Being a new parent is full of mixed emotions. It can be exciting, nervous, fun, happy, etc. When you introduce your baby to the family, you will hear bits of advice from them. Even your friends and coworkers will help give tips on properly raising your baby but always remember that a healthcare professional will advise the essential information. A new chapter awaits on the mother after experiencing pregnancy, labor, and delivery. A father’s role is also significant on this journey. Do remember that this adjustment is substantial for everyone. Both of you must learn everything on how to take care of your newborn correctly.
Obtaining Help After Giving Birth
Things will be hard after giving birth because your body needed healing and recovery. It is better to talk to a professional in the hospital. Some of these professionals are lactation consultants, nurses, and pediatricians. Feeding specialists or lactation consultants will help you properly feeding your newborn. They can aid you in starting nursing or even bottle-feeding. Nurses can even help you take care of your baby by telling you how to hold, change, burp, and care correctly.
It is also great to have some support at home. You might consider hiring someone to help you since you are recovering from giving birth. The doctor can refer some home health agency that can help you along the way. Some of your relatives and friends who have some experience handling a newborn will try to support you.
Taking care of yourself is essential since you are in the postpartum period. It is better to take a lot of rest to build up your strength. Sleep when your baby is asleep because it will wake again if it needs to be changed, comforted, and fed. Eat nutritious food to maintain a healthy diet.
Taking care of newborn properly
A newborn baby is fragile, so one must learn how to handle it properly. Here are some essential tips to remember:
- Wash your hands before touching your baby. Use a hand sanitizer or alcohol always to make sure that your hands are clean since babies are more prone to infection.
- Properly support your newborn’s head and neck because it is not strong enough to hold it independently. The baby can keep the head and neck on its own only after three months, and the backbone is still growing and developing. Always be attentive to handle the head and neck while taking care of it.
- Do not shake the baby because it can lead to a brain bleed, and worst is death. When playing or waking up the baby, do not do it by shaking; instead, gently blow on its cheek or tickle its feet.
- Make sure that the baby is fastened securely into the car seat, stroller, or carrier. Avoid the rough and bouncy activities.
- It is not ready for a rough play; always remember that. Do not throw your baby in the air or jiggled its knee.
Umbilical Cord Stump Care
It is essential to take care of the umbilical cord stump during the first month of the newborn. Give a warm bath two to six hours after giving birth. Disinfect your hands when handling the navel area, and always keep it clean and dry. Parents should fold down the diaper of the baby to allow the stump to dry. When cleaning, use a damp cloth and dry it with a clean, absorbent cloth. Observe the cord-stump area if there are signs of infections. Take the baby immediately to a pediatrician if you notice redness, swelling, bleeding, and a smelly discharge or pus in the navel area.
Doctors also recommend swabbing the area with rubbing alcohol until it completely dried and falls off, but some suggest leaving it alone. It is better to ask a healthcare professional what is best to do. It’s completely normal when the cord stump will change color from yellow to brown or even black.
During the first few months, it is appropriate to determine a healthy feeding for your baby. Breast milk or formula the only food needed since your newborn cannot eat solid foods. Breast milk will supply all the proper nutrients necessary to grow. Breast milk also has antibodies that are necessary for the survival and growth of the baby. The Department of Health highly recommends breastfeeding until six months old. Despite this advice, most parents let their babies eat solid foods as early as three months. It is also advisable to eat more calories when breastfeeding. 
In 2010, there are statistics about the health benefits of breastfeeding to mothers in the United Kingdom, which resulted in 67% of the respondents understanding that it can help in contracting the uterus and womb and aids in losing weight. 38% of respondents know that it can also reduce the risk of breast or ovarian cancer, and 22% believe it can reduce cancer risk. In comparison, 8% stated that it could reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone deterioration.
Feeding appropriately on time is vital for newborns. It has to be provided every two to three hours. Help your baby by holding the breast near its lips until it can suck and latch firmly. You can tell if the baby is getting enough milk when your breast feels less. Breast engorgement is common in mothers because your body is continuously producing milk. It is painful, so always prepare a warm, wet washcloth for your breast.
During feedings, babies frequently swallow air, which causes gas and colic and makes them feel fussy. It can be easily prevented by burping your baby. Burping ejects the excess air, which aids in digestion. It also prevents stomach colic and spit-ups. Try to do it every five minutes during breastfeeding. Always burp the baby after feeding. Then keep the baby in an upright position to avoid spitting up for at least 10-15 minutes.
Try these techniques on how to burp a baby properly:
- The parent should hold the baby upright with his or her head on your shoulder then support its head and back. Gently pat the baby’s back with the other hand.
- Try to sit the baby onto your lap. Using one hand, support the baby’s chest by cradling the chin in the palm and let the heel rest on the chest. Do not grasp the throat of the baby. Gently pat its back using your other hand.
- Using your lap, lay the baby’s face down. Make sure the head is higher than the chest. Support the head and gently pat or rub the back of the baby.
A parent has two options on diapering, either using a disposable one or cloth. Either way, your newborn will use it at least ten times a day, or an estimated seventy times a week. You must have all the supplies before diapering your baby. It will be more convenient for you, and you won’t have to leave your infant unattended at the changing table. You will need a clean diaper or cloth, diaper wipes, or warm water in a container with a clean washcloth or cotton balls, diaper ointment, and fastener if you are using fabric instead of a diaper.
When the diaper is wet or has a poop, lay the baby on its back and remove the dirty diaper. Use the wipes or the water, cotton balls, and washcloth to wipe your baby’s genital area clean. Carefully remove your baby boy’s diaper since the air exposure can make him urinate. When wiping a baby girl, brush the bottom from front to back to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Learn how to change a baby’s diaper properly by using these steps. On a changing table or a flat surface, lay your baby down. If it’s a high surface, you must use safety straps to prevent the baby from falling. Take off the diaper by lifting your baby’s ankle. If you notice a lot of poop, use the diaper’s upper half to clean it by swiping it downwards. Put the dirty diaper away from your baby, then wipe the rest. Make sure that it is clean to avoid having rashes. Gently slide the new diaper under the baby’s bottom, and close it with the diaper tabs. Throw away the dirty diaper in the trash and always wash your hands after diapering the baby.
Diaper rash or diaper dermatitis is the usual skin disorders in infants. It can be devastating to a baby because a diaper rash will hurt.  Most rashes occur because of the baby’s sensitive skin, which becomes easily irritated by the wet or poopy diaper. Red and bumpy is the appearance of the rash. But most will be gone in a few days with warm baths, diaper cream, and a little time out on using a diaper. You can easily prevent or heal a diaper rash with these tips:
- Change the diaper often and as soon as possible after the bowel movements.
- Wash the cloth diapers in dye-free and fragrance-free detergents.
- Wipes can be irritating sometimes. Gently clean with mild soap and water, then put a thick layer of cream onto the area. Use creams that have zinc oxide since they form a barrier against moisture.
- Give the baby’s skin to have a chance to air out by letting it be undiapered for some parts of the day.
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Seek professional help when you notice that the rashes get worse and continue for more than three days. It may be a fungal infection that needed medication and prescription.
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Taking a bath two or three times a week is okay until one year since frequent bathing may lead to dryness of the skin. Prepare the necessary items before bathing your baby. These items include a soft, clean washcloth, towels or blankets, mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo, a soft brush for the scalp, a clean diaper or cloth, and clean clothes.
A sponge bath is the most recommended type of bath for infants until the umbilical cord falls off. It takes at least four weeks until the navel heals completely. These are the tips on how to sponge bath a baby properly:
Choose a safe, flat surface like changing table, counter, or floor in a warm room. Use warm water and fill it in the sink or bowl. Take off the baby’s dress and cover him or her with a towel. Starting with the eye, wipe it gently with a washcloth or a clean cotton ball. Using a damp washcloth, neat the ears and nose also. Wash his or her face lightly with a wet cloth and a little soap, then pat it dry.
Mildly wash the baby’s head by using baby shampoo and then rinse it. Gently scrub the other parts of the body with a wet cloth and soap, specifically the underarms, behind the ears, around the neck, and the genital area; after washing those areas, dry and dress your baby.
Tub baths are the next type of bath for your baby. Prepare the plastic tub and warm water. Do the bathing in a warm room. After undressing the baby, put him or her in the warm water instantly to prevent chills. Support the head by using one of your hands and guide the feet with your other hand. Slowly submerge the baby up to the chest into the tub. Wash the face by using a washcloth. Smoothly massage the scalp and the soft spots on top of the head using your fingers or a soft hairbrush. Be careful on rinsing because the soap may get into the eyes. Wash the other parts of the body with water and a little amount of soap. Do it regularly so the baby will not get cold. Immediately wrap the baby with a towel and always make sure to cover the head.
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Newborns usually sleep for two to four hours because they need to drink milk. They need nourishment within that time because their digestive system is so small. If they are still sleeping, you must wake up your baby.
The proper way to put them to sleep is by placing babies on their backs to minimize the risk of having SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Avoid using kinds of stuff that can suffocate the baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested putting the baby in a non prone position. Suffocation, asphyxia, and entrapment are the other reasons that cause sudden infant death syndrome.  Statistics published by John Elflein in the United States in 2018 show that around 39% have unexpected infant deaths while the rests are suffocation and strangulation in bed. To be much safer, share a bedroom for the first six months until one year to monitor the baby while sleeping.
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Infant Care and Infant Health Month by Month
Infant Care and Health is essential for your baby to prevent the worst outcome, which is death. Ensure that your baby has the chance to be healthy and can have a productive life. They can be from the risk of disease and disability.
The health of your newborn and one week old
This requirement is the list to do for your newborn baby:
- Apgar Tests and Scores
The Apgar is a simple assessment to determine the general condition of the baby. It can help the doctors to conclude if the baby needed any medical help. Apgar is an acronym for appearance, pulse rate (heart rate), grimace (reflexes), activity (muscle tone), and respiration (breathing effort).
The standard score is 7 to 10, which means the newborn is in good to excellent condition. Babies who have scores between 4 to 6 are average or fair conditions with some resuscitation measures. Those who have scores below 4 are in poor condition and immediately needs medical attention.
Apgar score determines the score by this informations.
The appearance of skin color can vary from pink to blue. Pink means healthy, while blue means unhealthy. Pale blue will have zero, a pink body with some blue extremities will get one, and the highest is two for pink all over. The doctor or nurse will listen to the baby’s heart to determine the pulse rate. The highest is two if it has 100 beats per minute or more, fewer than 100 beats per minute get one, and zero if it is not detectable. Reflex irritability or grimace response is how your baby responds to stimulation like a slight pinch. No response will get zero, grimacing will get one, and grimacing with a cough, sneeze, or lusty cry have the highest score of two. The activity or muscle tone can be measured by how much the baby is moving. A lot of activity will have a score of two, and some movements get a score of one, and loose, floppy or inactive muscles will have one. Respiration can have a good score by two if it is good breathing accompanied by crying, slow or irregular breathing will get one and zero for no breathing.
Apgar test is needed to determine if the baby needs to breathe or have a heart problem. The baby may need some oxygen or needed some physical stimulation to increase the heart rate. This test is a standard procedure for all newborns.
- Vitamin K Injection
It is a single injection on one of the baby’s thighs that contains 0.5 to 1 milligram of vitamin K. This is an essential vitamin for the blood to clot since every baby has low levels of vitamin K when they are born. It also minimizes the chances of having vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). Blood in their stool or urine is common in babies that have vitamin K deficiency bleeding. You may also notice blood from the skin around the umbilical cord, which can be fatal. It is sporadic to happen to infants. Breastfed infants are at risk due to the lower concentrations in human milk. This shot is completely safe and a standard procedure for all babies.
- Newborn Screenings
The newborn screenings will discover if the baby has a severe condition that can be life-threatening. The healthcare professional will only draw one blood from your baby for 21 or more types of blood screens because a single blood test looks for at least 21 genetic severe, metabolic, functional, and hormonal disorders.
The tests include a congenital heart disease screening since it affects 1 out of 100 babies that can be the reason for having a disability or death if not detected early and treated on time. A hearing test is the other test included in newborn screening since the sense of hearing is vital to speech and language development. Monitor the baby’s first pee and poops is also essential. The healthcare professional will count the fingers and toes or if any parts of the body seem abnormal. Examining the baby’s internal organs only by externally touching and checking the infant’s reflexes: hip rotation and umbilical stump.
- First-Week Baby Visit
During the first week’s visit, always bring the necessary papers for your baby since the pediatrician will be adding information. The pediatrician will monitor the healing of the umbilical stump. Since newborn jaundice is common in babies, they need monitoring also. The doctor will observe the baby’s reflexes to determine if the brain and nervous system functions well.
Two-week-old baby’s health
- Average newborn weight
The average weight must be 7.5 pounds at birth or ranging between 5 lb. and 8 lb. Do not worry if your baby weight is not in range. Seek help when there is only a dramatic loss of weight after gaining his or her average birth weight, not latching on the breast or bottle, show signs of over-eating, and if the baby is unresponsive when waking up.
- Newborn Circumcision Care
Taking care of the circumcised areis pretty simple to do. It took at least seven to ten days to heal fully. Keeping the penis clean is essential. Gently wipe the poop away from the circumcised area to prevent any irritation. When cleaning, use a bar of unscented soap and warm water and let it dry independently. Keep it protected to avoid infection in the area.
- Umbilical cord infections
Omphalitis is an infection of the umbilical cord stump, but this is rare to happen in babies. Beware of the symptoms, which are having pus near the umbilical stump, abdominal swelling, foul smell from the infected area, bleeding, red skin that spreads around the baby’s navel, and irritability. Go to your pediatrician directly to treat it quickly.
To prevent having omphalitis, keep the belly button clean, dry, and have some air exposure. It is ordinary for the belly button to ooze a little bit and not use rubbing alcohol.
- Cross-eyed Baby
Cross-eyed appearance is commonly found in babies since they have an extra fold of skin located in the eyes’ inner cores. Do not worry since this will disappear as your baby grows. Every visit to the pediatrician, he or she will check your baby’s eyes. If they notice something wrong with the eyes, they will recommend you to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for the bone development of the baby. It aids in absorbing calcium, therefore building strong bones. A low vitamin D in babies increases the risk of having rickets. Rickets is a disorder that makes the bones soft. Having soft bones will make them vulnerable to fractures.
Gaining enough Vitamin D is a must for babies since it also boosts cell growth, immune function, and neuromuscular function. But too much vitamin D can also cause numerous side effects like vomiting, loss of appetite, aching of the muscles, joints, constipation, confusion, frequent urination, excessive thirst, and nausea.
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- Spitting up
Babies often spit up because their sphincters are immature, allowing the food back up, and the excess mucus and saliva need clearing. Do not worry since spitting up is not harmful, and it cannot interfere with the baby’s nutrition.
A mild fever is nothing to worry about; follow these tips to bring down the fever. First, offering plenty of fluids cause kids to sweat a lot, therefore, losing a lot of water. Then keep the baby cool, slow down some activities and offer some medications needed.
Only call the doctor if you notice that the running fever is 100.4 degrees F or higher, crying inconsolably, unusually exhausted, dehydrated, or severe symptoms: stiff neck, painful sore throat, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe belly pain.
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- One month well-baby visit
The pediatrician will thoroughly check the baby from head to toe physically, including the baby’s reflexes and the healed belly button and circumcised penis. The pediatrician will also guide you on proper feeding, sleeping, development, and infant safety.
- Hepatitis B shot
To prevent the infection of hepatitis B virus (HBV), the baby needs to have the vaccination. If the babies are infected, it can be severe or life-threatening because they can obtain liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure.
Your baby has constipation if their poops appear small, hard, dry pellets, and their tummy hurts.
To treat constipation, offer more fluids to the baby. Try probiotics instead of laxatives. Apply petroleum jelly around the anal opening to help the stool slide out quickly. Try this probiotic that is available on Amazon.
- Gassy Baby
The causes of infant gas are swallowing some air when they are feeding or crying, and their digestive system is underdeveloped., this allows the food to pass quickly, and it doesn’t break down completely. To relieve the baby, burp his or her twice, massage the tummy gently, and consider probiotics.
- Two-month well-baby visit
The baby will get a physical check-up for the weight, length, and circumference of the head. The doctor will also ask some developmental questions like is the baby responding to a smile, your hand movements, or when they hear a sound.
- DTaP Vaccine
The baby will have a DTaP vaccine shot to protect against Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), and Diptheria. Tetanus is a bacteria located in soil, dirt, manure, or dust. Cover the wound or cut of the baby because the bacteria can enter through there. Pertussis is due to a bacteria which is highly contagious. This bacteria is airborne and can cause violent rapid cough and a loud whooping sound when inhaling, thus the term whooping cough. The babies may even gag or gasp when they obtain whooping cough. Diphtheria causes sore throat, chills, and fever. This infection is rare to get, but if not treated early, it can lead to heart failure, paralysis, and breathing problems because it forms a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat. Diptheria can scatter by coughing and sneezing.
- Hib Vaccine
The Hib vaccine can protect your baby from having Hib or Haemophilus influenza type b. They can evade the infection of the tissue that covers the spinal cord and brain. This disease can spread by coughing or sneezing. The severe illness can result in brain damage, loss of hearing, and death.
- Ear Infection
If you notice signs of failing to respond to sounds, fever, dizziness, irritation when lying down, chewing, or sucking, your baby has ear infections. They became dizzy because it can affect their balance and irritate due to the middle ear’s painful pressure.
You can treat an ear infection by seeking help from a doctor. Ask for proper medications to relieve the pain. Apply heat to the outer ear to reduce the pain.
- Baby Eczema
There are two conditions for infant eczema: atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. The baby inherits atopic dermatitis from the family, while contact dermatitis is due to contact with an irritating substance. You can prevent eczema by avoiding the common triggers: moisture, allergens, scratchy fabrics, and harsh detergents and soap.
The best treatments for baby eczema are keeping the nails short, bathing daily, and applying a moisturizer on the skin. Talk to a professional if creams did not help so that they can recommend other options. Cetaphil is a great lotion you can use if the baby has eczema.
- The four-month well-baby visit
The doctor will monitor your baby’s growth, development, and milestones. The baby will get another round of vaccines. When the baby is at this age, the doctor may ask questions about the sleeping habits.
- Rotavirus Vaccine
The rotavirus vaccine can prevent rotavirus disease, which is contagious to children. Severe watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting are the symptoms of rotavirus. The children can be hospitalized once they are dehydrated.
- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13)
The infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria is the main reason for having ear infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia. The PCV13 vaccine can give immunity to the thirteen different kinds of pneumococcal bacteria.
- Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) for Polio
Polio is an illness that can cause paralysis. The only symptom is when experiencing flu-like symptoms, and if not treated early, this can cause severe problems like affecting the muscles that can help people breathe.
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
Rashes or blisters can be observed from the inside of the mouth, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. This can be treated by giving plenty of fluids to prevent the risk of dehydration. Provide colder and softer foods. Get pain and fever medicine to reduce the pain when eating and drinking.
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Six-Month Old Baby
- The six-month well-baby visit
The pediatrician will teach you how to clean new teeth properly. The baby will get another round of shots.
- Influenza Vaccine
Another term for influenza vaccine is the flu shot. A respiratory virus causes influenza. This can spread through coughing, sneezing, breathing, and talking. The symptoms are sore throat, coughs, runny nose, headaches, fatigue, and fever.
- Baby Hives
Baby hives are common in babies by having red, raised bumps that appear like mosquito bites. The hives’ remedies are cool compresses, trimming the nails, lukewarm oatmeal bath, comfortable clothes, and minimizing heat or cold exposure. Call the doctor only if allergies caused the hives.
- Allergy Medication
Use these medications when your baby has some allergies:
Antihistamines are long-acting and non-drowsy. It reduces histamine release and aid in relieving symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
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Nasal sprays are the safest way to help wash out pollen but ask the doctors first before using it.
Decongestants are not recommended for kids unless prescribed by a doctor. This medication can make the kids feel anxious or hyperactive, thus having trouble sleeping due to a racing heartbeat.
- The nine-month well-baby visit
The pediatrician will do a full examination to measure the baby. There is also a test for anemia using a finger stick. The doctor will ask if the baby is saying the words dada or mama. Some of the milestones include crawling, sitting unassisted, responding to their name, copying sounds and gestures.
- Lyme Disease
It is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. The symptoms include erythema migrans and flu-like symptoms. This can be prevented earlier by antibiotics. The standard antibiotic used is amoxicillin.
- Walking Safety Tips
It is better to childproof the house since your baby will start walking. Put away and lock the harmful liquids. Set up baby gets at the stairs to prevent the baby from falling. Cover the sharp corners to avoid hitting the head, and always remember to leave the doors or drawers shut. Try these corner cushions available on Amazon to childproof your place.
- One-year well-baby visit
The baby will have a full examination and will have a quick test for anemia and lead. He or she will receive other shots of vaccines.
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine
This vaccine prevents the child from having measles, mumps, and rubella. Measles has rash symptoms all over the body, fever, eye irritation, runny nose, and cough. This can also lead to an ear infection and later progress to pneumonia, encephalitis, permanent brain damage, seizures, or, worst, death. Mumps causes muscle pain, inflammation on the salivary glands that progress to swelling of the jaws and cheeks. Other symptoms include headache, fever, and loss o appetite. Rubella, also named Germa measles, is an infection that is spread through the respiratory system. Slight fever, swollen tender glands behind the neck, rash, and arthritis-like symptoms.
- Hepatitis A (HepA) Vaccine
It is a liver infection that can spread if one has contact with infected feces. This can also be obtained when drinking water and eating food that is contaminated. The symptoms of hepatitis A are fever, jaundice, stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, clay-colored bowel movements, and dark urine.
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
The varicella virus causes chickenpox. The symptoms are fever, loss of appetite, headache, and itchy, blister-like rash that transforms into scabs. Though this infection is mild if not treated early, it can lead to encephalitis, pneumonia, sepsis, bacterial infections on the skin, and even death.
Being a parent is challenging, so one must prepare for anything that can happen. A parent must know from the little thing to avoid getting problems. Taking care of yourself is essential so that you can take care of your baby properly. Try to relax when things got hectic. Expect a roller coaster of emotions, so both parents must support each other. Accept a helping hand and listen to the advice of experts. The newborn days will be quick and won’t last long. Learn to nurture every moment, even if it is chaotic and demanding. Learn to handle your stress, so you enjoy parenting to the fullest.
 Thompson, June. “Breastfeeding: benefits and implications. Part two.” Community practitioner 78.6 (2005): 218.
 Borkowski, Suzanne. “Diaper rash care and management.” Pediatric nursing 30.6 (2004): 467.
 Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment.” Pediatrics 128.5 (2011): e1341-e1367.
 Shearer, Martin J. “Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) in early infancy.” Blood reviews 23.2 (2009): 49-59.