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.

Last week, we looked at a few of the things you need to know about when it comes to your newborn. That was, of course, far from a comprehensive list, so this week, we’ll go over a few other things! As always, each family’s needs will differ slightly, and for more personalised information, checking with your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) or family health professional is essential. However, some generalities will apply to most situations, so let’s jump right in!


Nappy Changing

Chances are, unless you have had a lot of prior experience with babies (younger siblings or through working in early childcare, for example), changing nappies is probably not something you’ve done much of. And it can be a lot scarier with newborns than even a baby a few months old – they’re so small and delicate, after all! But fear not; nappy changing is another skill you’ll be taught in the hospital or during your LMC visits. 

There are two options when it comes to nappies – disposables and cloth. Disposables are, as you’re probably already aware, single-use. Put the nappy on, then when it’s wet or dirty, take it off and put it in the bin. Disposables come in a vast range of sizes, with different brands having slightly different cut-off points for when it’s time to switch to the next size up. There are also bins that have been specially designed to deal with, shall we say, the fragrance of a used nappy, bundling them up and sealing them away until it’s time to put the rubbish out. Disposables also have a substantial environmental impact. Estimates put the number of nappies used and thrown away for a baby up until two and a half years old at 5000 or more – then multiply that by the number of babies born each year. In New Zealand, there are, on average, around 60,000 babies born annually. That means if every one of those babies uses disposables exclusively, one year’s cohort could send 300,000,000 nappies to landfill over that 2.5-year range!


Pile of cloth nappies next to a pile of disposable nappies

The other option is cloth nappies. These require more work as they need rinsing, often soaking, and washing every single day they are used, and have a higher initial cost. However, they are becoming an increasingly popular choice as you may only need to buy 20-30 to last your child’s entire nappy-wearing period, which means you are sending far less waste to landfill. Modern cloth nappies often come with fasteners that can be adjusted to different sizes, so pins are usually no longer required. Which nappy type you go with will ultimately depend on your needs, but a combination of each can often be a good step towards reducing how much you send to landfill.

One thing you will need to look out for, regardless of nappy type, is nappy rash. This is a very common condition that affects up to a third of babies, and some are more prone to it than others. There are a few things you can do to help prevent it, such as changing nappies frequently, gently washing their skin at each nappy change with a clean, warm, wet cloth (wipes are often too harsh on delicate baby skin) or giving bubs as much nappy free time as you can. Another vital part of nappy rash treatment and prevention is the use of a good barrier cream. Haakaa offers the 100% natural, made right-here-in-New Zealand Baby Bottom Balm. The beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil base soothes and moisturises, while zinc protects their sensitive skin. It also contains halloysite clay to aid healing and lavender essential oil, which has an anti-inflammatory effect. When using Haakaa Baby Bottom Balm (or any other barrier cream), it’s important to warm it in your fingers first, then apply it gently to your baby’s skin, as rubbing it in can irritate and exacerbate the rash.



It’s not uncommon for expectant new parents to be bombarded with baby clothes in the lead-up to the birth. And more often than not, it’s all items that are adorable. But how do you know what to put your tiny new baby in? Generally, the advice is to make sure the clothes your baby is wearing are not too loose or with cords, ties or ribbons (as this is a choking hazard), are easy to put on with easy access for nappy changes (especially at night!), and are worn in layers, rather than putting on one very thick layer. If your baby was full term, they’ll need somewhere between 1-2 layers more than what you are wearing, as they cannot regulate their body temperature as effectively as an adult can. Preterm babies may require an extra layer on top of that. When outside, baby should also wear a hat, especially if it is cold. Those extra layers may make you worry that your baby is overheating. If you are concerned, you can check quickly and easily. Simply pop a finger under their clothes, against the skin between their shoulder blades. The skin should feel warm – if that is the case, they are probably comfortable. If their skin is hot, you will need to remove a layer; if it’s cool, you might want to add one. Checking their core temperature in this way is more effective than checking their hands or feet, which may feel cooler than baby actually is. Wearing booties, socks, or mittens can help with cold extremities.

When it comes to fabrics, natural ones are warmer and more efficient at maintaining temperatures than synthetics and can breathe better. If you can get clothing and blankets made of wool or cotton, you’ll be able to keep your little one cosy and warm more easily.


Dealing with Stress

We’ve all been there – you’re exhausted, your baby won’t stop crying, and nothing you try will fix it. The longer it goes on, the more you feel like you’re losing your mind. In this situation, the number one thing you can do is ask for help. The second best thing to do is ask for help. And the third? You got it – ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing a hand to deal with your baby – it’s how humans lived for thousands of years, with everyone chipping in to help raise the little ones. Stress is probably one of the most significant issues facing parents today, who may feel isolated or are somehow a ‘failure’ for being unable to do it all. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In addition to asking your friends and whānau, different organisations can provide advice. In New Zealand, Plunketline(0800 933 922) can be called any time of the day or night, where there are qualified nurses who can answer questions and guide you through trying times – offering everything from advice on soothing, to letting you know whether your baby needs to see a doctor, to just letting you know you aren’t alone. If you’re outside New Zealand, your country may have an equivalent service to assist new parents.

Suppose you’re in a position where you can’t immediately ask for help, and your baby is still crying despite everything you’ve checked (feeding, nappy changes, checking their temperature, burping them, things like that). If you feel like you can’t cope, one of the strongest things you can do is put them somewhere safe, such as in their cot or bassinet, and then leave the room. Take a few minutes to just breathe, make a cup of tea, find the phone, or do whatever it is you need to calm yourself until you’re in a better headspace to cope. Check on bubs to make sure they’re ok, but don’t pick them up until you’ve settled yourself. Even crying, your baby will be absolutely fine for a few minutes in their bed. Again, if you have concerns about your ability to cope, call your local helpline – they can give you specific advice.

This is, again, only a small glimpse of the things you will need to look out for when your precious bubs arrives. For more detailed advice and information, check with your LMC or family health professional.