Newborn care for partners can prove to be a daunting task. There are hundreds of helpful articles out there for newborn care but as we have perused them we’ve found they tend to come up short when it comes to helping partners! The incredible partners we have worked with want to be actively involved in the care of their babies but sometimes just don’t know what to do.
No worries, partners. We’re here for you too.
It’s okay to not know everything. Nobody does. We’re here with a few basics but remember that it’s important for you to develop your own style. Once you’ve nailed the safety stuff, all the rest is up to you.
Basic Sleep Safety
When it comes to the safety of your baby, this is a big one. Babies spend lots of their time sleeping, often when you’re sleeping as well. Ensuring your baby is safe is obviously a big deal. Luckily, creating a safe sleep space is easy!
Put your baby to sleep on their back. If you are swaddling, make sure the swaddle is tight and won’t come undone through any little wiggles and movement. Make sure where they are sleeping is a firm, flat surfaces like a crib or bassinet and clear this surface of any other objects. Basically, all you need is a baby, a safe bed, and sometimes a swaddle!
The most important thing to remember is that sleep surfaces that are over 10 degrees inclined aren’t safe for your baby. Never let baby sleep unattended in a swing or bouncer. Your baby also shouldn’t sleep in a car seat outside of the car as the base changes the angle. Rock n Plays have been recalled, but if you happen to have one this is also not a safe sleep space. The risk is positional asphyxiation and can happen even when a caregiver is in the room.
Sometimes well-meaning parents try to elevate their baby’s sleep surface due to what they believe to be Infant Reflux. Is baby spitting up quite a bit? Here are some reasons why that could be happening. Always be sure to work closely with your pediatrician to evaluate health issues.
Speaking of swaddling, have you practiced on a doll or stuffed animal yet? A great way to become a pro is to practice, practice, practice. A popular option is a swaddle sack that is as quick and easy as zip, wrap, wrap! No matter what, always make sure the swaddle is tight! Loose swaddles can allow baby to get their hands out and startle themselves awake. They can also come undone and pose a safety risk to the baby. Remember, tight just like a little burrito. [LINK TO SWADDLE DIAGRAM]
Tips for a Smooth Diaper Change
Diaper changes are another one of those skills you just have to develop. It seems very simple! Unhook diaper, wipe clean, add a new diaper. In practice, however, it could be a whole other thing. Wiggly babies can make it hard to get a diaper on quick enough to avoid an accident. To make your diaper change as smooth as possible, try opening the new diaper before taking off the old one and keeping everything you need nearby. A portable diaper caddy can make this super easy.
Make sure if you’re changing the baby on an elevated surface like a bed or changing table that one hand remains on them always. They can roll at any moment! If you must pause after taking off the dirty diaper, place a wipe over your baby between their legs to help avoid any unexpected sprays! Fasten the diaper firmly, making sure there’s a bit of room but not too much to avoid leaks. Remember, you’ll be an old pro in no time.
When bathing your baby you have a few options. Some parents like to get baby baths that fit their kitchen sinks for easy access. Some prefer tubs that sit in the bathtub, and some even get into the bath with their baby until they’re big enough to sit up on their own. No matter what you decide there are a few key things to remember. Baby shouldn’t be submerged until their umbilical cord is healed, so a quick wipe with a wet washcloth is perfect. After that, make sure you never leave the baby unattended in the bath. Grab your washcloth and gentle soap before you put the baby in so you don’t have to scoop up a dripping wet little one and go find them. Keep your baby’s head above water at all times and try to avoid pouring water on little faces as well.
Bathwater should be between 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. An easy way to measure this is to stick your arm in. It shouldn’t feel cold or hot, but maybe slightly warm to the touch. This thermometer is great if you need reassurance! It floats and even alarms if the water is too hot.
For partners wanting to be involved in the care of their babies, it seems there just aren’t enough quick and simple resources out there. Caring for your baby doesn’t have to be stressful and you don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia to do it! Keep in mind a few very important safety rules and then just have some fun. Talk to your baby while you change them! Play with them while you put on fresh clothes. Sing a little song while you’re gently washing their hair. Figure out your own special tricks. Some things won’t work, but that’s the beauty of parenting. When something doesn’t work all you have to do is listen to your baby and try something new.