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Caring for your baby

You will receive all the necessary support from our midwifery team following the first few weeks of your baby’s life - both in hospital and in the home. They will guide you on how to feed, bath, dress and soothe your baby and are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have. The ‘Birth to Five’ NHS book will be given to you after you have had your baby by your health visitor together with the Child Health Record or ‘Red Book’ as many people call. Both contain lots of additional helpful tips and advice about how to care for your baby.

  • The essentials

    It is easy to get confused about what you really need for your baby in those early days and weeks, but here are some of the essentials you will need:

    • Disposable or cloth nappies (for non-disposable you will also need nappy pins, nappy liners, a bucket with a lid and nappy sterilising powder or liquid for sterilising nappies, four pairs of plastic pants that are either tie-on or elasticated).
    • For nappy changing: cotton wool, a plastic changing mat, , barrier cream to prevent nappy rash and a bag to carry everything in when you are out and about.
    • For bathing: a baby bath or large clean bowl, unperfumed soap and two soft towels.
    • For sleeping: a crib, carry cot or mosses basket, a firm mattress, sheets and light blankets (pillows and duvets are unsuitable for babies under the age of one-year-old because of the risk of suffocation).
    • For feeding: front-opening nursing bras, breast pads (if breastfeeding) or 6 bottles with caps, sterilising equipment, a bottle brush and infant formula milk (if formula feeding).
    • Baby clothes: six stretch suits, two cardigans, four vests, a shawl or blanket to wrap your baby in, a wool hat, mittens, socks or bootees and a sunhat.
    • Out and about: a pushchair or baby carrier and a car seat if you drive.
  • Minimising the risk of cot death

    Sadly, we don’t know why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason from cot death, known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of it happening to your baby.

    • Always put your baby down to sleep on its back unless there is a substantial medical reason not to.
    • Place your baby in the ‘feet to foot’ position, which means that the baby’s feet are right at the end of the cot to prevent the infant from wriggling under the covers and overheating.
    • Always make sure your baby’s head is exposed and uncovered. We advise that you choose blankets rather than a duvet to limit the risk of suffocation.
    • Maintain a constant temperature in the baby’s room of around 18°centigrade. Although it’s important to prevent a baby becoming too cold, stuffy and overheated environments can also pose a risk.
    • Make sure your baby sleeps in a smoke-free room and avoid smoking around your baby.
    • You should not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner are under the influence of alcohol or any drugs, are overweight or excessively tired. Don’t fall asleep with them on a sofa or armchair.
    • Stay vigilant. If your baby develops breathing problems, is overly drowsy or running a temperature then seek prompt medical advice. It could be a life-saver.
  • Maternity leaflets: Parent information for new borns – translated versions