Nursing is healthiest for mom and baby and is encouraged by the doctors at Estrella Pediatrics. There are breast feeding support groups that meet at Banner Estrella and Banner Thunderbird hospitals weekly. For babies that are breast-fed it is now recommended that they start Vitamin D supplementation as soon as possible. Moms should also continue taking their prenatal vitamins as long as they are nursing. It is normal for babies to lose weight their first few days of life. They should be back up to their birth weight by 2 weeks.
If you have decided to formula feed your baby then no additional vitamin supplementation is necessary as they are well fortified with everything your baby needs. Avoid using microwaves to heat bottles as they have been known to heat the contents unevenly and high temperatures can be reached very quickly. Letting your baby lie flat on his back during feeding may increase the risk of middle ear infections.
After a few days your baby’s stools should change from the black, sticky meconium to yellow, seedy appearing stools. Breast-fed baby’s stools tend to be more frequent and runny while formula-fed infants tend to stool less frequently and they may be more formed. Constipation is when a baby is having hard stools, not infrequent stools. After the first month or so, breast-fed babies can go several days between bowel movements and even as long as every week or every other week! Remember, most babies will grunt, strain, and turn red with bowel movements and they may pull up their legs or even cry. If stools are soft, even though infrequent, there is no need to intervene.
The first few weeks babies have dry, peeling skin. This is normal and will resolve on its own. If small cracks start to develop on the feet or hands then Aquaphor is a safe gel available over-the-counter that can be applied to the baby’s body. There are several common newborn rashes that can appear in the first few weeks. Baby acne, cradle cap, newborn rash, and milia are but a few. Most of these are benign and require little or no treatment and can be handled with advice over the phone. Your baby should only be sponge bathed until the umbilical cord has fallen off and the surrounding skin has firmly sealed together.
Clean the outer ear only. The ears canals will push ear wax out and this can be removed. Never insert Q-Tips or any other instruments in the ears as these will cause wax to become packed deep in the ear canal.
Usually the umbilicus will fall off within a couple weeks but it can take as long as a month. No special care is required other than keeping the area clean and dry. The use of alcohol to clean the area is no longer necessary. After the cord separates there may continue to be some blood-tinged drainage. This is normal and can occur until the skin closes. It is common for the umbilical area to protrude during the first year.
Girls may have some thin, white vaginal discharge the first few weeks after birth. This is normal and gradually disappears as does the white, sticky matter in the vaginal area. Uncircumcised boys do not require any special care as newborns. It can be several years before the foreskin is retractible. Forcibly retracting the foreskin before it is ready should never be attempted. During the first week or two babies can urinate small uric acid crystals that appear in the diaper as a pinkish residue. This is normal and should not be mistaken for blood.