Baby Care Guide for First-Time Parents: Answering Your Most Important Questions

To be honest, first-time parenthood can seem overwhelming. From feeding and sleeping to bathing and soothing, there's a lot that comes with caring for your newborn baby. To help put your mind at ease, we've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about baby care, and we have provided practical answers to help put you through.
Q: How can I get my baby on a routine?  
A: In those first few months, establishing some predictability can benefit both you and your baby. While allowing for flexibility, aim to keep feeding times, naps, and bedtime around the same times each day. Babies thrive on routine and consistency, which can help them sleep better and feel more secure. Just don't get too flustered if things don't go exactly to plan – that's parenting.
Q: What's the proper way to swaddle a baby?  
A: Swaddling replicates the cozy, comforting confines of the womb and can be very soothing for newborns. To swaddle safely: spread out a thin blanket; place your baby face-up towards the top corner; straighten their right arm, wrap the right corner over their body and tuck it beneath them; then straighten their left arm and pull the left corner across their body, folding or twisting to make a snug bundle. Stop swaddling once your baby shows signs of trying to roll over.
Q: How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
A: With breastfeeding, you'll want to watch for signs that your baby is drinking well, like hearing swallowing sounds, seeing jaw movements and allowing the breast to drain fully. Your baby should seem satisfied after feeding, and have 6-8 heavy wet nappies per day. Your baby should also be gaining weight appropriately. If bottle-feeding, pay attention to how many ounces your baby takes in. In general, newborns need around 25-35 oz (750-1000 ml) per day. Your healthcare provider can advise on appropriate intake as your baby grows.
Q: My baby seems colicky and cries inconsolably at times. What could be causing this?
A: Colic or excessive crying is common in babies, often starting around 2-3 weeks old and peaking at 6 weeks. While frustrating, it's normal and temporary. Some potential reasons include gas, overstimulation, hunger, or just needing comfort. To soothe, try baby massage, motion with rocking/wearing, skin-to-skin contact, pacifiers or white noise. If crying goes on for hours or your baby won't calm, consult your doctor to rule out any illness. 
Q: What are signs that my baby is ill?
A: It can be difficult to tell if an unsettled baby is just fussy or potentially ill. Signs that could indicate illness include a rectal temperature over 38°C, persistent crying or irritability, difficulty feeding, rapid breathing, unusual rashes, persistent vomiting/diarrhoea, or seeming unusually tired with no interest in activities. Trust your instincts — if your baby seems seriously unwell, seek medical attention promptly.
Q: When should my baby's first checkup and vaccinations happen?
A: Your baby should have their first examination with your GP around 6-8 weeks old. This appointment allows your doctor to evaluate your newborn's growth, development, weight gain, and give any recommended vaccinations or screening tests. In the UK, the 8-week vaccines include the 6-in-1 vaccine (for diphtheria, hepatitis B, Hib, polio, tetanus and whooping cough) as well as vaccines for rotavirus, meningitis B and pneumonia. Stay on schedule with check-ups and immunisations to protect your baby's health.
Q: How do I properly bathe my baby?
A: Bathing must be done carefully: First, have everything you need within reach – baby tub/sink with 2-3 inches of warm water, towels, soap, clean clothes. Undress your baby and place them in the water, supporting their head and neck fully. Use just a little plain water or mild baby soap. Scoop water gently over their body. Never leave them unattended! After 5-10 minutes, lift them out and wrap snugly in a towel to dry. Stick to sponge baths for the first week or two. 
Q: Why is tummy time important for babies? 
A: Tummy time is critical for strengthening your baby's neck, back and shoulder muscles, as well as aiding motor skills and preventing flat head syndrome. Start around 1 week old with short, supervised tummy time sessions of 3-5 minutes per day once your baby's umbilical cord has fallen off. Use a blanket on the floor and put a toy or your face in front of them to keep them engaged. Gradually increase time as your baby gets stronger.
Q: Is it okay to use baby wipes for cleaning, or just for nappy changes?
A: Baby wipes can definitely do double duty! While largely intended for cleaning up nappy messes, their gentle, moisturized formulas can also be used to wipe down other areas like hands, face and neck after mealtimes. Just avoid using wipes around your baby's eyes. For a more thorough clean, stick to a warm washcloth and water.
Q: When should I start offering a pacifier? 
A: Most experts recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established, around 3-4 weeks old, before introducing a pacifier. Using one too early could potentially cause nipple confusion. Once feeding is going smoothly, a pacifier can help soothe your baby and fulfill their sucking needs between meals. Look for orthodontic styles designed to reduce tooth misalignment. 
Q: How can I help my baby sleep through the night?
A: Developing good sleep habits takes time, but a consistent bedtime routine can help, like bathing, massage, lullabies and a calming sleep environment. Ensure your baby is well-fed before putting down to sleep. Follow safe sleep guidelines around room temperature, approved sleepwear and firm mattress. Following safe sleep practices for your baby is crucial. Always put your baby to sleep alone, on their back, on a firm mattress with just a fitted sheet - no blankets, stuffed animals or sleep positioners in the crib or cot. Some babies sleep better with white noise or swaddling. Be patient. By 6 months, most babies can sleep for longer stretches.
First-time parenthood will inevitably come with its share of worries and uncertainties, but there are also many priceless moments. If you ever have pressing questions or concerns about your baby's health or well-being, don't hesitate to reach out to medical professionals for advice and reassurance. Trust your instincts, cherish the milestones, and soon enough, it will become second nature.
P.S.: Proper baby care also entails providing your baby with the perfect crib and cot, good clothing, accessories and bedding, as well as an impeccable nursery space that will provide them an environment to grow and develop. You can get all these and much more in one place when you visit our showroom at 408 King's Road, Chelsea, London, SW10 0LJ. Better still, you can take advantage of our virtual concierge service to access our collection of products and services from wherever you are in the world. In doing so, you make the first steps to having a relatively seamless baby care experience.
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