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.

Registering your baby's birth

Don't forget that your baby's birth must be registered. This is free. You can register online here(external link).

Support services and information

Care advice

  • Clothing Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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.

    Here's a way to check if baby is wearing enough:

    • Slip a finger down the back of the neck between the shoulder blades
    • If the skin feels warm, your baby is warm enough (even if hands and feet are cool)
    • If the baby feels hot, remove a layer
    • Hats must be worn for going out, especially on cold days. They are not usually needed indoors, unless the room is cold or you have been advised by a health professional.

    Tips when choosing/checking clothes for baby:

    • Blankets and clothes made of natural fabric, such as cotton or wool, are more suitable than synthetic fabric - especially close to the skin.
    • Woollen clothes are generally warmer. Try putting socks over woollen booties - they stay on better.
    • Look for clothes that are easy to put on/take off.
    • Make sure there's room to grow, or clothes won't fit for long.
    • Look for 'low fire risk' labels.
    • Avoid clothes with cords/ribbons/loose ends, as they can strangle a baby. Long loose ends on booties can cut off circulation.
  • Safe sleep Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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:

    • Face up - Your baby was designed to sleep face up (on their back). The drive to breathe works best in this position and the airway is safer. A built-in alarm reminds baby to breathe, and strong gag and swallow reflexes protect the airway if baby vomits.
    • Face clear - Your baby was designed to sleep with a clear face. This helps baby to breathe freely and not get too hot. Your baby may fall asleep with his/her face clear, but will it stay clear? This will depend on position, where he/she is sleeping and how you make it safe.
    • Smokefree - Your baby was designed to grow and develop smokefree All smoking harms babies, especially in pregnancy. Smoking takes oxygen and weakens vital systems as babies develop, e.g. breathing. When born, babies who have been exposed to smoke in the womb need extra protection. If you want support to quit smoking, check out our quit smoking services.

    Have a look at the Safe Sleep leaflet for more information.

  • Coping with your crying baby Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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, or watch this video.

  • Bathing Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    Before you leave hospital or Birthcare, please ensure you have had help and support with bathing your baby. 

    • Baby should be in a settled mood and not too hungry.
    • Bathing daily when the cord is still attached is helpful.
    • Baby's hair does not have to be washed daily, nor does baby need bathing every day - cleaning face, hands and bottom every second day should be adequate if your baby is well.
    • The room for bathing should be warm with windows and doors closed.
    • Prepare the clothes for afterwards and wash your hands.
    • Run cold water in first, then hot. Check the temperature of the water using the inside part of your arm. 
    • Wipe your baby's eyes first from inside to out and once only, then the face.
    • Gently put baby in the water, feet touching the end of the bath, with a warm facecloth over the abdomen (this usually settles the baby).
    • Hold your baby securely, wrist under the neck with a finger or two under the arm in a secure grip.
    • Bathing should be a happy time. A deep warm water bath will often settle a grumpy baby.

    You can also watch this video on safely bathing a newborn.

  • Car seats Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    Did you know 8 out of 10 child restraints are not installed correctly? Keep your kids safe, by checking out the New Zealand Transport Agency's FREE videos, which show you how to correctly install your child restraint and fit your child in it properly.

    Videos are available in English and te reo.

    I mōhio rānei koe ko te 8 mai i te 10 o ngā here tamaiti kāore i te whakarite tikahia? Kia ū te haumaru o āu tamariki, mā te titiro atu ki ngā ataata KOREUTU a Te Waka Kotahi e whakaatu ana ki a koe me pēhea te whakarite tika i tō here tamaiti me te whakanoho tika i tāu tamaiti ki roto.

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  • Winding your baby Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    Why does my baby need winding?

    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.

  • Immunisations Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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.

    After birth

    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.

    Ongoing immunisation

    We provide booklets on immunisation - please ask your LMC for further information. The Ministry of Health website also provides useful information on immunisations.