The time after birth is fun and full of surprises, but it can also be hectic and overwhelming. Mary’s Center Pediatrician Dr. Jessica Schroeder has advice on what to expect and how to keep your baby safe and healthy.
Taking Care of your Baby at Home
Feeding: For the first 4-6 months of life, either breast milk or formula will provide all the nutrition and fluids babies need. Newborn babies should be fed on demand, meaning whenever they are hungry, which is usually about every 1-3 hours. Formula-fed newborns will typically take 1-3 ounces per feed.
Sleeping: All newborns should be placed on their back to sleep in a bassinette or crib. This is the safest position to sleep and can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Most newborns will sleep 16 hours per day, generally for 2-3 hours at a time with one longer stretch. Newborns should not go longer than 4 hours without eating.
Diaper Changes: In the first couple days of life, a breastfed baby may only have 1-2 wet diapers per day. By 3-5 days of age, all babies should have at least 6 wet diapers per day; if not, let your pediatrician know. Your baby’s poop will be dark and tarry in the first couple days, and then will become soft and yellow-green by 3-4 days old. Newborns typically have several poopy diapers per day, or fewer if they’re formula fed. As they get older, they will poop less frequently. Some babies may only poop once every 1-2 days as they get older, which can be normal as long as their poop is soft.
Bathing & Skin: Keep the diaper rolled below the umbilical cord to keep it clean and dry. Give sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off, as sitting in the tub can increase the risk of infection. Test the water on your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot, and use fragrance- and dye-free soap. For circumcised boys, put petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the penis or front of the diaper until healed. Girls may have a normal vaginal discharge over the first week of life due to estrogen from mom.
Visits to the Pediatrician
You and your baby will likely see the doctor more in the first year of life than any other time. The normal schedule for visits is 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months.
At the first visit, your baby’s doctor will:
- Record the baby’s weight, length, and head circumference on the growth chart (this will be done at every visit to monitor growth)
- Perform a complete physical exam with your baby undressed
- Administer the first Hepatitis B vaccination (if it was not done at the hospital)
- Review the screening blood test and hearing test done at the hospital
- Ask questions, address any concerns, and offer advice on taking care of your baby
At the 2-month visit, your baby will receive the second Hepatitis B immunization as well as immunizations against Diphtheria, Polio, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Rotavirus (diarrheal illness), Pneumococcus (a bacterial illness), and Haemophilus B (Hib) (bacterial illness).
Immunizations can protect infants from serious childhood illnesses, so it’s important that your child receive them on time.
Health and Safety Tips
Follow these recommendations to protect your new baby.
What to do:
- Wash your hands before handling the baby. Even though many family and friends will want to see your newborn, it is important to avoid people who may be sick until your baby is older and has received their vaccines.
- Always put your baby to sleep on their back on a firm mattress in a crib or bassinette without any crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals.
- Always put your baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Your baby will stay in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old, or exceed the height or weight limit for your car seat.
- Keep a rectal thermometer at home. This is the most reliable way to take your baby’s temperature, up until 6 months, to find out if they have a fever.
- Call the doctor if your baby is not eating well, isn’t peeing or pooping, or has a fever greater than 100.4F (38C).
What NOT to do:
- Don’t smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby.
- Never shake your baby; it can cause bleeding in the brain and even death.
- Don’t over-bundle your baby. Keep the room temperature comfortable to avoid overheating. Typically, babies only need one additional layer of clothing than you require based on the room temperature.
- Don’t expose your baby to direct sunlight. Keep your baby covered or in the shade to avoid exposure. Sunscreen is not recommended until your baby is 6 months old.
We are excited to welcome you and your little one to the Mary’s Center family! From newborn checkups and immunizations to breastfeeding support and WIC benefits, Mary’s Center has everything you need to keep your growing family happy, healthy, and thriving.
We accept most insurance plans, including Medicaid or private insurance. We also have a sliding scale if you don’t have insurance. Make an appointment today by calling 1-844-796-2797 or filling out an online form here.