Getting to know your newborn

The first several weeks at home with your newborn are exciting, but also challenging as you adjust to a new lifestyle.  Ensure that you take care of yourself during this busy time. 

Tips for parents

  • Nap when the baby naps.
  • Accept and enlist the help of others.  Family and friends may offer to help out with household duties, cooking, and cleaning.  Take advantage of it!
  • Get out of the house for short times (errands, haircut, lunch).
  • Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing “blues” or depression after one month.  Feeling “down” or “the blues” is common but usually limited.  If your symptoms are worsening or prolonged, please seek help.
  • Mom should follow up with her obstetrician no later than 6 weeks after delivery.

Things to know about your baby

Newborns have small tummies.  They typically feed 8-12 times in a 24-hour period for the first several weeks.  Each feeding is usually 1 ½ to 3 ounces for formula-fed babies.  Unless told otherwise, you should offer your baby breast milk or iron-fortified formula.

Newborns sleep in irregular patterns, often in short spurts (2-3 hours).  Initially they will sleep throughout the day and night, waking only to feed and for short periods. 

After about 1 week of life, babies should have regular frequent urine output.  They should have at least six wet diapers per day.

Initially, babies will have a dark tarry stool called meconium.  This lasts for a few days, and usually by the time you come home, the stool has transitioned to a greenish then yellow seedy stool.  Breastfed babies will have a yellow, seedy and almost watery stool and will often have a bowel movement after each feeding.  This is normal!  Formula fed babies may have thicker, more formed and less frequent stools (1-4 per day).  Some babies even have stools every few days.  It is normal for babies to grunt, strain, and even turn red in the face when having a bowel movement.  As long as stools are soft (not hard pellets) and your baby is eating and growing well, variations in stool color and frequency are normal.

Skin Care 
Your baby’s skin is very sensitive.  Until the umbilical cord falls off, you should give sponge baths every other day.  After the cord falls off, you may start bathing in warm water. Always check the temperature of the water!  Soap is not necessary, but a moisturizing soap such as Dove can be used on dirty areas.

Hiccups, Sneezing and Congestion 
These are all normal responses that newborns have as they adjust to a new environment.  Babies have smaller nasal passages and may sound congested.  You can use the bulb syringe to suction out excessive nasal mucous, but it is not necessary unless the baby is having difficulty feeding due to the congestion.