Newborn guide for first-time parents
Ask any seasoned parent and he or she’ll tell you well-behaved babies are not the luck of the draw; you just get better at dealing with the curve-balls your newborn throws you. That’s why confinement nannies are considered “sage level” when it comes to dealing with infants and new parents behave like fish out of water. If you’ve already checked off the prenatal basics in this guide to having a baby in Singapore, this newborn guide for first-time mothers will arm you with tried-and-tested newborn life hacks to help you breeze through the “fourth trimester” and beyond.
Peep our other motherhood articles below:
- Tips for confinement, prenatal and postnatal care
- Breaking confinement rules
- Bangkok with baby solo trip
– Newborn baby sleeping hacks –
1. Invest in a red night light for diaper changes and feeds
Suzy Snooze Night Light
Image credit: BleepBleeps
A night light is something most parents have on their nursery checklist but before you buy that aesthetic bunny-shaped lamp, know this: red light triggers the production of your body’s “sleep hormone” a.k.a. Melatonin.
Yes, there is actual science backed by sleep therapists and NASA scientists that proves that red light helps your newborn sleep better. In fact, your regular white or yellow night light could very well be responsible for your baby’s disrupted rest.
2. Use white noise to mimic the “sound of the womb”
Your baby’s sense of hearing develops in utero at around 18 weeks. From then until birth, all your little one hears and gets accustomed to is the faint, muffled sounds of what’s going on in the world around you. Playing white noise in the background while putting your newborn baby to bed mimics the “sound of the womb” and works wonders to calm a disgruntled infant refusing nap time.
Image adapted from: Spotify
3. Wait a few minutes before attending to a fussing baby
Hearing the slightest squeak from your infant can jolt you into action, but not every fuss signals feeding time or a diaper change. A fair few infants grunt when they’re passing gas and stir mid-sleep, but they can usually soothe themselves back to sleep in under a minute or 2.
Take a few weeks to “study” your newborn’s calls to discern which ones require your immediate attention and which don’t. A good gauge is to wait around 5 minutes to see if your baby is really in discomfort – either hungry or in need of a cuddle – before jumping in to save the day. You’ll be thanking the heavens for those extra minutes of precious sleep at night.
4. Use a swaddle sleep sack to prevent startle reflex
After giving birth, you’ll notice your baby brought to you neatly wrapped in a hospital blanket. This is not just for presentation, but to keep your baby feeling snug and safe.
Image credit: @swaddleme
In the same way white noise mimics the sounds inside your womb, a swaddle “hugs” your baby for you and prevents him or her from waking with a shock from startle reflex. Basically, in short, a swaddled baby = longer periods of sleep.
What the hospital doesn’t tell you is that swaddling is an art form akin to wrapping a nyonya bak chang and there’s a 90% chance you will struggle with it. Save yourself the hassle and get a couple of swaddle sleep sacks like the Love to Dream Swaddle UP ($49.90) and SwaddleMe Original (from $31.83) that’ll get the job done in seconds.
5. Put baby down when he or she is dozing off for independent sleeping habits
There’s nothing wrong with your newborn wanting to curl up in your arms forever, but not everybody has the time for that. If you find your little one constantly wanting to be held or rocked to bed, you can start instilling independent sleep habits by laying your baby down in the crib/bassinet when he or she is drifting off to bed but not fully asleep.
Should whining or crying ensue after the transfer, feel free to check in with pats and sweet words of affirmation, but resist picking your baby up. Repeat this enough and your little one will eventually get used to self-soothing and falling asleep independently.
6. Use a carrier for daytime naps if your baby refuses to sleep
Image credit: @_evonlim_
Daytime naps hold just as much weight as night sleeps. If you find wide eyes staring back at you after trying almost every sleep trick in the book, a motion nap might just be the one thing that works. Just pop your baby into a soft structured carrier or a ring sling and take a walk.
These contraptions come with what many parents term as “sleepy dust” that will put your cranky baby to sleep in minutes.
– Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding tips –
1. Try the “laid-back” nursing position for a better latch
As wonderful as breastfeeding sounds, it doesn’t come easy to all mothers. From poor latching to a not-yet-established supply of milk, there are many reasons why your baby might not be taking to the boob as you had hoped.
Image credit: Mama Natural
For moms struggling to get their babies to suckle properly, getting the proper latch down to pat is key to breastfeeding success. Position your baby belly-to-belly while you prop yourself back on a pillow with your baby’s nose level with your nipple.
This encourages your newborn’s natural sucking and rooting reflexes with gravity working in your favour pulling your baby’s head toward your breast without actually forcing your baby’s head towards your nipple.
2. Hold baby at a 30-45° angle after feeding to prevent spit up
Sleep deprivation can sometimes tempt the best of us to feed our babies, then put them right back on their backs and call it a day. Guilty as charged? Then this might explain why your baby is spitting up curdled milk more often.
A baby wedge helps to elevate baby’s upper body to help milk flow to the small intestine
Image credit: @myblissbaby
An infant’s oesophagus isn’t fully mature until around 6 months of age so feeding your baby in a flat-lying position can lead to the back-flow of milk up the lower oesophageal sphincter. The trick to reducing spit up is as easy as keeping your baby upright at a 30°-45° angle post-feed.
A baby wedge pillow (from $39) under your little one’s mattress will allow you to deposit your baby back in the crib or bassinet and head back to bed when you’re dead tired in the wee hours of the morning.
3. Try home remedies for engorged breasts
Image adapted from: verywellfamily
Clogged milk ducts demand immediate attention and treatment as it could cause infections. For those unfortunate enough to be struck by rock-hard boobs in the middle of the night with no lactation consultant at your beck and call, here are some steps you can take to prevent that from escalating into full-blown mastitis:
- Take a hot shower or use a cold compress or white cabbage leaves to slow the production of milk
- Angle baby’s nose towards the clogged duct during a feed
- Use a manual hand pump to drain the breast of milk
- Slowly massage the clog in the direction of nipple whilst pressing down on the areola to release milk
There’s no gain without a little bit of pain so brace yourself for a bit of discomfort. It’ll all be worth it once your milk flow is back in order.
4. Use bottle brands with realistic nipple-like teats to prevent confusion
Image credit: @comotomobaby
There are many reasons why mothers choose to alternate between breast and bottle when feeding their infant. But the number 1 rookie mistake first-time parents make is sinking their funds into a bottle brand that doesn’t use teats resembling a natural nipple.
Not all babies can masterfully go from breast to bottle and back again. If you’ve got bottle-feeding in the pipeline, it’s smart to invest in brands like Comotomo (from $30.90) and Philips Avent ($17.90) which have teats that support natural latching and will prevent nipple confusion.
5. Don’t just burp baby after a feed
Image adapted from: Best For Baby
How to burp your baby is one of the first few things you’ll be made to master after delivering your baby. And while the “burp your baby after a feed” message is heard loud and clear, most moms don’t burp their babies as often as recommended.
Newborns learning to take the boob or bottle will most likely suck a fair amount of air into their stomachs and this gassy discomfort is one of the main reasons why babies cry. This accumulated air is also the cause of frequent feeding as it occupies stomach space rightfully meant for a full meal of milk.
Instead of waiting to burp your baby after he or she is done drinking, slip in small burp sessions after 3-5 minutes of feeding to prevent pockets of air from building up.
– Calming a crying baby –
1. Carry them as much as they need to be carried
Let’s first start by debunking one of the biggest newborn misconceptions floating around – there’s no such thing as spoiling a newborn baby by carrying them too much. Not only does comforting a crying baby benefit his or her emotional health, but it also stimulates the production of the “feel-good hormone” oxytocin, reducing the amount of stress your baby feels.
Studies have even shown that carried babies cry up to 43% less than non-carried babies, and babies who are often carried display a quiet alertness – a state that allows them to process and learn more from their surroundings. So carry your infant with pride and keep this piece of info in your arsenal of comebacks the next time a relative chides you for over-carrying your newborn.
2. Use an app to track your baby’s growth spurts
If your normally calm and angelic baby suddenly pulls a 180° on you and is now inexplicably fussy, then you’ve probably hit your first developmental leap. Don’t worry, leaps happen sporadically in your infant’s first 2 years and the “bad behaviour” only lasts a couple of days.
Image adapted from: What To Expect
An app like The Wonder Weeks will help you keep track of your baby’s upcoming growth spurts and educate you on the monumental changes going on in your tiny one’s body. You’ll find that knowing what’s on your baby’s mood horizon actually helps you improve your handling of the situation and tides you through the stormy weather.
Newborn guide for first-time parents
Prenatal classes might teach you a trick or two about handling a baby, but once you welcome your little one to the world, it’s a long, uphill road of sleepless nights and trial-and-error to have parenting in the bag. At least, this list of hacks and tricks can make navigating the ins and outs of newborn life that bit easier.
Check out our other parenting and baby articles:
- Long-term travel baby investments
- Free educational apps
- Kid-safe ways to disinfect your home
- Guide to nursing rooms in Orchard