The role of parents in a newborn’s life is absolutely critical for their health and wellbeing. While a certain level of care comes naturally, there are so many unknowns involved that it can get overwhelming. What many people don’t realise is that although there are resources out there to help parents, the responsibility of keeping a baby healthy is completely down to them.
When a baby is born, it doesn’t come with an instructional manual. It’s natural for a new parent to have questions or to be unsure about certain things they’re expected to do. The first few weeks of being at home with your newborn are exhausting, so the more help and information that you get, the better.
The most important consideration is your baby’s health. Just after they’re born, their bodies are quite soft, their head and neck are vulnerable, and their immune systems are weak. Everything from the clothes that they wear to the amount that they’re sleeping has a tremendous impact on their health. It’s crucial that you get up to speed on what actions are necessary to keep a baby healthy and well.
If you’ve recently brought new life into the world, here are six great tips for keeping your newborn healthy.
A baby is very fragile, so you must handle them carefully. Here are a few key points to note:
- Keep your hands clean and always sanitize before touching the baby. Their skin is sensitive to touch, and their weak immune system makes them quite vulnerable to infection.
- Support the baby’s neck and head. In their first few months of life, a baby doesn’t have the neck strength to support their head. You must be extra vigilant and ensure that you cradle their head when carrying or lifting them.
- Keep them secure. Whenever you are transporting your baby by car seat, stroller, or carrier, make sure that they are fastened securely. This stops any potentially dangerous movements and lowers the risk of a fall.
- Be gentle. As a newborn, your baby is not ready to play. A gentle cradle should be the extent of any physical activity that you do.
As mentioned, a baby’s skin and immune system are both quite vulnerable. The cleanliness of the baby, as well as anyone who it comes in contact with, is very important in preventing infection.
Newborns don’t need bathing for the first few days after they’re born. Too much water and exposure to cleaning products can damage their skin. Keep them clean by carefully washing their face, neck, hands, feet, and private parts with a sponge or cloth.
Use special shampoo and soap for babies or those with sensitive skin.
A baby’s clothing should keep it safe and warm. Newborns can’t tell you if they’re too hot or cold, so you must take responsibility for regulating their temperature.
Onesies, extra layers, accessories, and blankets provide you with enough variety to cater for most scenarios. The clothing should be soft, gentle, and suitable for sensitive skin.
Although you must ensure that the baby is warm enough, be careful that it isn’t too warm. Overheating can be dangerous too. Research suitable clothing and know how to prevent your baby from getting heat rash.
Regularly checking and changing a baby’s diapers is key for keeping them healthy. Change their diaper as soon as you notice that it’s dirty. This can be about ten times per day, so it requires a lot of attention.
Use a diaper wipe, ointment, warm water, and cotton balls to clean the area thoroughly. It’s vital to do this to avoid getting an infection (such as a UTI).
You might be surprised at the amount of feeding that a newborn does. There is no set amount that you should feed your baby, but it’s advised that you feed them on demand. Typically, a baby will look for food every two to three hours.
If your baby sleeps a lot, you might need to wake them to feed.
Adequate feeding is essential for building a baby’s immune system. Monitor their size and weight and make sure that they are growing and gaining weight continually.
Developing a healthy sleep routine for a newborn may seem like an impossibility for many parents. They sleep up to 18 hours per day but often wake during the night. While some babies may sleep peacefully for hours at a time, many sleep in much shorter periods.
Try to establish a sleep routine by encouraging less sleep during the day, and more during the night. Sleep is not only important for developing cognitive function and mental activity, but it also helps with digestion and the physical health of a newborn.
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