The First 24 hours: The manual they aren’t born with!

Well, they aren't born with manuals and your Doctor, Doula or hospital doesn't hand them out. Since all babies are different it wouldn't be very cost effective or accurate if each child had a manual. Even if there was a manual you probably wouldn't have time to read it. But in the off chance, the stars aligned for you to read this, attempt at a baby manual, we tried to cover as much as we could.


9/6/202314 min read

woman holding baby beside man smilingwoman holding baby beside man smiling


Welcoming Your Bundle of Joy

The moment you've eagerly awaited has finally arrived – your precious bundle of joy is here. With this tiny, miraculous being in your arms, your journey into parenthood has officially begun. Embrace this extraordinary moment with open hearts and open minds. The next 24 hours will be a whirlwind of new experiences and emotions, but you're not alone on this adventure. Here, we'll guide you through each step, offering invaluable insights and tips to help you navigate this crucial time with confidence and care.

The Initial Moments

The First Cry

The very first sound you'll hear from your newborn is their cry – a beautiful and reassuring sign that they've entered the world. This cry is not only a declaration of their arrival but also a way for them to clear their tiny lungs of amniotic fluid. Expect variations in cry patterns; they will convey different needs, from hunger to the need for comfort. As you listen closely to these cries, you'll begin to discern their unique language, helping you respond to their needs more effectively.

Apgar Score and Evaluation

Soon after your baby's birth, a healthcare professional will conduct an Apgar assessment, a quick but comprehensive evaluation of your newborn's overall health and well-being. Scores range from 0 to 10, with higher scores indicating better condition. This assessment examines your baby's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color. It helps healthcare providers identify any immediate concerns and ensures that your baby receives the appropriate care and attention right from the start.

Umbilical Cord Care

Your baby's umbilical cord stump will still be attached during the first 24 hours. It's essential to keep it clean and dry to prevent infection and promote a smooth healing process. Gently clean the area with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and ensure that it's exposed to air, not covered by the diaper. This simple care routine will help the stump naturally fall off within a few weeks, revealing your baby's adorable little belly button.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Benefits for Mom and Baby

Skin-to-skin contact, often referred to as kangaroo care, is a profoundly meaningful practice for both you and your newborn. It involves holding your baby close to your bare chest, creating a nurturing and bonding experience. This intimate contact has numerous benefits, including regulating your baby's body temperature, stabilizing their heart rate, and even reducing stress for both you and your little one. It's a beautiful way to initiate your lifelong journey together.

Promoting Bonding

Your touch, warmth, and scent provide a sense of security and familiarity for your baby. Skin-to-skin contact not only promotes bonding but also encourages breastfeeding by triggering your baby's natural rooting and latching reflexes. It's a powerful tool for nurturing the emotional connection between you and your newborn, fostering trust and attachment right from the start.

Regulating Temperature

Newborns are still adapting to the outside world, and maintaining their body temperature is crucial for their well-being. Skin-to-skin contact helps regulate your baby's temperature, keeping them cozy and comfortable. This gentle practice ensures that your baby experiences a smooth transition from the warmth of the womb to the loving embrace of your arms, creating a safe and nurturing environment for their early days.

Feeding Your Newborn

Breastfeeding Essentials

1. Latching On

Successful breastfeeding begins with achieving a proper latch. Encourage your baby to take a wide mouthful of breast, ensuring that they grasp not only the nipple but also a significant portion of the areola. This technique effectively stimulates milk flow and helps prevent nipple soreness, ensuring a comfortable feeding experience for both you and your baby.

2. Colostrum

In the first few days after birth, your breasts will produce colostrum – often referred to as "liquid gold." This nutrient-rich substance is packed with antibodies and essential nutrients, providing your baby with a powerful boost to their immune system. Even though it's in small quantities, colostrum is all your newborn needs in the beginning. It's perfectly tailored to their nutritional requirements and serves as the foundation for a healthy start in life.

Bottle Feeding Considerations

If you've chosen to bottle-feed your baby, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. Select an appropriate nipple size for your newborn's age and ensure that the formula is prepared according to the manufacturer's instructions. When feeding, hold your baby close and allow them to feed at their own pace. Always check the temperature of the formula – it should be lukewarm, not too hot or too cold, to ensure your baby's comfort during feeding.

Formula Feeding Tips

For formula feeding, carefully follow the instructions on the formula packaging, including proper sterilization of bottles and nipples. Maintaining a hygienic feeding environment is essential to safeguard your baby's health. Bond with your baby during feedings by maintaining eye contact and offering soothing words and gentle touches, reinforcing the connection between you and your little one.

Diaper Duties

Meconium and Transitional Stools

Your newborn's first bowel movements will consist of meconium, a sticky, dark-green substance that's completely normal during the first few days of life. As your baby's digestive system matures, their stool will transition to a lighter color and more liquid consistency. This natural evolution in stool is a positive sign of your baby's development.

Frequency and Volume

Get ready for frequent diaper changes – expect to change your baby's diaper approximately 8-12 times a day. Because your baby's stomach is still small, they'll have smaller, more frequent feeds, leading to more diaper changes. Keeping your baby clean and dry is essential for their comfort and well-being.

Diaper Changing Essentials

Prepare a diaper changing station with all the essentials, including diapers, wipes, and a clean, safe surface. When changing the diaper, take care to expose the umbilical cord stump and avoid covering it with the diaper. A well-organized changing area will make these frequent diaper changes more manageable and efficient.

Sleeping Patterns

Newborn Sleep Cycles

Newborns sleep a lot – up to 16-17 hours a day, but their sleep is divided into short cycles, typically lasting 2-3 hours each. During these cycles, your baby will wake up for feeding and diaper changes. Be prepared for around-the-clock care during the first few weeks.

Safe Sleep Environment

Creating a safe sleep environment is paramount to your baby's well-being. Always place your baby on their back to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Use a firm mattress and remove any pillows, toys, or loose bedding from the crib or bassinet. Consider using a sleep sack instead of blankets to keep your baby comfortably warm.

Navigating Nighttime

Nighttime can be challenging, but remember that this phase is temporary. To ensure both you and your partner get some rest, consider taking shifts for nighttime care. Sharing responsibilities allows you to catch some much-needed sleep and support each other during this transition into parenthood.

Cord Care

Keeping It Clean and Dry

Your baby's umbilical cord stump requires gentle care to promote healing and prevent infection. Clean the area with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, ensuring it stays clean and dry. Be patient as you wait for the stump to naturally detach, which usually happens within a few weeks. Avoid submerging your baby in water until this process is complete.

Signs of Concern

While cord care is typically straightforward, be vigilant for any signs of infection, such as redness, pus, or a foul odor around the stump. If you notice these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider promptly for guidance.

Healing Process

The umbilical cord stump will eventually fall off, revealing your baby's cute little belly button. It's a significant milestone in your baby's early days, marking the transition to a more mature stage of development. Continue to provide gentle care until the stump has completed its healing journey.

First Pediatric Checkup

Importance of the First Visit

Schedule your baby's first pediatric appointment within the first week of birth. This initial visit is crucial for several reasons. It allows you to discuss any concerns you may have, receive guidance on feeding and care, and ensure that your baby is growing and developing according to expectations. Your pediatrician will also discuss the vaccination schedule to protect your baby from preventable diseases.

Vaccination Schedule

During the first pediatric visit, your doctor will provide you with a vaccination schedule tailored to your baby's age. Vaccinations are essential to safeguard your child's health and prevent serious illnesses. These immunizations protect not only your baby but also the community by maintaining herd immunity.

Discussing Concerns

Don't hesitate to ask questions or express concerns during the pediatric visit. Your healthcare provider is there to support you and your baby's health journey. Open and honest communication will help you feel more confident and informed as you care for your newborn.

Swaddling Techniques

Comfort and Security

Swaddling is a practice that provides your baby with a sense of comfort and security, reminiscent of the cozy environment they experienced in the womb. To swaddle your baby, use a lightweight, breathable blanket and wrap them snugly but not too tightly. Ensure that your baby's hips have enough room to move to prevent hip dysplasia.

Safe Swaddling Practices

Safety is paramount when swaddling your baby. Always place your baby to sleep on their back and discontinue swaddling once they start showing signs of rolling over. Swaddling can help your baby sleep more soundly and peacefully, creating a comfortable and soothing bedtime routine. For our favorite Swaddle Sheets please use our affiliate link. These are our preferred Swaddling sheets. When we had our fist child he cried for what seemed to be no reason. for days he would only stop to crying to breast feed or sleep, Until we learned that swaddling gives them the comfort of being back in the womb. After going trough at least 50 swaddling blankets we found these. There are name brand and really cheap swaddle options there are some that are designed to strap closed to make it easier. Only to find that they don't hold the baby snug or they fall apart as they grow. And if they do hold the baby tight they don't allow the baby to move. And those that allow the baby to move don't hold the baby's hands in place. These Swaddles are large enough to get a good tight swaddle on your baby while also being stretchy enough to allow your baby to move without their hands getting free. The material is thin and breathable and strong yet versatile. Here is a list of different ways we have used these over the years.

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  4. Changing station cover (most of the time the sofa).

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  6. Clean up a mess quickly.

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  8. Privacy for public breastfeeding or when you have a visitor.

Alternatives to Swaddling

If your baby doesn't take to swaddling or if you're concerned about it, there are alternative soothing methods to explore. White noise machines, gentle rocking, or the use of a pacifier can also help calm and comfort your newborn, ensuring a restful night's sleep for both of you.

Baby's Reflexes

Understanding the Moro Reflex

The Moro reflex, often referred to as the startle reflex, is a normal and instinctive response in newborns. When your baby experiences a sudden movement or noise, they will spread their arms wide and quickly bring them back in, as if embracing something. This reflex usually decreases after a few months as your baby's nervous system matures.

Rooting and Sucking Reflex

Your baby's rooting reflex is another natural response. When you touch your baby's cheek, they will turn their head toward the touch and open their mouth, searching for the breast or a bottle. This reflex helps them find the source of nourishment. Similarly, the sucking reflex, when triggered by a nipple, pacifier, or even a finger, helps your baby feed effectively.

Grasping Reflex

Place your finger in your baby's palm, and you'll notice their hand automatically closes around it. This is the grasping reflex at work, an innate response that showcases your baby's natural instinct to grasp onto objects. It's a delightful reflex to observe and a testament to your baby's developing motor skills.

Baby's Appearance

Soft Spot (Fontanelle)

Your baby's head is uniquely designed to accommodate their rapid brain growth. As a result, they have a soft spot on the top of their head, called the fontanelle, where the skull bones haven't fully fused. This spot is sensitive but also resilient. It gradually closes over time, with the smaller front fontanelle typically closing by the time your baby is 18 months old.

Head Shape

Newborns often have slightly misshaped heads due to the birth process, but these variations typically round out naturally as they grow. If you have concerns about your baby's head shape, discuss them with your pediatrician. They can provide guidance and reassurance, ensuring your baby's head develops beautifully.

Skin and Eye Color Changes

In the days and weeks following birth, you may notice changes in your baby's skin and eye color. Most newborns have blue or gray eyes initially, which may change over time as their permanent eye color develops. Additionally, your baby's skin may display temporary changes or rashes, which are usually benign and fade with time. It's all part of the fascinating journey of getting to know your unique and evolving baby.

Parental Rest and Self-Care

Balancing Rest and Responsibilities

The first 24 hours with your newborn can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It's essential to find a balance between caring for your baby's needs and taking care of yourself. Remember that self-care is not selfish – it's a crucial part of being the best parent you can be. Share responsibilities with your partner, allowing each of you to get some well-deserved rest.

Support System

Lean on your support system – family, friends, or fellow parents – for guidance and assistance. Don't hesitate to accept help when offered, whether it's a home-cooked meal or someone to watch the baby while you rest. A strong support system can make all the difference during this transformative time.

Nutrition and Hydration

Nourishing your body is essential as you recover from childbirth and care for your newborn. Ensure you're eating balanced meals and staying hydrated. If you're breastfeeding, your nutrition directly impacts your baby's health, so focus on a diet that supports both of you. Consult with a healthcare provider if you have any dietary concerns or questions.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Postpartum Emotions

It's perfectly normal to experience a wide range of emotions during the first 24 hours and beyond. The "baby blues" can lead to mood swings, tearfulness, and feelings of overwhelm. Remember that hormonal fluctuations and the profound life changes you're undergoing contribute to these emotions. Reach out to your partner, friends, or a support group to share your feelings and seek comfort and understanding.

Bonding with Your Baby

Building a strong bond with your newborn is a gradual process that deepens over time. It's perfectly okay if you don't feel an immediate connection – every parent's journey is unique. Spend time with your baby, engage in skin-to-skin contact, and cherish those precious moments of cuddling and gazing into each other's eyes. Bonding is a journey, not a destination, and it evolves as you and your baby get to know each other better.

Seeking Help When Needed

If you find yourself struggling with overwhelming emotions, anxiety, or depression, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Postpartum depression and anxiety are common and treatable conditions. Your mental well-being is as important as your physical health, and reaching out for support can make a profound difference in your postpartum experience.

Newborn Care Essentials

Baby Gear Checklist

Preparing for your baby's arrival involves gathering essential baby gear. Ensure you have necessities like a crib or bassinet, baby clothes, diapers, wipes, baby-friendly detergent, and feeding supplies. Create a checklist to help you stay organized and ready for your baby's needs.

Nursery Setup

Designing a safe and comfortable nursery is an exciting part of preparing for your baby. Choose soothing colors, invest in a quality crib or bassinet, and consider adding a rocking chair or glider for those late-night feedings. Ensure that the room is well-ventilated and maintains a comfortable temperature.

Essential Supplies

Stock up on baby essentials like diapers, wipes, baby shampoo, and baby-friendly laundry detergent. It's better to have more supplies than you think you'll need, as newborns go through them quickly. Having these items readily available will make caring for your baby more convenient and stress-free.

Keeping Visitors Informed

Setting Boundaries

While friends and family are undoubtedly excited to meet your new baby, it's crucial to set boundaries to protect your baby's health and your well-being. Establish guidelines for visiting hours, handwashing, and illness prevention. Encourage visitors to postpone their visit if they're feeling unwell.

Handling Well-Wishers

Well-wishers and relatives may offer advice and opinions, sometimes unsolicited. Remember that you are the parent and ultimately know what's best for your baby. Politely acknowledge their input and follow your instincts when making decisions about your baby's care.

Protecting Your Baby

During the first 24 hours and beyond, your baby's immune system is still developing. Ensure that anyone who handles your baby washes their hands thoroughly and refrains from kissing your newborn's face to reduce the risk of illness. These precautions help safeguard your baby's health and well-being.

Capturing Precious Moments

Photography Tips

The first 24 hours with your newborn are filled with unforgettable moments. Capture these precious memories by keeping your camera or smartphone handy. Natural lighting and candid shots often result in heartwarming and authentic photos that you'll cherish for years to come.

Creating Keepsakes

Consider creating keepsakes like a baby journal or memory book to document your baby's early days. Include notes, photos, and mementos to create a beautiful keepsake that captures the essence of this remarkable time in your life.

Cherishing Milestones

Every day with your newborn brings new milestones and discoveries. Celebrate these moments, no matter how small they may seem. From the first smile to the first grasp of your finger, each milestone is a testament to your baby's growth and development.

Connecting with Other Parents

Joining Parenting Groups

Connecting with other parents can provide you with valuable insights, support, and a sense of community. Consider joining parenting groups, either in-person or online, where you can share experiences, ask questions, and build lasting friendships with others who are on a similar journey.

Online Resources

The internet is a treasure trove of parenting resources. Explore reputable websites, forums, and social media groups where you can access expert advice, parenting tips, and connect with a global community of parents sharing their experiences.

Sharing Experiences

As you navigate the challenges and joys of parenthood, remember that you're not alone. Share your own experiences, triumphs, and challenges with other parents – your insights may be just the guidance someone else needs.

Preparing for the Future

Financial Planning

Parenthood brings new financial responsibilities. Consider creating a budget that accounts for your baby's needs, including diapers, formula or breastfeeding supplies, and medical expenses. Explore options for a college savings plan and set financial goals for your family's future.

Educational Savings

Start planning for your baby's education early by opening a college savings account, such as a 529 plan. Contributing regularly, even in small amounts, can significantly impact your child's future educational opportunities.

Estate Planning

Ensure your family's future security by establishing or updating your estate plan. This includes creating a will, designating guardians for your child, and reviewing life insurance policies to provide financial protection for your loved ones.

Celebrating Baby's Arrival

Baby Naming Ceremony

Many cultures celebrate a baby's arrival with a naming ceremony. Whether it's a formal event or a simple gathering with close family and friends, a naming ceremony is a beautiful way to introduce your baby to the world and officially announce their name.

Birth Announcements

Share the joy of your baby's arrival with personalized birth announcements. Include your baby's name, birthdate, and a cherished photo. These announcements are keepsakes that friends and family will treasure.

Family Traditions

Start creating family traditions that you can carry forward throughout your child's life. These traditions can be as simple as a weekly family game night or as elaborate as annual family vacations. Building these connections and memories will strengthen your family bonds.


Embracing Parenthood

The first 24 hours with your newborn are a remarkable and transformative time. Embrace the journey of parenthood with an open heart and a caring spirit. As you care for your baby and create lasting memories, remember that it's okay to seek help and support when needed. Parenthood is a journey filled with love, learning, and the beauty of watching your little one grow. Enjoy every moment and treasure the precious memories you're creating together. The road ahead is filled with love, laughter, and countless adventures. Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting!