Preparing for your baby

Having a baby is a truly special time of your life, a time to be enjoyed. But it comes with lots of worries and concerns. Good planning and preparation will make everything much easier for you so here are some things we’ve learnt from other mothers and experts, you might find useful:

During pregnancy:
  • Look after yourself. Make sure you are getting a good balanced diet, adequate nutrients (including a balance of iron and folate) and plenty of sleep. Speak with your health care professional for any information relating diet and excercise
  • Caffeine, smoking and alcohol are not recommended. Try as hard as you can to cut them out of your life or as much as you can
  • Know the date of your last period and inform your Health official or Doctor. They will help you plan the next 9 months
  • Where is the hospital where you will have your baby? It is good to know where to go, how long it takes to get there and also, once you are there whom you need to see.  You will need to make a reservation at your birthing facility for the delivery of your baby
  • Regular check-ups with your doctor, mid-wife or birth care provider are very important during your pregnancy
  • Are there any prenatal classes in your area?  These classes will teach you all about the process of having a baby and also all the things you will need to know for that early period, once you bring the baby home
  • From around the 8th week of your pregnancy it is ideal to be fitted for a maternity bra
  • During pregnancy, moderate exercise is good.  Check to see if there may be yoga, breathing (tai chi) or aqua-natal classes available in your area
  • Seek some reference books on pregnancy/birthReading gives great understanding and helps give confidence
  • At around week 34 have a hospital bag and birth-plan packed in readiness
  • You will need many things for your hospital stay like pyjamas, nursing bras, breast pads, disposable briefs, maternity pads, toiletries, tissues and more. Your place of birth will assist you with what is needed.  For baby you may need sleepsuits, wrapover vest, scratch mitts, cotton wool, cotton hat, baby blanket, clothes and a correctly fitted baby capsule for your car when going home.

Remember good planning takes much of the stress away from the birth and your knowledge gained from reading and also talking with friends & health official’s places you in much a better position to have a good pregnancy/birth. Don’t forget that the baby’s grandparents can also be a very useful source of information and help for you at all times. For them too, it is a joyous occasion.

Breast feeding

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It’s not only convenient and always at the right temperature, breast milk has many health benefits for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is a skill and you can take a while for you and your baby to feel comfortable and confident with it. You need to be patient during the process, but approach it confidently and know it will take learning from both of you.

  • If possible during pregnancy attend a breastfeeding information class
  • Eat a healthy diet and eat frequently – you actually need more calories during breastfeeding than pregnancy
  • Positioning your baby when you first start is important. Ask your local health official for guidance. You must sit comfortably, baby’s tummy facing your tummy. A good supporting chair and even a using a pillow to support baby will make quite a difference.
Correctly attaching to the breast:

A well-attached baby causes no nipple pain and drains the breast well. This helps ensure a good milk supply so the baby grows well. To ensure baby is attached correctly, although natural, make take some practice. Some signs the baby is attached correctly are:

  • Chin is pressed into the breast and nose is clear for breathing
  • Lips are flanged out, not sucked in
  • Tongue is forward over the lower gum
  • Your baby has most of your areola in their mouth, more so on the ‘chin side’
  • There is no pain

When your baby is attached properly, you will notice your baby’s whole jaw moving and possibly their ears wiggling as they suck. You will also be able to hear them swallowing as they drink.

Successful feeding tips:
  • Baby may start with some quick shallow sucks and as milk begins to flow freely, babys sucking will be more rhythmic
  • It is common that mothers may need to use both breasts. Which ever is the breast used, keep baby there as long as baby is sucking properly. If Baby slows or starts to go to sleep take baby off and wind baby. Then if baby seems fully fed you can put baby down to sleep, if not then feed from the other breast until full
  • Feeding time could be from 10 minutes to even one hour. It depends on many things like milk flow, how strong baby sucks, how comfortable baby is or even how tired baby is. Remember to be patient; a baby needs a good satisfying feed.

You should know if baby is feeding well & getting enough milk if:

  • Baby settles well after a feed
  • generally last 3-4 hours before baby is hungry again
  • has at least 6 wet nappies per day and is gaining the right amount of weight.

You should see if baby is not feeding well if:

  • Baby falls asleep at the breast but then wakes & cries when you try to settle baby
  • Nappies are dry or urine is concentrated & smelly
  • weight gain is poor.

To best measure what amount of milk baby is taking you could express your milk using a breast pump and feed by a measured bottle.

Never be afraid to seek help & advice. Most mothers need assistance to master breast-feeding and patience & counsel will help you get there.

Bottle feeding

Most babies feed from a bottle at some point – be that with Breast milk or Formula.

Breast-feeding is acknowledged as being best & it is recommended to breastfeed your baby for at least the first 6 months. If you are unable to fully breastfeed your baby and need to fully or supplementary feed with formula, the following are some tips to help you when you bottle feed baby.

Keep everything clean & sterile:
  • Thorough washing and sterilisation is essential for your bottle-feeding equipment, regardless of whether it s breast milk or formula
  • Sterilising units are efficient and a great way to ensure cleanliness of your equipment
  • Your own hygiene is also essential, always making sure you wash your hands thoroughly before removing anything from your steriliser
  • The best way to clean your bottles & teats are to use specific brushes, ensuring a good clean before placing them in the sterilizing unit.
When making up a feed:

Remember to wash your hands when making up a feed

In the case of formula, the manufacturer has included very specific instructions on the packaging for you to carefully follow. It is important that you follow those instructions as intended otherwise incorrect preparation can make your baby very ill.

  • Powdered milk formula needs to be made up safely, with water and generally used within 30 minutes of boiling. Allow to cool to feeding temperature. Refer to packaging and follow full instructions
  • Make up feeds when they are needed to ensure freshness and hygiene, best not to pre-make many. If you do pre-make feeds they must be stored in the refrigerator, and we recommend not for more than 12 hours
  • Remember to put the water into the bottle first, then add the formula with the quantity depending on your baby’s age & needs. Refer to formula instructions
  • Once the cap is placed on the bottle shake vigorously to mix the powder and water effectively.

Feeding at the right temperature is important or baby may reject the feed. To check the temperature:

  • shake the bottle
  • place a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding
  • the formula drops should not feel hot or cold, just the same temperature as your wrist, or very mildly warm
  • sometimes you may need to cool the feed down and can do so by sitting warmed bottle into a jug of cold water.

DO NOT keep unused milk. Whether that’s breast or formula it is not safe to re-heat and use later as it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Discard any unused formula.

More tips:
  • Feeding your baby is a perfect time to communicate with your baby, whether breast or  bottle fed. There is an ideal opportunity to make eye contact, chat and have loving physical contact as you embrace baby. Let your baby feel your positive emotion and give them total attention; they will respond
  • If at any time there are cracks or damage to your equipment like teats or bottles replace them immediately
  • As you approach baby’s 12 months age baby should be evolving to drinking from a cup or beaker. Your baby will tell you when they are ready
  • Don’t forget the rest of family. Feeding time is a great opportunity for dad, grandparents or friends to enjoy an emotional connection with your baby
  • After or during feeding its always ‘burping time’. Hold your baby in an upright position and a gentle rubbing of the back will move the wind around and to release. It’s important to release the burp so as not to cause wind pain later.

Bathing tips

Bathing your baby is one of the most enjoyable parts of the day. It is a real focus of interaction between you and baby, a fun time and an important time to keep baby clean & healthy. It may take baby a little while to get used to it but once they feel safe they will love the warmth of the water and the room to wriggle, kick & splash.


Choose the right time of day – between feeds is ideal as most mothers are busy the end of day.
Very important; NEVER leave baby or very young children ALONE in the bath. Not even for a brief moment

Prepare for the bath:

  • have everything like soaps around you within reach
  • Make sure the room is warm for when baby is unclothed
  • Have a towel or wrap ready for when baby is being undressed and for when baby immediately comes out of bath, too keep them warm.
  • Run the bath but importantly check the temperature. Too hot a bath is very dangerous for baby. Discuss correct temperatures with your health official. They may suggest ways of feeling if it’s the right temperature.
  • As you undress baby, leave the nappy on, wrap a towel around baby, then remove nappy. Leave wrapped until it is time to go into the bath.
Keeping baby warm.

Baby’s skin is very delicate so use baby toiletries sparingly. If you do use baby toiletries, follow any instructions on the packaging.

  • When washing young babies up to 6 weeks old, careful wash baby’s face around the eyes used cooled pre-boiled water and cotton wool, using a fresh piece for each eye.
  • If washing baby’s hair is necessary wrap baby in a towel, tuck baby under your arm and scoop water onto baby’s head, avoiding the eyes where possible. If baby has lots of hair use a small amount of baby shampoo or bath liquid. Rinse with clean water, and then gently pat dry with a towel.
  • With the nappy off give baby’s bottom a good but gentle wash
  • With Baby in the bath place good support under baby’s arm and around the shoulders. Bathe and let baby play but keep your hands close by for when baby needs you
  • After bathing lift baby out and gently dry with a soft towel, paying special attention in the leg, bottom and neck creases
  • Dress baby as soon as possible so baby feels cosy and warm again.
  • Bathing baby at night, may encourage your baby to be calm and quiet, and help with baby’s sleeping routine
  • Always talk to your baby in a calm & soothing manner. Remember this is a very personal time for baby
  • With newborn babies a daily bath is not totally necessary. You can ‘top & tail’. Wash baby’s face then bottom using warm water and cotton wool, even in a small bowl.
  • Bath time is ideal for small bath toys. Adding fun to the experience is important. Bath time must not become a chore for baby, or you.

Weaning your baby

What to feed Baby

When your baby is around 6 months old it’s the right time to gradually introduce solids & non-milk foods into your precious one’s diet.

Weaning is a significant step for baby to take, and you must ensure as you change their diet you are patient in the process and that the diet is a good healthy one. Here are some tips you may want to follow.

In many ways your baby will guide you but be aware the amount that they eat will vary over time. At around 6 months two teaspoons a day is plenty, yet they may eat more depending on the individual. Gradually you can increase the amount of solid food so that by the age of one baby is having 3 meals each day. The amount of food will depend on your baby’s’ appetite but it is important not to over feed your baby.

  • Choose a time when you and your baby are relaxed and happy
  • Give them a breast or formula feed before solids
  • Sit your baby in a highchair or on your lap
  • Stay with them while they’re eating so you can help them if they choke.

Try one new food every 2–4 days

  • Offer 1 to 2 teaspoons of a smooth and runny mixture, once a day to begin with, and slowly build up to ¼ cup
  • Let your baby taste the food and suck it from the spoon
  • Slowly build up to ¼ of a cup
  • Once your baby is taking 2 tablespoons to ½ a cup per feed, you can increase the number of meals from 1 to 2 to 3 a day.

Each baby is different, and some eat more than others. When your baby wants to stop eating, they’ll turn their head away, push the food or your hand away, close their mouth or start crying. Let your baby’s appetite guide how much they eat – don’t force them to eat all the food on their plate.

Give your baby time to get the hang of things.

Let them make a mess! 

Progressively aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (Raw, canned, frozen and dried fruit & vegetables all count). As a measure a portion is an amount your baby can hold in its clenched fist.

If baby is fussy, what do you do?

If Baby doesn’t want to eat vegetables initially try adding pureed vegetables to food they already like e.g. carrot mixed with banana. You can also try naturally sweeter vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and yams. These may be more acceptable to baby.

There may be times that your older baby doesn’t want to eat solids. This may because baby is drinking too much milk, juice or water. Moderate the drink volume between meals or just before meals.

Not liking lumpy foods? Make sure the move from pureed solid foods to lumpier foods is very progressive. Straight to lumpier foods may be too big a step and will make the transition more difficult. Offering soft finger foods is a way to help lump-phobic babies experience new textures

Don’t make trying a new food a chore for your baby. Offer it with a positive happy expression, offer dozens of food variations so you can find the ones your baby will accept, remember all babies are different. Make mealtimes a fun experience between you & your baby.

When Is Baby ready for solids?

Use the checklist below to recognise when your baby is ready for complementary foods (solids).

Physical skills
  • Holds their head up when placed on their stomach, supporting their weight on their forearms and pushing up on their arms with straight elbows
  • Holds their head up when sitting in someone’s lap; keeps their head controlled when they’re tipped; sits with less help and reaches out for a toy
  • Frequently puts their hands and toys in their mouth; explores their fingers, thumbs and fists with great interest.
Eating skills
  • Shows signs of chewing movements
  • Opens their mouth easily when a spoon touches their lip or as food approaches
  • Their tongue does not protrude; their tongue moves gently back and forth as food enters their mouth
  • Keeps food in their mouth; moves food to back of their mouth; swallows rather than recycles.

Hunger and fullness cues

Baby needs more food

  • Seems hungry after the milk feed
  • May cry
  • Leans forward as food approaches
  • Reaches for food or the caregiver’s hand
  • Opens their mouth.

Baby has had enough food

  • Turns their head or body away from food
  • Pushes food or the caregiver’s hand away
  • Closes their mouth
  • May look distressed or cry.
Getting started with solids

When your baby is ready, introduce them to complementary foods (solids). If possible you should continue to breastfeed until they’re at least one year of age – or beyond.

  • Offer complementary foods after the milk feed
  • Start with thin purées and introduce thicker foods as baby gets used to them
  • Introduce new foods and flavours one at a time.

Examples of early foods

  • Iron-fortified baby cereal
  • Cooked and puréed meat (e.g., beef, lamb or pork, chicken, or fish) or cooked and puréed vegetarian alternatives (e.g., legumes)
  • Plain rice, congee
  • Cooked and puréed vegetables without skins, pips or seeds (e.g., potato, kumara, pumpkin, cassava, tapioca)
  • Puréed fruit without skins pips or seeds. (If necessary, cook to soften before puréeing – e.g., apples, pears, and mangoes)
  • Age-appropriate commercial infant foods.


  • Breast milk
  • Infant formula when breast milk not possible
  • Water.

Tips for a safe sleep

There has been significant research conducted to help reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), often referred to as cot death, in some countries by as much as 75%. The following tips may help you deliver a safer sleep for your baby. There is some evidence the infant sleep environment and practices may influence baby’s ability to sustain regular breathing.

To provide baby with the very best sleep environment there are a number of things to consider:

What bedding should I use? If baby is under 12 months old it is suggested to never use duvet, quilt or pillow. Light clothing and a baby sleeping bag or light blanket firmly tucked in no higher than the shoulders may be better. Place your baby with their feet at the foot of the cot so they can’t wriggle down under covers.

How many blankets, if necessary, do I need? This depends on the warmth of the room and thickness of any blanket or cover. Check to see if baby is too hot by looking for sweating on back of baby’s neck or tummy. Hands & feet may always be cooler so not to worry too much there, it is normal. If baby is too hot remove one or more layers until sweating is reduced.

How warm should my baby’s room be? Babies don’t need hot rooms in fact an ideal temperature is 16-20C. Never place baby near direct heating or direct sunlight.

Never cover baby’s head? Under no circumstances cover baby’s head. Ensure baby is well tucked in and covers can’t rise to over baby’s head.

Caring for the mattress: Mattress needs to be kept clean & dry. A waterproof cover may be of assistance.

Bed sharing? Baby sleeps best in a cot or crib in the first 6 months, generally within your bedroom so you can hear any disturbance. Sharing a bed with your baby is generally not recommended.

Sleep time is sometimes a worrying time for parents but if the correct bed timebedtime precautions are followed you will be able to rest easier yourself. Today many parents also use sound and video links to baby’s’ room for careful monitoring.

Talk to your health official for other good tips on safer sleeping.