Basic Newborn Care Tips:
- Sweet dreams: The typical newborn sleeps an average of 12 to 20 hours of every 24, but this time is fragmented into two- to three-hour intervals. Lie down for a rest whenever your baby does. Babies generally sleep and wake around the clock during the first month, with relatively equal sleep sessions between feedings. Always place your baby to sleep on his or her back. Studies have found that back sleeping has led to dramatically reduced rates of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Do not place your baby in your bed or a sibling’s bed for sleep.
- Feeding time: How often your baby feeds depends on how often he or she is hungry. You’ll eventually be able to discern your baby’s hunger pangs, but until then, expect to feed at least every two to three hours, amounting to about eight to 12 feedings daily. Breast milk is digested quickly, so nursing babies can be hungry more often. At first, feedings may seem to run from one to the next with little time between, but a pattern will eventually emerge. Watch your baby, not the clock, for signals of when to start the next feeding (he or she will let out a certain cry, root around or suck on his or her fists) and follow your baby’s cues for when he or she has had enough.
- Diaper changing and dressing: Set up a changing area right away. You don’t need to have an actual changing table, but you’ll want a safe and convenient place to stash diapers, wipes, ointments and clothing. If your home has more than one story, set up a station on each floor to avoid unnecessary stair climbing as you recover from childbirth. Change the diaper every two to three hours. Don’t wake a sleeping baby if it’s time for a change, but change a wet or soiled diaper soon after he or she wakes to avoid skin irritation. At first, your newborn may seem to have a bowel movement in every diaper, but gradually these decrease.
- Cord care: For baby’s navel to heal well, keep the area around the umbilical cord clean and dry. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or swab and dab the base of the umbilical stump at least once a day until the cord falls off, usually within three weeks. A drop of blood or a small amount of discharge is normal; however, report a foul-smelling discharge, redness around the cord or a cord that remains after four weeks to your doctor.
- Soothing strategies: All babies cry between one and five hours a day. It’s baby’s only form of communication, how he or she says, “Hey, I’m hungry, wet, tired, bored, too warm or over stimulated.” Sometimes babies cry to relieve tension. Check on your baby soon after you hear crying. Could it be hunger? A need to be changed or burped? Is he or she uncomfortable? Babies may simply want some TLC. Offer a pacifier or a clean finger to suck on. Try rocking, cuddling, stroking the head, patting the back or bottom, humming or singing or going on a walking tour of your home. While these strategies are often effective, you’ll eventually need a few hands-free moments. Many babies enjoy riding in an infant swing, sitting in a gently vibrating seat or snuggling close to mom or dad in a front carrier. Again, never ever shake a baby; if you become frustrated, put the baby in a safe place such as the crib and walk away.
Keeping Your Newborn Healthy:
- Breastfeed your baby. Breast milk contains antibodies and enzymes that protect your baby from bacteria and viruses. Colostrum, the thick, rich, golden-colored early milk you produce for the first several days after delivery, contains more protein, salt, antibodies and other protective components than the mature milk that gradually replaces it. Plan to breastfeed exclusively—no water, juice or nonhuman milk or food—for at least six months. A lactation consultant is on staff at Bay Medical to help you initiate breastfeeding and if you encounter a problem nursing. Follow the recommendations of your pediatrician.
- Allow clean hands only. Make sure that everyone, including grandparents, washes their hands before touching the baby.
- Avoid germ-ridden places. Keep your baby away from crowds or sick people. Kindly ask friends and family members to postpone a visit if they or their children are under the weather. Ask whether your pediatrician has a separate exam or waiting room for healthy children.
- Vaccinate. Stick to the advised schedule of inoculations and newborn checkups, at least two visits in the first month. Your baby likely received the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth. Doses of several more vaccines will be given at the two-month checkup.
- Make your home smoke free. Quit smoking, don’t allow others to smoke near your baby and dine only at smoke-free restaurants.
- Never shake a baby.
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep.
When To Call The Doctor
Pediatricians expect to hear from new parents, so never hesitate to call anytime you suspect your child is ill or just doesn’t seem “right” to you. Call the doctor right away if your baby has any of these signs of infection:
- excessive drowsiness, lethargy or is unusually difficult to rouse
- decreased or elevated body temperature, anything higher than 100.2 degrees F.
- extreme floppiness or jitters
- persistent or inconsolable crying
- poor feeding
- difficulty breathing
- repeated loose or watery stools
- blood in the urine or stool
- eye discharge
- unusual skin rash or change in skin color
- white patches in the mouth or throat