Having a baby is a joyous and blessed experience for all mothers and fathers. We encourage you to call for a prenatal visit to meet our staff and address any questions you may have regarding the care of your newborn. Read below for some helpful advice in caring for your new addition to your family.
Feeding your newborn
Newborns need to be fed when they are hungry. This seems like common sense, but a common question is how much is too much? The answer is, for the most part, as much as your baby wants, especially when newborns first come home. Breastfed babies should especially be fed on demand in the neonatal period (under 28 days of life). Feeding in this manner ensures good weight gain, maternal milk production, and fosters a strong mother baby bond. Formula fed babies tend to do well on a certain set schedule, usually every 3 hours until 1 month of age. For number oriented parents, breastfed babies should be fed 10-15 minutes on each side for a total of at least 7-8 feeds a day, and bottle fed babies should receive 2-4 ounces every 3 hours. The longest a healthy newborn should go without feeding is one 6 hour period per day.
One of the most objective ways you can judge if your baby is getting enough to eat is the number of wet diapers he or she is making. A good amount in the neonatal period is 4 per day. Most young babies will far exceed that. Bowel movements can vary widely among newborns, and the consistency and number depend highly on what they are being fed. Most formula fed babies will pass at least one bowel movement per day, whereas a breastfed baby can begin skipping days after the first 2 weeks of life.
Everyone loves the touch of babies' skin. Don't let just anyone touch it, that's a simple way to get germs! See below for more on avoiding germs. Anyway, back to skin, to maintain the softness of a newborn's skin, avoid overbathing first and foremost. Every other day usually is sufficient, and the less soap, the better. Use a good sensitive lotion (without fragrance) after bathing for added moisture. At all costs, avoid lavender products, as these soaps and lotions are amongst the most drying available. Newborns are ready to be fully bathed once their umbilical cord detaches and for male babies, when their circumcision is fully healed.
Even healthy newborns have an immature immune system. Avoid contact with any individual who seems sick. Use hand sanitizer excessively. Spend as little time in public as you can until your baby is older, preferably until at least 6 months of age.
When a newborn is sick
Sometimes illnesses are difficult to avoid. Respiratory problems are a frequent concern among new parents. If your newborn seems congested, using a nasal aspirator with saline in addition to running a humidifier or vaporizer (without excessive Vicks) is recommended. Saline is sold at all local drug stores under various names in spray bottles meant for the nose. Shallow, fast breathing with intermixed brief pauses is a normal finding in healthy newborns. This is called periodic breathing. If however the pause is longer than 10 seconds and associated with a loss of normal skin color to gray or blue, inform us or another health professional immediately.
Fever should be treated with extreme caution in infants under the age of 2 months. If you think your newborn feels warm, check his or her temperature under the arm with a simple digital thermometer. If the reading is over 99.4 F, then use a different thermometer to check the temperature rectally. A fever is defined by a core (rectal) temperature of 100.4 F or above. A common belief is the adding 1 degree rule to oral and axillary temperature nullifies the need to do a rectal reading. Unfortunately, this rule can be highly inaccurate. Any true fever in an infant under the age of 2 months requires immediate attention.