Feeding | Sleep | Sleep Position | Consoling Your Baby | Skin and Nail Care | Jaundice | Bowel Movements | Diaper Rash | Circumcision | Care of the Uncircumcised Penis | Fever | Car Seats
- Breast milk or infant formula gives your baby all the nutrition needed for the first 6 months of life.
- Newborns and infants do not need water or juice.
- Until your baby starts eating solid food, all the water needed is obtained from breast milk or formula.
- A baby's nutritional needs during the first year of life are greater than at any other time.
- Baby's will triple their birth weight during the first year.
- Feeding your baby provides more than just good nutrition. It gives you a chance to hold your newborn close, cuddle, and make eye contact.
- Newborns sleep an average of 16 to 17 hours a day, but they may only sleep 1-2 hours at a time.
- As children get older, the total number of hours they need to sleep decreases.
- At 6 months of age, a baby may still wake during the night, but these awakenings should only last a few minutes and the baby should be able to fall back to sleep on his/her own.
- Babies should sleep on their backs. This is because there is an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies who sleep on their stomachs.
- Babies' heads and soft spots are not harmed when a baby sleeps on his/her back.
- Pillows, stuffed animals, quilts, and comforters should not be kept on a baby's bed.
- These recommendations are for sleeping babies. "Tummy time" is perfectly safe when a baby is awake!
Consoling Your Baby:
- Crying serves several purposes for a baby:
- It lets the baby call out for help when hungry, wet, or uncomfortable
- It enables the baby to shut out sights and sounds that are too intense to handle
- It helps the baby release tension.
- The best way to handle your baby's crying is to respond promptly.
- You cannot spoil a newborn by giving lots of attention and responding to crying.
- If your baby is cold, wet or hungry, respond to the crying by meeting his or her needs (warm up, feed, change diaper).
- If your baby does not fall asleep and remains inconsolable, he or she could be sick. Let your baby's doctor know!
Skin and Nail Care:
- Newborn babies have very sensitive skin, and are very susceptible to irritation from chemicals in new clothing, soaps or detergents.
- Newborns should have all their clothing and bedding washed and double rinsed before being used.
- Newborns normally do not need any lotions, oils, or powders,
- If your baby has very dry skin, you can use a small amount of non-perfumed baby lotion on the dry areas,
- Do not use any skin care products that are not specifically for babies because they may contain perfumes or chemicals that can irritate a baby's skin,
- Newborns' nails should be kept short and smooth to prevent them from scratching themselves
- You can use a soft emery board or baby nail-clippers to trim the nails
- It may be easiest to trim nails when the baby is asleep and lying still
- 60% of newborns become jaundiced.
- Happens when bilirubin (waste product) builds up faster than the developing liver can remove it.
- Causes a yellow to orange skin color.
- Usually develops between days 3-5 of life.
- Feeding frequently (every 2-3 hours) is important.
- Babies get rid of bilirubin through their bowel movements and urine.
- Exposure to sunlight can also be helpful.
- Jaundice can be monitored by checking a bilirubin blood test.
- The first bowel movement is thick, dark-green, or black in color and is called meconium.
- After the meconium is passed, the stools will turn green to yellow in color.
- Breastfed stools are typically yellow, seedy, loose or runny, and even explosive.
- Formula-fed stools are usually firmer.
- The frequency of bowel movements vary from baby to baby.
- Some babies stool with each feeding.
- By 3-6 weeks, some babies may have only one bowel movement per week.
- Breastfed stools can be very watery or loose (almost like diarrhea).
- If the frequency increases suddenly or the liquid content of stools becomes unusually high, this may be diarrhea.
- When skin stays wet for too long, the layers that protect it start to break down.
- Change diapers frequently
- Gently clean the diaper area with water
- Apply a thick layer of protective ointment or cream each time you change the diaper to form a protective coating on the skin
- Pat, do not rub, the diaper area dry
- Allow the diaper area to air dry as much as possible when you change it
- Check with your pediatrician IF:
- The rash develops blisters or pus-filled sores
- The rash does not go away within 72 hours
- The rash continues to get worse
- A surgical procedure in which the skin covering the end of the penis is removed.
- After circumcision, it is common for the tip of the penis to appear raw or yellow.
- Circumcision care involves covering the penis with vaseline and gauze for about 2 days after the procedure.
Care of the Uncircumcised Penis:
- Sometime during the first several years of life, a boy's foreskin will separate from the glans.
- Foreskin retraction should never be forced.
- An uncircumcised penis requires no special care and is easy to keep clean.
- As your son reaches puberty, teach him to retract the foreskin and clean beneath it on a regular basis.
- Fever is a body temperature higher than normal.
- A fever is considered to be 100.4 F (38 C) or higher (taken rectally) in the first 30 days of life.
- A newborn with a fever may feel warm to the touch or may be extremely fussy.
- A rear-facing car seat should be used until your baby is at least 2-years-old and meets the maximum height or weight limit for rear facing for your particular seat.
- Your baby should be placed in the car seat in the middle of the back seat.
- Even after your child has grown out of a car seat, the safest place for anyone under age 13 to be is the back seat.
- Children's National Medical Center will check car seats for parents Monday through Friday from 10 am until 4 pm.
Learn more about newborn care here.