic. Whether you have had a slew of nieces and nephews or have never seen a newborn before, it doesn’t matter—this is your baby, and you’re in charge. Here are some basics to get you through those first weeks at home; before you know it, you’ll be a pro.
giving the first bath
Keeping your baby clean doesn’t have to be a messy job. For the first few weeks, or until the umbilical-cord stump falls off, stick to spot cleaning with a warm washcloth. For the first big bath, follow these simple guidelines:
>> Have your partner standing by to provide an extra pair of hands.
>> Line up everything you need—washcloth, baby soap, dry towel, clean clothes—for after the bath.
>> Make sure the room is comfortably warm.
>> Run the bath water into a baby bathtub so it’s lukewarm and only a few inches deep.
>> Speak reassuringly or sing to your baby while bathing him to keep the mood light.
>> Run a damp washcloth over baby’s hair (save the shampoo for a later bath).
>> Keep it short; it’s better to miss a few spots than let your baby become impatient.
>> Never leave your baby unattended.
burping your baby
Your baby will need to be burped after feeding. Do it when you switch breasts and again after the second breast. (If you’re bottle-feeding, burp him after he has drunk 2 to 3 ounces.) Here are three popular positions:
>> Over the shoulder Lean your baby upright on your upper chest, with his chin and hands on your shoulder (see photo below). Gently pat his back with your hand.
>> Sitting on your knee Sit your baby sideways on your knee, with his upper chest leaning on the palm of one outspread hand. Gently pat his back with your other hand.
>> Lying on your lap Place your baby stomach-down across your lap with his head resting higher than his chest. Gently pat his back with your hand.
diapering your baby
Follow these simple steps:
>> Keep supplies close at hand: diapers, cotton balls or washcloths, warm water in a pump dispenser (don’t use wipes for the first six weeks), ointment, a change of clothes and a toy to entertain the baby.
>> Place the baby on the changing table, put your hand on him and don’t let go. Talk to him to keep him calm.
>> Lift the baby’s ankles and wipe. (For boys: Cover the penis with a cloth. For girls: Wipe from front to back). Slide the soiled diaper out and replace with a new one before you release the baby’s legs.
>> Apply ointment, if needed, and fasten the diaper