What Every First-Time Parent Should Know

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Congratulations, you’re going to be a new parent! Now, take a long, deep breath, because you’re also going to be in for the most rewarding rollercoaster of a lifetime. Whether you’re a pregnant mama enthusiastically deciphering new parenting jargon, or a worried mum-to-be, panicking at the thought of being responsible for another life in less than 9 months, we’ve got you. Read on for practical advice from experts and seasoned parents, to help you prepare for the early days as a first-time parent:

5 Things to Remember about Newborns

1. Brace yourselves for the crying

Bawling babies are a given, especially during those early months when crying is the only way a baby can communicate their needs. Experts suggest trying different soothing techniques and keeping a record of when and for how long your baby cries, to identify patterns and discern their requirements. If your baby cries excessively or inconsolably without any discernible reason however, this can be a sign that they might be unwell, or colicky -speak to your baby’s paediatrician or seek medical attention, if so. 

Tip: If you feel overwhelmed by your crying baby, remember that it’s perfectly fine to leave them in a safe place (such as a cot) for a few minutes, to enable you to step back and collect yourself.

2. Newborns grow very, very fast

It can be tempting to buy everything in the baby store for your precious little newborn, but seasoned parents know better! It’s likely that the adorable RM200 onesie you’ve been eyeing may be worn just once or twice before it’s thrown into the storage cupboard.

Tip: Indulge in one or two splurges, accept hand-me-downs from friends, and shop for preloved items, especially when it comes to clothes.

3. Take care of yourselves 

It’s normal to jump into the fray of attending to your newborn – but remember to also think about the mama who just went through pregnancy and labour! Postpartum depression and anxiety are common, and it’s crucial to prioritise your mental health throughout this process too. 

Tip: Look for a parenting support group before your baby arrives, and don’t be afraid of reaching out for help when you need it. Create a mental health postpartum plan with your partner. This can include a list of people to call for help, meal prep options, and a schedule for self-care activities.

4. Keep sleeping time safe

There may be nothing cuter than a peaceful baby fast asleep, all snuggled up between blankets and pillows – but this is not recommended for babies below one years old. Create a safe sleep environment to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Place your baby on their back and in their own cot by themselves, use a firm flat surface with a tightly fitted sheet, and remove everything from the sleep area, including bumper cots and beddings.

Tip: Swaddling can be introduced for that warm and snuggly feel, if you’re worried your newborn will get cold at night. However, as soon as your baby show signs of rolling over, transition away from swaddling. For more newborn sleep tips and tricks, read our earlier article

5. Search engines don’t have all the answers

Google may often appear to be the all-knowing source of answers to those countless new mum and baby questions. But remember that there is no one-size-fits-all, “correct” way of parenting. Have fun learning what works for your unique family, and enjoy the little wins along the way!

Tip: The perfect parent doesn’t exist, so treat yourself with compassion and kindness and give yourself time to learn together with your child. Make sure to equip yourself with the basic caretaking skills that are medically recommended for the first few months of your child’s life.

4 Baby Care Skills You Should Know

1. Umbilical Cord Care

Your baby’s cord stump will usually stay attached for 5 to 15 days. Over this time, the cord will dry, shrink, turn black (it will look like a tiny, shrivelled up raisin) and eventually fall off. Don’t pull the cord stump off, even if it looks like it will come off easily – just let nature take its course!

Tip: Use water and cotton swabs (or pads) to clean the stump, and dry it carefully. Suzuran Baby’s Antibacterial Cotton Swab, with its ultra-thin pure cotton tip, helps to make cleaning this delicate area a much gentler experience for your baby. If urine or faeces gets on the stump, you can use mild soap to help clean it off. Let the cord sit out of the nappy so it dries out in the air, and don’t cover the cord stump with plasters, as this stops airflow around the stump.

2. Oral Health

It’s important to start practicing good oral hygiene for your infant, even before their first tooth comes in. This is because bacteria and germs can still accumulate in their mouth, which may cause gum disease and tooth decay in the future. Furthermore, your bubs will not produce as much saliva in the first few months, making it harder for their little mouths to naturally wash away milk residue. 

Tip: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wiping your baby’s gums twice a day after feeding; once in the morning after the first feed, and another right before bedtime, to wipe away cavity-causing bacteria and sugars. By cleaning your baby’s gums, you will also be able to help ease teething discomfort, while getting them used to the feeling of having their mouth cleaned. This will make the transition to toothbrushing much smoother in future (trust us, it’s worth it!), and establish the foundations of good dental habits.

Make sure a clean washcloth is being used, or try using Suzuran Baby’s Wet Cleaning Cotton, which is made from Japan medical grade cotton and 100% purified water, and is safe to use for newborns from birth onwards. The cotton is convenient and hygienic, having been sterilised at 121°C under high steam pressure before being individually packed, so you can clean your baby’s gums easily anywhere.

3. Diapering

Newborns can go through 8 to 12 diapers a day, so make sure you have plenty of diapers on hand. That being said, every baby has their unique body structure, so do refrain from investing in a carload of newborn diaper deals before you pop! What works well for one baby might end up in a diaper disaster situation for another. Try out different brands first to find out what works best (here’s a handy little tip: baby exhibitions are full of free diaper samples!). 

To prevent diaper rash, you will need to change your baby’s diapers regularly. An easy way to keep your baby’s bottom dry and comfortable is to change their nappies before or after every feed, and whenever your baby has had a poo. 

Tip: Use a diaper ointment with zinc oxide to prevent and heal rashes. If your baby has severe diaper rash, layer it on like you are frosting a cake. There is no need to remove the cream with each diaper change- simply fully remove it at the end of the day.

4. Bath Time

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends bathing your baby only after 24 hours of birth. This is to protect their delicate skin, encourage bonding and breastfeeding, and maintain their body temperature and blood sugar levels. Newborn babies also do not need to be bathed every day, as it can strip their skin of natural oils and cause dryness or irritation. 

Tip: Give your newborn a bath only 2 to 3 times a week, until he or she becomes more mobile. A quick ‘top and tail’ clean will do for the other days is alright, where only certain parts of your baby are wiped, preferably with a gentle washcloth such as Suzuran Baby’s reusable and lightweight cotton Gauze Handkerchief. This handkerchief is is highly absorbent, breathable and quick-drying, with a larger surface designed to keep the little ones mess-free.

As you eagerly await the arrival of your baby, know that the journey of parenthood will be full of ups and downs; every experience is an opportunity to grow and become a better parent. It’s going to be an amazing journey ahead with your little bundle of joy  #makchicmumsquad – congratulations and remember: you’ve got this!

This is a sponsored post by Suzuran Baby, a Japanese brand offering 100% pure cotton and plant-based antibacterial essentials for your newborn’s delicate skin and health.  Check out their range of baby products that are gentle and non-allergenic, such as the multifunctional  Wet Cleaning Cotton that are perfect as baby oral wipes. Purchase 5 Suzuran Baby Wet Cleaning Cotton packs for RM195,  get 1 pack free, and save 17%!

Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.