People see babies in different ways. Some people look at them as though they are an alien from another planet, as though they are all the same or something to be feared. I disagree with all of these ideas. Babies are just little humans, like adults they need food, sleep, play and love. As for being all the same, no they all come with their own personalities.

Information About Babies and Their Needs

Clothes

• Nappies, blanket and warm clothes/hat.
• Lots of bibs are handy if you have a baby that spills a lot
• Mittens that stay on as new babies often scratch their own faces
• Newborn babies need one more layer of clothing than you do. Check their temperature using your 2 fingers down their front or back (in-between shoulders), this gives you an idea of their core (central) temperature.

Safety

• A baby car capsule is for birth-6mths and is rear facing going in the back seat of your vehicle.
• If using a Heater it should have a thermostat, some gas heaters give off toxic fumes

Food

• Breast milk is all babies’ need in the first 6 months
• Weight may go down (up to 10% loss) in first 3 days, and then they regain their Birth Weight in approx 10 days. All babies are different so talk to someone if worried.
• Rough guide re weight is by 6 months the babies weight would have doubled, by 1 year baby will be 3 times Birth Weight.
• Growth indicators for newborn babies:
Baby Feeds around 8 times a day
Urine clear colour and have 6-8 wet nappies/24hrs
Alert when awake, increase weight and length
• Relate babies to yourself, eg you sometimes take a short or long time to eat your meals.
• Wind can cause abdominal discomfort in babies and it is important to try winding them after feeding. It could be due to the baby feeding fast and also sometimes diet related if breastfeeding. Cabbage, leeks and onions can sometimes cause wind.
• Try positions that put some gentle pressure on their stomach eg over your shoulder or across your knee, and rub their back at the same time. If after trying for several minutes and they won’t bring up wind or they are asleep put them down. If they wake again 15 minutes latter try winding again then.

Sleep

• Research says newborns normally cry a total of 1-4hrs/day usually pre feed and pre nap (for 10mins) and often have personal fussy time often late pm. Babies may take up to 10 minutes to settle off to sleep, may grizzle and cry beforehand.
• If baby is crying consider are they hungry, have wind, wet/dirty nappy, too hot/cold, uncomfortable or lonely and wanting a cuddle. Listen to the cry. Is it very distressed? If you’re worried seek advice from a health professional. If it is Colic, this usually appears at the second week, often worse early evening and babies draw up their legs with the discomfort.
• Newborns sleep approx total of 16-18hrs/24hrs, sleep needs decrease over the first year.
• Signs of being tired: jerky movements, grimaces, grizzling, making fists, yawning, rubbing eyes, staring vacantly into space or crying.
• Signs of wanting a feed: hand to mouth movements, fussiness, sucking action or sounds, cooing or sighing and nuzzling at breast.
• A bath in pm tires them out and may help them go off to sleep more easily. If you don’t have time you don’t have to bath them every day just give their face then bottom a wash.

Nappies

• Leave the cord out of nappy to allow to dry.
• Motions to start with are called meconium which is green/black colour and last for the first 1-2 days then it changes to a mustard colour, formula feed babies have light brown/clay coloured motions.
• Expect about 6-8 wet nappies/24hrs. Until toilet trained (around 2-3yrs old) you have approx 7000 nappies that will need changed!

Health

• See the back page of your Well Child Health book for child sickness danger signals. Remember to ring 111 for an ambulance. The phone number for the National Poisons Centre is 0800 764 766.
• Good idea to have a thermometer to check babies temp if you think they are unwell, (digital ones go under babies arm-pit).
• Jaundice is yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by a build up of waste products (bilirubin). It can make babies sleepy and at high levels is dangerous. Your Midwife or Doctor will monitor this and the baby may need to go under phototherapy lights if the levels get too high.
• Common minor health problems include:

o Infection around the fingernails called paronychia, often try cleaning with alcohol wipes from the chemist and let your Midwife or Doctor know about this if it doesn’t get better as sometimes your baby may need antibiotics.
o Sticky eyes can be due to a blocked eye duct. Try gentle massage of the duct with your finger. Clean the eye with normal saline solution from the chemist and drops of breastmilk into the eye can help also as this has a natural antibiotic in it. Again see your Midwife or Doctor if doesn’t improve or if the discharge is yellow or green in colour or the eye is inflamed.
o Thrush may be present in the mouth or the bottom of babies. If breastfeeding it can be passed from the babies mouth onto your nipples. Thrush is a fungal infection that will cause discomfort.
o If wanting immunisations these usually start at 6 weeks of age, Hepatitis B and BCG vaccines can be given to newborns, which are at risk of catching these.

Article by Helen Pulford (Midwife and Childbirth Educator) owner of:

www.babywebnz.org
Directory for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting web sites.

www.birthresources.org
Childbirth education resources.

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