Welcoming a newborn baby is both joyful and exhausting. Despite what all the books will tell you, there is truly no way to fully prepare for the arrival of a newborn baby. Each little life is special and different. Some babies cry seemingly all day and night, while other newborns sleep well from the start. Some babies go right to the breast, and others struggle to latch. Some babies deal with constipation, others might mess a diaper every 30 minutes!
This is why, at Thrive Pediatrics, we listen closely to parent concerns and take extra time to ensure your entire family is treated with care. We know every baby and family is unique, so we believe every holistic care plan should be equally as unique.
First Newborn Check Up Appointments
Make sure your newborn appointments are scheduled prior to leaving the hospital. New baby appointments are designed to monitor the baby’s health and development as well as answer any of your questions and concerns. The more health information you have, the better you will feel taking care of your new life at home. Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies get checkups at birth, 3 to 5 days after birth, and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 24 months. Expecting a new baby soon? You can schedule an appointment with Thrive Pediatrics here.
Newborn Sleep Schedule
Put your newborn to sleep on their back without toys, blankets, or loose bedding nearby. Newborns usually sleep 16 to 17 hours per day. You can start doing a bedtime routine as soon as the baby gets home, but manage your expectations. It’s unlikely a sleep routine will stick until closer to 2-4 months of age.
You do not need to bathe your newborn daily. Newborns only need full sink- or tub-baths once or twice a week; bathing too often can lead to dry skin and irritation.
In the interim, you can give your baby a gentle, warm wipe and dry where they are dirty — typically around the mouth, neck, and diaper area. Make sure to fully dry anywhere there is moisture to help prevent rash and irritations.
Skin-to-Skin & Tummy Time
Bond with your newborn through skin-to-skin contact and experiment with various techniques to calm fussiness. Give your baby supervised “tummy time” two to three times a day to develop head and neck strength.
Watch for Temperature or Jaundice
Call your pediatrician if your baby develops a rectal temperature over 100.4, if they stop eating or cry incessantly, or if their skin or the whites of their eyes turn yellow. Yellowish skin coloring can be an indicator of jaundice.
One of the best ways to take care of your newborn is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. All parents should focus on in the first few weeks home is getting to know their baby and taking care of eachother. Be sure to sleep when your baby sleeps.
Prior to your baby’s arrival, schedule helpers. Grandparents, in-laws, friends, or whomever you choose, remember that you and your partner are going to need rest.
Schedule at least one helper a day for the first few weeks to let you rest, shower, and get a good meal. Helpers can also run errands, pick up the house, or take your other children to and from activities or appointments.
Breastfeeding Support for You & Your Newborn
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, the best way to get your milk supply up, and help your baby learn to nurse, is through on-demand feedings. It’s common for a newborn baby to eat 8–12 times a day or every 1 – 3 hours (some babies nurse more often for comfort).
So, partners, your role is to support mama and make it easier for her to nurse whenever the baby wants. Mama, you need to be eating, resting, and focusing on helping your baby get the hang of breastfeeding.
The more support you feel in the first weeks of breastfeeding, the more successful baby will be in either exclusively nursing or transitioning to pumping/bottle feeds. For additional breastfeeding help, you can also work with a lactation consultant.
Take Advantage of Delivery/Pick Up Services
Use grocery delivery or curbside pick up, send laundry out to be done, or hire a cleaning service for the month; Whatever allows you to focus on yourself and your baby in the early weeks.
Don’t Force a Routine
After coming home from the hospital, you might feel like you’re at your baby’s beck and call (because you are). Do not waste time trying to design a rigid feeding and sleep schedule for a baby less than 8-weeks-old.
Quite simply, it’s unrealistic and puts too much pressure on you.
Most pediatricians agree newborn babies will not be ready for a general feeding and sleep schedule until they are closer to 2 – 4 months of age. In those early days, focus on getting to know your newborn baby, enjoy all the moments, rest when you can, and get help from loved ones for a while. Don’t feel too anxious about a rollercoaster schedule in the beginning. It is perfectly normal.