Newborn Care These are notes from my newborn care class that I teach, and are normally meant to be accompanied by demonstrations, visual aids, and practice sessions. I strongly encourage all expectant parents to attend newborn care classes to gain a better understanding of this topic, and help give them a little more confidence to make it through those early weeks. Things to do Before the Baby comes Supplies and Equipment. Babies don’t need a lot… Before the baby’s birth, you need only buy some basics: diapers, a few simple outfits, a place for them to sleep (can be a crib, a bassinet, or your bed), and a car seat to bring them home from the hospital. The only other essential I would add, personally, is a sling or front pack of some sort. It’s also good to plan where to change baby’s diaper, and come up with something to use as a diaper bag. Stores are full of things for babies, but all those are optional. You don’t need a baby bathtub, and all the special baby soaps, oils, and lotions. You don’t need a baby monitor if you put your napping infant down in whatever room you are in, and the baby sleeps nearby at night time. You don’t need musical recordings and stuffed animals that play recordings of human heart beats: simply keep the child near to you. You don’t need special high tech baby development toys: your baby’s favorite images to look at will be the faces of the people who love him, and as he gets older, some of his favorite toys can be simple things like plastic spoons and measuring cups, and pots and pans to bang on. So, if you want to buy a lot of things for your child, or you have friends and family who buy lots of little gifts, that’s great. But also know that the main thing a baby needs is loving people nearby. Decisions. There are some decisions you’ll want to make before the baby comes. Care Provider: It is best to choose your baby’s doctor before the birth. You can choose either a pediatrician, who specializes in children, or a family practice doctor who can treat the whole family. After you determine what caregivers and care settings are covered by your insurance, ask for references and recommendations from friends, family, doctor or midwife. If possible, schedule a prenatal interview with your chosen caregiver to be certain his or her style and philosophy are similar to your own. See birth books or websites for more information on choosing a doctor. Cord Blood Donation or Storage: After the baby’s umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, it is possible to collect the cord blood for donation or for storage for the family’s personal use. Stem cells from cord blood can be used to treat leukemia, other cancers, and other illnesses. If this is something you are interested in, you must research it and plan for it before the birth, so the supplies can be available. Circumcision: It’s best to find out more about circumcision, and decide about circumcision before the baby is born. The procedure is generally done by an OB/Gyn before the baby is discharged from the hospital, although it can be delayed if desired. Circumcision is a controversial topic, with strong feelings on both sides: I encourage you to seek out information on it, and make your own decisions. To find out more, check out the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org, search for circumcision policy), or check out “The Case Against Circumcision” (go to mothering.com and search for circumcision). One of the reasons often given for circumcision is “so he’ll be like other kids in the locker room”, so I just want to give you some up-to-date statistics. In 1999, nationwide, 65.5% of male infants were circumcised; but in the Western states, circumcision rates are only 37%. Feeding. Before the birth, it’s a good idea to examine your plans for feeding the baby. Breastmilk is best for baby, and breastfeeding is also good for your health. If you are planning to breastfeed, find out about breastfeeding and resources for support before the baby is born. Most hospitals offer classes in breastfeeding, which will teach about how to breastfeed, how to avoid common problems, how to combine work and breastfeeding, and other topics to help you get started.