Tips for new parents

Tips for new parents, including how to get breastfeeding off to a good start, washing and bathing your newborn, soothing a crying baby, how to change your baby's nappy, and helping your baby sleep.

As a new parent, you're bound to have questions on everything from getting started with breastfeeding to washing and bathing your baby and changing their nappy.

Here's a quick guide to everything you need to know about caring for your new baby during those exhausting but wonderful early weeks.

Getting to know your new baby

How do we look after our baby's umbilical cord? How much can our baby see? Why are their genitals swollen?

Newborn babies do not come with an instruction manual, and you're bound to have lots of questions about their behaviour and appearance to begin with.

You'll find some of the answers you need in getting to know your newborn.

Breastfeeding your new baby

In the beginning it can seem like you're baby is constantly feeding, but gradually you and your baby will get into a pattern and the amount of milk you produce will settle.

Feed your baby as often as they want. This is called baby-led feeding. Let your baby decide when they have had enough. 

Find out more about:

Breastfeeding: the first few days

Soothing sore or cracked nipples

How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk

Washing and bathing your new baby

You do not need to bathe your baby in the first few days. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully instead. This is sometimes called topping and tailing.

Choose a time when your baby is awake and content. Make sure the room is warm and get everything ready beforehand.

You'll need a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and, if necessary, clean clothes.

Find out how to top and tail or bathe your new baby

How to change your baby's nappy

Babies need frequent nappy changes. Do not leave them in a wet or dirty nappy for too long because their wee and the bacteria in their poo may make their skin sore and lead to nappy rash.

Find out more about:

Changing your baby's nappy 

How to treat nappy rash

Soothing a crying baby

Crying is your baby's way of telling you they need comfort and care. But it's not always easy to work out what they want.

Find out why your baby may be crying and how to soothe them

Helping your baby sleep

It's normal for new babies to only sleep for 2 to 3 hours at a time through the night, as well as during the day.

One reason is that newborn babies are not tuned into day and night yet.

Babies also grow quickly in the early months and they have very small stomachs. This means they need to feed little and often.

As your baby grows, they'll gradually start to need fewer night feeds and will sleep for longer at night.

Find out how to get your baby into healthy sleep habits

How to tell if your baby is seriously ill

It can be difficult to tell when a baby is seriously ill. Above all, it's important to trust your instincts.

You know your baby better than anyone else, so you'll know if their appearance or behaviour is worrying.

See is your baby or toddler seriously ill? for a checklist of "red alert" symptoms that should always be treated as serious.

Reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

SIDS is rare, so do not let worrying about it stop you enjoying your baby's first few months.

Putting your baby on their back to sleep, in a cot in the same room as you, for the first 6 months is one way to reduce your baby's risk even further. 

Not smoking during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and not letting anyone else smoke in the same room as your baby, will also help protect them.

Get some more tips on reducing the risk of SIDS

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