Congratulations! You made it home with your baby. Now what?! Being a first time parent can be nerve-wracking and very disorienting. All of a sudden you are completely responsible for the life of someone else. It may even strike you as absurd at various times. But once you have your feet under you, you’ll be great.
Basic baby care goes something like this: Babies have three primary functions at this point—they eat, sleep and poop. Usually their reason for crying is because one of those three things needs attending to. Your job as the parent is to figure out which one it is and fix it.
So let’s start with eating. Your child will be either suckling at the breast, eating from a bottle or some combination thereof. Educating yourself ahead of time on which you will be using will help prepare you mentally for what’s ahead. On the practical side, making sure you have all of your supplies gathered and washed and in the area where you will be using them is very helpful.
Sleeping is next. Fortunately for you, a newborn baby will sleep a lot of the time. This is helpful so you can catch up on some rest as well as have time to prepare for the baby’s awake time. For the child, he needs to be in a crib or bassinet that is safe and has tight fitting sheets. At this point the child is not moving around very much, but you want to also limit the amount of loose bedding and stuffed toys inside the bed. He will most likely wake up every few hours around the clock to eat since he’s still tiny and can only take in small amounts at a time. As he grows, he will be able to eat more and therefore sleep for longer periods.
Pooping is something you will become very familiar with very quickly. As breastmilk is very easily digestible by the infant, his early diapers will be runny and fairly easy to change. If the mother has something different to eat than normal, you will know that too as the baby’s diaper will smell and look different. When changing your baby’s diaper, it’s important to have your area set up ahead of time. As a newborn, your baby will not be very wiggly, but it won’t be long before he’s very interested in whatever is not on the changing table. Some parents hang a mobile above the changing area so the child has something distracting to look at while the parent cleans him up. Depending on your setup, you can decide for yourself what works best. Just remember that a distracted baby is easier to change. Also keep in mind that a barrier on either side of the table or a seatbelt-type buckle can help keep the child safe and in place.
You will want to bathe your child, although it doesn’t have to be done very often. He will not be playing in the mud at this stage, so cleaning him up with a warm wash cloth and mild baby soap will do the trick. Also keep baby lotion handy so his skin can stay nice and soft.
Be aware that allergies are common with children. Pay attention to their skin and note any changes. Common allergens for newborns include laundry detergent, bath soap, lotions and the like.
Finally, don’t be afraid. Parenting is one big learning curve so don’t get frustrated that you don’t know everything up front.