Posted By Dr. Sara Connolly, Bundoo Medical Director
Every new parent has questions—and I’m here to answer yours.
What are the most important things I should be prepared for in that first week my baby is home?
The most important thing for new families to understand is that this is your week. This is your baby’s first experience with the world, so that first week should look however you want it to look. Don’t worry about meeting other people’s needs right away, even if this means not accepting visitors immediately. If family members aren’t happy to hear this, just tell them the doctor wouldn’t let you have visitors—you have my permission!
Is it OK to have my baby sleep in our room, next to the bed? What’s the best way to do that?
There are some new sleep recommendations. Babies should have their own sleep space, like a bassinet or crib that is designated for a newborn. They should be sleeping alone, on a bare, flat mattress with an appropriate sheet and nothing else in the crib. And that bed should be in your room, for up to a year. This is called room sharing. Bed sharing, on the other hand, is not recommended. It’s not safe to have your baby sleep in your bed or couch, and we don’t recommend using the co-sleepers that are attached to the bed.
How often should my baby wake up every night? How much sleep should a newborn get?
A newborn might sleep up to twenty hours a day, but only for sixty to ninety minutes at a time. It can be exhausting, so people get creative about ways to help their baby sleep longer, like swaddling or other methods. The sooner you can get your baby to sleep in his or her own sleep space, the better. In terms of how often a baby “should” wake up, it depends on the baby! Some babies will sleep longer than others.
How will my baby’s pooping patterns change over the first week at home?
Your baby’s first poop is actually something called meconium. It’s thick, sticky, and looks like green tar. It will pass over the first few days. As they begin to nurse or feed, your baby’s poop will become kind of yellow, seedy, and pasty. That means your baby is getting enough food and everything is working the way it’s supposed to. It might be a little thinner for breastfed babies, but that’s OK.
What “baby gear” do I really need?
As you know, there’s a lot of baby gear out there, and a lot of things that new parents are encouraged to buy that you don’t really need. From my standpoint, the most important things you can have are a safe sleep space, with a new crib or bassinet if possible, and a safe car seat. You need a designated place to change diapers, preferably not on a bed. Otherwise, you should have a thermometer, some breastfeeding supplies, and a cool-mist humidifier is a useful tool in most of the country. Cool-mist humidifiers can help keep your baby’s nasal passages soothed with cool moisture so they sleep better. It’s important to understand that cool mist humidifiers are not the same as essential oil diffusers, which don’t have a health benefit. Also, we don’t recommend hot mist humidifiers as they can be a hazard. Instead, you can use one cool mist humidifier in your baby’s room to help them breathe.
What nursery temperature is best for my baby?
About 65˚F to 72˚F, which is chillier than most people expect for babies. But babies sleep better in slightly cooler environments, and they don’t have a great way to cool off because they don’t sweat so much. In general, your baby should have one thin layer on. You can check your baby’s temperature by monitoring their hands and feet. Feel them to see if your baby is hot or cold.
What’s the best diaper cream?
Here’s the thing: not all babies need diaper cream. Some baby’s bottoms are sensitive and they need the barrier a cream provides. But other babies aren’t bothered at all and you really never use diaper cream. So don’t worry too much about diaper cream. You’ll probably get some at some point, but there’s no right or wrong answer.
What do you suggest for babies who get recurrent ear infections?
It’s normal to get a lot of infections during toddlerhood. An average toddler gets about ten colds a year. If your toddler also suffers from seasonal allergies, it can make ear infections worse, because it clogs up the sinuses. So one of the keys is managing allergy symptoms. It will decrease the frequency of infections. It’s also important to make sure it’s actually an ear infection and not just pain or a cold. Trust your pediatrician. If your pediatrician thinks it’s warranted, you will be referred to a doctor who handles ear, nose and throat issues and you can make decisions on things like tubes based on his or her advice.
When should my baby get his first immunizations? Is it a good idea to split up the shots?
When your baby is born, they will be given a vitamin K shot. This is the first one. Before they leave the hospital, the majority of children are getting their first hepatitis B immunization. This might also take place at the first pediatrician visit. The next vaccines don’t happen until the baby is at least 42 days old. These are sometimes called the “two-month” vaccines. Otherwise, there is an approved schedule for vaccines.
When should I bathe my newborn?
The truth is, newborns aren’t very dirty, so you don’t need to bathe them much. Also, you want to keep the umbilical “stump” dry so it falls off. The first baths can just be wiping your newborn’s skin with a washcloth, under their arms, and on their bottom. You don’t want to give a full bath because you don’t want to get that umbilical cord wet. If you do, though, it’s not a problem. It’ll just smell. It won’t hurt your baby.
How much weight loss is “normal” for a baby?
It’s normal for a baby to lose a few ounces in their first couple days. In general, we like to see a baby lose no more than 7 percent of their birth weight in those first few days. It can be a little disconcerting, but it’s totally normal. If you’re worried about it, ask your pediatrician in that first visit, which is usually within the first week after birth.