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  • Writer's pictureInformed Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond.

Normal Newborn Baby Care

There are lots of ‘basic baby care’ tasks you might be doing for the very first time when you have a new baby. It’s okay to feel you don’t know anything and normal to learn on the job. There is no such thing as a silly question. If you don’t have a reliable group of friends or a relative you can trust to support you you’re more than welcome to come along to any of our meet-ups and know there will be someone there who has had the same questions as you whatever is concerning or confusing you. Our Facebook group is also a great place for these questions especially as there’s often someone around at any time of day.

Normal nappies

Wet and dirty nappies are a good sign that everything is going well with feeding your newborn. With a baby under six weeks, you can expect them to produce at least 6-8 wet nappies and at least 2 dirty nappies every day. The colour of the poo they produce should change from black with the first few poos through green to a mustard yellow once your milk has changed from colostrum to mature milk. There’s a good visual guide on the NCT website here

One top tip for nappy changing especially if you have a baby with colic or reflux is to roll them to the side to get the nappy out from underneath them and to wipe their bottom rather than pulling their feet towards their head as this might be more comfortable for a small full tummy. Also remember it's generally advised to wipe from front to back when cleaning a baby just like when you wipe for yourself after going to the toilet. If you have a baby girl you may find it is helpful to make sure you keep plenty of absorbant material underneath her when her nappy is off and with a baby boy you may want to pop a muslin or clean nappy over the top to prevent a fountain situation.

Cleaning baby

Baby feet poking out of the end of a baby bath

Nappy changing is the main cleaning your baby will need for the first few days. This can be done with warm water and fresh flannels or cotton wool. You can also give your baby a “top and tail” wash with warm water and a soft cloth. Keeping your baby warm may be a challenge when it comes to bath time. Whether you use a baby bath, kitchen sink or take them into the big bath with you or an older sibling the change in temperature when you remove clothes may make your baby cry. Popping them skin to skin with you, making sure the water is nice and warm (about body temperature) and using a nice warm towel (use the radiator or drier to warm one up) may help make the whole process more relaxing for you both.

You may wonder if you need to clean your baby’s umbilical cord while you wait for it to drop off. There’s no need for any special treatment, just keep the area clean with warm water and keep it dry fold the front of the nappies down so the cord stump stays outside of the nappy. Keep an eye out for redness in the skin around the area and any nasty smell and check with your midwife if notice either of those things.

Dressing baby

There are no rules on how to dress your baby. Mainly just make sure they don’t get too warm or too cold. Usually, babies are most comfortable with a vest and a main layer of clothing plus a jumper in the colder months. If you’re having fun dressing baby in cute outfits enjoy it but if you find that stressful your baby will be completely fine just wearing a baby-grow or sleep suit over their vest all the time. If it’s a hot summer when your baby is born they may wear just a vest to keep them cool.

A top tip about baby vests and explosive newborn poo is to get the vests with fold-over/envelope-style shoulders. Because these can be removed downwards over the nappy when poo has escaped from a nappy and you will be much more likely to avoid having to deal with needing to have a full-on bath situation.

White baby vest
Baby Vest With Envelope Style Shoulders

Normal winding

One unhelpful thing “experts” will do is make blanket statements like ”your breastfed baby doesn’t need winding”. Sometimes babies take in air while feeding regardless of how they are fed. Often babies will automatically produce a burp when they are simply sat upright after feeding. Holding a baby upright with their tummy on your shoulder may also support them to let go of any extra air they have taken in. But equally don’t stress that you must get them to burp after every feed. If your baby is happy and settled maybe they just don’t need to burp this time and that’s normal too.

Some babies will never bring up any milk after feeds some will bring up what seems like loads of milk every time. If your baby seems to be a sicky one but isn’t in any distress about it that’s probably normal. You may find adjusting your feeding position for a more upright position and having smaller feeds more regularly can help. If your baby seems to be in a lot of pain after feeds and especially after bringing back milk or hiccoughing or burping you may want to talk to your health visitor or GP to check that everything is okay or if it could be infant reflux. There's some information about infant reflux on the NHS website.

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