Guide to the first 10 days
Becoming a mum is a wonderful experience, but we understand that it does mean some big changes, and that there is a lot to take in. To help, we’ve put together a short guide, so you can get to grips with the basics you’ll need for the first 10 days with your new arrival.
Your newborn may feel fragile and delicate, but don’t be afraid to touch him. In fact, studies show that babies who are held for longer thrive better and cry less. Because your newborn’s neck muscles are not yet developed, you will need to support his head whenever you pick him up. You should also support his head against your shoulder or in your opposite hand, as you carry him. Some parents find that a sling or baby carrier gives them an extra sense of security when carrying their newborn babies. And your baby will love it too!
Top & Tailing
Until your newborn’s cord heals and falls off (usually in a week or two) you may prefer (or find it easier) to clean your baby with a sponge or cloth.
1. Lay your baby on a soft towel, or use a changing mat. Support your baby’s head and limbs
2. Clean around each eye – from the inside corner outward – with a separate cotton ball dipped in
3. Keep your baby covered with a towel to stay warm: uncover only the area you are washing.
Using a warm, wet washcloth and mild baby cleanser (such as JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo), rinse arms, legs, tummy and nappy area, in that order. Always clean the nappy area from front to back. Clean the umbilical stump, separately, with a cotton ball dipped in clean water.
4. If your newborn has hair, clean it with baby shampoo and rinse with water.
5. Next, dry your baby in the same order you washed him from head to toe. Dry thoroughly, without rubbing too hard. Then wrap him in a dry, hooded towel.
For more information, see our how to bathe baby video & step-by-step guide [hyperlink to how to bath baby]
Many first-time parents are surprised by how many nappies they go through in a day. To make life easier for yourself, have plenty of nappies on hand before you bring your baby home.
Be sure to wash your hands before changing your baby’s nappy. It is important that you never leave your baby alone on the changing table or surface, so make sure that you have the following items standing by before you begin:
· A clean nappy
· Baby wipes
· A plastic bag to dispose of soiled nappies
· Nappy cream
· A change of clothes for baby (just in case)
Instructions for changing a nappy:
1. Lay your baby on a flat, soft and secure surface. If you choose to use a changing table (handy in case of accidents!) keep a hand on your baby at all times. Don’t leave him – even for a moment.
2. Remove the nappy by lifting the adhesive tabs. Fold the tabs back on themselves so they don’t stick to anything (including the baby!).
3. With a baby wipe, clean the nappy area by wiping from front to back–for boys and girls. Fold the dirty nappy onto itself and move to the side. Place a clean nappy under your baby.
4. Apply a thin layer of nappy cream to create a barrier against wetness and irritants, to help protect from nappy rash
5. Secure the clean nappy by fastening the adhesive strips from the back of the nappy to the front panel. It should be snug, but not tight.
6. Finally, dispose of the dirty nappy and wash your hands again. Done!
Most babies cry for an average of two hours a day in the first three months. So while it may be disconcerting, it’s also normal. To comfort your baby, first try to determine the cause of his discomfort. Is he hungry? Does he have wind? Does his nappy need changing? Is it time for a nap? Is he over-stimulated by noise, lights or activity?
If the source of his discomfort is hunger, wind, or a wet nappy, the solutions are more obvious. To help soothe a sleepy or over-stimulated baby, hold him on your shoulder while gently rocking him. Sing or speak softly to him – reassure him with a calm voice. It can also help to rub his back as you do so. Try different positions to find one that’s comfortable for both of you.
Something else to consider: your baby doesn’t have much mobility in the first few weeks and may cry for help if he is lying uncomfortably in the crib. You can help him by gently shifting his position, but always place him on his back for sleep, for safety.
If your baby persistently cries or you are worried in any way, consult your doctor or health care provider.
Research has shown that massage can relax babies, improve their sleep patterns, and calm them when they are irritable. Infant massage should last around 15 minutes. Don’t worry if you have only five or ten minutes: even a short massage is good for your baby. Choose a warm, quiet room and play background music if you like.
Using oil will help reduce friction and make the massage more soothing. Make sure you use a product that is gentle enough for your infant’s sensitive skin. Place a small coin-sized amount of oil in your palm and rub your hands together to distribute.
Try the following strokes:
• Resting Hands – Begin your massage by gently resting your hands on your baby’s tummy. This resting hand technique is used before massaging any body area and is a good way for your baby to feel secure and enjoy touch.
• Legs – With one hand, gently hold your baby’s ankle. Place your other hand at the top of your baby’s thigh, moulding it around the leg, and then slide it to the ankle. Repeat the firm yet gentle rhythmic strokes, one hand after the other.
• Tummy – When your baby’s umbilical cord is healed, a gentle massage on the tummy can help with digestion and tummy troubles. Start by making contact with your baby’s tummy with a reassuring relaxed hand. If your baby is happy, make gentle padding strokes, with one hand following the other.
• Back – Holding your baby close to your chest, massage your baby’s back beginning at the neck, swooping down to their bottom.
As you give your baby more massages, you’ll gradually find a routine that works best for both of you. And with all your love and attention focused on him, you and your baby will be truly in touch.
For more detailed guides on baby massage, for various ages, please visit our massage section [HYPERLINK TO MASSAGE LANDING PAGE]
Healthcare professionals agree that nothing is better for your newborn baby than breast milk. Nutritionally speaking, it’s tailor-made for your infant. Of course, sometimes mothers cannot breastfeed, due to medical problems or other special circumstances. Discuss with your midwife how best to feed your newborn. No matter how you decide to feed your baby, be sure to always hold him while feeding. The cuddling that comes with nursing and feeding helps to build a strong, loving bond between you and your baby.
Should your baby appear to have a fever, knowing the best way to gauge your baby’s temperature is the first step. A fever is a temperature of over 37.5ºC (99.5ºF). Fevers are quite common in young children but are usually mild. If your child’s face feels hot to the touch and they look red or flushed, they may have a fever. You can also check their temperature with a thermometer. Measured under the arm, normal temperature is about 36.4°C (97.4°F). Under the tongue, normal temperature is slightly higher, at about 37°C (98.4°F). This may vary a bit.
• In infants under the age of 4 weeks, body temperature should be measured with an electronic thermometer in the axilla (under the arm).
• In children aged 4 weeks to 5 years, body temperature should be measured by one of the following methods:
• electronic thermometer in the axilla
• chemical dot thermometer in the axilla
• infra-red tympanic thermometer (thermometer inserted in child’s ear, always read the label carefully)
• Forehead chemical thermometers are unreliable as they only show the temperature of the skin, not the body and therefore are not an accurate way of taking your baby’s temperature.
• The oral and rectal routes should not routinely be used to measure the body temperature of children aged 0–5 years.