Baby’s Whole New World
These first few weeks you may have noticed your baby sometimes startles and spreads their arms out wide. This is called the Moro reflex. It happens when babies feel like they are falling—even if they are just being set down for bed. This can also happen in their sleep and make them wake themselves up. What can you do? Swaddling helps the baby feel cocooned, and if they do startle, they will be less likely to wake themselves up. This reflex will last until baby is three or four months old.
How can you tell if your baby is hungry? Even before your baby starts crying their head off, they will start exhibiting feeding cues. First they start licking their lips and even turning their head and opening their mouth (aka rooting). Then they put their hands in their mouth and start fidgeting before finally starting to scream.
The Dunstan Baby Language is a deeper theory of baby communication that includes five distinct baby cries that correlate to different underlying problems like hunger, sleepiness or gassy bellies. Curious? The inventor was on Oprah and can explain it best.
Recovery from Birth
It’s completely normal if it’s still not all copacetic down there yet. No matter how your baby met the world, you may still be bleeding and have soreness in places you didn’t know existed. Stay hydrated and try high-fiber foods to keep yourself regular(-ish), and if it still hurts to poop, talk to your doctor about a stool softener.
If you had a vaginal birth, try a peri-bottle or sitz bath to relieve the soreness in your perineum.
If you had a c-section, you may be on pain medication for a week or two. (Make sure to keep taking your stool softener while you are on it because the meds slow down your digestion.) Try an abdominal binder to help support your abdomen muscles, and remember to keep your incision area clean with mild and soap and water. Here are more tips if you still have bandages on or are figuring out how to deal with your Steri-Strips.
This will all pass! Your body will heal, and remember to talk to your doctor if you feel like something’s not quite right.
Keep ‘Em Clean
For the first few weeks, sponge baths are ideal because you need to keep the umbilical cord and area around it clean and dry. If it hasn’t already, your baby’s umbilical cord will fall off soon.
So now—bath time! It’s not nearly as fun with newborns as it is with older babies who really enjoy the water. Newborns are very sensitive to water temperature, and they can be slippery little buggers, too.
The good thing is you don’t have to do it that often. One to three times a week is fine. In fact, bathing them too often could dry out their skin.
How to do it? Since newborns are so tiny, many parents prefer to bathe them in the sink. There are some bathtubs that are just sink inserts to make this easier. You can also pad the bottom of the sink with a folded towel to soften and secure the babe. Make sure the water is warm, but not hot and check it with your hand.
The baby only needs to be submerged a couple of inches, and you can use some Tupperware to pour water over their shoulders.
Wash their face first and then move to their hands and feet (and those cute little toes), working your way toward the dirtiest parts last. Babies at this age don’t really need soap or shampoo. Too much can dry out their skin, so use it sparingly.
Have a towel ready when you take them out because a wet baby is a cold baby. Pat them down and make sure they completely dry before diapering and dressing.
How to Clip Baby’s Nails
It’s not just you: cutting baby nails is really hard and nerve-wracking. They also grow so fast, and since babies are about as coordinated as a bumbling giraffe, they scratch themselves all the time.
So how do you do it? Carefully. Kidding aside, here are quick tips:
- Grab someone to help. (One trims nails, other soothes and distracts)
- Choose a time when your baby is calm, feeding or even asleep.
- Trim in a well lit room.
- Go slowly. Remain calm and steady when Baby begins to pull away.
- Distraction. Before you begin, sing a favorite song or rattling toy. With older babies, some parents take a little help from a favorite video.
- Pull the bottom of the finger back to give yourself more room to trim.
- After you’ve trimmed, file away the sharp edges.
Of course, at some point you might nick their skin. They will cry, (you may too) but stay calm. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding, take a deep breath and proceed.
Are there tools to help? Yes, but it’s still hard. There are lots of options for baby nail clippers!