Inside: Wondering what to expect with your new baby? This ultimate guide answers your burning questions! Learn tried-and-true baby care tips for new moms, and gain the confidence you need for newborn baby care!
The First Two Weeks
Birth is tough, for both mom and baby. To help you and your baby transition, use these tips to survive the first two weeks of newborn baby care.
For the Baby
Use the 5 S’s: This means swaddle, sway, shush, side, and suck. You’ll find yourself swaying back and forth, shushing your swaddled baby as he sucks on a pacifier while laying on his side. Newborn baby care is all about recreating the sensations of the womb. It’s exhausting, but it totally works!
Swaddle like a pro: We tried quite a few different swaddles over the years. Discover which swaddle blanket for babies is the winner!
Care for the Umbilical Cord: If you’re like me and get queasy easily, take a deep breath. Umbilical cord care isn’t as hard as hard or gross it seems. Just keep the area clean and dry, and it will fall off in about a week.
Circumcision Care: If you choose to have your son circumcised, be prepared to provide extra circumcision care until it heals. Gently wipe away any poop at diaper changes, and cover with a lubricant and gauze to help protect the healing skin.
Simplify. You don’t need tons of fancy gadgets to care for your new baby. Lots of things create lots of clutter and lots of stress. Set your mind at ease and stick to these essential baby items. It’s so much easier!
Sleep, sleep, sleep! Drop whatever you’re doing and sleep when that baby sleeps. Sleep deprivation will make you not feel like yourself. Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine. Just take that nap, mama!
Plan ahead for doctor visits. That first week your baby will have his first checkup, you may see a lactation consultant, schedule your son’s circumcision, and your doctor will need to check you over as well. It’s a lot. Especially when the last thing you want to do is put on real pants and leave the house. Plan ahead and get help! Enlist your husband, family, or friends to drive you to the doctor and help carry that heavy bundle of joy.
Get help! Ask for help with duties like diapering, feeding, or washing bottles from dad, family or friends. Get help with meals or dinner delivered to your door. Listen, it’s OK if they don’t get it perfect. Let them do it anyway! What’s more important is that you have support and encouragement during this difficult time.
Remember it’s all a phase. These first two weeks of your baby’s life will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Just remember that this, too shall pass. It won’t last forever. Take it one step at a time.
Related Reading: Download and print these 7 powerful phrases to be a happy mom!
Once the first two weeks are over, you’ll find that things start to feel a bit more normal. But there’s still a lot to learn! These baby care tips and tricks will make your life so much easier!
New Baby Sleep Tips
Is your baby past the two week mark? This is the perfect time to ease your new baby into a routine!
Sleep is one of your baby’s most important needs. But sometimes it doesn’t come easy.
I can tell you from experience that teaching your baby to be a confident sleeper from early on will make a huge difference in newborn baby care!
With my first-born, we really struggled with sleep. I don’t think I got a full night’s sleep until he was eight months old! But with my second-born, my daughter, we knew right away that we were going to focus on good sleep habits. And these baby care tips made a world of difference!
If you need a specific plan for gently teaching your baby to sleep, I highly recommend the Happy Sleeper book. This book is full of tips for happy sleepers from birth to school age! It’s a must-read when sleep is a battle.
Here’s a quick look at baby sleep tips for your new baby:
- Set the mood for sleep. Choose a dark room, white noise, and cool but not cold temperature. Make sure the crib is free of loose blankets and toys.
- Keep a close eye on wake time. When your baby gets too tired, cortisol levels rise, making it more difficult to fall asleep peacefully. For newborns, wake time may be as short as 45 minutes!
- Don’t rock to sleep every time. I know it’s so tempting to hold that baby as he sleeps. Trust me, I’ve savored many an hour of snuggly baby naps. But it’s also wise to start practicing putting your baby down sleepy, but awake. Snuggle and rock just enough to get him drowsy, then kiss and lay him in the crib.
Baby Sleep Schedule
Need to create a flexible sleep schedule for your baby? These sleep routine articles will get you started and let you know what to expect for each age and stage.
- Newborn Sleep Schedule
- 3 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 6 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 9 Month Old Sleep Schedule
New Baby Eating Tips
Goodness, this is a touchy topic these days. The simple job of feeding your baby suddenly looms over most new moms as an impossibly daunting decision.
Breathe. All that matters is you and your baby. Trust your instincts.
Although I breastfed both of my children for about one year each, I’m a huge believer in the mantra, “fed is best.”
In the long run, the world won’t fall apart whether you choose to formula feed or breastfeed. You and your baby are going to be just fine either way.
To help take the stress off this decision and make newborn baby care a bit less overwhelming, here’s what you need to know as you decide which feeding option is best for your new baby.
Thinking about formula feeding? Here’s what you need to know:
- Consider possible allergies. Some babies may react to certain formulas. If you notice unusual diapers or colic symptoms in your baby, talk to your pediatrician to consider other formula options.
- Know what to expect. Formula-fed babies as newborns will take 2-3 ounces every 3-4 hours. By the end of the first month, expect 4 ounces every 4 hours. And by six months expect 6-8 ounces 4-5 times per day.
- Connect with your baby. Choosing to formula feed certainly doesn’t mean you can’t connect with your baby! You are exactly what your baby needs. Be intentional about singing, talking, and loving on your baby as you give a bottle. Every smile counts!
Want to breastfeed your baby? These nursing baby care tips will help you through:
- Set a goal. Whether it’s two weeks, two months, or a year, write down your goal. This will help you stay motivated when things get tough!
- Know what to expect. Newborns may take around 20 minutes on each side about every 2-3 hours. Older babies nurse around 5-10 minutes per side, usually every 3 hours. During growth spurts, expect more frequent feedings. Get familiar with the disadvantages of breastfeeding, and learn how to overcome them!
- Nurse like a pro. Moms who’ve been around the block have learned a few simple tips.
- Learn how to get a deep latch. This will make nursing much more enjoyable.
- Let your baby empty one side before switching. This will help him get more of the filling hind milk, which makes for a happy baby and better sleep!
- Don’t watch the clock, watch your baby. Relaxed hands means a full tummy.
- For chapped nipples, put some of your own breast milk or lanolin cream on them and air dry. Wear a loose shirt and no bra to let your breasts heal quickly.
- Take care of yourself. Drink tons of water to stay hydrated! Find time to relax, or even plan a date night.
- Get educated! Learn about this amazing food your body makes for your baby.
Related Reading: On a breastfeeding journey? Read this motivating breastfeeding advice for new moms for a confidence boost! Or get caught up on breastfeeding essentials to learn what gear you need and what you don’t.
New Baby Care Tips for Hygiene
I remember going home from the hospital thinking, “Why did they let me take this tiny human home? I have no clue what I’m doing! I don’t even know how to change a diaper.”
As a new mom, you may be nervous that you’ll do everything wrong. You won’t.
You may be stressed that you won’t be able to handle the constant newborn baby care. You will.
Caring for your baby’s hygiene is really more simple than it seems. Use these tried-and-true tips to keep your baby healthy and squeaky clean.
After the first week, it’s time to give your baby a first bath! Grab your camera and a fluffy towel, and dive in! Here are all the baby care tips you need to know to make bath time a success.
- Wait it out. You’ll want to hold off on bathing your baby for at least one week. Vernix, the white, waxy substance that covers your baby in the womb, helps lower his skin’s pH level and serves as a protective barrier.
- Set the mood. Some babies hate baths. To make it easier for these little ones, try creating a spa-like atmosphere. It’s easier than it sounds! Just dim the lights, and keep the room warm and relaxed.
- Check the temp. Be sure to make the water warm, not hot. Hot water can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Cold water will bring on the bath time meltdowns!
- Rethink your baby soap. Most soaps and shampoos marketed for babies are full of harsh fragrances and chemicals. Instead, try these super gentle baby soap options for healthy baby skin!
- Moisturize and massage. No one tells you that your baby may start shedding skin after he’s born. (At least no one told me, and that’s why I’m telling you!) To keep that new baby soft and squeezable, try a coconut oil massage right after bath time. Your baby will love it!
Ahh, diapers. It’s a never-ending routine. But as much as diaper duty stinks (ha!), these tips will help you conquer it all with your new baby.
- Stock up before baby arrives! Create a small stockpile of sizes 1, 2, and 3 diapers. You’ll be so thankful when you never run out of diapers at 3 AM!
- Know what to expect. Breastfed babies sometimes poop with every feeding for the first few weeks. Formula-fed babies can poop up to 3-4 times per day. Brace yourself, mama.
- For boys: Lay a baby wipe over his private parts as you change his diaper. This will prevent any stray sprays! I learned this tip the hard way.
- For girls: Always wipe front to back to prevent any bacteria from entering the vagina.
- Sensitive skin? My babies had super sensitive skin, which made diaper changes sometimes painful. We discovered WaterWipes, which are perfect for cleaning up sensitive baby bums! Read our WaterWipes review.
New Baby Play Tips
One of the biggest questions I get from new moms is “What do I do all day with a new baby?” It can be overwhelming to think of caring for this little human 24/7 for the next 18 years.
But baby play is both super simple and super important for your little one! More than fancy toys or expensive play mats, what your baby needs most is just you.
These simple tips will help you relax and just enjoy learning and playing with your new baby. There’s a whole new world to explore!
- Try baby wearing. Play for babies can be as simple as dancing with you while you walk around the house. Buy a cute and comfy baby carrier wrap, and get baby moving!
- Use your senses. For babies, discovering the five senses is the best way to learn and play. As you engage with your baby, think about how you can stimulate his senses. Tickle his toes with a soft blanket, let him smell dinner cooking, or listen to music together.
- Tackle tummy time. Tummy time is your baby’s first official play time! Some babies love it, some hate it. But it’s essential for building strong muscles and protecting your baby’s head. Try propping your baby up on a nursing pillow while you flip the pages in a colorful book.
Related Reading: For more baby play ideas, try out these 30 fun things to do with babies at home!
Whether you’re eagerly expecting your new baby or deep in the trenches of constant care for your little one, I hope these baby care tips set your mind at ease.
You’re capable. You’re amazing. You’re exactly what your new baby needs!
Share with us in the comments below! What is your experience with newborn baby care? Share your story!