A friend of mine who is far away from having kids asked me last week if I have a baby manual, or, better yet, a baby cheat sheet. Then I realized that I never blogged about our experiences nearly two months ago at an infant care class we attended. (I already told you about our baby-ready dogs class and our childbirth express class.) This two-hour infant care class is one of four prenatal classes offered for free through Kaiser Permanente insurance. As a result of this infant care class I can answer in the affirmative that yes, we do in fact have a baby cheat sheet. It's really meant to get us through the first two weeks of life, which I hear (and can imagine) are probably the scariest, the ones when you're "waiting for the real parents to show up" as apparently more than one couple I know has been heard to say shortly after the birth of their first born.
Throughout my pregnancy I've been recording notes from baby classes, baby to-do lists, and questions to ask my doctor at each appointment in my little Vera Bradley notebook my mother-in-law gave me a few years ago.
Inside this little notebook I filled two pages with My First Two Weeks of Life Baby Care Cheat Sheet courtesy of the infant care class.
It goes something like this:
Feeding advice for first two weeks
- Keep track of feedings. I plan to use the free iBabyLog app on my iPhone. (After I've had some time to test this app out I'll write a post reporting back on whether I like it or not.)
- 8-12 feedings per day
- Smacking lips is a classic sign that the baby needs to feed
- If breastfeeding works, can expect 10-20 minutes that the baby will spend at each breast during a feeding
- Best breastfeeding position is at a slight incline
- If possible, avoid giving the infant a pacifier for the first two weeks
- Bottle feeding
- Hold bottle at a more horizontal incline using a low-flow nipple. Switch sides on which you hold the baby halfway through (mimicking breastfeeding)
- Burp baby after each ounce
- To prevent gas prop baby up for 15 minutes following a feeding
Diaper advice during the first two weeks
- Keep track of diaper changes. Again, I can do this using the iBabyLog app.
- Days 1-2: 1-2 wet diapers, 1-2 dirty diapers per day
- Days 3-4: 3-5 wet diapers, 3-4 dirty diapers per day (The general rule of thumb the nurse gave us is that after the first couple days we can expect to change, on average, 7 diapers per day.)
- Day 5 through six weeks: 6-8 wet diapers, 3-6 dirty diapers per day
- Normal newborn poop is the size of a baby's palm
Sleep advice during the first two weeks
- The first three days the baby should not sleep more than 3 hours at a time
- After the first one to two weeks the baby may not need to be woken up for feedings (though he/she should be woken up during the first 2-3 days)
- Newborns sleep approximately 16-18 hours per day (This is why this stage is called the "honeymoon period" by some and why some friends of mine who've been through this have remarked that they had way more time on their hands than they thought they would during the first two weeks of their baby's life.)
Health advice during the first two weeks
- Request skin-to-skin contact between baby and mom immediately after birth -- the newborn evaluations can wait for a few minutes (when the birth circumstances are considered "normal")
- 2-3 baths per week; give sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump falls off
- Umbilical cord stump only needs to be cleaned with cotton balls and perhaps water; rubbing alcohol is not necessary
- The umbilical cord stump may bleed and that is normal. A teaspoon or more of blood, however, is not normal and warrants a call to the doctor.
- A loss of 10 percent or more of the birth weight during the first two weeks is normal.
- It's standard practice for a newborn to be seen by a pediatric nurse or doctor 1-2 days after hospital discharge and again at a 2-week-old appointment.
- The most accurate temperature readings are taken rectally. A rectal temperature of 100.4 or higher is a major concern. During the first two months it is essential for a medical professional to see any baby with an elevated temperature.
I know there are millions of ways to care for an infant and raise a child. I'm curious to hear from the parents out there: What from this list did you find to be true to your experience? What did you find was different from your experience? What is missing from the list that you would add? I will probably have several more days to absorb your wisdom :)