Bringing a new baby home is an exciting — and overwhelming — experience. No matter how prepared you are, you’re bound to have many questions about your newborn.
It helps if you have some idea of what issues come up and how to deal with them. Before your baby’s birth, or before you leave the hospital, go over this list of questions about newborn baby care with your pediatrician.
1. How can I protect my baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?
Experts in newborn care say the best way to protect your baby from SIDS is to always put her down to sleep on her back. The rate of SIDS deaths has fallen significantly since the American Academy of Pediatrics launched its “Back to Sleep” campaign. Ask your doctor about other steps you can take to reduce your baby’s risk.
2. Will my baby and I bond right away, and what should I do if we don’t?
Many parents worry if they aren’t overwhelmed by adoration at the first sight of their newborn baby. Try to be patient when it comes to bonding. These early days aren’t easy — for you or your child — and it will take a while to get to know each other. Talk to your doctor about what to expect.
3. When will my newborn have her first physical exam after we leave the hospital? What will happen at that first checkup?
Most doctors schedule a first checkup at age 2 weeks, especially for the first baby. Ask about vaccines and early screening tests your newborn will receive. All newborn babies need to be checked and begin routine immunizations by age 2 months.
4. How should I care for my baby’s umbilical cord stump and circumcision area?
Your doctor can give you detailed directions for caring for your newborn’s umbilical stump and circumcision area. Your doctor can also advise you what to watch for in terms of infection.
5. How much will my baby sleep, and how can I tell if he is sleeping too much?
Newborn babies sleep a lot during their early days. Your doctor will be able to tell you what is normal and whether you should wake your baby to feed.
6. How often should my baby eat, and how should I deal with any feeding problems?
Whether you’re breast or bottle-feeding, you’re likely to have questions. Ask your doctor or hospital staff for names of lactation consultants, in case you have any breastfeeding problems. A qualified consultant in newborn baby care will help you and your baby get off to a good start. Breast milk is the “perfect food” for newborn babies for at least the first four months of life. It provides benefits, such as protecting against infections through the transfer of maternal antibodies, that no formula can.
7. How often will my newborn go to the bathroom, and how will I know if there are problems?
Elimination is right up there with sleeping and eating on a newborn’s list of activities. Your doctor can tell you what problems to watch out for.
8. When and how often should I bathe my newborn?
Ask your doctor when you should give your baby her first bath, and about basic infant hygiene. Don’t overdo it: newborn babies don’t have an opportunity to get very dirty, and too much bathing can irritate delicate skin.
9. How can I tell if my baby has jaundice? Are there other newborn health conditions I should watch out for?
Many newborn babies have mild jaundice because their livers are not fully developed. Ask your doctor about jaundice and other newborn health conditions.
10. When should I call the doctor?
Find out what symptoms or behaviors warrant a call or a visit to the doctor.