Questions from New Parents

Why isn’t my baby gaining weight?

In the first week after birth, it is normal for your baby to initially lose weight because he/;she was born with extra water.  This extra water helps your baby while waiting for your milk to “come in” or to get use to bottle feeding.  It is common for your baby to lose 5% to 10% of her birth weight during the first seven to ten days of life.  For a 7 lb. baby this would be about 10 oz. 

Why isn’t my baby feeding well and why is he spitting up? 

Some babies take to the bottle or breast very well at the first feeding.  Your baby is born with water and calories to last for several days and may not be interested in feeding for the first 24 hours.  When she does feed, she may gag and “spit up” the mucous and fluid swallowed before and during birth.

Do babies hiccough?

Yes, many babies hiccough frequently.  It sometimes helps to burp your infant at the middle and end of feedings, and to feed him slowly.

Why is my baby sneezing and breathing so noisily?

Sneezing is a baby’s way of cleaning his nose.  His stuffy nose may come from too much use of nasal suction or a dry, dusty or smoky environment.  Noisy breathing may be caused by air turbulence in narrow nasal passages.  Most babies breathe almost entirely through their nose until 4 or 5 months of age.  This will cause some babies to become cranky and feed poorly if nasal congestion is present.  It is sometimes helpful to use a nasal bulb and a few drops of dilute warm salt water to clean out the nose (1/4 tsp. baking soda in 1 cup of water).  Nasal decongestants, or antihistamines and oral decongestants should not be used unless prescribed by your doctor.

When can I take my baby outside? 

Usually after 7 – 10 days, weather permitting, your child may go outside.  The infants should be kept away from large crowds and should not be kissed or handled by people who have cold or flu symptoms.  Remember, handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of “colds.”

How can I help my baby not to catch “colds”? 

Frequent handwashing is essential, as well as limiting handling of your baby by people with cold symptoms.  Children of preschool age and children who attend day care centers may be sources of “colds.”  They are around many children with colds and they share many toys which are covered with these “germs.”

What kind of soap should I use on my baby? 

Any of the various brands of “baby soap” are acceptable.  A mild white soap without additives is best.  Many soaps may dry your baby’s skin, so bathing with soap should be done only when necessary and the soap can usually be limited to the diaper area if your baby has dry skin.  Only “sponge baths” should be given until about age 2 months.

What should I do for the umbilical stalk (“belly button”)? 

The umbilical stump should be kept dry and clean.  The use of alcohol at the changing of every diaper will help keep it clean and hasten it “coming off.”  Give daily “sponge baths” until this happens.  If there is a sign of infection (redness/swelling/pus), your child’s doctor should be contacted.  Occasional small stains of blood are seen when the cord falls off.  Do not be afraid to touch the cord or to have your baby lie on his stomach.  Do not force the cord off.  Let it come off by itself.

How do I care for my baby’s circumcision? 

The area should be cleansed with mild soap and water and petroleum jelly applied to the tip of the penis to lessen irritation from rubbing against the diaper.  If there is not a “good” stream when he urinates, your child’s doctor should be notified.  If your child has not been circumcised, there is no need to pull back the foreskin.

Why is my baby’s skin peeling? 

Most mothers expect their baby’s skin to be soft and smooth.  Many babies have skin which peels.  Babies have been “floating in water” for many months and now when they are exposed to a dry environment, their skin will often become dry and cracked.  Perfumed baby lotions, talcum powders, and oils should be avoided.  A small amount of non-perfumed lotion may be used, but avoid the face.  If a rash occurs, stop the lotion and notify your physician.

Why does my baby have a rash? 

Newborns frequently have a rash called erythema toxicum (“newborn rash”).  It is normal and tends to come and go for a few days or weeks.  Your infant may have red pimple-like dots on the face and cheek area.  This rash usually will resolve by itself without treatment.  Avoid soap and oils on the face.

What are the bruises on my baby’s forehead, eyelids or neck? 

These flat marks are called “stork bites or angel kisses” by many parents and medically each is called a nevus flammeus.  When your baby is crying or upset, they become bright red.  Usually these birthmarks fade over a period of 1 to 2 years.  A different skin marking frequently seen at birth is called a capillary hemangioma (“strawberry birthmark”).  These commonly appear between 1 and 2 months of life and look like small red “flecks.”  In the majority of cases they also fade with time. 

What are the bumps on my baby’s head? 

Your infant may have a swollen, raised area of the scalp (called a caput succedaneum).  This usually disappears after several days.  There are other types of swelling which an infant may have.  One of these (cephalhematoma) is a swelling due to blood collecting under the top surface of the skull.  This type of swelling may take months to subside.

Why does my little girl have a whitish discharge from her vagina?

This whitish vaginal discharge is normal.  It is caused by maternal hormones which came across the placenta to the baby or are in the breastmilk.  It will gradually go away over a period of several weeks.  This same transfer of hormones is also the cause of breast tissue in some infants. 

What are most baby’s bowel movements like? 

Stooling patterns vary from baby to baby and depend upon whether your baby is breast or bottle fed.  Breast fed infants have bowel movements varying from many a day (up to 6 or more) to several per week.  Breast fed infants usually have more bowel movements than bottle fed infants.  Breast milk stools are typically “wet mustard” in color and consistency and have little odor.  Bottle fed infants generally have less frequent and slightly firmer stools.  Infants on soy formulas frequently have the firmest stools.  Most babies strain and draw up their legs and even grunt or cry when they have a bowel movement.  The first few days, babies pass dark, greenish, brown-black stools.  After this the stools change to many colors including mustard yellow, light brown or even green in color with small curds and/or seed like particles.

Will my baby’s eyes change color?

An infant’s eye color develops over a period of six months during which time the color may change from blue to darker colors.

Is it harmful for my baby to be around smoke from cigarettes?

Yes, cigarette smoke is harmful to your baby and can cause lung and breathing problems, ear problems and more frequent “colds.”