It would be very hard, if not impossible, to list all of the things a new parent should know when bringing home a baby for the first time. Luckily, we have the internet now to help guide us with questions and concerns. It is a good idea to read up on the first few weeks after birth, while you still have semi-guaranteed extra time to read.
Check out useful books that your Obstetrician recommends, and checking out mom blogs isn’t a bad idea, to get some support from peers who speak in lay terms (plain language) that everyone can understand. Other new mothers can provide the camaraderie and community that medical people can’t.
Basics of Babies
Nothing may seem like it is “common sense” or “instinct” to a lot of first-time parents. That said, a newborn baby may cry a lot.
Is My Baby Hungry?
Making sure the baby is not hungry is one first thing to consider if they act unhappy. Make sure to feed very small amounts, frequently at first. A newborn baby can only eat a small amount before they might throw up. Burping the baby after they eat will also help prevent unnecessary throwing up.
Hopefully, you have decided between breast milk and formula at this point, and have been given instruction on preparing formula if that is the road you went down. If breastfeeding, getting the baby to latch to the breast is essential and should have been addressed before you left the maternity ward.
If you are completely lost, it’s wise to contact your doctor or a trusted mother you know for some guidance. Usually, with breast milk or formula, babies eat less than 2-3 oz per feeding and feed when they want to – i.e. when they are crying.
Is My Baby Comfortable?
If your new baby is crying but does not want to feed, they might have a dirty diaper that is irritating them. If they have a clean diaper and also don’t want to feed, make sure the baby is always comfortable, as in warm enough.
Although you are probably holding your baby a great deal during this time and your body heat helps, it is very important to make sure the baby is warm enough and covered up (or if you are in a hot climate, make sure the baby isn’t too warm, especially if air conditioning isn’t available). Keeping the baby at a temperature that is most comfortable for a helpless, tiny baby is essential. Make sure any wet blankets or garments are quickly replaced with dry and make sure diaper changes don’t leave the baby’s naked skin exposed to a room that is even slightly cold or drafty for more than a very brief period of time.
Lastly, if the baby is still crying after making sure the main things that usually make a baby cry are addressed, make sure nothing is accidentally poking the baby or causing them any pain somehow. This used to happen more often in the days of diaper pins, but it should still be addressed if your baby doesn’t want to stop crying.
First Few Poops: What Is Normal?
The very first poop to expect from the new baby after birth is called “Meconium”. If you were hospitalized, the baby probably had his or her first meconium stool at the hospital. It is thick and tarry in texture, and usually green to black in color.
By the end of the first week of life, these unusual dark stools should change to yellow or yellow-brown in color. A hydrated baby should pee usually once every 8 hours or so. If the baby isn’t making urine or stool for an extended period of time, 24 hours or more, contact your obstetrician.
What Things Should I Be Concerned About?
Aside from the things listed above, there are a few things that are not “normal” for babies to have going on. Here is a basic list.
- A rectal temperature over 99.6 on a newborn should cause some concern, and be reported to your doctor. This goes the same for the first 6 months of life. Even a temperature of 100.4 is of great concern when dealing with a newborn who does not have a fully functioning immune system.
- Most babies can potentially get some diaper rash. Any rashes on the palms or bottoms of the feet, or generalized all over the body, or anything that is not just a tiny patch of localized red bumps where the diaper gets soiled should be reported to your doctor for further guidance.
- Watch that cord for infection. If where the baby’s cord is falling off looks inflamed, angry red or draining yellow, opaque, or other colors other than watery or slightly bloody discharge, you need to address it with a doctor.
- Be extremely careful with the baby’s head and neck – and with the baby in general. Newborns must be protected from any trauma at all times. This means no jostling or rough treatment of any kind by any siblings, pets, or, of course, parents. Baby this new baby, because they are fragile and they need protection, and to be very closely cared for.