Questions on newborn care?
A pediatrician typically sees your newborn for his first appointment within a few days of discharge from the hospital. During the first well visit, you will get a chance to meet the pediatrician (if you haven’t already done so), as well as ask questions or address concerns you have about newborn care and your baby. The pediatrician will also perform a physical exam, observe your baby’s development and behavior, and track his growth to ensure he is getting enough to eat at the first well visit and those following.
Your pediatrician may discuss the following topics with you during your newborn’s first few appointments.
The very first stool your baby will pass is known as meconium. Newborns pass meconium over the first few days, and as he begins eating more, the stool will change from black meconium to dark green or yellow in color. After the first month, the number of bowel movements your infant has often slows down. Notify your pediatrician right away if your baby’s stools are white or red, as these could be signs of serious problems.
Breastmilk or formula is the only nutritional source your baby needs for the first six months of life, and the major source of nutrition throughout the first year. Your pediatrician will monitor your baby’s feeding habits and patterns during this time to ensure his growth is on track. Breastfed babies typically eat more frequently than babies who are fed formula. Breastfed newborns may nurse every two to three hours, while formula-fed newborns will eat every three to four hours during the first few weeks of life.
It is important to keep in mind that every baby has different sleep needs. Most newborns will sleep 16 to 17 hours per day, but only sleep a few hours at a time. Sleep cycles for infants generally don’t normalize until about six months of age.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all healthy infants sleep on their backs until they are able to roll over themselves. A baby sleeping on his back rather than his side or stomach has a decreased chance of sudden infant death syndrome.
Because infants aren’t mobile yet, they shouldn’t require daily bathing so long as the diaper area is cleaned thoroughly during changes. Bathing a baby too frequently can dry out his skin. Instead, sponge bathe areas as needed, such as the skin folds where food or dirt can get trapped.
Umbilical cord care
An infant’s umbilical cord should eventually dry up and fall off on its own by the time the baby is eight weeks old. In the meantime, keep the area clean and dry by giving the baby sponge baths rather than submersing him in the tub. Fold diapers below the stump area to avoid irritation. Small drops of blood are normal around the time the stump is going to fall off. Call your pediatrician, however, if you notice: active bleeding, foul-smelling yellowish discharge, or red skin surrounding the stump.
Well-visits during the first year
Following your newborn’s first well visit, your pediatrician will also see your baby at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 15 months, 18 months, and 2 years. These visits are important times to ask questions, observe a child’s growth and receive scheduled vaccinations.
A mother’s care is also important, so don’t forget to speak with the pediatrician if you are having postpartum issues with breastfeeding or anxiety. The pediatrician can refer you to a lactation consultant to assist with specific questions and concerns.