Newborn Basic Cares

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Diaper Changing

New parents often find changing diapers for the first time to be a daunting task. Not to worry, you will soon be a professional diaper wrangler. Here are the basic steps to help get you on the right track. You can also practice by following along with this video.

  1. Wash your hands (this may seem odd, but you don’t want to risk giving your baby a rash or irritation from contaminants on your hands)
  2. Place your baby on a safe surface
  3. Remove your baby’s diaper and clean the area with wipes/soft cloth and water (always wipe from front to back)
  4. Fold the dirty diaper in on itself, securing it with the waist strips, and place it out of reach of the baby
  5. Replace a fresh diaper and apply creams if needed
  6. Fasten the diaper (in front of the baby)
  7. Dress the baby
  8. Throw away diaper and wash hands (making sure baby is in a safe location)
  9. If needed, clean the changing area surface (when soiled or wet with urine)

Some babies need cream to prevent diaper rash. The best creams are zinc or petroleum-based. Both types of cream work to prevent dampness from coming in contact with the baby’s skin, preventing rash.

How many diapers are normal?

Day’s Old Urine Diapers Stool Diapers Stool Colour
Day 1 1 1 Black meconium
Day 2 2 2 Black meconium
Day 3 3 3 Dark green/brown
Day 4 4 3-4 Mixed green/yellow
Day 5 5-6 At least 3 large, or 5+ small Yellow
Day 6 6+ At least 3 large, or 6+ small Yellow

As part of the Newborn Screening Program, you will be given a card with normal and abnormal stool colours. This screening card is to help indicate babies who might be at risk for Biliary Atresia, a rare condition impacting the liver and bile ducts.

Bathing Your Baby

Babies only need to be bathed 2 to 3 times per week for the first few months of life. Additional baths may be necessary if the baby becomes covered in milk/spit up or there is stool leakage from the diaper. Baths can be given in a variety of locations including a large sink, shallow baby bath basin or with a parent in a large bathtub. Babies should never be left unsupervised when near or in water. Listed below are the basic steps of bathing to help get started. You can also practice by following along with this video.

  1. Gather all your supplies including a baby bath basin, baby towel, fragrance free gentle soap, wash cloth, cotton balls for eyes, optional water thermometer, diaper and a change of clothes for baby.
  2. Fill the bath with a few inches of water. The recommended temperature range is between 36.5-37.5 degrees C.
  3. Begin the bath by washing the baby’s hair, face and neck. Then moving down the body naturally. Ensure to wipe inside all creases to prevent build up and resulting rashes.
  4. Holding the baby securely, lift out of the bath and wrap the baby tightly in a towel to prevent a drop in body temperature.
  5. Dry the bay thoroughly.
  6. Immediately, diaper and dress the baby. Many babies like to have snuggles or a feed after bath time.


Baby Body Temperature

Newborn babies have difficulty maintaining a stable body temperature on their own. Therefore, it is important to make sure they are dressed in enough layers for the temperature of their environment. The general recommendation is for babies to wear one more layer than you are comfortable wearing. Doing lots of skin-to-skin time can also aid babies in temperature regulation. To do a quick temperature check, place your hand on your baby’s chest or upper back. If they feel hot remove a layer and check again in 30 minutes. If your baby feels cold add a layer or do skin-to-skin and check again in 30 minutes. Baby’s hands and feet are usually cool for the first few days, meaning they are not an accurate indicator of a baby’s temperature. The most accurate way to measure a baby’s temperature is under their armpit with a thermometer. The normal temperature for a newborn is 36.5 to 37.5 degrees C. If your baby has a temperature over 38.0 degrees C please page your midwife.


Safe Sleep

It is very important for your baby to sleep in a safe environment. The following are the current recommendations for practicing safe sleep with your baby.

  • Put baby on back to sleep
  • Ensure crib/bassinet meets Canadian regulations
  • Use firm mattress
  • Use tight-fitting sheet
  • Do NOT use: bumper pads, comforters, pillows, stuffed toys or any other soft items in the baby’s sleep environment
  • Dress baby in diaper and fitted layer of sleepwear
  • Do NOT smoke in the home/sleep environment of the baby
  • Check the room temperature is at a comfortable level
  • Share the same room as the baby until at least 6 months
  • Co-sleeping is NOT recommended

Newborn babies have very irregular sleep patterns. However, they will sleep in total of 16-18 hours in a 24-hour day. As babies get older they will have more awake and interactive time. Following is the general guide to baby sleep quantity:

  • Birth to 2 months: 16-18 hours
  • 2 months to 6 months: 14-16 hours
  • 6 months to 1 year: 13-15 hours

Remembering the Safe Sleep recommendations at all times is the best way to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in babies.


Umbilical Cord Care

The umbilical cord stump left attached to your baby’s abdomen will slowly dry and fall off within 5 to 14 days after birth. The most important thing to remember with umbilical cord care is to leave the cord alone. Following the steps below will aid in the stump drying quickly and falling off when ready.

  1. Keep the stump dry and exposed to air when possible. Always keep your baby’s diaper folded under the umbilical cord until completely healed.
  2. Do NOT use rubbing alcohol on the umbilical cord. This kills good bacteria which help in the drying and detachment process.
  3. If urine or stool gets on the cord, it is fine to clean the cord. However, do not submerge the cord in water.
  4. Use sponge baths until the cord has fallen off.
  5. Let the stump fall off on its own. Do not pull the stump off.

It is normal for the cord to have a mild odor when drying and detaching. After detachment the umbilical area may have a bit of blood or white left inside. This is not infection, it is part of the normal healing process. Infection of the umbilical area generally presents with redness starting at the umbilical area and spreading onto the baby’s abdomen. If infection is present the baby may also have a fever. Please page your midwife with concerns of infection.