Birth and Beyond

Lesson 2 of 8: “Handling Newborns”

This lesson gives an overview of basic handling considerations, as well as swaddling, feeding and changing. If you are already familiar with newborns, this will be a little refresher, while those of you who are new to the gig will get some insights into how to juggle small babies.  You may also be interested in this fact sheet from Multiple Births Canada, entitled “The First Few Weeks”.

Dad-&-Alex-staring-at-each-otherYou may already know that newborns have very weak neck muscles (comes from swimming around in Mom’s tummy, and being a bit top heavy — big heads!) Because of this, the newborn’s head must always be supported. See my husband, Trevor, holding and talking to Alex, our Twin A.

Other than this, newborns are pretty “break-proof”. Their bones are soft, so even if you drop them by accident, they are pretty solid. (Not that we reccommend dropping your newborns, lol!)

Other than holding your babies, you will spend most of your first few months changing, swaddling and feeding. Let’s look at each of these in some detail:

1. Changing

Jaqueline-changingDiapers need to be changed as often as you feed, so in the beginning, every 2-3 hours. There is no hard and fast rule about changing before or after eating, and there are pros and cons to both.

Changing before feeding breast or bottle means babies can fall asleep after eating, however, you may not want to establish a pattern of “needing” to be fed in order to fall asleep. Therefore, many people change AFTER feeding, making the diaper change a bit of a post-feeding “activity” of sorts. While changing, they talk or sing to their babies.

This can also help with calming babies; in general, newborns dislike being exposed to the air, and keeping them covered with a blanket, along with the soothing sound of your voice, can help to keep the screaming to a minimum.

Prepare a new/clean diaper. Unfold the diaper, and make sure the tabs are open on the bottom. Set this “prepared” diaper aside within arm’s reach, and bring your baby to the diaper change area.

Alain-y-los-bebes-(4)Start by removing the tabs on the baby’s diaper and taking the dirty diaper off. For pee, I never bother wiping, but if there is some poop (at this point it should be brown or yellow-ish liquid), use a warm, wet cloth or Pampers sensitive skin wipe to wipe baby’s parts from front to back. (Remember to get underneath the scrotum, or for girls, in all the folds.)

While all this is happening, be sure to talk to your baby and tell him or her what you are doing. This helps to calm them, and also begins the important bonding process as well as exposing them to words — never too early to start with literacy!!

Next, lift the bum up while sliding the prepared, clean diaper underneath. Pull the front of the diaper up, and fasten the tabs, nice and snug. Now dress baby back up, and you are all done!

toxic baby powder and creams

Audio Note

“When is it time for the next size up?”

Disposable diapers come in many sizes ranging from preemie to newborn to sizes 1-6. The diaper packages usually give a weight range. This is a guide only. Here’s a good tip: Sometimes, you can get a “pee up the back”, if a diaper is leaky. This should only happen periodically. If it happens three or more times in one day, that is usually an indicator that babies are ready for the next size diaper.

2. Swaddling

Many newborns love to be swaddled. The tight wrapping may remind them of being secure in their mother’s womb. The hospital will show you how to swaddle, however, you can also practise this along with diaper changing, on a doll. Check out the clip below to see how to swaddle a baby. 

Swaddling typically works for about 6-8 weeks, then as babies begin to kick more and fight off the blankets, you can move to nap bags or other sleepers.

3. Feeding

We’ve already talked about feeding in Section Three, but this is a reminder that babies need to be fed every 2-3 hours (2 hours for breast milk, 3 hours for formula) during the first few weeks. Support the head, hold babies close (Dads, you can also feed skin:skin!) and insert breast or bottle. Be sure if breastfeeding to ensure a proper latch in order to avoid breast pain.

Audio Note

Whether breast or bottle feeding, remember to burp babies after feeding. This can be accomplished by sitting them up on your lap (support the head) and patting back gently. Or you can put baby up against your shoulder and rub his/her back.

Do practice any of these these techniques on a doll before your little ones arrive.

When you are ready to move on to the next section, we will look at Bathtime.