Congratulations on the birth of your baby! The weeks ahead are likely to be hard work, but wonderfully rewarding at the same time. Babies don't arrive with instruction manuals, so here is some advice and information that will help you to look after your new arrival.
Don't forget that your baby's birth must be registered. This is free. You can register online here(external link).
Babies born at full term generally require one or two more layers of clothing than an adult. Premature infants will require another layer or so.
Tips when choosing/checking clothes for baby:
Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) is extremely rare for babies if the Ministry of Health guidelines shown here are followed.
It is important that your baby has a safe sleep space. Your baby was designed to need you close by (in the same room as you when you sleep); to be breastfed (this strengthens the drive to breathe); and to be handled gently (to protect the brain).
In every place, for every sleep, check that baby is safe by making sure they are:
Have a look at the Safe Sleep leaflet for more information.
Caring for a baby can be challenging at times. You may be tired or stressed. Not knowing why a baby is crying can be very frustrating.
Remember - never, ever shake a baby. This can cause permanent brain damage, seizures and even death. Be strong enough to walk away, take a break and come back when you are ready to comfort your baby. Find out more in our coping with a crying baby leaflet.
Before you leave hospital or Birthcare, please ensure you have had help and support with bathing your baby.
You can also watch this video on safely bathing a newborn.
Babies swallow air (wind) when they are feeding, when they are crying and even when they are just breathing. Wind can make baby feel full before he/she has drunk enough milk. It can also make baby feel very uncomfortable.
Some babies don't need to be winded after feeds; others become unsettled with wind and need 'burping' at every feed. If, during a feed, your baby stops sucking and cries or resists going on the other breast, try winding him/her. Babies with wind may squirm and grimace, particularly when they are laid down after a feed.
Breastfed babies tend to get fewer problems with wind than those having bottle feeds. This is because they can control the flow of milk at the breast and suck at a slower pace, swallowing less air with the milk.
Breastfed babies are also more likely to have smaller and more frequent feeds and may be fed in an upright position, both of which can reduce wind. Yet, even breastfed babies will often need to be winded, especially if they are fast feeders and/or your milk flows particularly quickly.
How do I wind my baby?
Make the most of any natural breaks in a feed to wind your baby; do a final wind at the end of the feed. Patting or rubbing your baby's back is the most effective way to bring up wind. The burp might come with a 'spill', so always have a soft cloth handy to protect your clothes. Your LMC or midwife will demonstrate the most effective winding positions.
Immunisation is the best way to protect your family from 13 serious diseases. It's free in New Zealand for all babies, children and young people until their 18th birthday.
Immunisation works by helping your child develop antibodies to fight disease. It saves millions of lives around the world every year.
Vitamin K injections are offered immediately after birth.
A vaccination for tuberculosis is offered to newborns at risk in their communities of contracting TB. Please ask your LMC for further information.
Hepatitis B vaccination is given to newborns whose mothers are hepatitis B positive.
We provide booklets on immunisation - please ask your LMC for further information. The Ministry of Health website also provides useful information on immunisations.