The first 3 months are HARD!!!
You and your baby are getting to know one another, and, for the most part, your baby runs the show. This may mean having days and nights mixed up for the first few weeks, needing to eat every hour for several hours on some days, and crying for no apparent reason. Just like adults, babies have good days and not-so-good days. One of the joys of being a parent is that you will quickly become the best person to read your baby’s cues and tend most effectively to his/her needs.
Babies cry...A LOT
...much more than you’d expect. Crying is a means of communication for your infant. Until your baby is about 4 months old, you cannot “spoil” her by attending to her needs when she cries. Run through the common reasons why babies cry...Is she hungry? Is she wet or dirty? Is she in pain? Does she need to be held, swaddled and soothed? If you try your usual calming techniques and your baby remains inconsolable for more than 2-3 hours, consider calling us (as inconsolability can be a sign of illness or other unusual conditions) to discuss what else can be tried. Colic (excessive fussiness and crying) typically begins around 3 weeks of age and resolves by 3-4 months of age. If you feel your baby may be colicky, let us know so we can discuss additional soothing and calming techniques.
Nearly all babies spit up,
or reflux, to some degree. For the vast majority of babies, reflux is a laundry issue and not a medical problem. The spits can be helped by regularly burping your baby during and after feeds and by keeping your baby upright for 20-30 minutes after feeds. If your baby is extremely fussy or in pain during or right after feeds (the baby equivalent of heartburn), or if your baby is not gaining weight as expected because of his/her spit-ups, talk to us about feeding techniques and/or medications that can help.
All babies have gas.
Gas is RARELY due to the baby’s formula and multiple formula changes are RARELY the answer to helping your baby’s gas. Every time your baby cries or swallows, he is swallowing air, and what goes in must come out. Regular burping of your baby may help minimize the gas in his stomach. A warm bath, gently rubbing your baby’s belly, or moving your baby’s legs like a bicycle may help ease and pass the gas. Simethicone (Mylicon drops) is an over-the-counter medication that may or may not help ease your baby’s gas pains; it will not eliminate gas completely. We do not routinely recommend gripe water.
We commonly see new parents fixate on their newborn’s bowel movements.
Some babies poop 10-12 times each day. Other babies poop once every 4-5 days. As long as your baby’s poop is soft and non-bloody, your baby’s poop is likely within the realm of normal. Nearly all babies strain/grunt/turn red/get angry when trying to poop. This too is normal as long as the poop that comes out is soft.
Congestion in the nose is extremely common in babies.
Until they are about 4 months old, babies do most of their breathing through their noses. Their nasal passages are very small and any amount of mucus will make them sound noisy and congested. Because babies cannot blow or wipe their noses, they clear their noses by sneezing. This is normal. If congestion interferes with your baby’s sleeping or eating, reach for the nasal bulb syringe. This is best used with salt-water drops (either homemade or store-bought) or a steamy bathroom. Moisten your baby’s nose with either of these, then suck out his nostrils with the bulb syringe.
Until your baby is 8 weeks of age, fever is a medical urgency.
Babies this young have very few ways of letting us know that they are sick. Fever (rectal temperature above 100.4) is one “absolute” that we need to be notified of. Fever in this age group can be a sign of underlying bloodstream infection, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or meningitis (brain infection). Until your baby is at least 6-8 weeks of age, a fever typically means a trip to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department where multiple tests and an admission to the hospital for antibiotics will likely occur. We do not want you or your baby to go through this, so until your child is at least 8-12 weeks old, try to avoid anyone that is sick (even with a cold), have visitors wash their hands before holding the baby, and stay away from crowded places (like malls and church) where increased germs are likely.
If you do not own a rectal thermometer, we recommend purchasing one, as this is the only accurate way of taking your baby’s temperature until she is 2 months old (unfortunately, ear, underarm, and oral thermometers are not reliable in young infants). We do NOT recommend checking your baby’s temperature “just because”, but if your baby is acting unusual to you (different cry, different level of alertness, change in skin color, etc...), unwrap your baby for 15-20 minutes, then check the temperature. If it’s above 100.4 or below 97, give us a call.
The rash on your baby’s face/neck/upper chest is likely baby acne.
This is a result of mom’s hormones in baby’s body and is harmless. No treatment is necessary for baby acne. We recommend washing the affected areas with water alone and not applying any lotions or creams to affected areas. Baby acne typically goes away by 3-4 months of age.
Most babies do not sleep through the night until they are about 4 months old.
This is a LONG time for parents to also not be sleeping through the night. During the daytime, try to catch a nap when your baby is napping. The cleaning and laundry will be there when you wake up! Sleep when your baby sleeps to help maintain some sanity!
Good sleep habits early on will make for good sleep habits later.
Once your newborn is about 2 weeks old, get into the habit of putting him into his bassinette/crib when he is almost, but not completely, asleep. Your baby needs to learn to calm himself to sleep, so that eventually (around 4 months) when he wakes in the middle of the night, you do not need to feed/hold/rock/dance him back to sleep. Related to this, make the middle of the night feeds low-stimulus...keep the lights off, no music, no dancing...just feed your baby, quietly change his diaper, then back to sleep.
The first few months of a baby’s life can be a stressful and tiring time for new and experienced parents. There will undoubtedly be rough days. But don’t forget to enjoy your newborn and the new things he/she does each day!