It’s the middle of the night, your baby is crying, and you are scrolling through your phone trying to figure out this whole ‘parenting thing’.
Being a first-time parent can certainly be overwhelming.
Family and friends may not be the best source of information when it comes to parenting, with everyone feeling like an expert. Forums may be even more confusing with contradicting information from suspicious sources.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: whether it’s feeding, safety or hygiene related.
Here are all the commonly asked baby questions and answers. Everything you need to know in one place!
1. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
The first question on your first-time parent checklist is feeding the baby. The best indicator of a baby’s intake is a wet diaper. A newborn should wet between 5-6 diapers in a 24 hour period.
Weighted feeds are another great indicator of the babies intake. To do this, weigh the baby before and after a feeding to calculate the intake of the baby. A sunken soft spot on the baby’s head is also an indicator of dehydration. If you are concerned about your child’s intake, it’s always best to take them to the pediatrician.
2. Does formula have to be warm/room temperature, or can it be cold?
This is a typical parenting question to discuss. Guess what: there is no medical reason for the formula to be warm before giving it to the baby. It is largely believed that babies prefer warm formula, but no hard scientific research to back this.
A common misconception is that cold formula can lead to digestive issues with the baby. At the end of the day, formula can be given warm, room temperature or cold. If you do warm formula, always test it on the back of your hand to ensure it’s not too hot.
3. How many hours should my baby sleep in a day?
Newborns tend to sleep a lot in the first few days of their life. This will regulate as they get more aware of their surroundings. A typical newborn should get 16 – 17 hours of sleep.
As babies cannot connect sleep cycles you will see their sleep broken into several short naps and longer stretches of sleep. Ensure that day time naps are taken in well-lit rooms, while night time is significantly dark.
Regardless of breastfeeding or bottle feeding, a baby must eat every 3 – 4 hours, so try to plan your cycles around that.
4. Do babies have to have a bath every night?
Some parents prefer to bathe their baby every night as part of a routine. However, it’s not necessary to bathe a newborn every day. It is recommended to bathe a newborn 3 times a week. It is widely accepted that they do need a wipe-down more often than baths.
Newborns tend to spit up quite often or may have diaper accidents that will eventually lead to being cleaned up. Use minimal amounts of soap and follow up with baby lotion to prevent dry skin.
5. Is co-sleeping safe?
Co-sleeping has become popular among those who practice attachment parenting style. It is safe to co-sleep provided you follow the guidelines.
- Both parents should not be heavy sleepers.
- The sleeping surface should be free from pillows and thick duvets.
- The baby has abundant space to sleep safely.
- No gaps between cot and bed.
- Do not sleep in the same bed as your baby if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are concerned, you can always ask a midwife to check your sleeping arrangements to ensure it is safe.
6. How do I play with a newborn?
This is a very common question first time parents find themselves asking. Place the newborn in front of you and talk to them. Bring your face close to them and watch them as they try to make eye contact with you. It’s perfectly all right to simply set them down, watching whatever activity you are doing.
Giving massages are a great way for parents to bond. It is incredibly beneficial to the baby, helping with colic and relaxing them for bedtime.
7. Should I wash my newborn’s clothes separately?
Yes and no. If your baby has sensitive skin or your family has a history of sensitive skin, then it is best to wash clothes separately. Sleepsuits and onesies for newborns do tend to be delicate and hence washed on a gentle cycle.
The general consensus is that once you are knee deep in parenthood, trying to get through loads of laundry, you may not be so concerned.
8. How do I know if my baby is too hot or too cold?
The rule of thumb to follow with babies is to dress them one layer more than an adult. If a baby is too cold or too hot you will notice the baby showing discomfort. It is best to use a thermometer to determine body temperature.
Babies tend to have colder hands and feet due to low circulation. At all times ensure that baby blankets are secure around the baby. Avoid thick decorative blankets as they can come loose and become a suffocation hazard.
9. My baby makes some noises other than crying, is that normal?
Babies make a plethora of noises, not all of them indicate discomfort. Newborns tend to make little quirky noises, sometimes in their sleep or just before they wake up. These noises are not major indicators of the babies needs and are simply babies experimenting with their voice. Don’t be alarmed.
10. Should I wake up my baby for a feed?
Newborns tend to eat every 3-4 hours, so you’ll need to get those regular feeding in around the clock. Since their bellies are small, they cannot retain a lot of milk in one feeding.
It is acceptable to leave the baby to sleep an extra half an hour. However, a baby going long stretches without feeding can be a sign of weakness. It’s best to wake babies for feeds if your baby is extra sleepy during feeds.
11. Do I have to burp a baby after every feed?
It is imperative to burp a baby after every feed. It is also advised to burp a baby in-between feeds. If breastfeeding, burp a baby before shifting from one breast to the other. If the baby is bottle fed then burp the baby after half the bottle is consumed. This helps to ensure the baby has minimal gas ingested during feeds.
12. Do I have to sterilize bottles and lids after every feed?
Yes! Leftover milk in a bottle can lead to the growth of bacteria. Since formula and breast milk are both high in fat, they can be tricky to clean. Sterilizing bottles ensures that the baby is not exposed to unnecessary infections. Sterilizing tablets can be a quick way to sterilize bottles on the go.
13. Do I have to sterilize breast pump parts after every feed?
Just like with bottles, breast pumps also need to be sterilized after every pumping session. Breast pumps have several small parts and tubing that needs to be cleaned thoroughly to reduce the risk of infection in the newborn. Milk catchers are a great alternative to hand pumps as they have fewer parts to sterilize.
14. Am I wearing my baby properly?
Baby wrapping and baby wearing has become quite popular. A new wrap or carrier seems to be emerging daily in the market. Each having its own unique catch, it can be overwhelming for new parents. There are various Facebook groups dedicated to showing new parents the correct and safest way to wear your baby.
A quick tip for new parents: always ensure that your baby can be easily kissed on the forehead when being carried.
15. Is the witching hour real?
Yes! The witching hour is referred to the period between 5 pm – 11 pm when the baby is fussy. It is usually linked with colic pain but there is no explanation. During this time the child may be inconsolable. Though it is normal it can be quite frightening for first-time parents.
Comfort the baby with gentle swaying, swaddling, and singing. You can even try the Five S Method. However, they should not last more than an hour. If baby seems to be in discomfort for 3 + hours it is best to see a doctor.
Sometimes in the age of search engines, baby books, and Facebook groups, we forget that parenting comes naturally. As a first-time parent, trust your instinct with your baby.
The first time you hold your baby you will realize what feels right and what feels wrong. When in doubt it is best to speak to an expert. Newborns usually have growth checks in the first few weeks. Make a list of questions to ask your pediatrician during appointments. Support groups such a Le Leche League help with queries related to breastfeeding.