Bonding with your newborn is one of the most important and satisfying aspects of caring for him. Physical closeness, especially through skin-to-skin contact, will promote a better emotional connection with him. This connection helps you to form a stronger bond with him, thus helping his emotional growth.
However, handling a newborn can be intimidating, especially if you have not had any experience before. While their fragility can be daunting, you just need to learn some basic things and you’ll soon be handling your newborn with confidence.
Basic facts to remember
Before you even touch your newborn, always ensure that anything he comes into contact with is clean. That includes your clothes and especially your hands (e.g. wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitiser before you handle him). It is important to ensure that everyone handling him is also clean as he can easily fall sick, since his immune system is still weak.
Always, always support your newborn’s head and neck whenever you pick him up or hold him. While holding or carrying him, be very careful not to shake him. Shaking, regardless whether it was done out of frustration or in a playful manner, can lead to bleeding in the brain and possibly death. The same caution applies to rough play such as jiggling him on your knees or throwing him up in the air and catching him.
‘Wearing’ a newborn
There are two popular methods that allow you to ‘wear’ your baby when you go out. One entails using an adjustable baby carrier and the other uses a wrap, which is essentially a long piece of cloth.
Using a baby carrier
- Fasten all the necessary straps of your baby carrier. Adjust the buckles and straps but ensure that there is some space left for your newborn.
- Use both hands to gently slide him into the baby carrier. If necessary, get your partner to help you slide him in. It is recommended to have him facing you.
- Make the final adjustments to the straps. Ensure that the baby carrier is fully supporting his back and neck. His head should rest comfortably against your chest facing either to the left or right.
Using a wrap
- Tie the baby wrap around your body following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Gently slide your newborn into the wrap, taking care to let him curl into a comfortable foetal position. If necessary, get your partner to help you to slide him in.
- Now carefully reposition the wrap so that it covers and supports his body. Always keep a secure hold on him as you make the final adjustments to the wrap.
Do not place him facing out or into a horizontal or ‘hammock’ position as these positions are not safe.
Basic safety tips
Always position your newborn with his chin up to ensure that his airway remains open. Never ‘wear’ him with his chin curled down toward his chest as it may disrupt his breathing. If you use a wrap, try to ‘wear’ him as high up your chest as possible with his face visible – the wrap should be wound around his body in such a way as to provide him with the necessary support.
An educational contribution by Malaysian Paediatric Association.