Caring For Your Newborn

Answers to some common questions

What can I expect?

The first days at home with your baby will be filled with new activities, sights, sounds, and scents. All the changes that come with being a new parent, some big and some small, will probably take a little while to get used to. During this time you may find that the simplest advice is often the best advice – try to get as much rest as possible. When you are well rested, you will be better able to care for your new baby, as well as yourself.

Your new baby will probably spend most of his/her first days at home eating and sleeping. In the first few weeks of life, newborn babies need to be fed during both the day and the night. Your baby will let you know when he/she is hungry by crying, often with a cry that has a special "I'm hungry" sound. At first it is best to feed your baby when he/she is hungry – not on a rigid schedule. This is because only your baby really knows how much food he/she needs and when he/she needs it. Eventually the two of you will develop feeding times that work well for both of you.

Is my baby eating enough?

Many moms wonder if their baby is eating enough. You can usually tell if your baby is getting enough nutrition if he or she:

Gains weight steadily.
Has regular, soft stools.
Wets the diapers 6-8 times per day.
Seems generally happy and content, especially when feeding.
We strongly encourage new moms to breastfeed their babies.

What about formula?

Your pediatrician will choose the formula for your baby. It is extremely important that you make no changes in formula without first consulting your doctor. Babies do tend to be fussy at times; it doesn't always mean your baby's formula needs to be changed. Always talk with your doctor before switching formula. There are different types of formula to choose from:

Ready to feed – just shake can and add to bottle.
Concentrate liquid – which requires mixing one can of water to one can of concentrate.
Powder formula – requires mixing with water, 1 scoop to 2 oz water, shake to mix.

Note that all water used to mix formula should be brought to a rolling boil for approximately one minute before it is added to the formula. Allow cooling before mixing. Always make sure all bottles, nipples, and other utensils you used to prepare formula or to feed your baby are cleaned with clean hot sudsy water. If you have well water or non chlorinated water, place the utensils in boiling water for five to ten minutes.

All formula prepared in advance should be stored in the refrigerator to discourage bacterial growth. Keep your baby safe while feeding; never prop a bottle for feeding because your infant may swallow air, and choke or spit. After a feeding, throw away all formula remaining in the bottle. Always use a fresh bottle for the next feeding. Never use a microwave oven to heat the formula.

How should I take my baby's temperature?

Very few babies get through infancy without having a fever, which is usually a sign of infection, somewhere in the body. A fever indicates that the immune system is actively fighting viruses or bacteria, so in this respect, it is a positive sign that the body is protecting itself. It is important we detect fever early so do not give your baby Tylenol for the first 2 months of life without orders from your doctor. Since an infant cannot hold a thermometer steady in his mouth you cannot take an oral temperature. During the first 6 months of life rectal temperatures are the most accurate. Once you know how to take a rectal temperature it is really quite simple:

Shake the mercury column on the thermometer down until it reads below 96 degrees. To do this, hold the end opposite from the bulb tightly between your fingers and shake your wrist (away from any countertops or nearby objects).
Rub the bulb end with rubbing alcohol or soap and water and rinse it with cool water.
Place a small amount of lubricant such as petroleum jelly on the bulb end.
Place your baby belly down on a firm surface or your leg.
Gently insert the thermometer bulb no more that 1 inch into his/her rectum, and hold in place (Its normal for your baby to have a bowel movement during this time) wait 2 to 3 minutes then remove and read the thermometer. A normal reading will be around 99.6f, if the rectal reading is 100.5f call our office or the doctor on call immediately if your baby is less than 2 months of age.

How Should I care for the umbilical cord?

During the first week or two, until the stump of the umbilical cord falls off, your newborn should have only sponge baths. You can clean the umbilical stump at each diaper change. Use a cotton ball or swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe the umbilical stump and base of stump. Keep the stump dry during the bath and avoid contact with petroleum jelly or diaper creams or ointments.

What about caring for his penis?

If you have chosen to have your baby boy circumcised, you should follow these simple instructions:

If your baby is discharged with gauze of petroleum jelly around the head of the penis, you can remove this by applying warm, soapy water. The important thing is to keep the area as clean as possible. If particles of stool get on the penis, wipe it gently with soap and water during a diaper change followed by small amount of petroleum jelly around the outer edge of the glans (head). Avoid tub baths until the circumcision is well healed. Call your doctor's office at signs of persistent redness, swelling, or crusted yellow sores. This may be a sign of infection.


In the first few months your baby's uncircumcised penis should simply be cleaned and bathed with soap and water, like the rest of the diaper area. Initially, the foreskin is connected by tissue to the glans, or head, of the penis so you should not try to retract it. Your doctor will tell you when the foreskin has separated and can be retracted safely (this could be several months to years).

How can I help prevent S.I.D.S.?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is one of the leading causes of death in the newborn. Although the exact cause of SIDS is not fully understood, there are several things you can do to reduce your baby's risk.

A healthy baby should sleep on his or her back.
Never place comforters or stuffed animals in your baby's crib.
Dress your baby for bed in clothes appropriate for the temperature of her room.
In cold weather, use thin blankets and tuck them in so your baby can't pull them over her face.