Building confidence in caring for baby comes as the reward of successfully meeting your baby’s needs. There is a lot to learn, a few basics to master, and instincts that you will learn to trust.
The first few weeks with a newborn may seem frozen in time, like they have flown by, and as though you can’t remember life before his arrival all at the same time. This is a time of getting to know one another. Within a few weeks, your dedication to listening to your baby and your intuition will make you an expert about your baby. The goal in care giving is to keep your baby safe and comfortable, and to use each experience to develop a bond that comes from the process of spending time close to one another.
Knowing what to expect from a newborn can be a challenge due to the unique personality that comes with every child. It can be comforting to new parents to have an idea of what is average. Newborns typically sleep 16 ½ hours a day, will take 50 to 75 ml of formula every three to four hours, and have six to eight wet diapers, at least two bowel movements per day and cry for reasons that range from hunger to fatigue to boredom. Most babies can be soothed by being held close, rocking rhythmic motion, a walk or ride, something to suck on in between feedings, or a warm bath. You will quickly learn which works for different situations.
You have accepted the role as your baby’s advocate. As you learn about your baby and study his patterns of behaviour you will quickly be able to differentiate a cry for hunger from a cry that indicates that it is time for a nap. Responding to your baby’s cry is your first means of communication. He learns trust for you while you learn to trust your instinctive response and to follow natural intuition.
- Support baby’s head and neck with your hand or arm under his neck
- Always buckle baby into rear facing infant seat secured in back seat
- Never shake a baby for any reason. Infants are susceptible to “shaken baby syndrome” serious injury or death can occur as a result of being shaken.
- Do not engage in physical or dangerous activities or cook with a baby in a carrier.
- Never leave an infant seat unattended on an elevated surface such as a table or counter top.
- Do not handle hot items (soup, coffee, etc) while holding baby.
- Never leave baby unattended in carriers, swings, baby seats, stroller or items.
- Never leave baby for any reason when near water.
- Place baby on back or side for sleep on firm mattress without pillows, heavy blanket, or large stuffed toys.
- Never take your hands or eyes off baby while on changing table.
Feeding the newborn serves needs that are physical and emotional. Time spent with baby during feeding provides an opportunity for bonding as well as nutrition. Formula fed babies typically take 50 to 75 ml every three to four hours increasing to 120 ml per feeding by one month. Your paediatrician will address needs for special formula if necessary and information is available to adoptive parents who choose to breast feed their adoptive child. Solid foods will be introduced at approximately six months of age and will be discussed during well baby visits with your health care provider. Babies need to burp during feeding in order to expel air swallowed during feeding. There are several positions used for burping: Upright- with head cradled on your shoulder and his bottom resting on your forearm. Sitting on your lap; facing to either side. Lay baby on tummy, on your lap. Pat your baby’s back gently for a few seconds while you steady him with other hand.
Bathing the newborn may be an intimidating experience at first but can prove to be a favourite activity over time if you hang in there. Newborns will need to lose their umbilical cord stump before enjoying a tub bath. Sponge baths are an excellent introduction for both babies and parents.
- Gather all supplies before starting bath- fill basin with warm water.
- Undress baby and wrap him in towel on padded surface exposing only the area you are working with at one time.
- Wet washcloth with warm water (no soap) Wipe eyes from inside corner to outside corner and pat face dry.
- Wash baby’s neck, face chest, arms, and legs with warm water and mild soap, rinse and pat dry.
- Lay baby on stomach and wash his neck back and legs, rinse and pat dry.
- Bundle baby in towel and hold using one arm to support head and neck. Cradle baby over basin to shampoo, rinse and pat dry with towel.
- Remove diaper and wash diaper area (no soap on newly circumcised penis) Rinse with washcloth wiping front to back and pat dry.
- Gather supplies before starting water. Use small towel or bath sponge to prevent slipping. Add just a few inches of warm water.
- Cradle baby and gently slide him into water supporting head with one hand or arm under neck. Do not move arm away while bathing.
- Start with eyes as with sponge bath and work to diaper area.
- Shampoo last and wrap in dry towel immediately.
Umbilical Cord Care
Your health care provider will typically advise you on cord care.
Keep area around the umbilical cord stump clean and dry by wiping with a clean cotton swap. Fold the diaper so that it does not rub or irritate the stump. Wait for tub bathing until cord falls off. Report signs of: bleeding, redness, discharge, swelling or odour to doctor.
Your doctor will discuss follow up care for circumcision after procedure is completed. The most important fact to remember is that tub bathing will need to wait until the circumcision is healed and the umbilical cord stump has fallen off. Special instruction will also be given with regard to diaper changes.
Sleep is a commodity when a newborn arrives. You can expect your newborn to sleep an average of 16 ½ hours per day at first with the need to feed every 2-3 hours. That number of hours decreases over the next few months and in a couple of months he may settle into a pattern of daytime naps and four to six hour stretches during the night…or not.
The atmosphere of comfort, bathing, and bedtime rituals such as soft music, lower lighting and rocking promise to provide enjoyment for both baby and parents. These are the moments that memories are made of.
Growth and development guidelines are addressed during each visit with your health care team. They are measured in percentiles of height and weight and are tracked to insure that your baby is thriving. As adoptive parents, it is important to share any pertinent information about the medical history of your child’s birth parents with your doctor. Issues that are significant about his health history and biological history need to be shared in your visits with the paediatrician and dentist. Your child’s growth will be monitored and his development noted with each visit. Babies develop skills at different rates while falling into categories that allow them to be evaluated.
Call the Doctor according to the guidelines provided by your health care provider. General guidelines are:
- Fever over 37.7 0C
- Difficulty breathing
- Repeated vomiting
- Persistent diarrhoea
- Blood in urine or stool
- Disinterest in feeding/ baby is lethargic
- High pitched crying inconsolability
- Yellow/ orange skin or eyes
- Unusual discharge from eyes, nose, ears, navel, genitals