Receiving the baby at home after being discharged from the hospital is a most awaited and cherished moment for the entire family. Knowledge about certain aspects of baby care can make this transition from hospital to home a smooth and pleasant experience for the mother – baby dyad.
Baby should be covered with 2 layers of clothing during summers and 4 layers during winters. Diapers and cotton knit undershirts should be used as first layer of clothing. Cover the babies hand and feet with caps and socks. Woolens and mittens should be used as additional layers.
Exclusive breast feeding for first 6 months of life should be a rule. Baby should not be offered any water, juices, tea, non- human milk or foods during this period. Medications should be given only when advised by a Neonatologist.
Baby should receive 8-12 feeds from the breast every 24 hours and should be fed for 10-15 minutes on each breast. Baby should be fed on one breast completely before putting to the second breast. Alternate the breasts between each feeds.
Identify early signs of hunger of your baby such as increased alertness, physical activity, mouthing. Crying is late sign of hunger.
Baby should be aroused to feed if 3 hours have elapsed since the last feed.
Some of the medicines taken by the mother during lactation get secreted in the breast milk; this should be discussed with the treating physician.
Audible and visible swallowing, sustained rhythmic sucking at the breast, relaxed arms and legs, passing urine 8 -12 times/day are important indicators of adequate and successful breast feeding.
Baby may be bathed 2-3 times a week in order to maintain acid mantle of the skin. However, daily sponging of the baby can be done. Use lukewarm water for bathing (neither too hot nor too cold to touch).
Water level in the bathing tub should be below the navel. Preferably sponge bath the baby for a few days after the navel cord has fallen off to avoid submerging the cord in water. This is also to avoid infection and delayed falling of the cord.
Soaps are too drying for the skin and can be avoided for initial days of life. If at all soap is used, it should be mild with slightly acidic or neutral pH.
Duration of bathing should not be more than 5 minutes. Especially wash the face, neck and the genital area. Never use soap to wash inside of the female genitalia. Rinse the area with water and wipe it front to back.
Umbilical Cord Care:
Keep it clean and dry. Keep the diapers folded down below the cord as air exposure keeps the cord dry and promotes fall off.
Care of Diaper area:
Gently clean the area with warm water and soaked cotton. Wipe the bottom from front to back, let it dry for few minutes before applying diapers.
Coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil can be used. Mustard oil and ghee are best avoided. Oil massage should be done from head to toe and should be a daily routine as it promotes tactile stimulation, thermoregulation, growth and also improves skin barrier function.
Care of Nails and Ears:
Nails should be regularly trimmed using especially available nail cutters for babies. Avoid routine cleaning of ears, oil should not be instilled into the ears.
It is an important aspect of newborn care and should be strictly adhered to. Following the advice of neonatologist is advisable in this regard.
Follow up after discharge:
It has to be individualized based on baby’s pre-discharge status. Usually babies discharged within 72 hours of life should be followed up after 2 days.