Having a baby is one of the most life changing experiences a parent will ever have. Here’s the essential parenting guide new parents need for navigating baby’s first six weeks …
Midwife and maternal health expert Cath Curtin knows plenty about babies. She has been a nurse and midwife for more than 40 years, and has even delivered a few celebrity babies, including media personality Rebecca Judd and AFL star Chris Judd’s babies, newborn Billie and Oscar, 2. Cath has also just released her essential parenting guide, The First Six Weeks, which is filled with wisdom and practical advice for parents. Here, the Aussie newborn guru shares her five top tips for baby’s first six weeks.
Feed Your Baby
OK this one goes without saying. But not all babies are born the same when it comes to how much daily milk they guzzle. “Some babies are born little, some babies and born big, but all babies are hungry,” explains Cath. “They need to be fed. You cannot overfeed a baby but you can underfeed a baby. I’ve seen far too many babies who have been underfed and diagnosed with colic, reflux and allergies, with professionals telling their mothers they have an ‘incorrect latch.’ In many cases they just need some extra food and 20 to 30mls of formula, in addition to breastfeeding, may satisfy their hunger. A hungry baby does not sleep and in most cases, the crying baby is just hungry. Ignore Google and girlfriends and feed him!”
Wrap Your Baby For All Feeds & Sleep
Swaddling is big on the baby agenda for good reason. Babies love it as it mimics the way they developed in utero. “When a baby is in utero he is firmly surrounded by the uterine wall, which provides resistance when he moves,” explains Cath. “The baby is born with primitive reflexes and once born needs those reflexes to be contained by the simple and ageless process of wrapping. The use of a large light wrap will keep your baby feeling safe and secure for feeding and sleeping. Do not use sleeping bags – just a large, soft, lightweight muslin wrap that is at least 1.2 x 1.4 metres. I wrap babies for all feeds and sleep from birth until the baby is six months old or until the Moro or startle reflex has settled. Babies do not like their arms wrapped by their sides and will fight the wrap so wrap with his hands and arms bent up.”
Bath Your Newborn At 10pm Every Night
You’ll hear people telling you to develop a routine, but when should you schedule the essentials? “The worst time to bath a newborn baby is 6pm as the bath relaxes the baby, and I want the newborn baby to start sleeping his long stretch of sleep time after 11 pm,” warns Cath. “My advice is to bath the baby at around 10 pm every night. Some professionals advise new parents to bath their baby ever second day or only once a week but the bath is the beginning of a routine that lasts a lifetime. I suggest that your partner does the bathing, with the mother going to bed at 9.30 to 9.45 pm for some much needed sleep.”
Floor Time Is Essential During The Day
Those little limbs and muscles need to develop, but when should you start? “Tummy time – short periods of time on the tummy – starts the first day home from hospital, especially when the baby has been fed and is content,” says Cath. “When you have fed one side, unwrap the baby and place the baby on his tummy for a minute or two after a nappy change and in between sides during the daytime only. Every baby is different and will tolerate floor play differently, so when your baby starts to protest and cry, that’s when floor time is over.”
Love Your Baby
The overwhelming flood of love you’ll feel for your new bundle is natural, so embrace it. “You can’t hurt your baby with too much love and security,” says Cath. “You can never spoil babies with love, nor can you give them too much love. Hold and cuddle your baby, kiss and keep him close, respond to his needs when he cries, make eye contact and talk to him. Don’t forget to tell him how lovely he is.”
ABOUT: Midwife and author Cath Curtin has more than 40 years’ experience as a nurse, maternal health expert and parenting guru. Her new book, The First Six Weeks by Midwife Cath, $29.99, Allen and Unwin, delivers sound advice and guarantees new parents a deep sleep of up to five hours with her tried and tested bath, bottle and bed routine.