Caring for a newborn baby can be taxing and frustrating, especially for first time parents. During the first few months, there are a lot of procedures that parents must become skilled at in the shortest possible time to be able to meet the demands of the newborn. But the job can actually be easier and enjoyable if you know the basics of caring for your baby.

Lesson #1 Limit bathing to sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off. This is done to keep the umbilical cord dry always so it will heal fast. It is okay to give your baby a simple water and washcloth bath without soap for several days. When the umbilical cord falls off, usually after 2-3 weeks, warm water baths may be given. Use cetaphil skin cleanser or mild soap such as Dove. The bath should be of short duration. After a bath, pat the skin dry, particularly giving attention to the folds and creases of the skin. Application of baby powder, lotion, or cologne is not necessary.

Lesson #2 Keep the umbilical cord clean and dry. Remember to always clean the umbilical cord using cotton ball or Q-tip wet with rubbing alcohol. This will speed up drying. Contrary to other practices, do put abdominal binder or attempt to cover the umbilicus with a separate piece of cloth. Also be sure that the diaper is folded below the cord. If, however, the cord turns red, has a foul odor, or starts draining pus, consult your pediatrician.

Lesson #3 Dress your baby appropriately for the room temperature. As a guide, dress your baby one layer more than what you are wearing. The best cloth fabric is 100% cotton. At bedtime, choose pajamas or an all-in-one suit that fastens down the front and legs for easy changing of nappies. An over-all suit is also preferred to keep the baby warm especially at night, since loose blankets are not recommended. Loose blankets put the baby at risk for suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome.

Lesson #4 Breast milk is the best food for full term babies. It is perfectly suited for your baby’s nutritional need. Breastfeeding is convenient and free. There is no need for you to buy milk, sterilized water and feeding bottles, and mix powder. But if you can not breastfeed for some reasons, feed your baby with infant milk formulas, which are nowadays fortified and enriched with the basic building blocks of growth. Just be sure to prepare the formula according to the instructions and stay with your newborn while feeding. Propping the bottle is not recommended because this might cause choking.

Lesson #5 Let your baby burp every after feeding. This can relieve bloating caused by swallowed air and can reduce spitting up in your newborn every after feeding. This can be done simply by putting a clean towel over your shoulder and positioning your baby’s head over it, with his stomach against your chest. Gently pat your baby’s back, and rub lightly in circular motion until your baby burps.

Lesson #6 Change your baby’s diaper soon after a bowel movement or when the diaper is wet. Leaving your baby wet with his urine or poo, can cause diaper rash. It is best to wash his genitalia with water and mild soap, pat dry, and apply a rash cream to create a barrier to your baby’s skin.

Lesson #7 Recognize a heat rash. This is extremely irritating and itchy rash which appears as numerous tiny red skin elevations, more commonly in the neck, chest and back region. This is caused by plugging of the sweat pores and retention of sweat. Best remedies include dressing your baby less warmly and bathing him with tepid or cool water.

Lesson #8 Pay special attention to scalp care to prevent cradle cap Cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis is a physiologic overproduction of sebum during the newborn period up to 3 months. It oftentimes appears as a greasy looking crust or yellowish white on top of the baby’s head. Other parts of the body can also be involved. To resolve cradle cap, brush the baby’s scalp daily at the time of the bath with soap and water and using a brush with closely spaced bristles. You can also use your fingertip or wash cloth. Never use oil or lotions on the scalp and even medicated shampoos without doctors advice.

Lesson #9 Cut newborn fingernails and toenails with extreme care. In trimming your baby’s nails, use a pair of ordinary nail scissors and clip it straight across. Do not round the edges as this can lead to ingrown toenails.

Lesson #10 Limit visitors at home. Remember that your newborn is not a live doll for everyone to hold. Since his immune system is still low, large crowds should be avoided. Do not allow anyone with cough, cold and other contagious diseases to come close to your baby. Discourage anyone from kissing your baby on the face. Everyone coming in contact with your baby should wash his or her hands.

These are just the basics of newborn care that every new parent should come to know. Loads of new information can be overwhelming for first time parents. One important thing to remember, though, is not to panic. Try to enjoy learning new things with your brand new baby. After all, it’s not about getting it perfectly done, but doing the best that you can do for your baby.