How to care for your baby and what to expect in the first year.
After baby is born, several tests and assessments will be performed to make sure they are healthy. This includes a physical assessment, applying eye ointment, a vitamin K injection, and a blood test to complete the newborn screening.
A hearing test will also be completed in the hospital before your baby goes home. Contact the Infant Hearing Program if you gave birth at home, you didn’t get the screening done at the hospital, or your baby needs a follow up hearing test.
Your baby needs to be seen by a doctor or health care provider for a first check–up 2 to 3 days after birth. This is extremely important to make sure your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb and feeding well.
Any concerns with feeding your baby by breast or bottle should be addressed right away. Make an appointment with your doctor or speak to a public health nurse by calling Peel Public Health at 905–799–7700. Also refer to feeding your baby.
- Baby Feeding Support Clinics
- Talk to a public health nurse
- Healthy Babies Healthy Children
- Child care subsidy
- Support for children with special needs
- EarlyON Child and Family Centres
Getting to know your baby
You are the most important person in your baby's life and getting to know your baby is important for building your relationship.
This is the 2–way relationship between parent and baby. Responding quickly and sensitively to your baby will make them feel safe and secure. Cuddling, talking, and smiling at your baby will help build their brain. Attachment: a connection for life.
There are many benefits to practicing skin–to–skin with your baby, and any caregiver can do it. Ask your doctor or health care provider about doing this with baby right after delivery. Holding your baby skin–to–skin.
How your baby looks at birth
Your baby may also look different than what you expect in the first few days. However, after the first few days your baby will begin to look more like what you expected your baby to look like. What your newborn baby looks like.
Some babies will develop jaundice and will need some extra support to manage this. Feeding your baby at least every 3 hours is a good way to prevent this from occurring. Always contact your doctor or health care provider if your baby’s skin and whites of eyes are turning yellow, or if your baby is not feeding well or seems very sleepy. Jaundice in newborns.
Movements and reflexes
Your baby may also reflex or move in different ways that are new to you. This is normal and will change as baby grows. However, see your doctor if you have questions or concerns. Movements and reflexes.
Newborn baby crying
In the first few weeks of lift, babies cry to communicate their needs. Learn the most common reasons babies cry. Why my baby cries.
It’s normal to feel excited and nervous about taking care of your baby. Taking care of your baby is a great way to get to know them. Remember to cuddle, sing, smile and talk with your baby during these times to encourage positive attachment. You will learn new things about your baby every day!
See your doctor if baby’s rash doesn’t clear up after 3 days, spreads to a larger area like the stomach or legs, contains pus or yellow discharge or is accompanied by a fever. How to prevent and treat diaper rash.
Wet and dirty diapers
It’s very important to know how many wet and dirty (stool) diapers your baby has in 24 hours. This tells you how well baby is feeding and if baby is getting enough to eat. See a doctor immediately if your baby doesn’t have the expected number of wet and dirty diapers, has dark yellow pee, dry lips, mouth or tongue or has a fever.
Washing your baby
Babies only need a sponge or tub bath every 3 days or so. Wash head first or last at bath time to prevent heat loss. Clean baby’s face and genitals daily. The umbilical cord area needs cleaning only with warm water and a soft cloth. Remember, never leave a baby alone during bath time and have everything you need in arms reach before you start. Bath time for newborn babies.
If your baby has had a circumcision, follow the directions provided by your doctor for cleaning and bandaging. Make sure to follow up with your doctor immediately if baby continues to bleed after pressure is applied, hasn’t had a wet diaper for more than four hours, there is an unusual smell or discharge from the circumcised area or baby has a fever. Caring for your baby at home after circumcision.
Dressing your baby
Follow this simple rule: Dress your baby as you're dressed, plus one layer. Too many layers could result in baby overheating. Never dress your baby in a heavy coat or snowsuit and then put them in a car seat. The seat's harness straps won't fit properly, and baby could be ejected from the seat. Dressing your baby.
Also learn about skin and nail care.
When baby has a fever
Although taking a baby’s temperature is an essential part of caring for your child, how your baby looks, and acts is more important than the number on the thermometer. If you’re concerned at any time about your baby’s health, take them to the doctor, whether they have a fever or not. What to do when your baby has a fever.
You should also take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible if they:
- Are less than 6 months old and have a temperature higher than 37.5°C (in the armpit) or 38°C (in the ear).
- Seem too drowsy or sleepy, or aren’t interested in normal activities (feeding etc.).
- Have poor skin colour or pallor.
- Are breathing faster than 40 breaths per minute or are having difficulty breathing.
- Have a fever with a rash.
- Are drooling too much or
- Have a cough or a wheeze that is not going away.
Parents and caregivers are recommended to use a digital thermometer in baby’s armpit to take their temperature. Only health care providers should take a baby’s temperature rectally (in the bum).
Babies don’t come with instruction manuals. As a parent or caregiver, you may have many questions throughout your baby’s first year.
AboutKidsHealth from SickKids hospital offers information about:
- Baby development, including growth, vision, hearing, social and cognitive development.
- Routine vaccinations.
- Baby safety, including nursery equipment.
- Baby behaviour, such as crying and colic.
- Attachment (bonding with your baby).
- Common health concerns in babies.
- When babies feel pain and how to relieve it.
Learn more about babies from AboutKidsHealth.
Safe and healthy sleep for babies
Learn how to create a safe sleep environment to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Safe sleep for babies.
Learn more about keeping your child safe in their environment, including travel safety, indoor safety, outdoor safety and activities, and poisoning. Safety and the environment.
Child car seats
Transport Canada provides information about choosing and installing a child car seat or booster seat, recall notices, safety, and testing information. Child care seat safety.
Find licensed child care
Licensed child care programs in Peel are available to meet your family’s needs. Search for licensed child care.