9 crucial tips for infant care during covid-19
Virtually every aspect of our daily life has been altered in some way by COVID-19. Taking care of an infant is no exception. While your newborn’s needs are the same, never before have parents been expected to take care of their babies entirely by themselves—without friends, family, or hired care providers like postpartum doulas.
If you have no one in your home to help you care for your baby, we highly encourage you to follow your baby’s lead. Don’t worry about holding them too much. You simply can’t! Respond to your little one’s cues right away in these first few weeks and you’ll find you have a baby who cries less and will be easier to care for.
Though this time is challenging, the pandemic does provide a rare time to nest with your new baby without the normal pressure of getting out of the house so quickly and having to host too many guests. Embrace the bonding time and follow these important tips for taking care of a newborn while on your own:
Follow the principles of the 4th trimester. Your new baby is transitioning to life outside the womb. In the womb, they were cocooned, remained at a constant temperature, and listened to loud swooshing sounds inside of your body. That’s why new babies become when they are held and rocked, swaddled, and exposed to white noise. The more you make the outside world similar to what your baby experienced on the inside, the easier it will be for your newborn—and the less fussing you’ll likely see.
Wear your baby a lot. Babywearing is going to be a lifesaver during this time. Babywearing allows you to nurture your baby, encourages easy newborn sleep, and allows you to have free hands so you can care for your newborn while doing other activities. The safest way to wear your baby is with your baby’s head is at kissable height and your baby’s airway is unobstructed.
Sleep near your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your infant sleeps in the same room as you for the first six months. Plus most parents report getting more sleep when they sleep near their newborn, too. Always place your baby to sleep on their back in a safe, flat bassinet or crib approved for sleep.
Feed your baby on-demand. Whenever your baby shows signs of hunger, feed your baby. You’ll have a more content little person, which means more content parents. Frequent feedings also support a good milk supply.
Learn and try all the baby soothing techniques. When a baby won’t easily settle or cries a lot, it can be very trying on a new parent’s nerves. If you’ve already held them and fed them, try swaddling, rocking and bouncing them, swaying them, shushing them, using a white noise machine, or letting them suck on your very clean pinky or a pacifier.
If nothing works and you are at your wits end, put the baby down safely on a firm sleeping surface (the bassinet or crib) and take a break to breathe deeply, listen to music for a few minutes, stretch in another room, or call a friend or family member. Once you have calmed down, you’ll be better able to cope.
Call your pediatrician when you need them. Despite the fact that you won’t be going in for many in-person visits, your pediatrician is still available to you by phone or video. It’s always okay to reach out to them with any questions about how your newborn is doing. If you feel like something is not quite right, just call the pediatrician, rather than searching Dr. Google.
Pay attention to your needs. All caregivers need time to refill their cups. Sleep is one of the best ways to restore your patience, but it certainly can be elusive during these early days. Try napping at least once or twice per day while your baby is snoozing. Give yourself a few moments to listen to music or meet up virtually with some friends. Drop-in to an online postpartum yoga class or do a guided meditation. Make yourself a cup of tea and read a magazine article. Watch something light and funny. Connect with other new parents stuck at home like you via a new parent support group.
Know when you’re at your limit and reach out for professional help. If you feel overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, reaching out is the first step to feeling better. Boober can connect you with mental health therapists who specialize in supporting people during pregnancy and postpartum. You can also visit Postpartum Support International for a free support hotline.
Try a virtual postpartum doula. Many new parents stuck at home love the support that a professional postpartum doula can provide. Postpartum doulas help ease the transition to parenthood. They can virtually guide you through baby soothing techniques, breastfeeding support, diapering, swaddling, and bathing techniques. They also support a parent’s recovery from birth with emotional support and guidance on postpartum healing.
Infant care when you are alone during a pandemic can be hard, but it can be done and it is OK to ask for help. Virtual support from friends, family, and professionals are essential in these times of need.
I’m Dr. Sneha Gazi. I’m a physical therapist and owner of Sneha Physical Therapy, a NY-based in-home and telehealth practice. I’m the founder and Executive Director of Physical Therapy International Service Foundation, a 501(c)(3) ...
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