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.
- Lay your baby on a soft towel, or use a changing mat. Support your baby’s head and limbs throughout.
- Clean around each eye – from the inside corner outward – with a separate cotton ball dipped in warm water.
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 Top-To-Toe® Bath) wash 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.
- If your newborn has hair, clean it with baby wash and rinse with water.
- 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 bath baby video & step-by-step guide.
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 (or if you prefer, cotton wool & water)
- A plastic bag to dispose of soiled nappies
- Nappy cream
- A change of clothes for baby (just in case)
Instructions for changing a nappy:
- 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.
- Remove the nappy by lifting the adhesive tabs. Fold the tabs back on themselves so they don’t stick to anything (including the baby!).
- 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.
- Apply a thin layer of nappy cream to create a barrier against wetness and irritants, to help protect from nappy rash.
- 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.
- 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 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 GP or Health Visitor.
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.
Visit our Bedtime section for helpful guides and information about helping your newborn baby sleep better.