When should I give my baby his first bath?

Usually your baby won’t be given a bath straight after he is born as he will need to stay warm. Studies have shown that it is best to leave your newborn baby in his natural oils for as long as possible. This is because the white creamy coating on baby’s skin (vernix) as well as the amniotic fluid are known to have similar immune-enhancing properties as breast milk. This is a great reason to try to prolong giving your baby a bath for 24 hours or even longer. Your midwife will usually just wipe and dry your baby using clean, warm towels.

If you really would like to give your newborn a bath, it should be safe to do so an hour or so after the birth - as long as your baby is healthy and full term, his body temperature is normal and the room is warm. Babies’ first bath should last no longer than five to 10 minutes as they lose body heat very fast.

How much milk does a newborn need in the first few days?

Each baby has different feeding requirements. As the days go by, your baby will need little, but increasing, amounts of milk. Breastfed babies don’t need large amounts of milk at each feed. Those who are formula fed may take larger amounts as they can’t control their milk intake in the way that breastfed babies can. To tell if your baby is feeding well, follow these tips:

• You feel your breasts soften during feeds

• Your baby has a wet nappy every few hours

• You can hear your baby swallowing softly

• Your baby comes off your breast on his own

• Your baby seems settled after a feed

• She’s doing yellowish-coloured poops

For formula-fed babies, below are some approximate feeding targets according to age:

• First day: 5-7ml per feed

• Second day: 12-14ml per feed

• Third day: 35-38ml per feed

• Fourth day: 55-58ml per feed

• One week: Approximately 65ml per feed

Babies may lose a little weight after they are born, which is perfectly normal. They will start to put on weight again by the time they are five days old. Check your baby’s weight every so often to ensure that he or she is gaining weight adequately for their age.

What’s the best sleep routine to use?

When your baby is six weeks old, he may be ready to start following a sleep routine. There are lots of sleep routine theories out there (some stringent and others that are more relaxed and baby-led) so take some time to assess and choose one that works for you and your family. You need to pay attention to your baby’s own natural temperament and let him take the lead in the beginning. The 7am to 7pm routine is usually found to be the one that tiny babies and young infants are the happiest with, as it fits in with their natural sleep rhythms and their need to feed. It is important to encourage daytime sleeping at the right time with the longest nap of the day being between noon and 2pm, as this coincides with the baby’s natural dip in alertness. Here is an approximate guide to the number of hours of nap time a baby needs:

• Birth to four weeks - 5 hours

• Four to eight weeks - 4 to 4.5 hours

• Eight to 12 weeks - 3.5 hours

• Three to six months - 3 hours

• Six to 12 months - 2.5 to 3 hours

• 12 to 15 months - 2.5 hours

• 15 to 18 months - 2 to 2.5 hours

• 18 to 24 months - 2 hours

• Two years to 2.5 years - 1-2 hours

• 2.5 to three years - zero to 1 hour

Make sure your baby’s last nap of the day isn’t too close to bedtime and his daytime naps aren’t too long. Establish a consistent bedtime routine as soon as possible to allow your baby to get used to settling himself.

By 6:30pm, you can start the bath. Allow time for a gentle massage, changing, feeding and then a bedtime story. Your baby will soon get used to this routine and settle himself to sleep. Make sure your baby’s room is a peaceful haven with dim lighting.

Inside info

Malaak Mama & Baby Care is a leading DHA-licensed maternity nursing and babysitting agency in the UAE specialising in newborn child care, babysitting for toddlers, sleep training and early childhood development. To find out more, visit www.malaak.me.