I’m worried about bringing my newborn home. I don’t even know how to change a nappy. Is there a knack, and is it different for boys and girls?

Having everything to hand before you start changing your baby is important, including a change of clothes just in case!  For girls you need to clean from the front to the back to prevent germs getting into the vagina.  For boys you must make sure to carefully clean around the testicles and penis but you do not need to pull back the foreskin.  It is also important to clean baby carefully after both a wet or soiled nappy.

How do I know if my baby has nappy rash and how do I treat it?

Nappy rash will present as red patches or a whole red area on the bottom. It may also look sore or feel hot and in some cases you may also get spots or blisters.  To treat nappy rash, expose the area to air by leaving the nappy off as much as possible.  You can also use a barrier nappy cream, creams that contain zinc are very effective in helping to clear it up.

How many nappies will my baby go through in a day?

 On average a newborn baby will go through approx 10 nappies in 24 hours.

I hear that mothers instinctively know what their baby’s different cries mean. Is this true?

Yes, most mothers are able to tell the difference between their baby’s cries.  This does happen over time, however, as you get to know your baby.

What do I do with the umbilical cord and when is it expected to fall off?

Your baby is likely to come home with a plastic clip from the hospital attached to the end of the umbilical cord.  Keep the cord dry and place the nappy underneath the cord so it can avoid getting urine on it.  It should dry up and come off around a week after the birth.

I’ve heard about the soft spot (fontanelle), what special care should I pay to this area?

The fontanelle or soft spot is where the skull bones have yet to fuse together.  Although you may see it moving don’t worry about washing or touching it, there is a strong membrane under the skin.

What is Cradle cap? Is it common and how do you treat it?

Cradle cap causes scaly patches to appear on young baby’s scalps.  It is very common and rarely causes any discomfort or itching to the baby.  Massaging a small amount of baby/olive oil into the scalp at night and then gently brushing the hair/scalp in the morning will help to remove flakes.  Medicated shampoos are available over the counter if it doesn’t clear up by itself.

When can I start bathing my baby and how do I do it?

You should not bath your baby until the umbilical cord has come off.  When you are bathing your baby for the first time you may like to have someone with you as an extra pair of hands.  Make sure you have got everything you are going to need during and after the bath ready beforehand.  Whilst your baby is very new you may like to wash and dry baby’s face and hair before you put them in the bath so you have more control.  The bath should have just enough water to come up to the baby’s shoulders so they don’t get cold.  Hold the baby by their upper arm so that the baby’s head and neck are resting on your forearm.  With your other hand support the baby’s bottom and lower baby into the bath.  Keep putting water over the baby so that they don’t get cold, then when you lift the baby out of the bath place them on a towel already laid out on the floor and quickly wrap them up to keep them warm.

How long should my baby be sleeping for each day?

Newborns generally sleep at least 16 hours per day, although for some babies this can be more.

Should I be regularly taking the temperature of my baby, and what should it be?

You do not need to take your baby’s temperature regularly but it is a good idea to take it a couple of times once you get home so you know what your baby’s normal temperature is. This is usually between 36-37 degrees Celsius.

What sort of temperament should my baby have in the first few weeks?  

All babies are different, but you can expect some crying as it is their only way of communicating hunger, tiredness etc.  Babies are in survival mode for the first six weeks so although you will have sometime when they are asleep and content, be aware that they are also trying to adjust to the very different life they are living outside of you.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new mother, what would it be?

Your baby is not as fragile as you think it is.

Article By Mary Ashton 

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