Becoming a new parents is not for the faint of heart. No matter how many parenting classes you take, tours of the hospital you do or carefully you register, the moment you bring your new child home is both exciting and terrifying. Alejandro Mones, MD, board certified pediatrician with Riverside Pediatrics, LLC, in Riverside, CT, has shared the expertise he’s gained over the years, and gathered it into a handy primer. Here’s (almost) everything you absolutely need to know—just in case you haven’t gotten a chance to read that stack of parenting books you bought.
For the first few weeks of life, babies will mostly just eat, sleep, pee, and poop. They have a lot of growing ahead of them, so keeping up with a frequent feeding schedule is essential to maintaining strong weight gain. In general, babies can lose up to 10% of their birth weight (usually in the first week of life) and then are typically expected to reach or exceed their birth weight by the second week of life. Aim to feed your newborn roughly every 2-3 hours around the clock, but know that they may demand feeds at an even higher frequency! Following their lead is an excellent approach.
Breastmilk is the best nutrition source for your baby and it also provides them with illness fighting antibodies to boost the function of their immune system. A close second to that is formula, and it will provide comparable benefits across the board except for when it comes to providing antibodies. If this is your first baby, then both you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed for the first time ever. There will be speed bumps and this is normal. For all mothers, it will take the better part of a week for significant amounts of breastmilk to be produced consistently. Focus on providing as much breastmilk as you can, but know that there is no shame in formula feeds.
Back to sleep
The safest position for a baby to sleep in is flat on their back. The crib/bassinet should be as boring as possible. All you need is a tight fitting sheet and a swaddled baby—the last thing you want is too much bedding or a giant stuffed animal that could pose a suffocation risk. At the start, babies are also particularly nocturnal. This is likely since they’ve spent their entire gestation in complete darkness and need to adjust to our day/night cycle over the first few weeks of life.
Babies have sensitive skin and as such only need to be bathed 2-3 times per week. Until the belly button stump falls off and you get the OK from your pediatrician to start regular baths, begin with only sponge baths. Make sure to use soap made for sensitive skin (ideally unscented and dye free) and try to keep the belly button stump as dry as you can.
This post is sponsored by Riverside Pediatrics. To learn more about Riverside Pediatrics, including their popular after-hours and weekend urgent care options, visit their website.