Unless you’re a real-life Mary Poppins, your first few weeks as a first-time parent will be an absolute whirlwind. No one expects you to be looking your best, or being super productive with any other business. This special time is reserved for you to bond with your bundle of joy and learn to get to grips with this thing called parenthood. Before you know it, you will have mastered many of the essentials. Here are 8 basic baby skills you’ll ace in your first month.
Before having a baby, you’ll probably associate swaddling with a nativity play. Not for long. Swaddling a baby is one of the first things you’ll learn to do after they’re born, and when done properly it can resemble the mother’s womb and help soothe. Swaddling is simple to do after a few goes. Just follow these steps:
- Take a thin, breathable material like a cotton muslin wrap.
- Lay out the blanket in a diamond shape and fold the top corner down, placing your baby on their back, neck against the fold.
- Pull the bottom corner of the blanket up, leaving space for baby to move their feet
- Holding your baby in place, pull the right corner across their body and tuck it under the lower back.
- Pull the left corner across and wrap it around the right side of their body, nice and snug.
2. Mastering The Car Seat
A car seat is a legal essential, and you won’t be able to take your baby home from the hospital without one. Spend some time researching a fully certified, good quality seat and give yourself plenty of time to install it in your car before your delivery day. Car seats are notoriously tricky to clip in and out of a car, so it’s definitely worth practicing this maneuver - it can be hard enough without anything in it, let alone a crying newborn!
3. Nail Clipping
If you’ve ever been accidentally scratched by a baby’s fingernails or toenails you probably didn’t forget it in a hurry - those things are sharp! The problem you’ll face is that infants don’t exactly play ball when it comes to having their nails clipped, so the whole process can end up being something of an ordeal. Try and stay as relaxed as possible, and don’t get too worked up if your baby fusses. You can always try again later. Enlisting the help of your partner is a good idea, and establishing a specific time (after the bath, for example) when your baby might be especially relaxed is also a good tactic.
4. Cord Care
Even though your baby has their umbilical cord cut upon arrival, the remnants of it takes time to vacate the premises. All you need to remember is to keep the cord clean and dry, and you’ll notice it gradually shrivels up before it falls off around two weeks after birth. If the newborn diapers you’re using don’t have a ready-made cutout, just fold down the top to avoid any irritation.
5. Dealing With Diapers
Every expecting parent knows it’s coming, but nothing quite prepares you for having to change multiple diapers night and day. Fear not though, a few weeks into parenthood and you will have mastered the art of changing a diaper - you’ll literally be doing it in your sleep! A quick tip: before removing the old diaper, place a fresh one under your baby’s bum so that the transition is as smooth and clean as possible.
6. Packing The Perfect Bag
Heading out and about takes on a whole new meaning when you have a newborn baby to consider. Gone are the days where you just grab a jacket and go! You’ll now have to carefully think about anything you might need whilst you’re out of the house and pack accordingly - diapers, baby wipes, a couple of muslins, a change of clothes, milk or formula, and don’t forget snacks for you as well! You’ll have this down to a tee before long.
7. Rash Prevention
You might notice that your baby is susceptible to a rash in the diaper area. This is extremely common and something you’ve probably prepared for. This happens because an ammonia acid is created when urine and feces mixes together, causing the skin to become irritated and raw. Keeping stocked up on a zinc oxide-based cream, such as Sudocrem, is a baby skill essential. Apply generously each time you change their nappy.
8. Bathtime Boss
Bathtime is naturally an event that can be worrying for both newborn babies and their parents. The change in environment and overall feeling of powerlessness is stressful for your little one, and the challenge of handling a delicate, slippery little human is something that requires undivided attention! Like nail clipping, bathtime is done best by a team. Having your partner present - especially for the first few times - will make the whole process less stressful for all involved, and lifting your baby out of the bath seat and into a towel will be much easier with an extra set of hands.