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Caring for Your Newborn: FAQ for First-Time Parents

You’ve spent nine months preparing for baby, had a smooth delivery, and it’s time for you to head back home. Now what?If you’ve wondered this, you’re not alone. Many new moms and dads are prepared for how to do with the ins and outs of pregnancy, but the days and weeks following your baby’s trip home can be confusing, especially for first-time parents.

“Before your baby arrives, you’ll hear a lot about hot topics like vaccinations and baby sign language. These are all things parents should talk about, but most issues that parents deal with are much more basic,” explains Semhar Mahmud, MD, ob/gyn at Riddle Hospital. “The care and keeping of your baby is what raises the most questions in those first few weeks of bringing your newborn home.”

Below, Dr. Mahmud answers some common questions for first-time parents.

Help! My baby has a fever.
The first time your baby’s temperature spikes can be scary. For infants younger than three months, an oral temperature of more than 100 degrees or a rectal temperature of 100.4 or more means it’s time to call the pediatrician. For infants, a rectal temperature reading is the most accurate. If you notice that your baby is exhibiting other symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, ear pain, or changes in mood or appetite, it’s best to be safe and call the pediatrician no matter their temperature.

How should I be taking care of my baby’s umbilical cord?
Umbilical cords usually fall off within one to two weeks, but in the meantime, keep it clean and dry. Using rubbing alcohol if it needs cleaned, and call your pediatrician if you notice redness or an odor.

When is it safe for my baby to leave the house?
As soon as you get home from the hospital, you can start taking your baby for walks outside and running errands with them. Try to avoid busier situations, like long trips or large get-togethers, until they are a few months older. These can be overwhelming for them and for you in your role as a caretaker.

How often should I give my baby a bath?
Just like you, your baby’s skin will get too dry if you bathe them too much. Three baths per week or fewer is enough for your newborn. You can start to bathe more frequently as they get older.

My baby’s skin looks yellow. Should I be worried?

That yellow shade is called jaundice, and it’s a common problem for newborns. You should notify your pediatrician if you notice jaundice. The condition is easily treatable, and they might be able to advise you over the phone.

Preparing for baby? Don’t forget to sign up for our parenting classes, including sibling preparation, maternity unit tours, and breastfeeding groups. Learn more on our website.

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