This blog is intended for general information purposes only. If you have concerns about your or your child’s health, speak to a medical practitioner.

Your new baby has arrived – congratulations! But there’s one question almost every new parent finds themselves asking: how on earth do I take care of this tiny human? Luckily, there’s a whole host of information out there. From maternity carers to your family and wider community, there are so many people who have had the experience you’re about to embark on, and they’ll all have advice they’re willing to share (sometimes, whether you want it or not!).

Today and next week, we’re going to look at some of the basics around taking care of a newborn, from the official things you need to get sorted to the day-to-day necessities that will help you meet their needs. The first 6-8 weeks are often the hardest, especially if this is your first child, so having an idea of the things you need to get the hang of can be useful, particularly when you’re trying to navigate the fog of sleep deprivation, so let’s get started!


Register your baby’s birth

While this doesn’t need to be done on day one, you will need to register the birth fairly quickly after your little one arrives – in New Zealand, that usually means within the first two months (you can check the details for your own country on your government’s websites). This is a legal requirement in NZ, and it is free, though you will need to pay a fee to get a copy of the birth certificate. If you’ve made a mistake on the form, it may also incur a charge if you need to correct it, so take care to check and recheck before you submit it. Once the birth has been registered, you can get other things organised, including applying for your baby’s IRD number and Best Start payments or adding them to your Working for Families tax credits.

Sleeping newborn in a capsule-style car seat

Car seat & installation

Having a car seat that meets all the relevant standards is vital. Making sure your baby is securely fastened in the car right from the very first trip home from the hospital (for those having a hospital birth or whose babies have needed to be transferred after a home delivery) is crucial to keep your little one as safe as it’s possible to be. Newborns have no way to protect themselves in the event of a crash, and modern car seats have been designed to cushion any impact as much as possible. If you can’t afford a brand new one, check out car seat rental places in your area – they should have the most modern versions available and are trained to install each of them correctly. Installation is of equal importance to having the car set in the first place – even if a seat is completely up-to-date with standards, it still won’t be effective if it hasn’t been installed into your car properly. Most modern cars now come standard with Isofix anchor points, which allow you to fit Isofix seats with greater ease than traditional car seats. Installing Isofix seats also removes the need to use the car’s seatbelts to hold the car seat, as the anchor points are fixed directly to the car’s body, keeping things locked in place and stable.

When buying or renting a baby seat, it is absolutely imperative that you get one that meets your baby’s needs – a toddler seat may not be suitable for a newborn (who are often more easily accommodated by a capsule-style seat). Baby seats should be installed in the back seat and be rear-facing. It is recommended that this positioning be kept up as long as possible – until they are at least two years old, though preferably longer. For more in-depth information, check out our previous blog on this topic, or head over to Waka Kotahi for full child car restraint regulations.



Let’s be honest – giving your brand-new arrival their first bath can be terrifying. Luckily, the hospital midwives (and your own LMC) are very well trained in teaching new parents the easiest, safest way to bathe their precious little ones while maintaining a watchful eye to help you feel secure as you learn. This may not happen until after their first 24 hours. This allows time for your baby’s vitals to stabilise (birth is a strenuous experience for baby, too!) and the vernix, the waxy coating on their skin, to be absorbed or otherwise naturally removed. Take advantage of this teaching time – it can help you feel much more relaxed once it’s time to do it yourself. It’s good to remember, though, that in general, babies don’t need a lot of cleaning, and soaps are often not needed at all, as they can be quite harsh on the very delicate skin of a newborn. For this reason, they don’t need daily baths (unlike when they grow older). That said, many parents find a quick dip in a warm (not hot!) bath is a good part of their little ones’ bedtime routines, giving them a signal that they will eventually learn means it’s time for a longer sleep. Generally, you won’t need to add anything to the water. That said, if your baby has minor skin issues, putting some expressed breastmilk in the bath can have a wonderfully moisturising effect! Another option once they get older (3m+) is to use some of Haakaa’s Oatmeal Baby Bath Milk. Blended from colloidal oatmeal, baking soda, Epsom salts, and lavender oil, it not only smells divine, but it also helps relieve dry, itching skin while forming a protective barrier and locking in moisture. This can be further boosted by applying our Restore & Adore Balm to the affected areas after their bath.



It can be difficult to know when and how to burp a baby.  But burping is an important thing to get accustomed to, as babies are often unable to shift the air they sometimes swallow when feeding or crying by themselves. While not all babies need to be winded, a great many do. So, when will it need to be done? Usually, you can give them a good burp midway through a feed – many babies will naturally take a break part way through, which is an excellent time to help shift that discomfort. Your child may show signs they’re feeling uncomfortable during a feed if they’ve taken in a lot of air. Grimacing, fussing, and squirming can all be signs they need to be burped. Once the feeding session is over, it can be good to burp them again. When burping, they may ‘spill’ or ‘spit up’ some milk – this is quite normal, particularly in those early days, but if you have any concerns about the amounts, always check with your healthcare practitioner. 

There are a couple of common ways to burp your baby. The most common one, and the one you’re probably most aware of, is to hold them upright with their head near your shoulder. This upright position allows air to escape on its own. You can gently pat or rub their back to encourage this, and many parents find it helpful to stand up and gently bounce or rock yourself to assist - this is a gentle motion, more like a dance than a true bounce. It’s a great idea to have a spill cloth to put over your shoulder for any milk that does manage to escape, as milk is very prone to staining clothing! If you find this position doesn’t work, ask your LMC for some alternative ways to try, as different positions can work for different babies.

There are, of course, many more things to think about when you’ve got your new baby at home with you. We’ll look at a few more of these next time, including nappy changes, clothing and more!