Caring for a Newborn: Tips for Parents
Jun 17, 2022 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Learning how to care for a newborn is an intuitive process, says Amy Grana, RN, who serves as a nurse educator in the Post-Partum Nursery and Lactation department at Cedars-Sinai.
"Even if you've had a child before, every baby is different and unique," Amy says. "No amount of reading or parenting classes can fully prepare you for a baby. I teach new parents how to go with the flow and learn along the way."
"Skin-to-skin and physical touch make your baby feel safe and secure, and build trust and connection with the parents,"
We asked Amy to give some tips for parents on how to care for a newborn:
Babies benefit from skin-to-skin contact, which helps the baby bond with both parents after birth.
"Skin-to-skin and physical touch make your baby feel safe and secure, and build trust and connection with the parents," Amy says. "Hearing the heartbeat makes the baby feel calm and cozy, and it helps them adapt to being outside of their mother's womb."
Fathers should also practice skin-to-skin with their newborn. If a baby is crying, it might mean that they are hungry, but it could also mean that they want to be held.
"Sometimes babies just want to be held, and one of the best ways to support that is skin-to-skin bonding with the parents," Amy says.
Everyone has a different technique for swaddling a baby, but the thing to remember is that you're not hurting the baby when you swaddle them tight.
"Sometimes parents don't want to make the baby cry or hurt the baby, so they'll swaddle their newborn too loose," Amy says. "However, you get better and tighter every time you do it. It's all about practice and feeling more comfortable with each swaddle."
We like to view newborns as tiny, precious and fragile little humans. But babies are a lot stronger and more resilient than we think, Amy says.
When it comes to burping, it's important to apply enough pressure with your hand so that the baby gives a full burp.
"Sometimes dads will lightly pat the baby's back with a little tap-tap, but we try to show parents how much pressure you should be putting there and encourage them to firmly pat the baby's back," Amy says.
The best technique is to have the baby swaddled when burping, which gives you more control.
"When burping your baby, cup your hand while patting," Amy says. "This is gentler on the baby than the flat hand, and then repeat gentle pats on the baby's back."
Babies love movement, especially bouncing. Moving and bouncing around mimics the feeling of being in utero, Amy says.
Along with movement, there are other techniques a parent can use to soothe their baby.
"In utero, babies recognize the voices of both parents," Amy says. "When dads and moms sing to their babies, or use soothing sounds, babies recognize that voice and are comforted by it."