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Helpful Tips for New Parents

Just remember all babies are different, even twins! These are some guidelines that may help you in getting to know your new baby.

  • Sneezing and Hiccups: Newborns frequently sneeze and hiccup for which no treatment is necessary. While hiccups and sneezing are normal, coughing is not. Let the doctor know if your baby is coughing.

  • Nasal Congestion: Newborn babies get stuffy noses and can't blow their own noses. If the nose congestion seems to be bothering the baby (making it hard for her to sleep/drink), you can administer a few drops of normal saline (1/2tsp of salt in 8oz of water or Little Noses brand) in each nostril and let it sit for a couple of seconds. This may help clear these secretions on their own. If congestion persists you may also use a bulb aspirator with the saline to suction out the nostril. One nostril at a time, suction out the saline solution with a bulb aspirator while closing the opposite nostril. Remember to squeeze the air out of the aspirator before placing it into the nostril.

  • Dry Skin: Newborns often have dry, sensitive skin that peels in the first few weeks of life - especially on the hands and feet. This generally improves without intervention as babies grow. Putting on an ointment-based skin protectant such as Aquaphor or Vaseline will also help keep the skin hydrated.

  • Baby Acne: Often, new babies will have a rash on the face at 3-5 weeks that may spread to the upper torso. This is normal and is a result of the mother's hormones. It may look more alarming on some babies than others. There is no treatment for it, but it will resolve on its own without leaving any scarring. If the rash spreads below the belly button, let your doctor know.

  • Vaginal Discharge: Newborns are bathed in maternal estrogen during pregnancy, and girls may have mucousy or bloody discharge from their vaginas and/or lactate from their breasts in the days after birth. This is normal and is also a result of the mother's hormones.

  • Umbilical Cord: The umbilical cord stump will fall off on its own between 1-3 weeks of life. You may wipe it with alcohol or water to keep the area clean. After falling off, the area inside the belly button may look a little mucousy or wet, but should dry up in a few days. If you notice it becoming red, swollen, and/or tender, let the doctor know.

  • Breathing: Newborns have what we call periodic breathing, when the baby breathes rapidly and then pauses momentarily. If the baby pauses for more than a few seconds, call your doctor.

  • Eyes: Appearing cross-eyed is normal until the baby is 4 months old.

  • Feeding: newborns feed approximately 8-12 times per day. They may cluster and feed as frequently as every hour. They should not go longer than 4 hours without feeding until they regain their birth weight, or about 2 weeks of life. Please see our feeding page for more information.

  • Sleeping: Until babies can roll over on their own, all babies should be placed on their back to sleep. Give them some tummy time while they are awake. Generally newborns sleep for 14-18 hours in a 24 hour day, though only for a few consecutive hours at a time. They should be put to sleep on their backs, on a flat surface, and without pillows/toys/blankets in the crib.

  • Pees/Poos: Newborns generally urinate at least 5-6 times in 24 hours. A good rule of thumb is 1 pee on day 1 of life, 2 pees on day 2 of life, and so forth until day 5 when you expect at least 5 or more thereafter. Stools are more variable, but usually are at least a few a day and sometimes occur after every feed, especially with the breastfed infants. Stools usually are yellow or green and should be soft.

  • Circumcision Care: After a circumcision, you should apply petroleum jelly to the tip of the penis with diaper changes to prevent irritation of the area. Generally, you will need to do this for 5-7 days until the skin is healed.

  • Fever:  A fever is defined as a temperature greater than 100.4°F or 38°C. If your baby has a fever, call a doctor.

  • One source that we recommend to all new parents is a book/DVD called "The Happiest Baby on the Block", by Harvey Karp. It will teach you useful skills that will help with calming your baby.​

  • Another great resource is "Baby 411" by Dr. Ari Brown and Denise Fields.  It has practical answers to everyday questions and easy-to-follow advice.

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