Breastfeeding positions

1. Cradle hold
The most popular feeding position is the 'cradle hold'. Lay your baby across your body so that he's lying on his side with his whole body facing yours. (He shouldn't need to turn his head to reach your breast.)

When offering your left breast, use your left hand to support your breast and your right arm and hand to support your baby. Reverse this hold, and your baby's position, when offering your right breast.

2. Football hold
The 'football hold' is another common breastfeeding position. This position may be more comfortable than a 'cradle hold' if you have had a C-section or are breastfeeding twins. To try this feeding position you will need a pillow to support your baby as you lay him at your side. Position his legs under your arm and his head near your breast. Lay him on his side so that his body is facing yours.

Use your left arm to support him when offering your left breast and your right arm when offering your right breast. Support him in position with your forearm long his back and your hand supporting the nape of his neck. Support your breast with your free hand.

3. Side-lying hold
Lying down can be a very comfortable way to breastfeed your baby. Lay on your side on a bed or couch, with your baby on his side facing you. You can offer both breasts while lying on the same side, by changing your position slightly or you can roll over both you and him onto your other side to offer your other breast.

This position may be best left until you are confident that your baby is latching-on correctly. Care should be taken to ensure your baby's safety if you choose to use this feeding position, as there's the possibility that you may fall asleep while feeding.

How to latch-on

1. Mother's sitting position
Most mothers find sitting upright in a chair the most comfortable position. Be sure the arm of the chair is at the right height to support your arm. A footstool may also be helpful to elevate your feet. You may find it more comfortable to use pillows to support your back, your arm and your baby (once he has successfully latched-on).

2. Support your baby
Hold your baby in either a 'cradle hold' or 'football hold' using your forearm to support his back and your hand to support his head - your thumb near one ear and your third finger near his other ear. (You will find you can control the tilt of his head by your wrist movement.) Position your baby so that his nose is at the same level as your nipple before attempting to latch-on.

3. Support your breast
Support your breast in a 'C-hold' i.e. your thumb on top and index finger underneath, at least 1" back from your areola (the area of color tissue surrounding your nipple). Gently squeeze your finger and thumb towards each other to compress your breast.

4. Encourage your baby to open his mouth
Tilt your baby's head back just slightly by lifting between his shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. (When your baby's head is tilted back he can open his mouth much wider.) With his chin up and head tilted back, lift him towards your nipple. Tickle or lightly brush his upper lip with your nipple to encourage him to open his mouth wide (as wide as if he was yawning).

If he doesn't open his mouth or doesn't open it wide enough, gently but firmly pull down on his chin with your index finder of the hand supporting your breast.

5. Bring your baby to your breast - not breast to baby
Avoid bending to feed your baby. As he opens his mouth wide, watch for his tongue to drop and then push gently between his shoulders (not his head) with the heel of your hand, to bring him deep into your breast. As you bring him towards your breast (with a wide open mouth) his chin should touch your breast before any other part of his face.

6. Encourage your baby to take in as much of your areola as possible
As soon as his chin is deep into your breast, tilt his head forward slightly so that his upper jaw will position well behind your nipple. Keep your thumb pressing down to flatten your breast as you tilt his head forward. This is a timed movement, where you will assist your baby to take in more of your breast than he would otherwise. (This move may take a little practice.)

7. Release your hold on your breast
Wait until you feel confident that your baby is latched-on successfully and then release your hold on your breast. If you would like, you can now move your arm (the one that was supporting your breast) around under the nape of his neck and shoulders to support him.

8. If your baby is not latched-on successfully Remove him by breaking his suction and try again. Do not let him suck on the end of your nipple or continue to suck if it's painful for you, as these are both signs that he's not correctly latched-on. Allowing him to continue to suck when he's not correctly latched-on may damage your nipple.

Bathing Baby

Bathing a new baby can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are a first time parent. Learning steps to bath your baby safely and hygienically can make bath time an enjoyable experience for baby and you.

Getting ready!

1. Collect supplies
• Cotton wool balls.
• Q-tips (to clean your baby's cord).
• 2 towels.
• 1 soft washcloth.
• Baby wash or baby soap.
• Baby shampoo (not necessary unless your baby has a lot of hair).
• A baby bath; the laundry sink; or the family bathtub.
• A basin or sink (for sponge bathing).
• Moisturizing lotion or baby massage oil.
• Diaper cream.
• Clean diaper and clothing.

2. Prepare the environment
Choose a flat and comfortable surface such as a changing table, a bed, the floor or a bench top next to the sink or bath. Pad hard surfaces with a blanket or a thick towel. If you choose a surface above the floor, keep one hand on your baby at all times to make sure he doesn't fall. Make sure all supplies are within your arm's reach.

Add only a few inches of warm water to the bath or basin. Once you are feeling confident handling your baby in a bathtub you may like to make the water a little deeper for a soothing relaxation bath. Do not add baby wash or soap to the water at this stage. Warm the room before undressing your baby.

3. Check water temperature
Use your elbow or wrist rather than your hand to check the temperature of the water. The water should be only slightly warm to your touch.

If you are planning to bath your baby in a sink or the family bathtub, make sure you turn the cold tap on first and off last to avoid scalding from the spout (which can become very hot). Do not place your child into water, while the water is still running.

Sponge bathing baby

Prepare the room and supplies as above. Wash your baby's face and hair using the steps described above.

Instead of placing your baby in the bathtub to wash his body, sponge him with a washcloth. To avoid your baby feeling cold, expose only the body parts that you are washing. Wash then rinse each body part and pat dry, before moving onto a new area. After washing your baby's face and hair, then progress to his neck, chest, tummy, arms and legs. Lay him on his stomach to wash his back. Finish with his diaper area, wiping from front to back.

Tube bathing a newborn

1. Undress baby
Lay an additional towel down (to be used to wrap your baby). Undress your baby but leave his diaper on for now. Wrap him in the towel, covering him from his shoulders down. Using the bathing process described below, your baby's face and hair are washed before he goes into the bath water.

2. Wash baby's face
Wipe each eye with a separate cotton wool ball, which has been dipped in the clean water (without baby wash or soap). Wipe from the inner edge (near his nose) to the outside edge. Using a washcloth wash your baby's face, his nose, ears and creases behind his ears, then pat dry.

3. Wash baby's hair

If you have chosen to use baby wash, add that to the water now.

• While your baby is still wrapped in the towel, lay your baby facing you, place your left hand under your baby's neck (supporting his head with your fingers and shoulders in the palm of your hand).
• Using your right hand to lift his lower body and gently place him into a 'football hold' (with his head forward and feet tucked under your left arm).
• Secure his body between your left hip and elbow.
• Once you feel he's securely supported using only your left arm, use your right hand to wash and rinse his hair over the bathtub. (Reverse these arm grips if you're left-handed.)
• Lay him back down and pat dry his head. Now it's time to remove his diaper because he's ready for the bath.
• If you are using baby soap you can choose to either lather your hands with soap then massage his body with your soapy hands before placing him into the bathtub to rinse off; or wash him with a soapy washcloth once he's in the bathtub.

4. Place baby into the tub

• With your baby lying facing you, place your left forearm behind your baby's neck. Loop your thumb and fingers around his left upper arm, near his shoulder. (His neck should be resting on your wrist).
• With your right hand, grasp his feet and gently lift him into the bath.
• Sit him in a semi-reclining position. Once his bottom is resting on the base of the bath release your hold on his feet (but maintain your hold on his upper body). Your right hand is now free to wash him using a washcloth. (Use the opposite hand grips if you are left-handed).
• If you have chosen to use baby wash, you would now wash your baby's body using a washcloth. Start from his neck, then chest, tummy, back, arms and legs, leaving his diaper area until last. To wash your baby's back, either lean him forward slightly or carefully roll him over.
• Pay special attention to the creases under your baby's neck and arms, and the folds in his groin. (Gently wash between the labia skin folds of your baby girl's genitals, without soap.)
• If you have chosen to use baby soap and have already soaped your baby up (as described further above) you only need to rinse the soap off using the washcloth.
• You may need to pour warm water over your baby's body from time to time to keep him warm. If your baby enjoys his bath, give him some extra time to splash and enjoy the sensation of the water. Talk to him while you are undressing him, bathing him and dressing him. Tell him what you are doing; what body parts you are washing etc.

5. Remove baby from tub

When you are ready to lift him out, maintain your hold on his upper body with your left hand and grasp his feet once again with your right hand. Lift him out and place him onto the towel.

6. Dry baby

• Pat dry, don't rub your newborn's skin.
• Pay particular attention to drying between the folds of his skin; behind his ears, under his neck, under his arms and his groin etc.
• Check your newborn baby's navel area for redness. While his cord is still attached, wipe over his cord with a Q-tip that has been dipped in clean water. Dry his cord using a dry Q-tip. (See Caring for your baby's umbilical cord for more information.)
• Moisturize your baby's skin using baby lotion or baby oil. If the room is warm you may like to take a few extra minutes to give him a relaxation massage. If he's upset skip the massage. Please note: A bath and massage at the same time can be too stimulating for many newborn babies.
• Dress him in a fresh diaper and clothing. If his cord is still attached, fold the diaper below his cord and clothes above to leave his cord exposed to the air.

What is baby massage?

Baby massage is gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby's body with your hands. You can use oils to help your hands to glide smoothly over your baby's skin. As part of your massage routine, you can gently manipulate your baby's ankles, wrists and fingers. You can talk softly, hum or sing to your baby while you are massaging, which may make it more reassuring for your baby.
The soothing strokes of your hands stimulate the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin in you, your baby and even your partner, if he's watching. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm, loving feeling when you hold your baby close or breastfeed her.

What are the benefits of baby massage?

There are lots of ways baby massage can benefit not just your baby, but you and your partner as well. Massage may help your baby to:

• develop mentally, socially and physically
• stay relaxed and not get upset
• cry and fuss less
• sleep better

One study found that massage in the early days could help newborns to recover from jaundice more quickly.
You may find that giving your baby a massage lifts your mood and helps you to feel more empowered as a parent. The time you set aside for a massage can be your special time together. As you massage your baby, it comes naturally to chat to her and have plenty of eye contact with her.
This is one reason why massage can help mums with postnatal depression, or who are at risk of depression, to interact with their babies. Find out about the other benefits of baby massage for mums with depression and their babies.
Baby massage can be great for dads, too. Some dads may miss out on a lot of the hands-on care of their babies, especially if they are at work and their baby is breastfed.
A regular massage with dad can become a routine, perhaps at bedtime, that helps to bring your baby and partner closer together. It can also help your partner if he is feeling stressed.
Massage may be particularly good for premature babies in special care, resulting in:

• Improved weight gain, particularly if oils are used. Massage stimulates a key nerve, called the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with important parts of the body, including the stomach. Stimulating this nerve can improve digestion and bowel movement, helping your baby to gain weight.
• A more stable heart rate. Massage improves the parts of the nervous system that regulate our organs. So massage can help to keep your premature baby's heart rate steady.
• Calmer response to stress and pain.
• More stable brain activity. Premature babies who are massaged tend to have brain activity that develops at a normal level. Premature babies who are not massaged have shown a decrease in brain activity development.
These benefits may contribute to the finding that massaged premature babies tend to be well enough to go home with their families sooner than babies who aren't massaged.

How to Change a Diaper

Get step-by-step instructions on changing your baby's diaper and preventing diaper rash.
Don't rely on smell as a cue to change your baby's diaper; she can soil up to 10 diapers a day, if not more. You may notice the diaper is heavy, or you can check the diaper by pulling out the waistband or the leg to see if it is wet or dirty, or you can check your baby's diaper before and after each nap. Always change the diaper immediately when it's soiled; that way, your baby will stay warm and dry and you'll prevent chafing and diaper rash.

Set up a safe diaper changing station, where your baby will not be in danger of rolling or falling off. You can use a clean floor; just use a towel or changing pad to protect your baby. When changing your baby, never leave her unattended -- the slightest movements could cause her to fall. Keep the changing area well supplied with clean diapers, wipes, and any rash ointment (such as zinc oxide cream). Keep a diaper bag packed with these essentials so you can change your child quickly and comfortably when you're on the go. To change your baby, follow the steps below:

1. Lay your baby on his back. Remove any clothing that inhibits access to the diaper. At this age, rompers are popular clothing items; they contain snaps for easy diaper access.
2. Remove the soiled diaper. For disposable diapers, pull up the sticky tabs. For reusable cloth diapers, remove the diaper cover and snaps or Velcro from around your baby's waist.
3. Lift your baby up gently so you can scoot the diaper out from under his bottom.
4. Use wipes to clean your baby's diaper region. Always wipe from front to back to avoid infection, especially for girls.
5. If the area is red or inflamed, soothe it with diaper ointment.
6. Wait for your baby's skin to dry before putting on a fresh diaper.
7. Take a fresh diaper and place it under your baby. Bring the front part up on your baby's stomach and fasten the tabs to secure the diaper on his waist.
8. Replace any clothing over the new diaper.

How to Prevent Diaper Rash

Take these precautions to take to prevent diaper rash. If you suspect a diaper rash is becoming infected, always call the doctor.

• Check your infant's diaper often (every two hours) and change it promptly.
• Clean your infant's diaper region thoroughly during changes.
• Do not use scented wipes or soaps on your infant's diaper region.
• Pat, do not scrub, a baby's bottom when drying your infant after a bath.
• Avoid plastic pants and look out for skin marks, which indicates the diaper is too tight.