Baby 101: a guide for first-time parents

Parenting newbies, this is the guide for you. If you’re having a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights moment as first-time parenthood looms, fear not! Think of this as your beginner’s guide to parenting – the basics of what you need to know before you roll up your sleeves and jump in.

What you need to remember is that emerging victorious from these first few weeks isn’t about standing atop a mountain of clean, folded clothing in a sparkling house with a baby that sleeps through the night – it’s about taking great care of your little one.

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Post-birth

Looking at your newborn for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. You’ve been waiting to gaze at this face for nine long months – and it may look nothing like you thought it would! Newborns can look pretty strange at birth – they can be red, have rashes, be covered in vernix – in fact you may mistake your girl for a boy, because of swelling!

All of this will also vary depending on the type of birth you had – c-section, vacuum, forceps – your baby may have a misshapen head or even be a bit blue.

This is the time to get to know your baby. Take in every tiny detail, and enjoy soaking them up. It’s now that you may notice your bub has dry, flaky skin – it’s quite normal for babies who are overdue. It’s also likely once your baby has had their first feed that they will sleep for quite a long time – enjoy it!

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First nappy changes

Get ready for a baptism of fire – first nappies are in a league of their own! The first bowel movements for a newborn will be a dark greeny-black, tar-like substance called meconium. It’s likely this will last for a few days. It’s important to keep an eye on nappies to ensure they are also wet, as this is the best way to tell if your newborn is getting enough milk.

Try and get into a good nappy changing routine, as it doesn’t take much for your baby to develop nappy rash. Here are the main points to remember:

  • Change your baby’s nappy often.
  • Clean the area well, ensuring to get into all of the skin folds.
  • Make sure the area is dry – you can let them have a couple of minutes of nappy-free time if it’s warm enough.
  • Make sure you use a good quality barrier cream like Sudocrem with each change, applying it thickly, to ensure the area is protected. It’s great not only for protecting your baby’s skin but also repairing any damage already done!

This is a really good way to try and prevent nappy rash, but it does sometimes happen, despite our best efforts. Particularly in the first few weeks, when babies require changing often, and we’re busy trying to learn how to do everything! You can also use the same barrier cream to treat and soothe nappy rash.

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First feeds

Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, getting the hang of feeding your newborn can be tricky. Every baby is different – some will sleep peacefully straight after a feed, others will fuss. Some will feed every two hours, other will go longer.

While you’re still in hospital, seek the advice of your care providers. Babies often lose weight straight after birth, and will then begin regaining it – usually you won’t be discharged until your baby regains their birth weight. This is a good indicator that your baby is getting the nutrition they need.

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Sleep

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to newborns and sleeping. Generally, newborns will sleep 16 hours out of 24. That seems like a lot, and it is – but just when they decide to have these hours of sleep is the tricky part! You may find they sleep for long stretches during the day, and short bursts at night. It’s also really common for a newborn to wake at least two to three times a night for feeds for the first few months – so new parents are in for interrupted sleep even if their little one is a champion sleeper!

There are many schools of thought when it comes to helping babies establish good sleeping habits, so make sure you seek help if you feel your newborn isn’t getting enough sleep.

The most important thing to remember about your parenting journey is that it’s unique to your family. Just as each baby is different, so too is the way we parent. Don’t compare your baby to others, and always listen to your newly-tuned parenting instincts – they’ll serve you well!

(This is a sponsored post for Sudocrem)

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