Bringing home a newborn is an exciting and overwhelming time for any parent. It’s a time filled with sleepless nights, endless feedings, and constant nappy changes. As a new parent, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you bring your baby home for the first time. They don’t come with an instruction book, and despite what people say, their cry never sounded any different to me, whether they had a full nappy or were hungry!
I have so much experience working with newborns and speak to new parents all the time in my home portrait studio, so I’ve picked up lots of tips over the years. In this blog, I’ll share some essential tips that I’ve picked up on what to expect and how to care for your newborn during this special time.
Newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours, which means you’ll be feeding your little one around the clock. Whether you’re breastfeeding or using formula, it’s important to make sure your baby is getting enough nutrients to grow and thrive. In the first few weeks, your baby’s stomach is very small, so they will need frequent feedings to stay full and satisfied. When you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll still have a connection with the doctors or midwifes until your baby regains the weight they lose in the first couple of days after delivery. They are a fantastic source of information on feeding and will also be able to sign you up for support services – particularly for breastfeeding issues.
Newborns sleep for most of the day, typically around 16-17 hours in a 24-hour period. This is one of the reasons that newborn sessions are usually scheduled for the first two weeks after your baby arrives. After two weeks, newborns generally become more alert and start to stay awake a little longer. Although newborns do sleep for long periods, it’s definitely not in long stretches, so it can be difficult to believe they sleep for long periods! Newborns wake up frequently for feedings, nappy changes, and cuddles. It’s important to create a safe sleep environment for your baby, such as placing them on their back in a crib or moses basket with a firm mattress and fitted sheet. Avoid having toys or loose blankets in their sleeping space.
Expect to change around 10-12 diapers a day in the first few weeks! You’ll want to decide if you’re going to use disposable or reusable diapers. Cloth diapers have really advanced over the last ten years and are a brilliant eco friendly choice. You can find out more about choosing cloth diapers here. Either way, you’ll need to make sure you have a stock of diapers, wipes (again, there are tons of eco-friendly options, including washable/reusable wipes], and diaper or barrier cream on hand. It’s important to keep your baby as dry as possible to avoid diaper rash, which can be very uncomfortable for your baby.
Bathing your newborn can be nerve-wracking, but it’s important to keep them clean and comfortable. In the first few days, you won’t need to bathe your baby, but instead, you’ll give them a top and bottom wash using flannels or cotton wool. Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will need to be kept clean until it falls off (typically around 1-2 weeks old). Many babies who come to me for newborn sessions still have their cord stump attached – it just shows how new they are! The American Academy of Dermatology has some really useful tips for bathing your baby, including a really helpful video here.
Bonding with your baby is crucial in the first few weeks. Spend time cuddling, talking, and singing to your baby. Skin-to-skin contact is also important for bonding and can help regulate your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and breathing. These bonding moments are beautiful to capture as images. Take selfies and ask your partner or family to capture these precious moments for you.
Ask for Help
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of a newborn can be exhausting, and it’s important to take care of yourself as well. Everything seems a million times harder or worse at 3 in the morning when you’re sleep deprived! Ask friends and family for help with meals, cleaning, or watching your baby while you take a nap.
Caring for a newborn in the first few weeks can be challenging, but it’s also a special and rewarding time. It’s a time that’s fleeting, so take lots and lots of photographs and videos. And remember to get in those photographs yourself. You’ll soon find your rhythm and enjoy this precious time with your newborn.
If you’d like to book a newborn session to capture this precious time for you and your family, get in touch.