The newborn stage is challenging enough as it is. Get a head start with these newborn tips and tricks to help you care for your new baby. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
Life with a newborn also made me doubt myself and question every decision I made. I wondered what in the world I got myself into, not sure whether I was even fit for this parenting business.
The newborn stage was of the most challenging times I’ve had to go through. What helped was the pieces of advice I learned. These baby hacks made a huge difference between a good and bad day.
Newborn tips and tricks
And now I share them with you—you’ll have a toolbox of tips to help care for your baby.
1. Onesies can also be pulled down
Want to know the real reason onesies have those envelope flaps on the shoulders?
I thought it was to accommodate different or growing head shapes. That’s just one part of it. You can also pull the onesie down when your baby has an explosive poop. Rather than maneuvering a filthy onesie over the baby’s head, you can pull it down towards the bottom.
2. Do the elbow-to-the-knee move to eliminate gas
My babies had serious cases of gas. Drops weren’t cutting it. New bottles weren’t either. What did help was a neat body move that expelled the gas immediately.
Lie your baby down on his back. Then, move his right arm and left leg towards each other as if the right elbow and left knee were going to touch. Do the same with the opposite elbow and knee. Alternate a few times until your baby stops farting.
3. Keep newborns awake no longer than an hour and a half
Newborns sleep a lot. They may not sleep in long stretches, but over the course of the day, newborns will be mostly sleeping. Or, more importantly, newborn babies can’t stay awake for long periods of time. An hour and a half max.
I made this mistake with my eldest, toting him around family parties way longer than an hour and a half. He felt cranky, and we were miserable because of it. Now I know to put newborns to sleep if an hour and a half has passed.
4. Track your baby’s feeding and diapers
Your doctor will likely ask what types of bowel movements your baby has had, how often he pees, how many ounces of milk or minutes he nurses and other important information. Record your baby’s feeding and diaper changes so you don’t have to try to remember in your head.
For instance, if he’s breastfed, track how many minutes he nurses and on which breast. If he’s bottle-fed, track how many ounces he drinks.
Besides feeding, track your baby’s diapers, noting whether he peed or pooped. You’ll also want to record what poop he had, such as color, texture, and how often they peed or pooped. I know, not exactly enticing, but necessary.
Keeping track of all your baby’s latest feedings and diaper changes can feel overwhelming. Get a convenient way to track feeding and diaper times with my FREE printable tracker! Download it below:
5. Follow the eat/awake/sleep routine
Do your nurse or feed your baby to sleep? I used to rely on nursing my eldest to sleep, especially for naps. But then he’d fall asleep only through nursing (or rocking). Nursing to sleep wasn’t the way to go.
Then I read Tracy Hogg’s E-A-S-Y technique (eat/awake/sleep/you). Feed your baby (eat) when she wakes up (awake) so she’ll have energy for her awake time. She won’t rely on milk to fall asleep. And she’ll have something to transition from sleep to awake.
After your baby has been awake for an hour and a half, then you put her sleep drowsy but awake (sleep). She can explore different ways to put herself to sleep, such as sucking on her thumb or rolling her head side to side.
And once she’s asleep, you can tend to yourself (you) and repeat the cycle.
Such a game changer for me! All this time I thought my only option was to nurse to sleep. But that only makes the baby rely on nursing or sucking to fall asleep.
6. Find alternative ways to hold your baby
Your baby’s preferred position? In your arms. The snuggling is good, but not sustainable. After all, you need your arms for other things, and it’s not always safe to fall asleep with the baby in your arms. (Check out a guide I wrote about getting your baby to sleep without being held.)
Use other techniques to hold the baby, such as these items I’ve used or recommended:
- A swing
- A baby carrier or wrap
- Pushing your baby in a stroller
- An infant cushion (like the one below)
Try different ways to put your baby to sleep or to hold your baby using any of these methods. The more options you have, the less likely you have to convince your baby to sleep away from your arms.
7. Swaddle your baby to sleep
Master the art of swaddling:
- Place a square swaddle blanket (like these Aden+Anais ones I used) flat on a surface like a diamond.
- Fold the top corner down 5-10 inches towards the middle so that the diamond now looks like the top part got cut off.
- Place your baby on top of the swaddle with her neck aligned with the straight line you just folded.
- Keep your baby’s arms held straight next to her body. Then fold the left corner of the swaddle over her body and tuck it under her back. Her left arm should still be free.
- Fold the bottom corner up and over her left shoulder, tucking it inside the swaddle.
- Holding her left arm down, fold the right corner over her arm and entire body, tucking into the swaddle.
Everything should be comfortable and tight. You want to mimic the snugness of being in your womb. The moro reflexes typical of the newborn stage also cause her to flail her arms. This wakes her up, either because of the motion or she hit herself on the face.
You can skip these steps using a velcro swaddle blanket or the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. Both keep your baby snug, helping her fall and stay asleep. I used the velcro swaddle blanket which worked well! I didn’t have to worry about the swaddles coming undone. It comes especially useful in the middle of the night—less steps to do!
8. Use white noise so your baby doesn’t startle
Your baby listened to the white noise of your womb, so to go from that to a pitch-quiet room is a big change. Help your baby sleep longer with a white noise machine. There should be enough sound to keep her from jumping at the slightest sound.
Here are a few ideas for white noise machines:
9. Hang darkening curtains
Your baby has no sense of day or night when she was in the womb. Out in the real world, she’ll need help adjusting to the hours. Help her get into a routine by hanging darkening curtains, especially at night. Her body will adjust and she’ll know that nights and dark mean long stretches of sleep.
The newborn stage is tough enough as it is, but with these newborn tips, you’ll have an easier time caring for your baby. You’ll know the best way to relieve your baby of gas and how to help her sleep longer. And you can finally enjoy the newborn months a little bit more.
Get more newborn tips and parenting advice:
- How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held
- 13 Ways to Cope with Newborn Sleep Deprivation
- On Balancing Newborn and Toddler Needs
- Top 10 Baby Sleep Tips That Will Help You Get More Sleep
- How to (Mentally) Get Through the Newborn Phase
Get your baby to sleep
Struggling to get your baby to sleep anywhere else but your arms? Get a free chapter of my guide, "How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held." Learn the strategies, habits and routines I used to get my babies to sleep.