If you’re expecting to be a new parent, you might be wondering about what classes you need to take to best know how to take care of your newborn baby. I attended baby academy’s course for baby-care and this post will go over everything in the class and teach you about how to care best for your baby as a first time parent. Hopefully this will give you some insight into baby care and whether a class like this is worth the time for you!
A midwife is running the class I took, but she also has experience in the hospital. She is also a mom of two, one born in the hospital and one born with a midwife. The class is run online and is pretty crowded – a lot of people in the class including even somebody from bangkok! Most folks taking it have due dates any time from 1-5 months out. The class is primarily for firt time parents and is about how to take care of your baby including bathing, swaddling and temperature control.
Bathing Your Baby
Bathing a newborn is a bit different than bathing a baby that is even a month old – they do not have head control and are just adjusting to the new world. Their skin is sensitive so you should only bathe the baby once a week at most. The WHO also recommends you do not give them a bath for at least 24 hours after birth – they are born with a special coating that helps them, especially if you have skin to skin contact with them. It is also hard to maintain a baby’s temperature when they are newly born.
One of the most important things is making sure the bath water is the same temperature as the baby at 98.6 F. You may want to get a digital read thermometer to be able to test the water temperature to ensure it is perfect for your newborn baby. Make sure you have everything else you need ready – the bath is ready in your baby bathtub, you have any washcloths, baby bath towels, cotton swabs, and sponges. Avoid using any bath products until the baby is 4-6 weeks old.
Outside of bathing you can wipe crevices like their face, behind their ears and around their neck, and in their hands. You can do this daily instead of waiting a week to keep your newborn clean.
Taking A Bath
First thing is to get your baby bath tub ready. One option for bathing is to use a baby bathtub with a sling where you can choose to put the baby on the sling instead of fully in the bathtub. Then you can give them a sponge bath which is recommended by many for the first month. If you put them in the bath tub, make sure you are careful with the correct amount of water for your baby’s size – you probably only want to fill it up about 1/2 way for a new baby!
Now it is time to clean up your baby with the wash cloth a bit before putting them in the bath. You can wipe off the general areas around the face and neck with a washcloth and in her ear. You can also use a cotton swab on their face if needed – you may notice some gunk in their eyes. Use the body temperature water from the bath tub! Then you can put some water on their head to start rinsing off. For newborns, don’t use shampoo, but this is the time to wash the hair and then dry off with one of your towels.
Now you put the baby in the bath. Simply use your washcloth to wipe down the baby all around. You can feel free to lift them up slightly for their bottom. Mostly you want to have the baby sit up so you can wipe their back. Make sure to support their head while you are doing so! One tip is to keep a wet washcloth (with body temperature water) on top of the baby’s chest so that they are fully covered by the feel of the water.
Once you have finished bathing, take the baby out and put them on a towel on a soft area. Then put on their diaper. And you are done! This is a good time to spend some bonding time with your baby – talk to them and give them eye contact! You can see more details on YouTube or Instagram if you want a more visual description.
Skin and Nail Care
Newborns that are born on the later side are likely to have dry skin. You can use a natural coconut oil or hypoallergenic moisturizer to moisturize them daily. Make sure the moisturizer is baby approved!
Newborns often have a newborn rash, and that is totally normal and nothing to worry about. It will usually go away after a couple of weeks. If you are worried, you can check with your pediatrician, but they will know about this specific rash and will be looking out for it. You may also see small white bumps called Milia on the newborn’s skin. That is also expected and will go away after 6 months.
Baby nail clippers can be used to trim a baby’s nails, but it can be very difficult to use because they may be moving around a bit and it is hard to be precise with their nails. You can use a nail filer instead which should be fine to keep their nails smooth and short. If they are scratching their face a lot, then you might want to trim their nails!
Changing a Diaper
Start off by washing your hands. It’s a very sensitive area for a baby so make sure you are clean before starting! Try to change the baby when they are awake and ready to eat. You can expect to do this 6-10+ times a day. For a wet diaper, it might be OK to wait for the next feeding, but for a dirty diaper, make sure you change right away!
For baby boys, make sure the penis is pointing down into the diaper to avoid leaks and accidents. You don’t need to clean under the foreskin. You should talk to experts if you plan on a circumcision for more details on how to deal with a boy’s private areas.
For baby girls, make sure to clean from front to back to avoid an infection.
Similar to bathing, use cotton rounds/pads and a washcloth. For the first 6 weeks, you do not want to use baby wipes. There are some water wipes which may make the transition easier and might be easier to use than your wash cloth. Once the baby is 6 weeks old, you can use a traditional baby wipe. Don’t use any creams, ointments, or talc baby powders. Talc baby powders have been linked with cancer.
What To Expect In Dirty Diapers
The poop will look different every day for the first week. During the first couple of days will be the baby’s first poop which will be very dark and hard. This is expected as the newborn is expelling some elements from their body for the first time. As time goes on, the poop will get lighter and a bit wetter each time while they are learning to digest milk.
Changing A Diaper
Make sure you have bought the right size diaper for your baby. Most brands should be fine – see more in my baby diaper brands article: https://www.vezzick.com/what-are-the-best-newborn-baby-diaper-brands-of-2022/.
Get your new diaper unfolded and cotton/wash clothes/water wipes ready to go before moving on to the baby. Now undo your baby’s diaper and take a look at what the damage is. The dirtier it is, the more materials you might need. Fold the diaper down (you can wipe a bit with it).
You can wipe down the whole area. Once they are clean, you can simply slide the clean diaper under them (it can have been set up in the right orientation and unfolded already before hand!) Then fit back up the diaper. Make sure the diaper is snug because it is important to keep it form fitting to prevent leaks. Diapers are well designed with elastic to prevent from making the baby uncomfortable.
For a baby boy, you might want to put a wash cloth over him in order to prevent them from peeing on you while you are taking care of their diaper.
The class itself had videos for how to change a diaper, so you might want to hit YouTube or Instagram to get some more learning experience!
A childbirth class is important for mothers to be prepared for birth. It has been correlated with vaginal births and successful births. Most women who take the class say that it helps them make the right choices and helps them control their motherhood journey. It is important for peace of mind and maintaining mental stability during a period which can be filled with emotions and potential postpartum depression.
A childbirth class will go through what physical changes you will expect and what labor is like. It will go over when to go to the hospital and what to expect. It will prepare you for the possibility of a C-section which many women have to go through. It will go through the whole hospital journey and how to prepare. Other things covered include birthing positions and when to induce for labor.
The class will also go over the 4th trimester which is the first few weeks after you give birth. For more details during this time, there is also some details in this post: https://www.vezzick.com/free-first-6-weeks-at-home-with-a-newborn-baby-class-overview/.
Such a class will likely go over various safety procedures for your baby including baby CPR.
Umbilical Cord Care
Your newborn baby will have remnants of the umbilical cord after they are born. During birth you will detach the cord, but there will still be a bit remaining afterwards. This is not part of the baby, so you mostly just want to keep it dry and leave it alone until it comes out. You do not need to clean the cord, but try not to get it wet (which is why you may opt to do a sponge bath for the first bath until it falls off).
You should position the diaper under the cord so that the cord is next to the air and free to fall off. After about one week, the cord should naturally fall off. There is a rare chance of an infection or issue with the cord, so you can always contact your pediatrician if you are concerned. Look out for redness or infection, but again, this is very rare!
Does the hospital bathe the baby right away? They will typically wait the recommended 24 hours, but if you want them to not bathe the baby after that, make sure you request it!
Thoughts on cloth diapers? You will need a plastic snappy device which is used instead of a pin in order to attach the diaper well. You will probably need help from a cloth diaper expert on how to properly attach the diaper and use these.
How to use baby oils? Stay away from ones with smells or are not hypoallergenic. Avoid putting it on the baby’s face.
When would you use mittens? For sleeping, do not use mittens, you can use a sleeper that has something that folds over. Otherwise, just make sure their nails are filed down.
Pros and cons of delayed cord clamping? If you delay, the baby may get a bit more blood from the placenta before being independent and may make the transition into the real world a bit smoother. Different providers have different preferences, so communicate with your provider!
What makes an innie vs outie belly button? Nothing you do is known to control this
Any reason to save the cord stump? This is just for your collection, there is no medical use.
How to use baby shampoo? Make sure to rinse it off thoroughly. Most brands should be fine.
Are water wipes good from day 1? Yes
If I have twins or triplets, how do I bathe them? Bathe them one at a time and hopefully you have support to watch the other babies while you are bathing one of them.
Can the baby’s ears be in water while bathing? It should not be a problem to have some splashing, but generally you should not have the bath deep enough for their ears to be in the water.
Is it recommended to warm up the wipes? Usually not because it will accelerate their drying which will make them less useful.
How to deal with conflicting advice on baby care? This is going to happen for sure during your parenting journey. You have to use your intuition and your judgement sometimes – you know yourself and your baby the best. Every baby is different so you need to take every bit of advice and every story with a grain of salt and trust your gut sometimes.
Dressing Your Newborn Baby
The general rule is one layer more than you need. A typical outfit might be a onesie, a sleep suit, and a sweater. Avoid tights, dresses, jeans, etc. for the first 6 weeks. A baby will be comfier in a onesie during this time until they learn to turn in their sleep.
Make sure to wash your baby’s clothes in hypoallergenic laundry detergent that says “free and clear”. Baby detergent is not strictly needed but will meet these requirements. Read more here: https://www.vezzick.com/whats-the-deal-with-baby-detergent/.
How to Dress Your Baby
Check out some youtube videos to get more details!. Get the onesie over their head first, then you can pinch the sleeves to get them over their arms. You may lift the baby slightly to get the bottom through and then snap the bottom of the onesie.
Next is the sleepsuit. Place the baby on top of the sleeper. Cinch the sleeve and then put the baby’s arm through the hole and then stretch out the sleeve. Then simply pull the feet into the footies and zip up the suit! You can fold over the sleeves if desired to prevent scratching.
Then you may swaddle the baby. Place the swaddle with one corner folded down and place the baby into the triangle with the fold by their head. Bring over one side of the triangle and tuck it in under them. Then use the other end of the triangle to tuck in with their hands. Then wrap the rest of it around like building a burrito.
Safe Sleep – SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a big problem and still exists. Follow some of these tips to ensure your baby is sleeping safely.
Make sure your baby is alone. They should be in their own crib or bassinet, not sleeping with you. For twins or triplets, they should have their own sleeping area.
Babies should always sleep on their back.
The baby should share a room with you for the first few months which is typically when you may use a bassinet.
Make sure there is nothing hanging into the sleeping area so they do not get entangled with anything.
You should use a one piece sleeper. Do not use a blanket, pillow, bumper pads or stuffed animals, or generally anything soft that is not fit on them. You want a simple crib sheet that is tight over the mattress.
Bars on a crib shouldn’t be wider than a can of soda in order to ensure the baby does not get their limbs stuck in the gaps.
Do not fall asleep with your baby on the couch or in your bed. If you are noticing that you are getting tired, make sure to put the baby in their sleep area.
Make sure the temperature is 68-72 degrees F. Cold hands, feet, and noses is normal. To test their temperature, check their chest. You can always test their temperature with a thermometer that they are close to 97.7-99.5 F.
If your babies are born early or at a lower weight, you want to be extra careful with them.
It is OK to use a pacifier and may even be beneficial. Just make sure they are able to spit it out if needed.
Do not smoke around your baby!
Use a blanket that is appropriate for the season. Usually it is good for a light breathable blanket that has holes.
Make sure the baby is not swaddled too tight. Do not make the swaddle tight around the hips – swaddling has been shown to have development issues around the hips.
Keep the shoulders, head, and neck free.
Once a baby can roll you should no longer swaddle them.
When can you start tummy time? You can start right away, but do it on your belly until the umbilical cord stump falls off. This is a whole topic so you might want to do more research on how to progress on tummy time.
When can you take the baby outside? This is entirely up to the parents, some want to go out earlier and some later. Just keep them away from crowds.
What is the best baby monitor? There are a wide variety of baby monitors. The highest quality ones will track temperature, breathing and oxidization. But these are not strictly needed if your pediatrician sees no problems with your baby. So this is a judgement call for the parents on how safe they want to be.
How many outfits of each size do you need? Babies will be growing out of the newborn outfits, so perhaps 3-5 should be enough and they will quickly be using the next size.
Is it OK to use a pacifier? Yes. There is sometimes nipple confusion, so make sure to just get the nipples that are the recommended shape that prevents that (see the specific product you want’s details).
What to use when transitioning from swaddling? Do not use weighted sleep sacks or blankets!
Is it safe to use a used mattress? You have to judge each mattress specifically – they need to be firm, flat and clean.
How often should you wash baby sheets? Once a week should be fine (if they do not get them dirty before that!)
Can you wear hats during sleep time? No – they are a danger for SIDS
How long can a baby sleep in a bassinet? Roughly the first 4 months should be fine – when the baby can sit up and roll over.
How much clothes do we need? A baby will probably go through 2 outfits a day, so then judge that based on how often you want to do laundry (probably once or twice a week, so 7-14 outfits).
Can we add bumpers to the crib once the baby is older? It is still not recommended, it can lead to SIDS and let them climb out of the crib which is dangerous.
Recommended sleep sack brands? Do not get weighted sleep sacks!
Can you do tummy time on the bed? Typically you want to use a counter or floor. On a softer surface they do not have to work as hard to lift up their head which will counteract the purpose of tummy time.
Is a foam mattress safe for the crib? Your mattress needs to be approved by a specific government CPC seal, so check for that for your specific mattress.
How long to delay for delayed cord cutting? Typically it is a few minutes when the flow in the cord stops.
What do you think about the Snoo Bassinet? There is a lot of controversy around it. If you use it, you must use the recommendations they give you exactly, otherwise it may not be as safe an option.
Is it OK for a baby to nap in their own room? Yes, you need time to yourself too.
How to prevent a baby from choking in their sleep if they spit up? Make sure to burp them before they go to sleep.
How do I check if a product I bought is safe? CPSC.gov has recall lists and approval details.
This class was pretty useful because the video went over bathing, diaper changing, and more. Check out some of the baby products we recommend from the article below!