Newborn Baby Care Basics: What to Know When You Leave the Hospital

Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. After spending those first few days or weeks being cared for by nurses and doctors, you suddenly have to figure it all out on your own. It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed! While the hospital staff will give you some basic newborn care tips before discharge, there is still so much to learn about keeping your precious little one happy and healthy. In this blog post, we will cover all of the newborn baby care basics that every parent needs to know when leaving the hospital. You'll learn about things like feeding, diapering, bathing, sleeping, recognizing signs of illness, and so much more. With these essential newborn care tips, you'll feel fully prepared to take on those first few weeks at home with your baby!

Feeding Your Newborn: Whether you plan to breastfeed or use formula, feeding a newborn baby on demand is crucial in these early days. Expect your baby to eat every 2-3 hours, around 8-12 times in 24 hours. Feed whenever your baby shows hunger cues like smacking lips, sucking fingers, and moving arms and legs around.

If breastfeeding, ensure you are comfortable, keep the baby aligned to your body, and check for a proper latch. Feed from both breasts each session for 10-15 minutes per side.

If formula feeding, follow the instructions on the packaging for preparing and warming bottles. Never prop bottles or put your baby to bed with a bottle. Hold and gently burp baby during feeds.

Managing Sleep: Newborns have very irregular sleep cycles, so it’s normal for them to sleep often but only for short 2-3 hour stretches. Maximizing daytime naps helps them sleep longer at night. Aim to have your baby sleep in shorter bursts round-the-clock vs one long night time stretch so they get food as needed.

You can start implementing sleep associations like swaddling and low lighting that will signal sleep time as your baby’s circadian rhythms develop. But in the first couple of weeks, focus more on following your newborn’s lead rather than enforcing a sleep schedule. SLEEP WHEN BABY SLEEPS!

Providing Comfort: Your baby is adjusting to an entirely new world outside the womb they inhabited for 9 months. They rely on physical comforts from you like skin-to-skin contact, soft blankets, soothing motions of rocking and swaying. Your hands can become tools of comfort too through gentle massage and containment holding.

Using a pacifier can also bring comfort by satisfying your baby’s desire to suck and self-soothe. Just avoid relying solely on the pacifier to calm your baby so they learn your touch and voice as well. 

Protecting Your Newborn: Always support your baby’s head since their neck muscles are weak. Ensure you and anyone holding the baby keeps one hand behind the head/neck.

Your newborn’s immune system is not yet developed, so limiting exposure to crowds and sick people is key. Wash your hands frequently and sterilize any bottles, pacifiers, and toys that go into your baby’s mouth. Keep your baby out of direct sunlight and avoid exposure to ecologically unsafe products in furnishings, clothing, and blankets.

When placing your baby down for sleep, put them on their back on a separate, safety-approved sleeping surface without any loose bedding. This prevents suffocation and reduces the risk of SIDS. Supervise all naps and night sleep.

Staying Alert to Changes: In those first couple of weeks, your baby lets you know their needs through crying and body movements. Learn your baby’s different cries so you can respond appropriately to hunger, discomfort, tiredness, etc.

Closely track dirty diapers and monitor weight gain with your paediatrician. Call them with any feeding concerns or for guidance responding to crying fits.

Keep the paediatrician aware of coughing, unusual body temperature, skin discolorations, etc. Newborn babies can get sick very quickly so staying alert to changes and seeking prompt medical care is extremely important.

Postpartum Recovery & Self-Care: Whether you delivered naturally or by c-section, your body needs time to heal in these early postpartum days. Follow doctor instructions for incision care, pain management, bleeding, etc.

Rest as much as you can, especially while the baby sleeps. Take quick showers and change clothes/bedding whenever you have a chance. Have easy snacks and water bottles available nearby since you won’t have time for elaborate meals.

Accept help from family/friends for cooking, cleaning, and errands. Say yes to meal deliveries. Prioritize bonding with and caring for your baby but don’t feel guilty about asking someone to hold them while you shower or nap. Postpartum hormones can heighten emotions so reach out for support when you feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed.



By familiarizing yourself with newborn baby care basics and seeking support when needed, you can navigate those early days with confidence and ease. The key is not putting pressure on yourself to get anything “right” as a new parent. Follow your baby’s lead, pay attention to their needs, hold them close and you’ll both settle in at home.

Happy parenting!

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1. How often should I feed my newborn?

Answer: Newborns typically feed every 2-3 hours, or 8-12 times in 24 hours. Look for hunger cues like lip smacking and sucking fingers to know when your baby is ready to eat.

2. How do I manage sleep with a newborn?

Answer: Maximize daytime naps to promote longer stretches of sleep at night. Follow your baby's lead on sleep patterns, and remember the golden rule: "Sleep when the baby sleeps!"

3. How can I provide comfort to my newborn?

Answer: Use physical comforts like skin-to-skin contact, soft blankets, and gentle rocking motions. 

4. How can I protect my newborn from illness?

Answer: Limit exposure to crowds and sick individuals, wash hands frequently, and sterilize items that go into your baby's mouth. Always place your baby on their back to sleep on a separate, safety-approved surface.

5. How can I take care of myself during the postpartum period?

Answer: Follow your doctor's instructions for postpartum recovery, rest as much as possible, and accept help from family and friends for tasks like cooking and cleaning. 

6. Can I use a pacifier to soothe my newborn?

Answer: Yes, a pacifier can help satisfy your baby's sucking reflex and promote self-soothing. However, avoid relying solely on the pacifier for comfort and prioritize physical touch and bonding.

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