The ABC's of Baby Care
Automobile safety seats are imperative for transporting your child in the car.
Using one is Florida State law. Until your child weighs at least 20 lbs. the car seat
should face backward. Since January 1981 all manufacturers of child car seats have been
required to meet stringent standards. Make sure the one you purchase meets these criteria.
You cannot protect your child by holding them tightly. Always put your newborn in a car
seat! Acne of the newborn is a skin
rash that appears as whiteheads, blackheads and pimples on the nose, chin, cheeks and
occasionally the forehead. No one knows the exact cause, but it is thought to be from
maternal hormone stimulation of the baby’s sweat glands. The rash normally clears on
its own in four to six weeks.
Breathing in newborns can sometimes be noisy. This is due to secretions that
collect behind the throat and nose after laying down. Newborns also have irregular or
"periodic" breathing. They will breathe rapidly for a few breaths, then hesitate
for up to six seconds, and then breathe rapidly again. This is normal if there is no
change in the baby’s color. Occasionally, infants take rapid, progressively deeper
breaths to completely expand their lungs. Burping your baby helps remove swallowed air, but needs to be done only two to
three times during a feeding: midway through the feeding, at the end of the feeding, and
five minutes after the feeding. If you do not get results in 30-60 seconds, stop trying.
Babies do not always need to burp! Bathe
the baby daily with warm water and a mild soap (like Johnson’s Baby Soap). Remember
not to immerse the baby in water until the cord falls off completely.
Cigarette smoke should be banned from the house once the newborn arrives. Infants
exposed to the harmful chemicals in passive smoke experience an increased incidence of
crib death (SIDS), colic, pneumonia, colds, asthma, allergy and ear infections. When the
newborn comes home, the "No Smoking" signs go up and smoking family and friends
go outside (or better yet, quit!) Do not leave your infant with a caretaker who smokes. Crying is an infant’s first language. Since
little babies cannot use the telephone or fax to say that they are hungry, fatigued, bored
or have a little stomachache, they cry. Some babies cry more than others, but the amount
of crying is not related to the infant’s general health or a parent’s skills.
Try to soothe the crying newborn, but if nothing works, letting the infant cry will not
cause the baby to feel insecure. Remember, crying is normal and a harmless part of the
first year of life. Circumcision care
consists of covering the penis with a gauze coated with a large amount of Vaseline for
three to four days. The circumcision might bleed a little, but call the doctor if it
Diapers can be either cloth or disposable. In my experience the rate of
diaper rashes is about the same. The main advantage of disposable diapers is that they are
convenient; the main disadvantage is that they are more expensive than cloth diapers.
Eye color will not be known for at least six months, but most parents will
know eye color by two to three months of age. Occasionally newborns will have a discharge
from their eyes. This is usually due to a plugged tear duct- the channel that normally
carries tears from the eyes to the nose is blocked. This common condition usually clears
spontaneously. During the first few weeks of life, the newborn’s eyes may
occasionally cross, and this is normal. By three to four months of age, however, check
with the baby’s doctor if the eyes are not straight
Father’s have a very important role in the care of the newborn. The era when
only mothers changed diapers and gave their infants baths is over. Be prepared to lose
some sleep as night crying and feeding will be tiring, but Dads should help Mom by
volunteering for this duty. Dads need to develop a relationship with their newborn; after
all, mom has had the baby for nine months, so fathers have some catching up to do! Dads
should arrange their work schedule so they can spend extra time at home. The Fontanelle or "soft spot" centered atop
the newborn’s head is actually a space where the skull bones have not completely come
together. As the brain grows during the first two years, this "open" area will
gradually close. Although it appears delicate, do not worry. Protected by a thick elastic
membrane, the soft spot is really quite tough. It’s okay to touch and wash it.
Grandparents are great for helping with newborns. They are a valuable source of
information, wisdom, experience and reassurance and make great baby sitters. If your
newborn baby does not have grandparents, adopt some! Gas- About 10 percent of babies have daily fussy crying that we call colic. The
infant appears red faced and frantic, with legs drawn to the abdomen as if in pain with
the passage of gas. Colic usually occurs at the same time each day, usually in the early
evening from 4-8PM, and may last for hours on end. Colic is not a disease, it will not
hurt your child in any way, and it is not caused by being anxious, first time parents. Any
kind of motion seems to make colic better: placing your child in a windup swing, taking
them for a stroller ride around the house, or for a long ride in the car. Colic is best
cured by time- it usually disappears by 3-4 months of age no matter what you do!
Hiccups are common in healthy newborns, sometimes occurring six to eight
times a day. Everyone has a theory about what causes hiccups and there are just as many
home remedies to stop them. Fortunately, hiccups cause no medical problems and become more
infrequent with passing weeks. For treatment, ask a grandparent.
Intestinal problems worry new parents. Some newborns have a bowel movement with
each feeding while others have only one every five to six days. It is not uncommon for the
infant to strain, grunt and become red-faced when having a normal bowel movement. A child
is "constipated" when the stool is pellet like, dry and hard. Occasional blood
streaking on the outside of a bowel movement is caused by a small sore or fissure in the
rectum and is not a cause for alarm. Immunizations
are extremely important; they are safe and help to prevent life-threatening medical
problems. Most newborns today get their first immunization against hepatitis B at one
month of age. Your baby’s doctor will advise you of the immunization schedule.
Parents should remember to add the newborn to their health Insurance plan. The time for registering the infant is sometimes limited and
should be done immediately after the child’s birth.
Jaundice is the yellow skin color many newborns get due to increased amounts
of a pigment in the body called bilirubin. Often it is caused by immaturity of the liver
that leads to a slower processing of bilirubin. Newborn jaundice normally disappears by
one to two weeks of age for formula fed babies and one to three months for breast-fed
babies. If parents are concerned about your infant’s color, take the baby outside as
the degree of jaundice is best judged in natural light.
K is for kitchen. Now is a good time to introduce Dad to the area of the house so
Mom can get much needed rest. And for all that Kodak film- do not worry about taking pictures - that flash will not hurt their
L is for love and kisses. You can not give your newborn too much holding,
attention and love. Your baby has its own language, which you soon will soon learn
to understand. And do not be afraid to talk the newborn in normal adult language; it
stimulates all areas of their brain! Lanugo
is the fine hair on the baby’s shoulders and back that is produced near the end of
pregnancy and disappears in the first weeks of life.
Mothers at Home (1-800-783-4666) is a nonprofit organization devoted to the
support of mothers who choose to be at home with their children. They publish a monthly
journal that contains articles, essays and poems reflecting the unique perspective of
women caring for their children at home.
Nails on the fingers and toes need to be cut weekly to prevent
self-inflicted scratches. These are best trimmed when the child is asleep and the job
usually requires two people. Use fingernail clippers or special baby scissors.
Ointments and lotions can be helpful if your newborn has cracked skin or dry
skin. Avoid powders with talcum because it can cause chemical pneumonia if inhaled into
your newborn’s lungs.
PKU test for a treatable cause of mental retardation (phenylketonuria) was
automatically done before your newborn was discharged but will be repeated either at the
hospital or your doctor’s office at two weeks of age. Almost all babies have normal
screens. Another disease screened at the same time is hypothyroidism. This is a thyroid
deficiency that retards brain development, but if treatment is started early enough,
babies with this condition can be normal.
Questions are an important part of your well child checkups. Do not be afraid to
ask your baby’s doctor about anything that bothers you, even if the question seems
"silly." The only "dumb" question is the one you do not ask-
you’ll never get the answer to that one! ("It is the frequent not the hesitant
inquirer who makes real and safe progress" - Sir Francis Bacon) Q-tips should not be used for cleaning out your infant’s ears. You will only
push the wax and other material further down the ear canal and you could injure the ear
should your newborn suddenly turn.
Rest is very important for new mothers and fathers. Take the phone off the hook,
disconnect the doorbell, and take a nap when the newborn sleeps. Ask for help- no one
should be expected to care of a young baby alone. If a mother does not take care of
herself, she will not be able to care for her baby. So find the time for sleep, privacy
and guilt-free moments to adjust to the new family member. All children get diaper Rashes. They are caused by chemical irritants
produced by the combination of bowel movements and urine as well as heat and moisture in
the diaper area.
Sneezing is normal and does not mean that your newborn has a cold. This is how
your newborn clears mucus, fuzz from blankets, dust in the air, Aunt Jenny’s
inexpensive perfume and cigarette smoke from their nose. Infants should always Sleep on their backs unless instructed
differently by the newborn’s physician. Newborns are affected by estrogen hormones
received from the mom during the pregnancy and as a result parents may notice temporary Swelling of the baby’s breasts. This is common
in both boy and girl infants and usually disappears by the time the baby is three months
Thrush appears as white patches that coat the inside of your baby’s mouth. It
is caused by a yeast germ and is a nuisance but not a serious medical problem. It can be
treated with medication prescribed by your doctor and is not contagious. Telephone- call the baby’s doctor if you have
any problems. Remember, you may not talk to the physician. The office nurse or assistant are well trained to handle routine phone calls and know that all new parents are concerned.
Umbilical cord care consists of applying rubbing alcohol to the base of the
cord where it attaches to the skin once or twice daily. Do not worry, it will not hurt the
baby. Try not to cover the cord with a diaper as air exposure helps with separation (which
occurs naturally in a week to ten days). Report any redness or foul odor to your
child’s physician. A few drops of blood oozing from the stump is normal.
Vomiting and spitting up is common in newborns. It is important for parents to
understand the difference between the two. All babies spit up small amounts soon after
feeding or sometimes up to an hour after they are fed. Real vomiting means throwing up
large amounts of the feeding and if forceful, it is called "projectile
vomiting." If a baby vomits two consecutive feedings, parents should call their
doctor. Sometimes it is due to overfeeding or failure to sufficiently burp the baby, but
it also may mean that the infant has a gastrointestinal problem of some kind. Vaginal mucus and blood are frequently seen in
newborn girls. This discharge is due to the natural exposure to mothers' female hormones
and will be gone after the first week. New babies are like magnets - they attract
everyone. The last thing new parents need is to entertain people who might not understand
the needs of a new family. So, restrict Visitors to short visits and make sure guests leave their children at home.
Well checkups for your newborn begin at different times depending on your
doctor’s schedule. During these visits your newborn’s physical and developmental
growth will be checked. Changes in caring and feeding of your baby will be suggested if
necessary. Immunizations against life-threatening diseases will be given at the proper
times. These regular checkups will assure you about your baby’s progress and give you
the opportunity to ask questions concerning your child’s care.
Xcellent idea is to get someone you trust to care for your newborn and spend
a few hours away from home and from the responsibility of parenting.
Yawning, chin trembling, lower lip quivering, and jitteriness of the arms
and legs, especially when crying, are all normal newborn behaviors. They are caused by an
immature nervous system, and will disappear by two or three months of age.
Newborns generally sleep 16 hours a day but not more than two hours in one stretch. The
infant generally goes through seven different sleep/awake cycles in a 24 hour period. In
the first few weeks, infant gurgles, snorts, sneezes and irregular breathing are bound to
keep parents awake wondering what will happen next. Most first time parents like their
newborn in the same room with them at night until they feel comfortable that they will
hear their baby cry. Trust me, this is one fear that is unfounded! You will hear your
infant when the baby needs you!
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
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