Baby Hacks from Pediatric Nurses
Updated: Jan 19
There is no question that pediatric nurses are smart! Making it through nursing school is not an easy task. But what makes pediatric nurses very useful is all the tricks and hacks up our sleeves. When it comes to giving babies medicines, calming a baby, swaddling- we know all the tricks to make life with your baby easier.
We polled our pediatric nurse friends to find some of their absolute favorite tricks. Here are our top favorites!
1. Use the nipple from a bottle to give medicines. If your baby is already using a pacifier or feeding from a bottle, putting the medication into the tip of the bottle’s nipple will be an easy transition. If your baby is solely breastfed and you do not have any bottle nipples, you can pierce a hole in the tip of a pacifier and mimic a nipple in the same way.
2. Blow on baby’s face and rub the cheek to give medicines. If you have an issue with your baby spitting the medicine back out instead of swallowing it, try blowing on their face a little after giving a couple drops of medicine. Their baby instinct is to swallow when air gets blown on their face, so this will help the medicine not come back out of their mouth. We also try rubbing the side of their cheek. This stimulates the same instinct to swallow as blowing air does.
3. Roll your baby. Even when you read all the diagrams on how to properly swaddle, sometimes those mini “hulks” can still somehow break free from the swaddle. For those strong babies, we sometimes roll the baby! Yes, roll. Place the blanket down, put baby near the edge of the blanket, and roll them up like a burrito.
4. Layer up blankets when changing baby. When changing a baby, always have a few layers of blankets or changing pads underneath. This makes it easier to pull away the dirty one to quickly get a new clean one underneath, instead of fumbling around trying to grab a new clean one and lay it down while you’re holding a dirty, screaming baby!
5. Fold the waistline down on diapers of newborns. This helps the diaper not irritate and rub against the umbilical cord. Once the cord falls off, you can put on the diaper normally.
6. Lay baby on your chest for tummy time. If your baby hates tummy time like most babies do, try putting them flat on your chest. This makes them feel close to you while still getting in some valuable tummy time minutes.
7. Rub baby’s nose to make them sleep. Take the tips of your fingers, start at their forehead and trail your fingers down their little noses over and over again. This downward motion over the eyes forces baby’s eyes to instinctively close, which in turn makes it easier and easier for the baby to keep his eyes closed. Works like a charm!
8. Rub the top of baby’s head clockwise to burp. This is an old wives tale, but some nurses swear by it! If your baby has a hard time with traditional burping, try this.
9. Swaddle baby’s arms for diaper changes. When changing a baby’s diaper with a massive poop explosion, swaddle or wrap their arms. This helps keep those fast hands from getting into the poop mess! This will save you some major headaches.
10. Follow this sleepy time protocol. If your baby is not wanting to sleep, or is very fussy: swaddle tight, pacifier in mouth (if you use paci’s), use some kind of rocking or vibrating motions, pat their tummies, and use white noise. This sounds like a lot, but it can calm a baby very quickly. When in doubt, there is a 10 hour “shhh” video on YouTube that also works wonders.
11. Make your baby ride a bicycle. For gassy babies, besides gripe water or gas drops, we like to try “bicycle” movements first. This means taking babies legs and moving them around to look like baby is riding a bike. This can get those bowels moving enough to let out some gas and feel better. Another trick is patting their bottoms and tummies. For some reason, this also helps pass the gas.
12. Use “the hold” on an upset baby. No, we do not mean the choke hold! Check out this wonderful video on YouTube describing a way to hold your baby that calms them quickly. This can even be helpful for colic babies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2C8MkY7Co8
We hope these helped! Let us know some of your favorite baby hacks. Like, comment, and share!
Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN