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Babies 0-12 Months | First Few Weeks

Q&A: Your Baby’s First Week at Home

This is what you’ve been waiting for, for ten long months! It’s finally time to take your newborn baby home to her  brand-new room, to try out all the tiny, cute outfits and to powder her excessively. You’ll be a proud mommy while dad hangs back – eagerly waiting for instruction and ready to protect if the need calls for it. But along with the excitement and awe you might have some questions and concerns. It’s quite normal to run off to the pharmacy, baby clinic or hospital with a couple of “emergencies” during the first few days. If it’s important for you to know that the rash on her face is not life threatening, so be it. With time you will learn to trust that “gut” feeling; a mother just knows. Herewith a Q&A on what to expect from your baby’s first week at home.


How often should my baby feed and how do I know she is getting enough breast milk?
The hospital personnel will assist you in setting a feeding routine in place before you go home. Newborn babies typically feed every 2-3 hours and can’t go without food for longer than this. The first growth spurt usually occurs at around day 7- 10 and your baby will demand feeds more often for up to three days during this time. Don’t get discouraged if it seems like she is hardly sleeping during this growth spurt, it’s just temporary! Afterwards she will bounce back to her usual feeding routine. Breast feeding moms often question whether their babies are getting enough milk, so herewith some signs that indicate all is good:

  • A baby that gets enough milk will suck with a slow and steady rhythm.
  • There will be a noticeable pause, which you can see if you watch your baby’s chin. The pause does not point to the pause between suckles, but to the pause during one suckle as the baby opens his mouth to its maximum. Each one of these pauses means a mouthful of milk.
  • A baby that only nibbles is likely to get insufficient milk. This will be noticeable from day one, so ask a feeding consultant to assist you.

My baby seems to struggle with winds, what should I do?
There are various burping positions that you should try and master and alternate between. If this alone doesn’t work, give your baby a wind solution twice a day – in the morning and late afternoon. Mix 10ml cooled boiled water, six drops Telament and ¼ teaspoon gripe water. If you are bottle feeding you can add six drops of Telament to each bottle. You shouldn’t really have to burp your baby for longer than 15 minutes. If she is uneasy and squirmy, it’s a sign that there is still a wind and you can try again. If you are bottle feeding, always try to keep your baby in a more upright position and keep the entrance of the teat covered with milk. Breast-fed babies tend to get fewer winds than bottle-fed babies. If you are still experiencing problems, speak to your clinic sister or pediatrician.

How often should my baby make a poo?
A newborn can have up to 10 bowel movements a day, but should at least have one per day. If she doesn’t pass a stool for a day, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as she is feeding well and has at least 5-6 wet nappies. If she is getting uneasy and her tummy is swollen, however, ask your pediatrician or clinic sister for something to ease the constipation.

How often should I bath my baby?
Newborns don’t really get dirty, therefore it’s not necessary to bath your newborn every day. Bath her every second day and wipe her down every other day. Choose products for a sensitive skin like the Elizabeth Anne’s range. Her umbilical cord should be cleaned with every nappy change, and will fall off after the first week but or so. Remember to fold the top of the nappy down in order to keep it below the cord area.

How can I tell if my baby has jaundice?
Jaundice can be picked up between day 2 and day 4. Baby’s skin and eyes will have a yellow tint to it. She will also be listless, sleep more than usual, feed poorly, have sharp, high pitched cries and she won’t gain weight. To test, press your finger onto the tip of her nose or forehead. If the pressed area stays yellow, chances are that she has jaundice, so phone your pediatrician right away. If your baby is slightly jaundiced and the pediatrician/clinic sister is aware of it, you can treat it by placing her in indirect sunlight – such as in her pram next to a window.

When will I get sufficient sleep again?
The first three months usually feels like forever. But before you can say Bennett’s Bum Cream your little newborn will not be so little anymore, and will more than likely be sleeping right through the night. At two months you can start encouraging her to feed at 7pm, 2am and 5am (don’t wake her for her feeds though), as well as encourage 3-hourly daytime feeds. Ask your clinic sister for advice on when to start reducing her night time feeds. The secret is a solid routine, sleep training (if necessary) and consistency.

My baby won’t sleep long enough for me to get anything done – how much should she sleep anyway?
Newborns sleep most of the time, especially during their first week. If your baby is feeding every 2 ½ hours (from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next feed), gets burped, has a nappy change and is then put down to sleep, there is not much time left before her next feed – that’s just the way it is for now. Don’t rely on rocking or a feeding session to put her to sleep, this will just backfire on you later as baby will then rely on it in order to fall asleep. Put your baby down when she is drowsy, and slowly teach her to fall asleep by herself.

Should my baby sleep in our room, in bed with us or in her own room?
This is a decision for you and your partner to make together as it depends on your personal family style and preference. It may be a good thing for your newborn baby to sleep in your room during the first few weeks – even if it’s just to provide you with some peace of mind. If you want baby in bed with you, the safer option will be to keep her in her carrycot/basinet next to you. Another option is to have baby sleep in your room until she sleeps through, and then move her to a room of her own. There is no right or wrong way of doing this, so do whatever works for you and your partner.

How can I protect my baby from cot death?
Cot death is quite uncommon in babies younger than one month, and it usually peaks during the second month. Premature, low weight babies and boys are more at risk. It is believed that 90% of cot deaths happen before babies are six months old. Herewith a few points to consider in order to prevent cot death:

  • Don’t smoke when pregnant (both parents), or when in the same room as baby.
  • Baby should sleep on her back, not on her side or tummy.
  • Keep your baby’s head uncovered and she shouldn’t be too hot.
  • Don’t fall asleep on a sofa or armchair with the baby in your arms.
  • Settle your baby in her cot with a dummy, even if the dummy falls out at a later stage.
  • It’s safest for baby to sleep in your room, in her own cot/crib until she is six months old
  • It’s dangerous for baby to sleep in bed with you if you are (or your partner is) a smoker – even if you don’t smoke in the house. It’s also dangerous for baby to sleep in bed with you if you’ve been drinking alcohol, if you are feeling very tired or took medication that made you drowsy, and if your baby was born before 37 weeks or weighed less than 2.5 kilos at birth.

Is it possible that anything I eat while breastfeeding can make my baby uncomfortable?
There are definitely certain foods to avoid while breastfeeding, as it can interfere with baby’s sleep, make her windy and fussy or cause a nappy rash. The following foods are possible culprits: eggs, wheat products, citrus (food and juice), caffeine (in chocolates, coffee, tea and medicine), fatty foods, spicy foods, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, pineapples, cherries, prunes, tomatoes, garlic and cucumbers. If you suspect that your food intake is affecting your little one, keep a diary and start eliminating any suspect foods. If your baby is having a reaction it is probably due to something you’ve eaten 2-6 hours before feeding her.

Caring for such a tiny, little person can be quite overwhelming, and you might wonder if you are capable of doing this. Rest assured knowing that no other person but you, the baby’s mommy, will know how to do the job better! Your baby can feel when you are all stressed out, so take deep breaths and try to relax as much as possible. The first week goes by so quickly, and what you’ll be occupying yourself with most of the time is staring at your beautiful baby and taking a million-and-one photos!


2 Responses to “Q&A: Your Baby’s First Week at Home”

  1. Sandiswa says:

    When should i start feeding my baby with cereals

  2. Editor says:

    Hi Sandiswa

    According to the experts it’s safe to start baby on solids at the age of 4 months. Keep in mind that every baby is different, some might start a little early, some later. It’s important that your baby shows signs of readiness.

    Please see our articles on weaning:
    Introduction To Solids: 4 – 6 Months
    From solids to finger foods: 7 – 9 months

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