The 10 questions every first-time parent asks

When you're a new parent, no question is too trivial. Emirates Home Nursing answers the 10 most frequently asked newborn care queries.

1. How do you bath a newborn?

Make sure you bath before a feed, so it doesn’t affect baby’s digestion. Pepare clean clothing, a towel (hooded recommended), clean washcloth or baby bath sponge, nappy and elbow-checked warm water.

Undress baby, leaving the nappy on, and wrap in a towel exposing only the areas to be washed. Cradle the head in one hand.

Gently clean one area at a time starting with the face then behind the ears, neck, elbows, knees, between fingers and toes. Pay attention to their creases.

Lightly sponge the hair with water (tip head back slightly).

Wash baby's belly, bottom and genitals (front to back).

Gently pat baby dry and make sure to dry the skin folds.

2. How do you burp a newborn?

Over the shoulder. Hold baby upright with chin resting on your shoulder. Support their head and back and gently tap or rub baby’s back in a slow motion.

Sitting position on your lap. Baby facing away from you with your hand supporting their bottom. Rub or pat with the other hand but don’t keep them in this position for too long.

Face down across the lap. Keep baby at a right angle to your body so they are lying across your knees, with one hand supporting chin and jaw. Keep baby's head slightly higher than rest of the body. Rub or pat their back gently with the other hand.

Tip: Talk or sing softly to baby as you rub or pat the back as this relaxes them, and if they don’t burp in one position, try another.

3. How do you swaddle a baby?

  • Lay out the blanket on a flat surface.

Fold down the top corner to match the baby’s length.

Lay baby on the blanket with their neck on the fold.

Gently place baby's arm at their side and hold it in place.

Pull one corner of the blanket (same side as the arm you're holding) over the body and tuck it snugly underneath their back.

Move baby's other arm into the same position on the other side.

Pull the bottom corner of the blanket up toward the middle of baby's shoulders and tuck behind the left shoulder. Remember to leave plenty of room for their feet.

Pull the right corner of the blanket over baby, folding it so that left and right corners form a V-neck swaddle. Using your left hand, gently hold the blanket in place on baby's chest.

With your right hand, flip over the right corner, which should be somewhere near their feet.

Pull the flipped right corner up over their right shoulder and tuck it into the back of the swaddle (you may need to lift them up to do this).

4. How do you change a nappy?

Prepare a changing mat or towel, nappy, clothes, cotton wool, bowl of warm water, wet and dry towel or alcohol-free baby wipes, barrier cream, nappy sack/nappy bin.

Lay the baby on a comfy flat surface

Unfasten the dirty nappy tabs and pull down the front part. If you have a boy, you may want to cover his penis with a clean cloth so he doesn’t wee on you/himself.

If they’ve done a poo, use the front half of the nappy to wipe the worst of it off.

Raise baby's bottom off the table by gently holding both ankles with one hand and lifting upwards. Quickly tuck the front of the dirty nappy under the bottom with the clean side facing up.

Clean your baby's genitals and surrounding area with a damp cloth, wet cotton wool or baby wipe (front to back if a girl).

Using a new wipe, piece of cotton wool or fresh side of your cloth, clean baby’s bottom either by lift the legs or rolling them gently to one side then the other.  

Put the wipes and cotton wool into the nappy sack.

Let baby's skin briefly air dry or pat dry with a clean cloth.

If skin is dry, apply a thin layer of a barrier cream to their buttocks and groin.

Place a clean nappy under the waist, tuck it firmly and secure each tab.

5. How do you sterilise bottles?

  • BOILING. Place clean bottles, teats, caps and utensils in a large saucepan on the stovetop back burner. Add enough water to cover and ensure no air bubbles. Boil for five minutes. Turn off and allow water to cool. Wash hands thoroughly and disinfect the surface you’re going to use. Remove equipment and shake off excess water. If not using immediately, put the lid and teat on the bottle and refrigerate in a clean container. Reboil the bottle and other equipment if not used within 24 hours.
  • CHEMICALS. These are liquid disinfectant solutions or tablets. Make sure bottles, teats, caps and utensils are thoroughly clean before you begin and read manufacturer’s instructions. Completely submerge equipment in the solution, ensuring no air bubbles. Leave in for the recommended time (usually around 30 minutes) or until you need to use it (within 24 hours).  Allow equipment to drain before use but don’t rinse off the solution as this re-exposes equipment to germs. Clean the sterilising container thoroughly in warm, soapy water before reusing.
  • STEAM (microwave or electric sterilisers). Follow manufacturer instructions and make sure all equipment is completely clean. Make sure bottles and teats are placed in the steriliser with openings facing downwards. Leave bottles in steriliser until needed and check how long you can leave them before re-sterilisation is required.

6. How long can you store breast milk?

Once expressed, it can be stored at room temperature for four to six hours. It can also be stored in the fridge for 48 to 72 hours and in the freezer for six months. Containers should be labelled to show date and time of collection.

7. How can you calm a baby to encourage sleep?

A calming nightly routine is key along with setting a consistent bedtime and giving baby plenty of opportunity to figure out sleeping on their own. Hold baby in your arms and place the body to the left side to help digestion or on the stomach for support. Gently rub baby’s back. If they go to sleep, remember lay them in the crib on their back. Switch on some calming sounds.

Good to know: Some babies take more time to relax or may not yet have the developmental ability to self-soothe. They can also be overtired and unable to self- settle, so try moving bedtime earlier. Examine your own behaviour too. Are you rocking baby to sleep before putting them down or rushing to comfort at the first cry?

8. What are the reasons why my baby won’t stop crying?

Hunger. Feed at regular intervals and don’t wait for them to get hungry before feeding.

Gas/colic. Burp baby every after feed to help prevent abdominal discomforts.

Tired. Don’t overstimulate and always allow for rest after play, or this could be due to a lack of sleep.

Too hot/cold. Check their temperature and remove excess clothing or add a blanket as necessary.

Uncomfortable i.e from a wet nappy or dirty nappy.

Teething.

TLC. Baby maybe just wants to be cuddled!

9. How can you avoid baby swallowing too much air when feeding?

Feed them at an angle, making sure the head and neck are slightly elevated above the tummy. Latch baby onto the nipple properly. Take a break between sides, or every ounce or so, while bottle feeding to get a burp or two out. If you have an especially fast let-down while breastfeeding, allow baby a short break one to two minutes into it.

10. What do I do if baby chokes while feeding?

If mum has an oversupply of milk, it should be expressed at the start of the feed to relieve the pressure and prevent choking.

If it does happen, one of two extremely delicate first aid methods can dislodge the milk.

Pick up baby while supporting the head and place arm around the chest, bending it forward slightly. Place a clenched fist on the baby’s navel with other hand over the fist and thrust inwards with hard, fast slightly upwards movements into the abdomen.

Turn baby upside down and give intermittent back blows and chest thrusts (with two or three fingers to lower half of breastbone while supporting head with other hand) combined with gentle taps to the back to open up the airways. Continue until blockage removed.