Tips for new parents
As a new parent, you're bound to have questions on everything from getting started with breastfeeding to washing and bathing your baby and changing their nappy.
Here's a quick guide to everything you need to know about caring for your new baby during those exhausting but wonderful early weeks.
Getting to know your new baby
How do we look after our baby's umbilical cord? How much can our baby see? Why are their genitals swollen?
Newborn babies do not come with an instruction manual, and you're bound to have lots of questions about their behaviour and appearance to begin with.
You'll find some of the answers you need in getting to know your newborn.
Breastfeeding your new baby
In the beginning it can seem like you're baby is constantly feeding, but gradually you and your baby will get into a pattern and the amount of milk you produce will settle.
Feed your baby as often as they want. This is called baby-led feeding. Let your baby decide when they have had enough.
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Washing and bathing your new baby
You do not need to bathe your baby in the first few days. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully instead. This is sometimes called topping and tailing.
Choose a time when your baby is awake and content. Make sure the room is warm and get everything ready beforehand.
You'll need a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and, if necessary, clean clothes.
How to change your baby's nappy
Babies need frequent nappy changes. Do not leave them in a wet or dirty nappy for too long because their wee and the bacteria in their poo may make their skin sore and lead to nappy rash.
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Soothing a crying baby
Crying is your baby's way of telling you they need comfort and care. But it's not always easy to work out what they want.
Helping your baby sleep
It's normal for new babies to only sleep for 2 to 3 hours at a time through the night, as well as during the day.
One reason is that newborn babies are not tuned into day and night yet.
Babies also grow quickly in the early months and they have very small stomachs. This means they need to feed little and often.
As your baby grows, they'll gradually start to need fewer night feeds and will sleep for longer at night.
How to tell if your baby is seriously ill
It can be difficult to tell when a baby is seriously ill. Above all, it's important to trust your instincts.
You know your baby better than anyone else, so you'll know if their appearance or behaviour is worrying.
See does your child have a serious illness? for a checklist of "red alert" symptoms that should always be treated as serious.
Reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is rare, so do not let worrying about it stop you enjoying your baby's first few months.
Putting your baby on their back to sleep, in a cot in the same room as you, for the first 6 months is one way to reduce your baby's risk even further.
Not smoking during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and not letting anyone else smoke in the same room as your baby, will also help protect them.
Page last reviewed: 28 February 2019
Next review due: 28 February 2022