The First Ten Days

The First Ten Days
What Every New Parent Should Know

Yes, there's a lot to be aware of, but... relax. There really are just a few essential things you need to know to help your baby thrive in the first couple of weeks. Follow the step-by-step instructions in our guide to The First Ten Days, and you too will become an old pro at:
  • Holding Your Newborn
  • Bathing Your Newborn
  • Changing a Diaper
  • Comforting Newborn
  • Feeding Your Newborn

How to Hold Your Newborn
Your newborn may feel fragile and delicate, but don't be afraid to touch her! In fact, studies show that babies that are held more than 2 hours a day thrive better and cry less. Because your newborn's neck muscles are not yet developed, you will need to support her head whenever you pick her up. You should also support her head against your shoulder or in your opposite hand, as your carry her. Some parents find that a sling or baby carrier gives them an extra sense of security when carrying their newborn babies. And your baby will love it too!

How to Bath Your Newborn
Until your newborn's umbilical cord heals and falls off (usually in a week or two) it's best to clean your baby with a sponge bath. 

1. Lay your baby on a soft towel, or use a sponge-lined bath bed. Support your baby's head and limbs throughout. 

2. Clean around each eye with separate cotton balls dipped in warm water

3. Keep your baby covered with a towel to stay warm: uncover only the area you are washing. Dip a warm, wet washcloth in a little baby wash (JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash is mild enough for a newborn) then wash and rinse her face, arms, legs, tummy and genital area, in that order. Clean the umbilical stump with a cotton ball dipped in clean water. 

4. If your newborn has hair, clean it with baby wash and rinse by wiping her hair with a clean cloth. 

5. Next, dry your baby thoroughly but don't rub vigorously. Then wrap her in a hooded, dry towel.

How to Change A Diaper

Many first-time parents are surprised by how many diapers they go through in a day. To make life easier for yourself, have plenty of diapers on hand before you bring your baby home. 

Before you change your baby's diaper, be sure to wash your hands. And because you should NEVER leave your baby alone on the change table, you'll need to have the following items standing by before you begin:
  • A clean diaper
  • Baby wipes or a wet washcloth (that you'll use ONLY for this purpose)
  • A plastic bag to dispose of soiled diapers
  • Diaper rash preventative ointment containing petrolatum, such as BALMEX® Daily Protective Clear Ointment
  • Diaper rash treatment cream containing zinc oxide, such as BALMEX® Zinc Oxide
  • Diaper Rash Cream
  • A change of clothes for your baby (just in case)

1. Lay your baby on a flat, secure surface.

2. Remove the diaper by lifting the adhesive tabs. Fold the tabs back on themselves so they don't stick to anything (including the baby!).

3. With a baby wipe or a washcloth moistened with water, clean the genital area by wiping from front to back. Fold the dirty diaper onto itself and move to the side. Place a clean diaper under your baby.

4. Pat your baby dry before applying ointment. Apply a protective ointment such as BALMEX® Daily Protective Clear Ointment to create a barrier against wetness and irritants. If your baby already has a diaper rash, choose a product with zinc oxide and other ingredient that soothe the skin and promote healing, such as BALMEX® Zinc Oxide Diaper Rash Cream.

5. Secure the clean diaper by fastening the adhesive strips from the back of the diaper to the front panel. It should be snug, but not tight.

6. Finally, dispose of the dirty diaper and wash your hands again. Done!

How to Comfort Your Newborn
Most babies cry for an average of two hours a day in the first three months. So while it may be disconcerting, it's also normal. To comfort your baby, first try to determine the cause of his discomfort. Is he hungry? Does he have gas? Does his diaper need changing? Is it time for a nap? Is he over-stimulated by noise, lights or activity? If the source of his discomfort is hunger, gas, or a wet diaper, the solution is obvious. To help soothe a sleepy or over-stimulated baby, hold him on your shoulder while gently rocking him. Sing or speak softly to them – reassure him with a calm voice. It can also help to rub his back as you do so. Try different positions to find one that's comfortable for both of you. 

Something else to consider: your baby doesn't have much mobility in the first few weeks and may cry for help if he is lying uncomfortably in the crib. You can help him by gently shifting his position. Note: NEVER put your baby to sleep face down.

How to Feed Your Newborn
Healthcare professionals agree that nothing is better for your newborn baby than breast milk. Nutritionally speaking, it's tailor-made for your infant. Of course, sometimes mothers cannot breastfeed, due to medical problems or other special circumstances. Discuss with your pediatrician how best to feed your newborn. No matter how you decide to feed your baby, be sure to always hold him while feeding. The cuddling that comes with nursing and feeding helps to build a strong, loving bond between you and your baby. Here are a few tips for when you're breastfeeding your baby:

1. Get an early start: Nursing should begin within an hour after delivery if possible, when your infant is awake and the sucking instinct is strong. Even though you won't be producing milk yet, your breasts contain colostrum, a thin fluid that contains beneficial antibodies.

2. Proper positioning: The baby's mouth should be wide open, with the nipple as far back into his or her mouth as possible. This minimizes soreness for you.

3. Nurse on demand: Newborns need to nurse frequently, about every two hours, and not on any strict schedule. This will stimulate your breasts to produce plenty of milk. Later, the baby can settle into a more predictable routine.

4. Use nursing pads: Use a nursing pad, such as super-absorbent, cushiony JOHNSON'S® Nursing Pads, to help eliminate embarrassing leakage between feedings.

5. Air dry: In the early postpartum period or until your nipples toughen, you should air dry them after each nursing to prevent them from cracking and getting infected. If your nipples do crack, you can coat them with breast milk to help them heal. Proper positioning at the breast can help prevent sore nipples. If you're very sore, your baby may not have the nipple far enough back in his or her mouth.

6. Watch for infection: Symptoms of breast infection include fever, painful lumps and redness in the breast. These require immediate medical attention.

7. Eat right, get rest: To produce plenty of good milk, you'll need to eat a balanced diet that includes an extra 500 calories a day and drink six to eight glasses of fluid. You should also rest as much as possible to prevent breast infections, which are aggravated by fatigue.

For more articles about caring for your baby, visit THE JOHNSON'S® GUIDE TO NURTURING CARE™.