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Things You Need to Know About Newborns

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

couple with newborn babyContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

Newborns are wonderful, magical, amazing and beautiful. They’re also baffling, frustrating and mysterious. And did I mention wonderful? But unfortunately, those tiny bundles of amazing don’t come with an instruction book! So what is a new mom or dad to do?

There are hundreds of books about taking care of your new baby, but who has time to read when you’re a new parent! But there are so many things you want — and need to know! So to get you started, here are ten things you need to know about newborns.

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10. Newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours

mom nursing baby

Your new baby isn’t ready to fit into your breakfast, lunch and dinner schedule. A healthy newborn will need to nurse or drink from a bottle every two to three hours around the clock. Just relax and let baby lead the way, telling you when she’s hungry and when she’s full. Trying to make a baby eat according to a clock or force them to wait longer between feedings can result in delayed growth and potentially serious health issues.

When they (and their tiny tummies) get bigger, they will start to eat less often. I promise!

9. Not all babies are born knowing how to nurse

nursing baby and mom

If you’re a first time mom, you might be surprised that your baby doesn’t seem to know how to nurse. Or if you’re not sure what to do. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your baby or you. If your new son or daughter isn’t latching on, ask a nurse or a lactation consultant for help. They know how to help you and baby get everything working smoothly.

The key is to not get discouraged or give in to the “just use a bottle, it’s easier” nay-sayers. A rocky start doesn’t mean that you’ll need to bottle feed or that your baby won’t ever be able to nurse correctly.

8. Newborn skin may be dry and flaky

putting lotion on baby

We describe someone’s skin as “soft as a baby’s.” But in reality, your newborn’s skin will probably be dry and flaky. Just use a hypo-allergenic cream designed for babies and it will probably clear up in a few weeks. You can also choose organic baby bedding and clothing to reduce irritation — a gentle and effective choice for baby’s healthy skin.

7. The amount of sleep they need varies — a lot!

newborn sleeping on man's hand

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was told I would have so much time to myself because new babies sleep a lot. Oh how wrong those well-meaning people were! My son never slept for more than two to three hours at a time …and sometimes it was as little as an hour before he was awake again. It was six months or more before he slept five to six hours at a time at night. But then he wouldn’t nap at all during the day. My second was the opposite. Almost from day one, she slept in four hour blocks, and by two months was sleeping six hours at night.

So which was normal? Both! The fact is different newborn babies sleep different numbers of hours. And there is no “right” number or schedule or pattern. Your baby will let you know what works for them.

6. They do not need to be overdressed

baby and mom smiling

You’ve probably seen them. It’s 87 degrees, the sun is shining and everyone is in shorts and t-shirts. Well, everyone except that baby. She’s in her stroller, bundled up in a sleeper, sweater, hat and booties, tucked under a blanket. What the heck?

There is a common misconception that newborns need to be kept warm. Like really, seriously warn. But it’s not true If it’s hot out (or hot in the house), your baby will be warm, too. There is no need for the mid-winter look in mid-July. In fact, overheating is linked to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.)

Do protect baby’s skin from the sun — they can easily burn. But a little romper, a lightweight cotton dress or a shirt and shorts will be just fine. Bring a blanket along to protect your little one from icy air conditioning or a too-bright sunny spot, but otherwise that warm summer air is heat enough.

5. Newborns can have acne

baby with acne

It usually appears about 3-4 weeks of age, and vanishes by the time your baby is about 4-6 months old. Baby acne is a normal part of infancy, and doesn’t require any special treatment. Just keep the area clean using normal baby soap. Don’t use acne treatments or cleansers, as these are much too harsh for babies.

4. That first bath needs to wait

baby in bath

I know it seems like your newborn needs a bath. After all, all those dirty diapers and the spit up can make it tempting to treat him to a first bath. But it’s important to wait until baby’s umbilical chord stump completely dries up and fall off before you get the belly button wet.

Until then, keep your baby clean with sponge baths. Clean around the bellybutton as directed by your midwife or doctor. And don’t worry. That first wonderful bath will come soon.

3. They can move more than you think

changing table

Most people think new babies can’t move around very much, so they’re shocked when their infant wiggles around in their crib, or even almost off the changing table. Keep your baby safe by buying a changing table with a strap… and using it every time. Never leave baby alone on a bed or couch, and use the safety straps that come on infant seats and baby swings.

2. Reading to them now matters

reading to baby

People used to think that reading to children should start when preschoolers were ready to learn how to read themselves. But recent studies have linked being read to every day from birth to greater academic success throughout life. Now is the time to start a regular reading time with your new baby.

1. You cannot spoil a newborn

crying baby

Newborn babies have only one communication tool…the cry. So why do they cry? There are lots of reasons. They’re hungry. Or wet. They have a tummy ache or an itchy spot. Or they just need to be held. All of those are important to your baby’s health and happiness. And responding to your baby’s cry, even when you don’t know why they’re crying builds security and trust.

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