There are some new mamas who scour the internet reading as much as they can to prepare for new baby. Then there are those chill mamas who just get the basics from their mom or other relative and figure it out as they go. If you are the latter, that is great, but here are a few important baby care basics you don’t want to miss out on.
Baby Care Basics #1: Newborn Crib Etiquette
First time mamas, be aware that despite cute images you see online of baby cribs with adorable blankets and a decorative pillow, the AAP says to keep your baby’s crib clear while they are an infant. No pillows, no blankets, no sheets other than a fitted sheet. You don’t want any layers that a baby might suffocate in.
Baby Care Basics #2: Swaddlers and Sleep Sacks
As stated above, no blankets for baby. However, swaddlers work great for newborns to keep them both warm and snuggled tight. They usually find it very comforting. Halo is probably the most popular brand of swaddler.
Swaddlers have wings that wrap around the baby’s arms and chest to keep them secure and snuggled. Halo makes sleep sacks as well. Sleep sacks are the next step up after swaddling.
When your baby begins to resist being swaddled, it is time to switch to a sleep sack. These are wearable blankets for baby but without the wraps to hold their arms. They really are just a zip-up sack for baby to sleep in. Super comfy.
Halo makes great ones, but also check out Nested Bean sleep sacks. They have a lightly weighted pad on the chest (or if your baby starts to sleep on his/her stomach, you can turn the weighted pad to the back as well) that helps them feel comforted. It mimics your hand on their chest. I didn’t realize until recently that Nested Bean’s size Large sacks distribute the weight evenly across the chest/back for babies who turn back and forth in their sleep, instead of just one pad on one side. Cool! Love this brand.
Baby Care Basics #3. White Noise
There is a reason the top three items on this list pertain to sleep. Sleep will become VERY important once baby arrives! As a first-time mama you should know that babies usually love to have white noise playing in the background. It helps muffle any startling outside noises and also mimics the whooshing sounds they were used to in your womb. Super useful. I would not skip white noise.
On this note, you should also look into blackout curtains for your nursery.
Light plays such an important role in sleep, and often babies are very sensitive to it. You will be glad to already have a great set of blackout curtains ready to go in your nursery.
Baby Care Basics #4. Sleep Guides/Schedules Are a Thing
One more sleep item! Did you know there is such a thing as baby sleep guides and schedules to help you understand how much sleep baby should get? Check out my post Baby Sleep Schedules: The Basics for a chart as well as a starter sample, and then Baby Sleep Schedules by the Month for more detailed schedule options.
Baby Care Basics #5. Nursing Fact: More nursing = More supply
Before I was a mama I didn’t realize how breastfeeding worked at all. New mamas should be aware of a basic principle, which is that the more you feed or pump, the more your supply will abound. Knowing this simple fact will help you make more sense of all the breastfeeding topics you may read about.
Baby Care Basics #6. “Breastfeeding” versus “Bottlefeeding Breastmilk”
Did you know “bottle-feeding” doesn’t necessarily refer to formula? I was confused about this for a while. When mothers refer to “breastfeeding,” they are usually referring to literally feeding baby from their breast. When they refer to “bottle-feeding,” they may be referring to feeding the baby pumped breastmilk from a bottle or formula from a bottle, but usually they mean the former.
Usually if mamas are talking about formula, they say it straight out. Pumping breastmilk and feeding it to your baby is a perfectly good option if you have a hard time with feeding straight from the breast, or if you have extra milk you need to pump/store. Some folks talk about “nipple confusion” if baby switches from breast to bottle nipple. That may be the case for some, but my daughter had no trouble whatsoever.
Read more about breastfeeding from the breast versus pumping and bottlefeeding here.
Baby Care Basic #7. Car seat 101: An Infant Car Seat Is Different than a Convertible One
You can get an infant seat to start with and then switch, or you can start with a convertible right away. The difference between the two types is easy to understand once you compare them. Check out my article Infant Versus Convertible Car Seats to see the differences and read about the pros of each type.
Baby Care Basic #8. Prep for Baby Baths before Baby Is In
This is just one of those pearls of wisdom that seem like common sense until you realize you did it all wrong. And to be fair, it is hard to think your clearest while trying to give your first baby their first bath. There is a lot on your mind.
Make sure to prep everything for baby’s bath before baby is in it. It will make it so much easier! Once they are in, you can’t really take your hands off to reach for anything. Get your towel laid out where you want it, get any soap or other toiletries where you can reach them, any clothes you want to put baby in afterward laid out wherever you are going to dress baby, etc.
Baby Care Basic #9. You Don’t Need Too Many Newborn Clothes, Diapers, or Shoes
Babies fly through the newborn stage, especially size-wise. While they will technically be a newborn through their third month, they may switch to needing size 1 diapers after only a month or less. There are exceptions of course, because some babies “run small,” but as a general rule I think many mamas agree that you won’t need too many newborn size diapers or clothes.
It isn’t the end of the world if you have more than you need. Of course you can return unopened diapers! But I found I was disappointed that I didn’t have time to dress mine in all the cute clothes I bought before she was too big for them. Thankfully, I left the tags on newborn size clothes until I was ready to dress her in them for this reason. If you don’t get to wearing them, you can return them or regift them. See also my post Baby Clothing Sizes Compared by Brand.
Baby Care Basics Bonus Tip:
Babies often (again, there are exceptions) don’t wear the size clothes that match their age. It’s confusing, but they often fit a bigger size than their age. At 6 months old my daughter wore a 9-12 month. And so on. Now she’s one year old and she wears a 2T. :)-
Baby Care Basic #10. Modern Cloth Diapers Are a Thing!
Did you know that modern cloth diapers are different than your mom or grandma used back in the day? They are. They may not be for you, but if you are unfamiliar with modern cloth diapers, you should at least know that there are no pins involved. Read more about modern-day cloth diapering in my post The 5 Things You Need to Start Cloth Diapering.
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