Baby Calendar Week 18 Comments
Bringing home a newborn is a big adjustment for any family, even if it's not the first child. Expect the first weeks to be stressful, as you all get to know each other and begin to fall into a routine (of sorts!) eventually.
As this first week wears on, your newborn will start spending more time awake and alert. Take advantage of those bright-eyed moments with plenty of face time. Ideal gazing distance for baby is about 14 inches.
There are some things that seem to worry most new parents unnecessarily. Babies have stuffy noses, and rarely will a newborn catch a cold. They are also noisy sleepers. Baby bowel movements can range in color, consistency and frequency.
Breastfed babies tend to have very loose, mustard-colored stool and poop more often than formula-fed infants. When babies have a bowel movement, they often draw up their legs and grunt or groan. That doesn't mean they are constipated.
Spitting up is also quite normal. Expect to lose a few teaspoons or so with each feeding, and the occasional throwing up of a whole feeding, particularly with formula-fed babies. However, if baby vomits more than one bottle a day, call the doctor.
Reflux is a common occurrence in infants, and your doctor can give you ideas on how to help if your child is dealing with this digestive disorder. Most newborns have hiccups, and they don't seem particularly bothersome to them. You'll probably remember the baby having the hiccups before birth.
Dress your baby comfortably for the temperature, usually the same as you plus one layer. If you're not holding the newborn, a hat is a good idea.
Umbilical cord care is no big thing. Your physician probably instructed you on how to care for it until it finally falls off. Generally, the advice is to keep it dry and clean, sponge bathe baby until the stump falls off, and if it gets dirty wash it with soap and water then dry it well. Don't pull off the stump, let it fall off on its own.
You'll be seeing the newborn reflexes, such as rooting, sucking, blinking and startling. You were probably instructed on how to properly swaddle the baby while in the hospital. It may make you claustrophobic to think about it, but newborns find it soothing.
Feed your newborn on demand, which is generally 8-12 times a day or every two or three hours for a breastfed infant. Formula-fed babies eat slightly fewer times, as formula takes longer to digest.
At the Well Visit
You will see your doctor sometime this week, probably within a couple days of taking your newborn home from the hospital. At the visit, be sure to write down any questions or concerns you have. The doctor will be checking growth, looking for signs of jaundice the first few visits, checking vital signs, and talking to you about feeding, care, safety, and anything that concerns you.
Your newborn probably received the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth. If not, he or she will later this month.
Tips for Mom and Dad
Bringing home your baby is overwhelming. However, everyone you know will want to drop by to catch a glimpse of your cute new addition. It can be difficult to handle, especially if you are uncomfortable receiving visitors unless you and your home are perfect and beautiful. If you have relatives or a paid helper during these first few weeks, let them run interference for you.
Limit the amount of visitors and time for visits. You need rest, and time for your family to be alone together and settle into your new life. Consider putting a message on your phone answering machine instructing people on when you will be up to receiving visitors or let a family member handle getting the word out. Don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry. I am just so tired, I'm going to have to go rest." Everyone will understand, and there's no need to feel guilty about taking care of yourself and protecting your family from too much activity. However, when someone asks," What can I do to help you?" Don't be shy about telling them what would be helpful.
Meals, running errands, doing laundry or simple housework, or maybe babysitting older ones for a bit are all valuable services friends and family members can help you with. Don't turn down offers of help. They won't be offering forever, so take advantage while you can. Expect to be sleep-deprived and therefore moody, absent-minded and simply not quite yourself for awhile. It will improve with time, but how long depends on the individual family. Conserve your energy and take the wise advice of resting when your baby does. It might be the only chance you get!
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