For new parents, leaving the hospital with a newborn can be scary. They are now totally responsible for another life, another person. With this fear often comes a list of questions often voiced at the first office visit. Below are five of the most common topics of doubt and worry.
How do I breast-feed?
In the first 48 hours of life, infants are usually very sleepy. It is hard to get them to the breast and hard to keep them awake. Starting on the third day of life, most become more alert and more hungry. Because most first-time moms produce colostrum for the first 96 hours, many infants are very demanding on days three and four. The secret of good breast-feeding is to ensure a good latch with the help of experienced nurses and lactation consultants in the first 48 hours. Put baby to breast every two to three hours. Most infants feed better at night, so keep baby in the room at night if possible. Avoid bottles and pacifiers for the first week or two. A weight check within one or two days after leaving the hospital is the best way to measure feeding.
How much should my baby sleep?
Infants sleep most of the time for the first 1 to 2 months. While not ideal for parents' sleep habits, newborns are more active and alert in the middle of the night, usually sleeping better during the day. Most newborns sleep best when swaddled tightly enough that they cannot pull their arms out of the blankets. The average age for sleeping through the night is 4 to 6 months.
Will my baby have colic?
Colic usually happens around 3 weeks of age with inconsolable crying lasting several hours most evenings, followed by normal behavior the next day. Colic rarely has any identifiable cause and no cure. It peaks by 6 weeks and goes away by 3 months old.
Does my baby have reflux?
Most normal babies spit up, or reflux, and most are not bothered by it. Spitting up peaks when the baby is around 4 to 5 months old. The main treatment is to have lots of towels, burp cloths and changes of clothes. A small percentage of babies have pain with reflux and a small number of those are helped with medicine or diet changes.
How do I care for the circumcision?
Circumcisions are done in different ways. With the plastic ring, no special care is needed other than cleaning it off with diaper wipes or water when dirty. When the foreskin is cut off, apply greasy ointment (like A&D) to the head several times per day for a week. Regardless of type, after it is healed it is important to make sure the skin is pulled back at least once a day so there is no reattaching. For noncircumcised infants, no special care is needed.
Dr. Gregory Finn is a Mercy Clinic pediatrician with Mercy Children's Hospital. For more information visit www.mercychildrens.net.