Newborn Baby For Parents- The Definitive Guide [2017 Update]

Newborn Baby For Parents - The Definitive Guide [2017 Update]

Having a newborn baby is one of the most exciting and terrifying things about being a parent. You are delighted by every alarmed by every sneeze. Don't sweat it! Every parent feels this way.

There were so many times, especially with my first baby, that I wanted to pull out a user's guide or instruction manual to help me figure it out. Unfortunately for me, there a was no guide, but that is exactly what I hope I've created for you. It's not an exhaustive manual, but it is a guide to the best products and resources out there.

If you want a single source for your newborn baby questions, look no further!

Chapter 1Baby's Development Milestones

Undoubtedly every parent watches and wonders if their child is meeting all of the critical development milestones. The good news is that for the most part, milestones are flexible and every baby’s development journey is different. This is good news for moms like me who think their first born is NEVER going to walk!

Development milestones do give you a chance to monitor your baby’s health and wellbeing as long as you aren’t too over-zealous.

Here are just a few things to expect with your baby during each of the growth phases of their early years and some of the toys you can rely on for enrichment:

0-3 months

The early months are some of my favorite even though they are probably the most terrifying as a new parent. You may be fussing over every activity your newborn baby engages in during this time but unlike the rest of his childhood, your baby's first three months are simple.

Tummy time

Tummy time is critical during the early months to build strong neck and tummy muscles. Find a simple toy that gives your baby something to focus on during his exercise. I really love Organic Farm Buddies (the cow was a big hit!).

Sensory games

Sensory games are an important part of early development, but for your newborn, everything is a sensory experience. Take it easy. Use a cheery mobile during play time or show baby family pictures and allow him time to explore facial features.

Swinging

Swinging is a fun experience for your baby and provides a few moments of relaxation for you as well. Not all swings are alike though. For more on the best baby swings on the market, see my Best Baby Swing 2017 – Buyer's Guide.


4-6 months

During the fourth, fifth, and sixth months of development, your baby is likely starting to fall into regular sleeping and eating routines that are helpful for you and your baby. Speaking of eating, you might start noticing a few new things in your baby's mouth.

Teething

Teething is as much an exciting as excruciating time in a baby's life. One the one hand, it's a game changer that allows your baby to make the introduction into solid food around 6 months.

On the other hand, it's uncomfortable, and teeth will continue to make a painful appearance into your child's mouth for over a year. Finding the right teething ring or toy can bring immeasurable relief to your baby during this stage. I prefer the kind you can put in the freezer to cool, but you can splurge on teething jewelry if you're feeling fancy.

Tummy time

Tummy time is still a part of your daily activities but now your kiddo is a champ, and you may want to invest in a great activity mat. Mats provide fun play time for baby on his back as he learns to reach out for the toys he sees, but they also provide visual interest during tummy time with colorful patterns.


7-12 months

During these last few months of your baby's infancy, he will start making leaps in development. He will start sitting on his own, tracking movement with his eyes, sharing conversations with you in his own, unique gobbledygook, and exploring his environment. The toys you invest in will provide ample opportunity for your baby to pursue these new abilities.

Sitting up on his own is one of the baby's first marks of independence. Helping him master this step and making it safer can be as simple as putting a Bobby Pillow around his bottom on the floor. This one with the black and white doodles is adorable! I wish I had this when my first baby came along.​

Your baby is now demonstrating dexterity when it comes to picking up toys and examining them. Toys that are easy to pick up will encourage your newborn baby to reach and reward them with self-motivated play. My babies all loved to wrap their tiny fingers around these Oball multi-colored balls.

Chapter 2Health and Care for Your Baby

​Most of your fears and concerns about parenting a newborn baby probably come from your questions about health and care for your baby. You want to meet your baby's needs and keep them healthy. Every parent does!

​Let's dive into the basics of newborn baby health and care:

Circumcision and Umbilical Cord Care.

During your baby's first few months of life, you will already confront the challenge of infant wound care.​The important thing to remember is that you'll want to keep the site clean, free of unnecessary friction, and maintain any dressing instructions given by a physician or mohel. For more information, see what the American Pediatric Association recommends for circumcision and umbilical cord care.​

Baby massage.

One quick, easy way to calm your baby, reduce colic episodes, and alleviate constipation (among other things) is to give your baby a massage. Don't call your local spa to ask about baby massage specials. These massages are something you can perform at home in about 10 minutes!

Here's a helpful graphic to illustrate how just a few simple movements can give you a leg up on many of your baby's woes

How to massage your baby

Bathing your baby.

Tub time can be so much fun, but until you've mastered the activity, it can feel like an overwhelming task. How hot should the water be? What soap should I use? How often should my baby get a bath? Kitchen sink or bathtub?

The good news is, your newborn will only need a gentle sponge bath for the first few weeks. Even afterward, your baby isn't exactly rolling in the mud or competing in a triathlon, so he only needs a bath every 2-3 days. Whether you decide the kitchen sink works best or if it's baby tub for your little one, make sure you have a gentle soap and washcloths, age appropriate bath toys, and warm snuggly towel to welcome him after.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

It's the kind of thing no parent wants to think about, but it's a reality we must all face. SIDS is the unexplainable loss of an infant's life before the age of 12 months, often in their crib.

Unfortunately, you can do everything right, and something can still go wrong, but studies have shown the following can reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Positioning your newborn baby to sleep on his back and encouraging him to remain in that position with gentle turning.
  • Allowing your baby to co-sleep in the same room as the parents but not in the same bed.
  • Laying your baby down on a firm mattress rather than a soft surface.

Skincare

Your newborn will not need an intensive skincare routine. The same mild soap you use in the bathtub will work for baby's face. Your baby's skin will be extremely sensitive during the first year to two years of life.

Teeth and teething. Even when your baby is only sporting 3-5 teeth, it's important to have proper oral care. Dentist recommends a first appointment around the age of 2, but you can start with a gentle infant brush on the gums during teething to simulate the feeling of a tooth brush. Once that first tooth makes an appearance, you can begin using a fluoride free infant toothpaste such as Oral-B to normalize brushing.

Teething is a natural part of your baby's development, but that doesn't mean it's any less dramatic. Your baby may experience pain, discomfort, intense salivating, gnawing tendencies, fever, and even diarrhea during teething. Treat the symptoms but realize that a great teething ring is the best long-term strategy you have.

Chapter 3How to Have Master Successful Feeding and Nutrition

​A key to development is good nutrition. For your baby, feeding time is not only functional, but it can also be very special for your baby and you. Whether you decide to nurse, pump, formula feed, or any combination of those, the important this is that your baby is fed a healthy, nutritious diet for all his growing needs.

Want to learn more about your feeding options? Check out what we've put together on breastfeeding and formula feeding below:

Breastfeeding Guide

Although breastfeeding is often portrayed as easy and natural, you may find that it's as complicated as the formula approach and may require a little outside help. You can reach out to your local lactation specialist for more specific questions.

Get breastfeeding off to a good start

One of the first ways you can ensure breastfeeding will get the best chance for success with your baby is to have ample skin-to-skin contact after delivery and even into the first few months of baby's life. Skin-to-skin helps regular your baby's heart rate, oxygen saturation, and temperature among other things.


Learn more about what to eat when you are breastfeeding a little later in this guide!

How to Secure Positioning and Attachment

The La Leche League, a renowned resource for breastfeeding moms, offers helpful advice on securing a latch but I've also put together some tips below.

Breastfeeding Latch Basics

First, get comfortable. Breastfeeding can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes during the first few months so make sure you are comfortable for an extended period. I like to have a book and a glass of water for nursing times. Necessity may dictate that you feed your baby in any number of uncomfortable or awkward positions (and locations), but when you have the choice, find a comfy chair.

When you are just getting starting, it's helpful to use pillows such as the Boppy Pillow or MyBreastFriend to support your baby during the first few weeks and months. Eventually, you get the hang of it and may find that added support is only needed occasionally.

Second, bring your baby close to your own body. You'll want to hold him tightly but not too restrictive. Support his neck and shoulders.

Third, bring your baby's mouth closer to your breast with his nose pointed at your nipple. Giving him the flexibility to tilt his head back, help him find you to attach but don't force it.

Check to be sure your baby's mouth is wide open, his cheeks are full not dented from the suction, and there is a minimal pain in the nipple. These are all signs of a successful latch. If it seems wrong, detach and try again. You and your baby will need to practice. Don't get discouraged!

Breastfeeding pain

There are several sources of pain while breastfeeding:

Improper latching – the wrong latch can cause harsh suction on the nipple and can range from mildly uncomfortable to intense, sharp pain. Simply repositioning your baby can resolve the issue but it may take a few attempts.

Drying cracked skin – prolonged and frequent exposure of the skin to your baby's mouth can (and likely will) lead to drying of the skin. In the most extreme cases, cracked skin and bleeding can occur. Plenty of products exist to help ease the pain and prevent tissue damage. Try Lanisoh HPA Lanolin for dry, irritated skin and in the worst scenarios, use a guard or shield and call your pediatrician.

Cramps – during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you may notice cramps, similar to those during your period, while your baby is breastfeeding. For some moms, you may notice a slight twinge but other moms, like me, experience intense cramping during the first week. This pain is totally normal but if you don't notice a decrease in pain after the first week or two, call your doctor.


How to Make Formula Feeding Your Baby Natural and Fun

No matter how you arrived at the decision to formula feed your baby, it doesn't have to be any less special or intimate than breastfeeding. You, your partner, and your baby will experience some of the best snuggles during feeding times.

Find a formula that works for your baby. Every baby is different and tastes differ as often as tolerance when it comes to formula. If your current solution doesn't seem to work, try another one. Of course, involve your baby's pediatrician in these explorations for suggestions and free samples! (By the way, all the biggest names in formula make a special formula for breastmilk supplementing!)

Find the bottles and nipples that work for your baby. Just like formula need and preference are unique to every baby, so are the bottles and nipples you use to feed your baby.

Below are the criteria you'll want to consider when choosing nipples:

  • Material – silicon or latex
  • Size/Flow – size and flow are typically based on age range
  • Shape – traditional, orthodontal, flat-topped, or grooved

Chapter 4Newborn Baby Sleep

​Health sleep means a happy baby. Happy baby means a happy mom. Sleep seems like a joke to new parents, and most expecting parent's eyes widen at the prospect of the exhaustion that awaits them. The reality is that there are different sleep methodologies to consider. Here are just a few:

Let's take a look at best practices for newborn baby sleep:

How much should my newborn be sleeping?

When you bring your baby home from the hospital or birthing center, he will probably sleep anywhere from 1-2.5 hours between feedings. That time will slowly increase over the course of a few weeks and months.

It's not uncommon for a baby to begin sleeping "through the night" as early as 1 month. To be clear, sleeping through the night is equal to 5 hours of sleep at night. Five hours doesn't seem like much now but after waking every 2 hours for a few weeks, 5 hours sounds like heaven.

Swaddling your baby

Swaddling is a great way to help your baby sleep! The snug the wrapping simulates the close comfort of the womb and prevents your baby from waking from startling, unconscious movement. Swaddling can bring comfort to a fussy baby and makes baby easy to transfer from arms to the crib.

It's not just an old wives tale. Check out this famous case study on swaddling:

Swaddling and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis

  • NOTE: Not all babies love to be swaddled. If you're lucky, swaddling can be an easy win, but if not, you'll find other ways to soothe your baby to sleep.

How can you help your newborn sleep?

Sleep for most newborns comes easily after feedings and snuggles. Unfortunately, for some newborns, and their parents, sleep is evasive and a struggle.

White noise machine – Some people swear by a white noise machine for their baby's uninterrupted sleep. If you live in a place where noise can be an unpredictable factor, this might be your savior; however, there is a cost to dependency that develops with the use of one of these machines. Graco Sweet Slumber sound machine and SoundBub by WavHello are both great options.

Bedtime lullabies – Lullabies are the timeless classic, but they don't have to be same old songs your mom used to sing. Rockabye Baby produces lullaby rendition albums of all of your favorites: Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and Adele. Jammy Jams has albums for the little headbanger in all of us.

Baby swing – For naps, a baby swing can be a convenient alternative, but pediatricians do warn against using baby swings for sleep too regularly. Choosing a swing can be difficult but never fear! Remember that Best Baby Swing- Buyer's Guide I told you about?

Chapter 5Weaning: How to Wean Successfully

Even though the first few weeks of breastfeeding are difficult, weaning your baby is a huge adjustment. You may find yourself unprepared for the loss of such a special time with your baby.

I know that on top of the emotional strain of weaning my babies, I was also struggling with the physical effects of weaning. Tenderness, swelling, leakage, and hormonal shifts are all to be expected even when weaning slowly over time.

Before you start the weaning process, you have to ask:

Is your baby ready for weaning?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding your bay until at least 12 months of age and encourages breastfeeding even longer if you and your baby are up for it.

How to wean your baby

Mother-led – Whether out of necessity or desire, you can opt to wean your baby on your own timeline, but the most important factor is slowly weaning your baby. Don't try to quit cold turkey!

Baby-led – Depending on how long you've been breastfeeding, you may find that your baby is less and less interested in breastfeeding. You may be disappointed with this route, but it's natural and makes the process that much easier.

Here are a few tricks you can use to wean your baby:

  • Skip a feeding. After 12 months your baby can use whole milk as a substitute for breastmilk. Try skipping a regular feeding once a day for a bottle of whole milk.
  • Decrease feeding time. Once your baby can take in solids (after 6 months), you can begin to supplement breastmilk feeding time with a healthy snack. You breastfeed for half or three-quarters the usual time and finish filling your baby's belly with solid food. This will help your baby begin to process that food is not just a supplement but a meal itself.

6 months milestone

how to wean

At 6 months, your pediatrician may instruct you to begin introducing solids to your baby's diet. To be clear, solids for an infant are not solids. Many families start with either oatmeal, or rice cereal softened with breastmilk or formula. Don't be surprised if the baby looks at you like you are crazy for putting the food into his mouth.

If you are breastfeeding, you can begin with pureed meats to help replace the diminishing sources of iron in your baby's diet. Other good first foods are sweet potatoes, squash, peaches, and avocado.

As you begin this journey of introducing solid foods, you'll want to consider your options for baby food. You can make your baby food at home with systems like the Magic Bullet Baby Bullet, or you can purchase prepared baby food (Plum Organic is a great choice that's easy to find in most stores and online).

7-9 months milestone

As your baby begins to accept new foods such as cereal, sweet potatoes, avocado, and peaches, now is a good time to start combining foods for more balanced nutrition. There are so many great baby food recipes out there that making combining foods easier.

If you haven't already introduced meat to your baby's diet, now is a good time to do so. The protein rich food will help your baby stay full longer between feedings.

Remember to introduce only one new food at a time to your baby to help isolate any potential allergies. You can also begin to offer your baby slightly courses foods to encourage your baby to explore new textures but be cautious about larger food chunks.

7-10 month baby food

9-11 months milestone

With the appearance of more teeth come more opportunities for your baby to try new things. Start with soft foods that are easy to mash-up in your baby's mouth. Avoid foods that are easy to aspirate such as nuts, popcorn, dried fruit, and thick peanut butter.

An easy way to handle this change is to steam or boil food as you would normally to make smooth baby food but set aside a small amount before it's mashed to serve to your baby as solid food.

baby playing with finger

This is also a great time to introduce the idea of finger food. Your baby may already be grabbing at food on your plate or his plate. Try offering a few bite-sized options for him to grab during regular feeding. This will encourage independence and motor skills. My babies loved this little puff cereal that quickly softens in baby's mouth. You can also try cooked green peas!

Problems with weaning.

Even if you try all the tricks in the book, weaning your child off breastfeeding can still be a struggle. You may begin to imagine going off to kindergarten with your child because he still nurses when he's stressed.

Take a deep breath. Exhale. Remember that this too shall pass. Take a week or two off and try again later.

Chapter 6Bonding Basics

Attachment Parenting International, promoted by Dr. William Sears, focuses on eight principles to nurture your child into a secure, independent adult.

  • Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
  • Feed with Love and Respect
  • Respond with Sensitivity
  • Use Nurturing Touch
  • Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  • Provide Consistent and Loving Care
  • Practice Positive Discipline
  • Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life

The nurturing method, or attachment parenting, encourage parents to consider their child – even an infant – to be tiny adults capable of more than they are usually given credit. Every decision from breastfeeding to how to handle tantrums are approached as showing respect to your child.

Baby-wearing is the big part of attachment parenting. There are a lot of options for babywearing, but the Moby Wrap, Baby K'Tan, and the Mamaway are great brands for baby carriers. You can learn more about baby wearing and get support from Babywearing International.

The hallmark of attachment parenting is building trust with your baby. The attachment theory is built on the belief that children develop and live best when their needs are constantly met by their trusted attachment – their parent.

Chapter 7Diet and Health for Mom

It’s important for you to stay healthy even when you barely feel like you have time for a shower. You will do your best when you feel your best.

Learn more about how you can improve your own health and productivity as a new mom:

What to eat when you're breastfeeding:

A healthy diet is important at any stage of life but during your pregnancy and first years as a new mom are even more important. Eating the right foods can pass on helpful nutrients to your baby.

Here's a graphic to help you create a balanced diet for you and your baby:

breastfeeding and your diet

Nutrition and supplements for new mom

In general, it's good to take the multivitamin supplement, but if you have concerns about breastfeeding and milk supply, you have other options as well. Check out the ways to increase your milk supply from BreastfeedingBasics.com.

How do you find the time to exercise as a busy mom?

I get it. Everyone is telling you that exercise can increase your energy level and improve general wellbeing but when do you find the time!? If you can't make it to the gym, here are a few videos to make fitness a daily activity with your newborn:

I get it. Everyone is telling you that exercise can increase your energy level and improve general wellbeing but when do you find the time!? If you can't make it to the gym, here are a few videos to make fitness a daily activity with your newborn:

Chapter 8Baby Blues and Postnatal/Postpartum Depression

Baby blues, the mildest form of postpartum depression that is characterized by mood swings, tiredness, confusion, and sadness. If you are feeling the baby blues, there are a few things that you can do to cope:

  • Get out outside. Taking a walk or sitting outside with your baby can give you much needed vitamin D and improve your overall mood.
  • Eat healthy. It can be easy to skip meals when your new baby is home. Eating a balanced diet is important for overall wellbeing and health.
  • Get rest. Sleep?! Did she just say sleep? Yes, I did. Sleep can be hard to come by with a newborn but even if you only nap during his naps, you are likely to get more sleep than you might think. Fight the temptation to “get things done” during naps and just let yourself rest.
baby blue and depression

Post-natal depression: How to get help

So what if your blues aren't just mood swings? What if you feel like your life is out of control, you have strange thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby? These feelings are signs of something more severe. I'll say it again, this is NOT the baby blues, and you need to get help to cope with these feelings. Don't wait.

One in seven new mothers experiences issues with moderate to severe postnatal/postpartum depression. It's nothing to be ashamed of or to sweep under the rug. Talk about how you feel with someone and then contact professional support. Here is a great resource:

Find Local Support: Groups & Area Coordinators

Chapter 9How to Master the Baby Registry

Want to learn more about your feeding options? Check out what we've put together on breastfeeding and formula feeding below:

Registering for a newborn baby can be overwhelming especially when you consider how much stuff you really need. You know that I never leave my readers without a solution to their problems!

Check out what I’ve put together for you this time!

My Complete Baby Registry Checklist

Here is my checklist for everything you’ll need for your baby. I put down everything I had, needed, wanted so you can be fully prepared! Be sure to reference this list when you are registering in the store or online!

Nursery

  • Bedding
  • Lightweight blanket
  • Heavyweight blanket
  • Swaddling blanket
  • Crib mattress (Be sure to check out my Best Crib Mattress For Baby-Parent's Guide [2017 Top Picks & Reviews])
  • Crib sheets (several sets)
  • Waterproof mattress pad
  • FurnitureCrib (Pro tip: get a crib that serves as bassinet, crib, toddler bed with rail, and full-size bed)
  • Changing table
  • Changing pad
  • Rocking chair or glider
  • Dresser
  • Toy chest or basket
  • Nursery DécorLamp
  • MobileKid-friendly wall hangings
  • Nightlight

Diapering

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper bag
  • Diaper pail and liners
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Travel bags for diaper disposal

Feeding

  • Breastfeeding & bottle feeding
  • Nursing bra and shirts
  • Nursing pillow
  • Burp cloths (a dozen)
  • Nursing pads
  • Nipple cream/Cooling gel packs
  • Breast pump and accessories
  • Breastmilk storage bags (Be sure to check out my Best Breast Milk Storage Bags)
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Bottle brushes
  • Drying rack
  • Bottle warmer (optional)
  • Bottle sterilizer

Formula Feeding

  • Feeding pillow
  • Burp cloths (a dozen)
  • Breast pump and accessories
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Bottle brushes
  • Drying rack
  • Bottle warmer (optional)
  • Bottle sterilizer

Solid Food Feeding

  • High chair
  • Dishwasher-safe plates and bowls
  • Soft-tip spoons
  • Bibs
  • Sippy cups
  • Baby food maker
  • Baby food storage
  • Food pouches

Bathing

  • Bathtub
  • Bath towel and wash cloths (soft)
  • Tear-free shampoo and body wash
  • Water spout cover
  • Kneeling pad
  • Bath toys

Clothing

  • Onesies
  • Sleep wraps
  • Pajamas (footed pajamas are great)
  • Socks
  • Shirts
  • Shorts or pants
  • Leggings
  • Hat (for sun and cold weather)
  • Baby soothers, toys & entertainment
  • PacifierTeething ring
  • Lullaby albums
  • Board books
  • Activity mat

Baby Gear

  • Travel system (stroller and car seat)
  • Jogging stroller
  • Car seat base
  • Portable crib or play yard
  • Baby jumper
  • Baby swing
  • Baby carrier

Health and Safety

  • Thermometer
  • First-aid kit
  • Petroleum jelly and sterile gauze (wound care: circumcision)
  • Toothbrush (soft bristles)
  • Hair brush (soft bristles)
  • Fluoride-free toothpaste
  • Nail clippers
  • Bulb syringe
  • Baby monitor (visual or audio)
  • Nightlight
  • Baby gates
  • Child-proofing locks and outlet plugs
  • Non-slip socks
  • Water spout cover and thermometer (for bath time)

Miscellaneous

  • ​Vacuum Cleaner (Essensial if you have a pet in house)
  • Baby Stationery
  • Birth Announcements
  • Door Hangers
  • Invitations
  • Thank You Cards
  • Gentle laundry detergent
  • Gift cards
  • Photo album
  • SD memory cards

Now You're Ready!


Ok, now that I've said it, you probably don't feel ready and that's OK. Having a newborn baby is unlike anything you have ever done before. It's a milestone for your development as well. Give yourself permission to make a few mistakes.

This guide, unlike some that I've read, considers that you won't get it perfect every time and certainly not the first time. My guide is realistic and doesn't raise expectations to an unfeasible level. I want to see you succeed and feel confident as a new mom.

Review this guide and leave your own suggestions in the comments below. Who knows? Maybe your suggestion will make it in the next edition of my newborn parenting guide!

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