New parents often find themselves worrying about every aspect of their newborn’s care. Here are answers to some common concerns.
Many parents wish their newborns came with an instruction manual. Even after parenting classes and baby-care books, being faced with the real thing can be daunting. Is baby eating enough? Sleeping too much? Dressed too warmly?
If you’re fraught with worry as a new parent, here’s a guide to help you decide what is no cause for concern, or when you should call the doctor.
Is my breast-fed baby eating enough?
Newborns breast-feed as often as every 1 to 2 hours. That’s because their stomachs are so small, not because they aren’t getting enough. Avoid supplementing with formula or even sugar water unless your doctor suggests it for a medical problem, such as very low blood sugar or severe jaundice. Otherwise, supplementing may hold up your milk supply.
A weight loss of up to 7 to 10 percent of birth weight in the first few days of life is considered normal for full-term breast fed babies. Once your milk comes in, baby should gain 1/2 to 1 ounce per day. He should have about 3 or 4 wet diapers and 3 or more dirty diapers each day. Talk to your baby’s doctor if you’re worried about his intake or output.
Is my baby spitting up too much?
Spitting up, even during or after every feeding, is normal for babies. What may look like an entire feeding coming back up is probably little more than a tablespoon or so of liquid. To see for yourself, spill a tablespoon or two of water or milk on a burp cloth to compare.
If your baby arches her back during a feeding or spits up in a way that looks forceful or painful, call her doctor right away. These could be signs that she has more severe reflux or some other problem.
Is this kind of bowel movement normal?
Many pediatricians repeat the same mantra: If the poop isn’t black (except for the first few meconium stools), red, or white, there’s probably no need to worry. Yes, green can be normal, even if baby is breast-fed. Consistency can vary, too, from loose and seedy to thicker and creamy. Your baby may have a bowel movement after every feeding, or go a day or so between poops.
If your baby has other symptoms like fever or vomiting, or if you see one of the “bad” colors in your baby’s diaper, call the doctor right away. Black or red stool can be a sign of blood in the digestive tract. Pale or white stool can indicate a liver problem.
Is my baby dressed warmly enough?
Newborns can’t regulate their body temperature well, so it makes sense to try to keep a baby snug and warm. However, dressing babies in too many layers can easily overheat them. In general, use what you are comfortable in as a guideline. Just add a light extra layer for baby over that.
Check baby often to make sure he isn’t too hot or cold. Touching the back of his neck, which should be warm but not sweaty, is one way to tell. Hands, feet, and cheeks may feel cool, but should not feel ice cold. If they do, add another layer, or put baby in socks or a hat.
When is fever a cause for concern?
Any fever of 100.4 degrees F (rectal reading) or higher in a baby 3 months old or younger warrants a trip to the emergency room. Also, take any child older than 3 months of age with a temperature of 105 degrees F or higher to the ER right away. Call 9-1-1 if your child is having seizures, appears extremely ill, or is having any trouble breathing. Newborns can become very ill quickly, even if there are no symptoms. If your baby feels warm to the touch, it’s a good idea to make sure she doesn’t have a fever.