Caring for your newborn baby

We teamed up with O’Flynn Medical to give you expert advice on the dos and don’t when looking after a newborn! Take a look at Conor O’Flynn’s expert advice:

The arrival of a newborn baby is a naturally nerve-racking time, especially when it’s your first child. Like many things in life, nothing quite prepares you for the experience. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to have an idea of what to expect. We’ve put together this collection of dos and don’ts when looking after a newborn baby, whether you’re a new parent or stepping in to babysit, to help you find your way when the time comes.

Women holding a baby in her arms

Newborn Baby Dos

When handling the arrival of a newborn, you don’t necessarily want to start out with a list of negativity telling you what not to do, so we’ll start with the dos. You’ll find that many of these make intuitive sense if you think about them.

Always Support Your Baby’s Head and Neck

Newborn babies lack the muscles to support their head’s weight, which can lead to serious problems if they are not properly supported when moving them around or cuddling them. Most parents will find that this becomes second nature incredibly quickly.

Wash Your Hands

It will take your newborn baby a while to develop a strong immune system, so you should take care not to expose them to too much in the way of germs early on. One way to achieve this is by washing your hands before handling your baby any time you’ve potentially exposed your hands to germs, such as gardening, handling a parcel that’s just been delivered, and, of course, changing a nappy.

Pay Close Attention to Your Baby’s Temperature

It’s important to make sure your newborn baby is not too warm or cold in general, but it is also important to pay attention to their actual temperature, especially if they are unwell. For example, a baby’s running a fever might begin to shiver in the same way they would when cold, but the last thing you want to do with a baby running a fever is put more clothes on them.

Spend Time With Them

We’re sure this one didn’t need saying, but it’s worth underscoring the importance of spending time with your baby as they develop. This is important for them, of course, but it’s also important for you. Not only do you get to see them grow—something happens very quickly in those early months—but you will also be more attuned to their mannerisms and personality, and are more likely to catch any signs of a problem. For mothers who express milk rather than breastfeeding directly, consider holding your baby while you use your breast pump so that they still get that quality time with you.

Baby looks up in joy with bright eye.

Newborn Baby Don’ts

There are, of course, several things you shouldn’t do with your newborn baby. Again, most of this will make sense if you think about it.

Don’t Shake Your New-Born Baby

It doesn’t matter if it is during playtime, and you’re getting a little too rough, or if you’re frustrated after being woken up for the fifth time that night, you should never shake your baby. Shaking can lead to bleeding in the brain, which can, in the worst cases, lead to death. This applies across the board, even for waking your baby up. Rather than shaking, try gently blowing on their cheeks or tickling their feet.

Don’t Put Your Baby in Your Bed at Night

Your baby will want to be near you, and you’ll probably want to be near your baby. Those nights when they just won’t sleep unless you’re in direct contact with them can be incredibly draining, and it may be tempting to just lay them down in bed with you so you can both get some sleep. Don’t do that.
We all move around to some degree in our sleep, and if you happened to roll onto your baby, or drape an arm across them, they could get too warm, struggling to breathe, or worse.

Don’t Neglect Safety Harnesses

Whether you’re putting them in a carrier, pram, or car seat, don’t be lackadaisical about strapping your baby in. Their bodies are much more susceptible to harm than ours, and any accidents that might happen as a result of not being safely fastened in will be all the more serious.

Don’t Take it Out on Your Baby

Raising a baby can be frustrating, especially when you are sleep-deprived. Always remember that they don’t know what they are doing, and they are not trying to upset you. Shouting at them will only upset them and make you feel guilty.

Baby in bedsheet

Final Thoughts

There are, of course, many more dos and don’ts we could list for looking after a newborn baby. Generally speaking, it is a matter of common sense. There are things you might not have known without a little help, but the vast majority of it is intuitive, and you might be surprised how naturally looking after a newborn feels.

Author Bio: This article was written by Conor O’Flynn of O’Flynn Medical. Conor has over two decades of experience in working with new parents and advising mothers on breastfeeding and using breast pumps.    

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