After nine months of reading and preparation, the day has finally come. . .You are a new parent. Now what?
You may have a stack full of books on the baby’s shelf, but the infant in your arms still leaves you with loads of questions. There may even be some you don’t know to ask! That’s where I come in.
I’ve had a ton of new babies in the office this summer, and with them comes a pair of parents overflowing with questions. Every parent asks the same or similar questions– I often answer the same question multiple times to the really tired ones! But who can blame them, it’s not unusual for new parents to even forget that I came by the hospital to see their newborn.
These are some frequently asked questions about newborns all answered in one place.
How much tummy time should my baby have?
It’s fine right out of the gate to do tummy time with your newborn. The easiest way to do this is right on your chest! Put baby on your chest as early as their time in the hospital and let them look around to build their head and neck strength. They’ll probably give up pretty quickly and lay down or go to sleep, which means cuddle time for you.
If you want to put baby on the floor with pillows or a blankets, go right ahead! Just make sure to do so when they are alert and awake, and someone is around to watch them. Do this for a few minutes a couple times a day, or as much as baby can handle. If they scream or cry (especially on the floor), don’t feel the need to force it. This is just an easy way to kickstart building those muscles.
Why are their hands and feet so blue?
A lot of parents worry about the color of their baby’s hands or feet. No, they most likely do not have a heart or lung problem, they just have acrocyanosis. All this means is that the blood supply to the hands and feet simply hasn’t matured yet. So, blood vessels in the hands and feet clamp down and do not respond quickly to changes in temperature, resulting in blue-ish extremities. You can put three layers of socks and mittens on your child and they will still be blue– and that’s totally fine. No need to worry that something more serious is going on underneath!
How do I get days and nights figured out?
Parent recognize pretty quickly that baby wakes up a lot at night and sleeps far more often during the day. Naturally, we wish this could be the other way around, but it does take some time for them to figure this out.
Think of it this way: your baby lived in a dark room for nine months before coming into our hyper-sensory world. Their brain is used to dark, and it takes a while for their brain to recognize that there is day and there is night.
To help them do that, make sure that baby spends their time during the day in a bright room with ample sound. Keep the radio or TV running, which will keep baby from falling into as deep of a sleep. If you find your child is sleeping far more than in the night, go ahead and keep him them awake– get those calories in during the daytime and hopefully they won’t need to take in as much at night.
Once the sun sets, do exactly the opposite. Put baby in a dark room that is significantly quieter. Absolute silence is not necessary (In fact, I encourage the use of white noise machines as a buffer for the environment!). When baby wakes up for a feeding, keep them in this nighttime atmosphere and put them right back to sleep.
Continue this routine for a few weeks and your newborn should begin to get things figured out– and you should begin to get some rest!
Do I need to swaddle my baby?
I love swaddling. I think it works great to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep. As you know, babies will flinch their arms at the slightest noise, causing them to flail and spontaneously awaken. Swaddling baby for sleep is an easy way to keep those arms in check and keep baby asleep.
In these summer months, all baby needs are some cotton PJs and light swaddling blanket to keep warm, and the same goes for winter. Remember, babies don’t respond as sensitively to the temperature of the home as we assume they do. If you’re comfortable, chances are that baby is comfortable, too.
How often should my baby pee and poop?
New parents often question if baby is peeing or pooping enough, then quickly begin to worry that baby is going too much. This is almost always normal. Babies generally don’t get a lot to drink, especially if they are breast fed. A good rule is to expect as many wet diapers from baby as days old. So, you should have one wet diaper within 24 hours, two within 48 hours and so on. The same rule applies with poop. It takes some volume to push through the digestive tract, so it is totally normal for a baby to poop within the first few days and not again for another few.
As baby gets more fluids, they will begin to pee and poop more– soon you’ll begin to wonder why they go every time you feed them! Your baby’s “normal” may vary from others. As long as they are going anywhere between every time they feed and every few days, they should be just fine.
How often should I bathe my baby?
For me, as the Chief bath-giver of my house, I say as infrequently as possible. I’m always trying to stretch bath time to another day, arguing that they’ll just get dirty again! For babies that don’t truly get all that dirty, there’s no need to wash more than once or twice each week. If you find that you or baby loves bath time, there’s no harm in washing them more frequently than that! It will not hurt them or their skin.
How do I get some rest?
This one is asked most often by moms. How do you get your crying baby to sleep so that you can get some sleep, too? The first night home is usually the worst: baby is hungry, your milk may not be in yet, you’re both exhausted from labor or surgery, and the second night is just as bad.
Getting rest is critical both for baby and for mom. So dads, this is your time to shine. After baby is fed, swaddle them up. This should be an easy job, as dads are generally less gentle and can wrap them nice and tight (Sorry, moms!). Once you’ve got baby swaddles, stick your pinky finger in their mouth and let them suck until they fall asleep. Do what you need to do to keep baby quiet and let mom get the rest she needs and deserves! Put on sports center, Game of Thrones or just stare lovingly at your new bundle of joy.
I believe it does help to feed my newborn on demand as much as possible, but an extra hour in between those feedings is OK if you need your rest. Remember that you have needs, too, and can’t properly take care of your newborn if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
I love educating parents and making them feel 100% prepared to bring their newborn home. No matter how “ready” everyone feels before they come home, they are always bright eyed and terrified when it all becomes real.
If you think of another question not listed here or find a tip especially helpful, comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
Keep up the good work!