14 Great Tips for New Parents with a Newborn Baby. If you’re a first-time parent, these newborn care tips will help you feel confident caring for your new baby at home. New Mom tips: Newborn baby care and advice for feeding, sleeping, nursing and preparing the nursery for good sleep habits from the start.
Caring for Your Newborn Baby: New Parent’s Guide to Newborn Care
Once the extraordinary high wears off from bringing your newborn home from the hospital, the sleep deprivation and reality of how exhausting it is to care for a new baby sets in. When we brought home our twins, the first few weeks felt like we were the neighborhood watch, staying up at night for feedings, diaper changes and rocking two fussy babies to sleep.
Slowly, we started adding these newborn tricks I’m going to share with you, to our routine until a pattern of successful sleep, calming and the light at the end of the tunnel emerged.
These newborn tips and tricks will help new moms and new parents ease into having a brand new baby in your home and teach long-term sleeping habits.
MASTER THE SWADDLE
When your baby was growing in your tummy, they were enveloped snuggly and recreating this familiar sensation will give them comfort once you bring them home. Being bundled up securely will help your newborn settle and fall asleep faster from the familiar feeling of your being safe and comfortable, like they were inside the womb.
The Anais and Aden Muslin swaddles are the perfect size. The receiving blankets you receive at your baby shower in the 4-pack are nice, but are much too small for swaddling and don’t serve a big purpose other than as a blanket for the car seat.
The Swaddle Blankets with Velcro come in handy because of how quick you can swaddle a fussy or tired baby and make them comfortable.
USE WHITE NOISE TO HELP YOUR BABY SLEEP
I learned the necessity of a sound machine with my twins around 8 weeks. Up until then we didn’t use a sound machine, but it was a total life changer once we started!
White noise blocked outside noise from startling them from sleep, it muffled sounds in the house like barking dogs or solicitors reading the doorbell at naptime.
When your baby was in the womb, he was surrounded by constant noise like the beating of your heart and swooshing noises – the white noise machine does the same thing and gives your baby comfort.
DARKEN BABY’S NURSERY WITH BLACK OUT SHADES/CURTAINS
In the womb, your baby was used to darkness most of the time. Now that they’re here, replicate this same dark sleep environment in the nursery with darkening curtains or black-out shades.
You’ll quickly realize that babies have opposite schedules – they mix up night with daytime and daytime with nighttime as far as their longer stretches of being awake, hungry and wanting your comforting touch.
Tip – we love the Blackout Buddy Portable Blinds if you travel and need to bring this with you!
To help them learn the difference between day and night, pull open the curtains and expose them to as much natural light as you can during daytime hours. At night, dim your lights and turn down the stimulation until they can sleep in their crib and darkened nursery. The sooner you can teach your baby the difference between night and day, the quicker they’ll adopt good sleep habits.
LAYER CRIB BEDDING
When your baby wakes with a dirty diaper or sickness in the middle of the night, it can be quite the fiasco to undress the crib and redress it with a fresh pair of mattress protector and crib sheet. Instead, save yourself the time and layer your crib bedding with a mattress protector, crib sheet, mattress protector and crib sheet. This helps with middle of the night diaper blow outs, spit ups or sickness. It saves you time from remaking the bed at night when all you have to do is strip off the top two layers and put baby back down to sleep.
There is nothing worse like putting your baby down to sleep, walking out of the room, hearing the door loudly click shut and your baby start crying again. A door latch is easy to make on your own or buy online and is an big sleep-saver!
Here is a DIY-No-Sew Door Latch Cover Tutorial or
ONESIE SHOULDER ENVELOPES HELPS WITH MESSY DIAPERS
Did you realize why onesies have envelope folds in the shoulders, this trick works wonders for an explosive diaper! Watch this video for how you can can down the onesie to clean up messy accidents.
SIGNS YOUR BABY WANTS TO NURSE / FEED
Never having nursed before, I didn’t know what the signs were that my newborns wanted to nurse or feed. Slowly I learned their signals but if you are prepared ahead of time, you’ll know what to watch for and skip the guessing game unlike me.
Signs your baby wants to nurse / feed:
- Crying: a baby’s hunger cry is usually short, low-pitched, and rises and falls
- Sucking on his fist
- Smacking his lifts
- Opening his mouth while feeding
- Turning his head towards your breasts and the smell of milk
- Acting restless and waking up
If you have trouble nursing or feel your milk supply is low, never hesitate to talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask your baby’s pediatrician for a lactation consultant, or search the La Leche League (laleche.org) for lactation support nearest you.
A gassy baby is a fussy, upset and crying baby, sometimes to the point of being inconsolable. This one tricks helps relieve gas quickly and was the first thing my pediatrician taught me for a baby with air in their tummy
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie your baby down on his back
- Gentle move his legs in a bicycle motion slowly to his stomach, back and forth
- You can also alternate one leg moving from straight knee, to bend knee at the tummy and back, before switching
This will help to immediately remove your baby’s gas.
KEEP WAKE UP TIME BETWEEN NAPS SHORT
Babies can only stay awake for so long, and too long makes for an overtired, overstimulated and fussy baby who will harder to put to sleep, even if they are hungry.
It’s important to watch your baby’s sleep cues and put your baby back to sleep before they get to the point of being overtired, even if it’s early in your routine.
Newborns can stay awake for 20-30 minutes at most, babies 1 – 2 months for 45-60 minutes, and babies 3-6 months for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
The more you put your baby to sleep when their body tells you it’s ready, the better his sleep habits will be.
TRACK BABY’S SLEEP, FEEDINGS & DIAPER CHANGES
Keeping track of your baby’s sleep, feeding frequency, intake and diapers will help you prepare for pediatrician appointments, but also help you find patterns in your days for when your baby is ready to start a more formal daily routine.
Tracking your baby’s feedings and diaper changes can feel overwhelming at first, but using a tracking sheet will help you have all your information in one handy place.
ALTERNATIVES TO HOLDING & CARRYING YOUR BABY
Your baby’s favorite place is to be held in your arms, but this isn’t realistic. It’s ok to lean on helpful baby gear to help keep your hands free so you can prepare meals, take care of an older sibling, or take a much needed break.
A comfortable baby wrap allows you to keep baby close while freeing your hands for other tasks. The skin to skin contact is great for bonding with your baby and also allowing you to breastfeed while you’re in public.
A baby carrier is another alternative to keeping baby close, especially if they want to near you for comfort, and like to be held upright with movement. I’ve found the original ergo baby carrier to be the most comfortable on my back for extended periods of time and has comfortable lumbar support. My three year old still uses it as a backpack. (be sure to use the infant insert for newborns.)
A swing is a perfect way to soothe a baby who loves movement. Swings have the ability to move front to back and side to side, which comes in handy because some babies have a preference for only one of these directions!
Infant cushions give babies the sensation of being held in someone’s arms and the portable size makes them easy to move from room to room, and even on trips. The Dock A Tot is a portable infant cushion, carrier and bassinet with multi-functions.
Most babies love being lulled to sleep in a stroller, making it convenient to get outside for fresh air, run errands, go grocery shopping or meet up with friends for a walk around the park. A travel system with stroller and click-in-carseat is a great way to move baby from the car to the stroller without waking them up.
Portable Bassinet or Pack N’ Play
I used a portable bassinet for my third child so she could co-sleep in our bedroom at night and she liked to be in the kitchen nearby while I made food. We traveled with the bassinet for the first few months but eventually transitioned to a pack-n-play for trips which is always a convenient piece of equipment to have.
PREPARE FOR THE NEXT FEEDING
The best thing you can do after you feed your baby, is to get set up for the next time he’ll be hungry. If you fed your baby at 10pm, before you go to sleep and wake up for the 12am or 1am feeding, prepare all the supplies you’ll need. This may mean preparing a bottle ahead of time, pumping, setting out your boppy pillow, having diaper supplies on hand and a fresh glass of water for yourself. All you have to do is gather your baby, feed your baby, burp and put him back to sleep without tracking down your supplies in the middle of the night.
WARM SWADDLE BLANKETS
If you notice your baby prefers to only sleep with you, this may have something to do with the fact that you’re warm and snuggly. When you need to be hands free, you can throw a baby swaddle or blanket in the dryer to warm it up before wrapping it carefully around your baby. The warmth (not hot) blanket/swaddle can be a comfort and help you stay hands free for at least a little while.
FUSSY NEWBORNS & BABIES
If your baby is extra fussy, inconsolably crying and you don’t know what to do to calm them, check out these tips for calming a fussy baby.
As a recap, here are the basics of newborn care
- Swaddle your baby to help them settle and fall asleep
- Use white noise to muffle noises and sounds which can startle your baby
- Darken your nursery and help your baby learn daytime and nighttime
- Layer crib bedding for quick & easy nighttime bedding changes
- Use a door latch cover to avoid waking up your baby when you leave the room
- Onesies can be pulled down for easy clean-up of messy accidents
- Use the bicycle method for gas relief
- Track your baby’s sleep, feedings and diapers with a baby tracker
- Find alternatives for holding & rocking your baby so you can be hands free
- Read the article for additional help with a fussy newborn & baby
PS – Speaking of baby… here are a list of FREE BABY PRODUCTS for Moms when you use the coupon code PRAGMATIC1. These baby essentials are totally free (you are responsible for shipping & handling only). Need a hooded towel for bath time, nursing pillow, carseat cover, pregnancy pillow or baby wrap? Check them out.
Your Best Resource for Mastering Your Routine
For a more thorough explanation and resource of keeping a routine, Check out the Master Routines & Schedules Ebook which is 97-pages of jam-packed information and 40+ sample routines. All the tools, sample schedules, sleep tracker and strategies for every age and stage of development for 2 weeks to 5-years-old. Learn how to start the process of creating a routine, establishing wake up and bedtimes, strategies for working through nap transitions, prepping for daylight savings time to keep your routine on track and logging your baby’s sleep patterns to rocking a solid schedule through every age of growth.
Additional Reading on The Topic of Sleep
- Signs It’s Time to Move to One Nap a Day: How to Master the Nap Transition
- How to Ease Separation Anxiety in Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Is Your Kid Waking Up Too Early? How to Fix It
- How to Establish a Peaceful Bedtime Routine for Your Baby
- How to Survive the 18 Month Sleep Regression & 2 Year Sleep Regressions Without Going Crazy
- Comprehensive Sleep Charts & Sleep Guidelines for Infants Through Adolescents
- The Benefits of Having a Daily Routine
- Create an Awesome Routine for Better Sleep Habits