by: Meredith Stedham RN, LPC, Educator
Sleep: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average newborn spends at least 16 hours a day sleeping, however there can be great variation from one baby to the next. It is essential for newborns to have successful, consistent, full feeding sessions in order to get their best sleep. New parents are advised to follow an eat, wake, sleep pattern for their newborns. The first 100 days of a new baby’s life will inevitably cause some sleep deprivation for new parents since newborns require around the clock feeding sessions. Parents can gain additional support and much needed sleep by considering a well-trained and highly qualified Baby Doula through The Motherhood Center
Feeding: On average, formula-fed babies will eat every 3 hours while breastfed babies will eat more frequently at every 2 1/2 hours. The difference in frequency is due to breastmilk being easier for babies to digest, and therefore their stomachs are ready for the next feeding sooner than formula-fed babies. Parents can anticipate an average of 8-12 feeding sessions per day for newborns. Infants will often also vary their feedings during times of growth spurts, and breastfed infants often will “cluster feed” in the evenings. It is generally recommended that breastfed babies be “fed on demand” while formula-fed babies may be placed on an every 3 hour feeding schedule.
Diapers: For the first few days after birth, the amount of wet diapers will vary depending on whether baby is formula-fed or breastfed, and also on the size and capacity of baby’s stomach. Then, once baby is able to fill their tummy to capacity and the milk supply has been well established for a breastfeeding mom, parents can expect babies will have an average of 8 to10 wet diapers per day. The amount and color of baby’s stool will change significantly from the first meconium stools to a more seedy yellowish stool for breastfed babies and greenish stools for formula-fed babies. Parents can prevent diaper rash by keeping baby’s skin clean and dry. Diaper creams and ointments only need to be used if baby’s skin becomes irritated.
Soothing Techniques: Infants, especially newborns, cry for many different reasons. Often they have a need such as being hungry, needing a diaper change, or just wanting to be held. There are many techniques that can help to soothe babies including singing, cuddling, or changing their environment if they are over-stimulated. The main recommendation I give parents when discussing soothing techniques is to follow the “5 S’s” developed by Dr. Harvey Karp by purchasing his DVD titled “The Happiest Baby on the Block” (available at The Motherhood Center).
Milestones: Newborns have several reflexes at birth such as the moro (startle) reflex, sucking reflex, and rooting reflex, which will fade over the course of several months. Parents will notice during the first 100 days that their baby is able to raise their head, follow moving objects with their eyes, focus on faces, begin to notice their own hands, and even learn to give their first social smiles. For more information on AAP guidelines for developmental milestones from birth to 3 months, visit this link: www.healthychildren.org
Tummy Time: It is recommended that healthy babies be provided with “tummy time” a few times a day lasting for a few minutes once they are discharged home. Tummy time can be time baby spends laying on their stomachs (with supervision) on a blanket or play mat, or it can be laying on mommy or daddy’s chest. Tummy time is important because it gives infants a chance to practice and master important physical skills that will prepare them for reaching future developmental milestones.
Favorite Gear: There are many practical and popular baby gear items available. In addition to the basic necessities of diapers, a few outfits, and a safe crib & car seat, many parents also select an additional bassinet or portable crib to temporarily use in the master bedroom. Other potentially helpful items are a baby sling or carrier, baby stroller, bouncy seat, a nursing pillow (such as the My Breast Friend pillow), and a white noise machine. The item I recommend most to new parents to add to their shopping lists is the Miracle Blanket for swaddling baby. Shop for these and other items at The Motherhood Center Shop
General Care Checklist: Newborns should only be given a sponge bath until the umbilical cord has fallen off and for baby boys until the circumcision has fully healed. After both areas have healed, then baby can be submerged in water for a tub bath. Pediatricians advise parents to keep the umbilical cord clean and dry; and they may also advise you to clean around the umbilical cord with rubbing alcohol using a cotton swab every diaper change or a few times a day. Parents will be also be given instructions for circumcision care which usually involves applying petroleum jelly until the area heals in around 7-10 days.
Temperature: For babies from birth to age 3 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises obtaining a rectal temperature with a digital thermometer as the most accurate method for measuring temperature. While there are other options available such as the tympanic (ear) thermometers and temporal artery thermometers that scan across the forehead, these devices are not as accurate as a rectal reading for infants under 3 months. The general guideline for parents is to call the doctor for a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher. For more information, visit the blog posting Taking Your Baby’s Temperature, or you can visit the AAP websites www.aap.org or www.healthychildren.org
Doctor: The pediatrician will give you a schedule for well child visits during the first year. Most pediatricians will examine your baby either in the hospital or in their office around 2-4 days old, then again at 1-2 weeks old, 1 month old, and 2 months old. The doctor will monitor your baby’s length, weight, and head circumference on a growth chart, monitor baby for jaundice, and will discuss an immunization schedule. It is a good idea for parents to be prepared by writing a list of their questions prior to each appointment in order to maximize their time with the doctor. Parents can also request a list of guidelines for the procedure and reasons (baby’s symptoms) that warrant contacting their healthcare provider.
SIDS: In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics released its recommendation that infants be placed for sleep in a “non-prone position” and subsequently in 1994 the “Back to Sleep” Campaign was launched. Since that time, the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has decreased over 50 percent. Here are a few of the AAP guidelines to help reduce the risk of SIDS in infants up to 1 year of age: Always place baby on his back to sleep, use a firm sleep surface, keep loose bedding and other soft objects such as stuffed animals and t