Newborn Care Fact Sheet
It’s really easy to get conflicting information on what’s best for your baby from your provider, nurses, family members and friends. And, it can be hard to tell which pieces of information are fact, opinion, or myth.
Even if you get the right information from your care team, you’re not always given an explanation WHY it’s recommended. Understanding the importance and rationale for certain recommendations gives a bit of perspective and can help new parents cope with the heavy load of caring for a newborn!
I gathered a few of the key guidelines for newborn care from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to help you out!
Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion on how to take care of your little one in the first few months of life!
I’ll give the recommendation and list the reason why below.
Here’s your quick guide to caring for your term newborn
1. Skin to skin (like literally- your baby’s bare skin to your bare skin) for at least the first hour after birth, but preferably as much as possible the first few days of life. PLUS, 60 minutes a day of uninterrupted skin to skin for the first 12 weeks and beyond.
a. Infants have the most immature body systems compared to other mammals. They continue to ‘gestate’ outside the womb and use their caregiver to regulate body temperate, heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar. A mother’s body will offer itself as an ‘incubator’ to their infant during this time by responding to the infant’s needs- her body will warm up if baby is too cold, etc.
2. Exclusively breastfeed for first 6 months of life, continue breastfeeding while adding complementary foods, until the child is at least 2 years old or beyond.
a. Breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months was found to have the highest reduction in pediatric illnesses and SIDS. Breastfeeding continues to be a valued source of nutrition and disease protection beyond infancy. Breast milk in women who have been lactating for longer than a year have a more fat, energy contents, total protein, immunoglobulin A , vitamin A than in the first year of life.
3. Breastfeed on demand for as long as you’re breastfeeding! This means any time babies show a feeding cue (rooting, sucking on hand or fist, crying) offer the breast and allow them to feed until they pull off.
a. Demand feeding helps to firmly establish a long-term milk supply and allows the baby to regain lost birth weight and grow appropriately during infancy. We don’t know how much baby transfers at the breast so allowing baby to determine how and when to feed is in their best interest.
4. Do not offer a pacifier or bottle (if you’re breastfeeding) until 3-4 weeks.
a. This helps establish your long-term milk supply. Missed feeding cues can drop your milk supply because making milk is all about ‘supply and demand’!
5. Delay first bath for 24 hours and place skin to skin after bath to regulate temperature.
a. The waxy substance (vernix) on baby’s skin offers added protection a number of ways. Vernix contains proteins that prevent bacterial infections, it stabilizes blood sugar by sealing in the skin with it's moisture. Delaying the first bath gives more time for baby to adjust to life outside the womb and more skin-to-skin time with mom.
6. Mother and baby should not be separated and should stay in same room until 6 months of life, preferably 1 year.
a. Being in close proximity to the mother helps reduce incidence of SIDS. Their caregiver regulates their immature body systems during the 1st year of life. Keeping baby close is the best way to reduce SIDS and keep your infant’s body regulated.