Five tips for parents of newborns

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It can be difficult to find a parenting technique that fits your preferences, needs and family's lifestyle when you have a newborn to care for. Many parents find themselves confronted by a lot of conflicting information. No matter what your parenting philosophy is, there are some simple tips that are relevant to every parent of a newborn.

Since babies develop and grow so rapidly, you may find that the time flies and it's hard to remember how small they once were.

Capture the special moments

Babies develop and grow so rapidly over the first weeks and months of their lives. With all the chaos that comes with having a new baby, you may find that time flies and it becomes hard to remember how small they once were. While it's easy to capture precious moments with smart phones and digital cameras, keeping them organised can turn out to be quite a challenge. Baby books, journals and calendars are a way to personally record your memories and are something special to look back on in the futurei.

Development charts are only averages

As a new parent, it's only natural to want to ensure that your baby is healthy and developing normally. While there is plenty of information out there about how babies develop, grow and learn, it's important to remember that this information is based on averages. For example, you can expect your baby to smile by five to seven weeks, and discover their voice by laughing, cooing and making vowel sounds by seven or eight weeksii. By around 12 weeks, a baby is expected to be able to lift their head up, look around and wave toysiii. If you are worried about your baby's development, there's no harm in speaking to your GP - but always keep in mind that babies develop at different rates that don't always match the guidelinesiii.

Accept help and know when to ask for help

Caring for a newborn is a full-time job, so if people you trust - like family and friends - offer you a hand, it's a good idea to accept it. Something as simple as someone doing your laundry, or minding the baby while you take a shower, can be a huge help. Psychologists state that having social support can help protect new mums against the development of postpartum depression, or can help manage symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety and sadnessiv,v. If you are struggling physically, mentally, emotionally or psychologically, it's essential to ask for help, as you cannot take care of your baby without taking care of yourselfvi.

Creating a safe sleep environment is important for your baby's health.

Master the basics

Asking for help also includes help from professionals. There are some basics that every parent needs to master in order to care for a newborn. It might seem obvious, but if you aren't confident or don't know how to change nappies, gently dress or swaddle your baby, get support from nurses and midwives. Knowing how to clean your baby's umbilical cord, clear their nasal passages and take their temperature are other basics that can be tricky in the first days and weeksvii.

Create a safe sleep environment

Research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has shown that there are some things you can do as a parent to make your child's sleep environment safer. Always put your baby to sleep on their back, and avoid having fluffy toys, doona covers or anything that can cover the child's face in the cot as they can cause babies to overheat or be smothered. Another suspected factor in SIDS is smoking, so don't let anyone smoke in the house or anywhere near your babyviii.

iBaby Centre, Capturing and preserving memories of your child, Baby Centre, viewed 11 June 2014,

iiBetter Health Channel 2012, Child development: newborn to three months, Victorian State Government, viewed 11 June 2014,

iiiRaising Children Network 2012, Newborn development: in a nutshell, Raising Children Network, viewed 11 June 2014,

ivMaffei, M 2012, 'New mom survival tips', 6 April, Pregnancy and Baby, viewed 11 June 2014,

vMayo Clinic 2012, Postpartum depression - Symptoms, viewed 29 July 2014,

viCastelino, L & Howick, 'Bringing baby home: what to expect in the first six weeks', Healthy Baby Network, viewed 11 June 2014,

viiWomen's Health, Pregnancy: newborn care and safety, US Department of Health and Human Services,

viiiBetter Health Channel 2012, Baby care - safety issues, Victorian State Government, viewed 11 June 2014,