5 Common Questions from New Parents Answered!
Babies. Despite being so small and cute, they’re a complex species and unfortunately, they don’t come with an instruction manual.
As a new parent, it can be scary in those first few days, weeks and months to know if you’re doing the right thing. It’s important to trust your gut – remember, mum knows best!
It can be all too tempting to google the answers to the burning questions you have. But there’s so much conflicting information out there, how do you know what’s right? You don’t have time to sift through every webpage and analyse all the facts.
Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are the answers to five of the most common questions from new parents. You can thank us later!
5 Common Questions From New Parents: #1 How long should I breastfeed for each time?
Every baby is different. Some babies like to feed little and often, while others prefer longer feeds or a mixture of both.
A newborn baby's stomach is only the size of a walnut, so they need frequent small feeds. Try to watch out for your baby's cues – like opening and closing their mouth, putting their fist to their mouth and moving their head towards your breasts (rooting) – and respond to them.
As a general rule, you should let your baby finish the first breast and then offer the other.
Try not to rush your baby when they’re having milk. It can be frustrating if they’re feeding for a long time and you feel like you have a million and one things to do, but relax. The chores can wait. Grab a book or your phone and get comfortable. This phase won’t last forever, and you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
Let’s face it, you’d rather be chilling out and bonding with your little one than doing the washing, right? Remember, breastfeeding isn’t just about your baby getting enough milk. It’s also often about them getting comfort and reassurance, too. Plus, the more you feed, the more milk you’ll produce.
Don’t worry, you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby, and your baby won’t become spoilt or demanding if you feed them whenever they’re hungry or need comfort.
If you’re worried about your baby feeding all the time, speak to your midwife or health visitor.
Should I wake my baby for a feed?
Let’s continue our list of common questions from new parents!
Should you wake baby for a feed?
It can go against your natural instinct to wake a sleeping baby, especially as it’s nice to finally have some peace. After all, sleep is a precious resource when you’re a new parent.
However, it’s important to do so during the early stages – for your baby’s health and your milk supply (if you’re breastfeeding).
Newborns should be feeding every three to four hours, until they show a good weight gain, which usually happens in the first few weeks. After that, it’s okay to let your baby sleep for longer periods.
Babies digest breast milk quicker and easier than formula. This means a breastfed baby has a physiological need to feed roughly every two to three hours, while a formula-fed baby can go three to four hours between feeds during the first month.
Your baby will probably wake up when they’re hungry, but if they’ve slept for more than four hours, gently wake them and offer some milk.
5 Common Questions from New Parents: #2 How do I clean my baby’s umbilical cord?
The best way to clean a baby’s umbilical cord is with a sponge bath. Simply get a cloth or a cotton pad and dip it in some warm water, then gently dab around the stump.
While there’s no harm in getting the umbilical cord wet, stick to giving your baby shallow sponge baths and be careful not to immerse the stump in water until it falls off and your baby’s belly button heals.
A baby’s umbilical cord usually dries out and falls off by itself after a couple of weeks. Try to keep the stump dry as much as possible. Exposing it to air can help dry out the base, so fold your baby’s nappy down so it doesn’t cover the stump.
As the cord heals, it’s common to see a little blood around the stump. And like a scab, it may bleed a little when the stump falls off.
If you notice any pus or redness around the umbilical cord, this may be a sign of an infection so it’s important to get this checked out and stop the infection from spreading.
If your baby’s umbilical cord hasn’t fallen off after three weeks, contact your health visitor as there may be an underlying problem.
Don’t be tempted to pull the stump off yourself.
Why is my baby crying?
In the list of most common questions from new parents, this has to be the most common one!
Babies cry. A lot. It’s because they can’t communicate in any other way. While it can be stressful to hear your baby cry and not know what they need, it’s usually one of the following reasons:
- Dirty nappy
- Too hot or too cold
- They want a cuddle
- They’re in pain or unwell
Of course, it depends on the situation, and it may be obvious when you pick up your baby as to what they need. If it’s not so clear, first check your baby’s nappy and change them if it’s wet or dirty.
Give them a cuddle and if you’re breastfeeding, let them suckle at your breast.
Check their temperature if you think they may be unwell and don’t be afraid to seek medical attention if you’re concerned.
There may be times when you feel you can’t cope with anymore crying, and that’s ok. It happens a lot to new parents.
If it’s safe to do so, put your baby down in their cot, just for a few minutes, and leave the room to try and calm yourself down. If you can, ask your partner or other family member to look after your little one while you take a break. It’s important to ask for help if you need it.
What is colic and can I treat it?
Colic is when a baby cries uncontrollably for no obvious reason. They may cry more often in the afternoon and evening. They might also show the following symptoms while they’re crying:
- Clenching their fists
- Turning red in the face
- Bringing their knees up to their chest
- They have wind or their tummy rumbles
Try soothing your baby by giving them a cuddle or rocking them in their Moses basket or pram.
Keep feeding your baby as usual, and when feeding them, sit or hold them upright to prevent them from swallowing air. Wind your baby after feeds and rock them over your shoulder.
You could also try anti-colic drops, herbal or probiotic supplements, or cranial osteopathy.
Colic shouldn’t last for more than three to four months. If you’re worried, speak to your health visitor or GP.
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