You have arrived home from the hospital with your newborn baby and are full of emotions: excitement, joy and, most likely, a bit of anxiety.
Having questions is a perfectly normal part of welcoming a new baby into the world! And Ashley Hancock, CPNP-PC, a nurse practitioner who specializes in pediatric care, is here to help by answering a few frequently asked questions from new parents.
Is my baby crying too much?
Crying generally increases over the first six to eight months before tapering off. (You can breathe a sigh of relief!) Crying most often means your baby is hungry or in need of a diaper change, but sometimes babies cry for no reason.
If your baby continues to cry after a meal and a diaper change, try swaddling, using a pacifier, rocking, cuddling or using white noise. Never shake your baby. Call your pediatrician if your baby still does not calm.
How often should my baby eat?
Expect your newborn to feed up to 12 times per day (or about every two to three hours) without a particular schedule. Spitting up small amounts is harmless as long as your baby is gaining weight and not in pain.
If you are able to breastfeed, breast milk is the best food for babies. (Read about the benefits of breastfeeding here!) But whether your baby is breastfeeding or drinking infant formula, you should wait until they are at least 6 months old before adding solid foods to their diet.
What should my baby be doing?
All babies develop at their own rate. In the first few days, though, you might notice your baby:
- Raising their head slightly when on their stomach
- Moving their arms and legs together
- Holding your finger automatically
- Startling easily
- Seeing objects best when eight to 10 inches away
- Following slow moving objects with their eyes
- Calming when swaddled and rocked
What is normal sleeping?
If your baby is growing well, it’s fine to let them sleep or wake naturally. Generally, your baby will periodically sleep 16 to 18 hours per day for up to a few hours at a time.
How often should I bathe my baby?
You should give your baby a sponge bath with mild soap until the umbilical cord falls off. Afterward, you may bathe your baby in a small tub. Note, however, that there is no need to bathe daily during the newborn period as bathing too often can dry out your baby’s skin.
What’s the scoop on baby poop?
Your newborn’s stool will be changing from tar-like black stools shortly after birth to greenish and then yellow seedy stools. In the first few days, the stool frequency and color should help you know that the baby is feeding sufficiently.
Babies should have at least three to six stools in 24 hours, but some babies can have up to 12 stools per day. Babies often make dramatic facial expressions, pas gas, strain and draw up their legs when passing stools. So long as the stools are soft, this is not constipation or a cause for concern.
When is it an emergency?
The first month of your newborn’s life is critical, so always feel comfortable calling your pediatrician if you have a question.
You should call your pediatrician or take your baby to the emergency room if your baby:
- Has a rectal temperature of 100.4 or higher
- Is crying excessively or is inconsolable
- Has difficulty or troubled breathing
- Is lethargic and is feeling poorly
- Is vomiting forcefully and repeatedly
- Is getting more yellow