Routine Infant Care
Sleep in newborns is always a concern of tired new parents. Newborns generally sleep for 14-20 hours in a 24-hour period. Their sleep cycles are erratic at first and difficult to rely upon. They may sleep very soundly or sleep actively, appearing as if they are awake. It is best to learn your baby’s sleep patterns and not disturb them during their active sleep phases.
Newborns must sleep flat on their backs in a crib or bassinet designed for babies. Their space should not include tags, pillows, blankets, bumper pads, or stuffed animals.
Breast milk is the best source of nourishment for your baby. Nursing is encouraged within the first hours following birth. The more frequently you feed your baby, the sooner the milk comes in. The process takes about 3-5 days. In the beginning, infants eat from 8-12 times a day depending on the baby’s needs.
Stools change progressively, from dark and tarry (meconium) to a few light green/brown stools to a bright yellow seedy stool. This change occurs over the first several days of life. Urine output then increases to 6-8 wet diapers a day by one week of age. When your baby is older, stools may be less frequent. One or more days may elapse between stools. This is normal, as long as the baby is thriving and the stools are not too hard to pass.
Infant formula, such as Similac Advance or Enfamil Lipil, is recommended when breast milk is unavailable. Cow’s milk should not be offered until 12 months of age. Please follow the directions on the can for preparing formula (don’t forget to wash hands).
Your newborn will take approximately 2-3 ozs. of formula per feeding and will eat every 2-4 hours during his first few weeks. If your baby sleeps longer than 3-4 hours during the day you should awaken him for a feeding.
Babies may spit up small amounts of breast milk or formula after feedings. This is normal and is the baby’s way of emptying an overfilled stomach. Spitting up is not unusual, provided it is not increasingly more frequent and more forceful, and your baby is thriving.
Your doctor can help you determine when your baby is ready for solid foods. Usually this occurs between 4 and 6 months. It is wise to start with iron-fortified baby cereal. Then add one new food every 3-7 days to assure that the baby is tolerating that particular food.
Care of the Penis After Circumcision
After circumcision, the tip of the penis will look bright red for the first few days. You may also see a yellow secretion which is normal. Care includes keeping the area clean and applying Vaseline or an antibiotic ointment on the tip of the penis with each diaper change. If after one week the redness persists, or if you suspect an infection, you should consult your pediatrician.
The penis of an uncircumcised male does not require any special care. Clean the outside skin regularly and do not attempt to pull back the foreskin until your child is old enough to do it himself during bathing (around 4-5 years old).
Umbilical Cord Care
There is no need to apply water or alcohol to the umbilical cord. It will dry up and fall off between 1-2 weeks of life. Fold the diaper below the cord to allow air exposure. Alert your pediatrician if you notice any unusual drainage, redness around the base of the cord, or crying when you touch the cord or the skin around it. After the umbilical cord falls off you may submerge your baby in the bath.
Babies are born with wonderfully soft, naturally clean skin. A sponge bath is recommended until the cord is healed. The hair should be shampooed with a tear-proof baby shampoo during the bath. Avoid fragrant soaps, creams, powders, and lotions (this includes many “baby” products). Soaps are recommended after one month of age.
Careful and regular cleansing of the diaper area is important. Change diapers frequently. With each diaper change, wash the skin with baby wipes or a clean moist cloth, allowing the area to dry before putting on the diaper.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a rash may develop in the diaper area. After cleaning and air drying, apply a layer of a barrier ointment such as A&D, Vaseline, Balmex, or Desitin prior to replacing the diaper.
If the rash persists beyond a week or two, it may have become infected with a yeast fungus. This may be treated effectively with an over-the-counter preparation, Lotrimin AF cream, which should be applied 3 times daily for seven to fourteen days.
All babies cry every day, sometimes for no apparent reason. Colic is defined as excessive infant crying. It is a common condition usually beginning at 2-4 weeks and normally ends by 3 months of age. No one is certain what causes colic, but it is a benign and temporary condition that will eventually be outgrown. Babies typically are seen to be very active, cry as if uncomfortable, pass a lot of gas, and draw up their legs. Colic may be aggravated by changes in routine or introduction of solid food at too early an age.
Colic is not the result of bad parenting, so don’t blame yourself!
Things that may help your baby include:
- Cuddling and rocking your baby whenever he cries.
- Infant swings or vibrating chairs.
- A stroller ride inside or outside.
- A car ride. Many babies enjoy the continuous motion of a driving car.
- A pacifier.
- A warm bath or baby massage.
You should call your doctor if the crying is inconsolable or the baby develops a painful cry rather than a fussy cry. Also call if the baby cries for more than 3 hours continuously.
Often nothing you do or try will seem to help. Remember that colic will resolve in time. It does not harm your baby in any way.
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