Tips for keeping a newborn safe wherever you go
Some aspects of baby care are universal and familiar. For instance, most people know to never leave an infant unattended, keep the house clear of hazards and support a baby's tiny body as much as possible. However, when it comes to the details and mechanics of everyday tasks, new parents may find they're tense, puzzled and reluctant to do much at all with their baby. Luckily, there are some helpful tips for unavoidable situations that can seem hard to handle. From bathing to dressing to transporting a newborn, you'll soon feel confidant and controlled as you help your little one through their earliest days.
Bathing a Newborn
For many parents, the idea of bathing a tiny infant is a frightening one. They're so delicate, have a tendency to wiggle and become pretty slippery when wet. Fortunately, it's not that difficult to bathe a newborn safely and thoroughly as long as you prepare for the task.
Get a couple of towels, your baby shampoo, a few cotton balls and a clean diaper set out so you have everything you'll need in easy reach. After you fill the tub and test the water (it should be about body temperature), gently lower your baby into the tub and always keep at least one hand on their body from here on in. Baby bathing can take some time to get used to, but soon enough you will have developed a good technique to support your little one as you clean and towel dry her. You may want to purchase a towel with a strap that fits around your neck, which lets you use both hands to pick up your baby and bring her into the towel on your chest.
Staying Safe in the Car
Everyone knows that baby car seats are vital for any family that drives, but do you know which types are best for an infant? Companies come out with new models every year, and safety standards are being updated continually. Whichever brand you choose, make sure it's a rear-facing version: experts agree that the longer you use a rear-facing car seat, the better it is for your baby. Look for a model that can accommodate more weight and height so your baby won't outgrow it quickly, and a seat that converts from rear-facing to forward-facing may be a wise investment for the years to come.
When installing the car seat, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions extremely closely. Attach the car seat base to the middle of the back seat if possible (it's the safest place for your infant) and ensure that the harness is snug across your baby's body -- you should only be able to fit one finger between their chest and the strap. Although many parents use the car seat as a chair or bed for their baby in the home, it's best for your baby to sleep in a crib or bassinet instead of the car seat.
First and foremost, you'll want to dress your baby appropriately for a hot day and slather baby sunscreen over every inch of exposed skin (being extra careful to avoid the eyes and mouth). A wide-brimmed cotton sun hat is a fantastic wardrobe addition, and you'll want to stick to lightweight and light-colored fabrics to keep them cool. If you're wondering whether or not your baby is in a happy temperature zone, feel the back of her neck: hot, damp or clammy skin points to a hot baby, but often just taking off one layer of clothing will restore comfort.
When it comes to sleeping, keep this rule of thumb in mind: your baby should wear one more layer than what you're comfortable in. On particularly hot nights, that may mean a simple t-shirt and diaper or else a thin cotton onesie. Keep an eye out for the little red or pink bumps that signal heat rash, and if you do come across them, give your baby a lukewarm bath and keep the affected areas of her body exposed to the air for a while.