Guide to Healthy Newborns
Everyone wants healthy newborns. Advances in medicine make this a great era in which to be born.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, world infant mortality (death) rates have decreased from estimated 152 per 1000 live births to about 47 per 1000 in the last 60 years. The numbers for the United States have dropped from 28 to 6 per 1000 in the same time period.
Choosing a Pediatrician
Some clinics will allow prospective parents to make a short appointment to interview a potential pediatrician free of charge. Prepare a list of questions that will help you identify whether the doctor's personality and philosophies agree with your own.
It is best to have your pediatrician chosen before your baby's birth, therefore allowing him to be involved from the very beginning. (This is especially helpful if there is a health issue at birth, or if you will be having your baby boy circumcised.)
If your chosen doctor does not practice medicine at the place of your baby's birth, an appointment with him a few days later should be fine. Hospitals are staffed with qualified pediatricians who will be happy to care for your baby until discharge.
Jaundice in Newborns
Some yellowing is present in almost all newborns, but permanent damage can occur if the levels become too high. It is best to see your baby's doctor a couple of days after discharge from the hospital so that these levels can be checked and appropriate treatment prescribed (if necessary).
Newborn Baby Temperature
No one likes to hear crying, but it is a fact of life with newborn babies (and their emotional mothers). We should actually be thankful for the crying since this is the only way that newborns are able to communicate needs.
If you have not had the opportunity to spend much time around a newborn baby before the birth of your own, you will be surprised at how much a newborn cries. I've been told that crying peaks at 6 weeks, and have found this to be true with my own children. Just remember that it's a short phase, and a happier baby is in your future.
In most cases, you should not allow your baby's crying to distress you. Get to know your baby's cry so that you can identify true pain versus discomfort from hunger, a wet diaper, or tiredness. See 9 Reasons for Newborn Baby Crying (and What to Do About It) for help in identifying the causes of newborn crying
Colic is thought to be caused by digestive discomfort, such as abdominal gas, but the exact causes are not known. Smaller, more frequent feedings, burping your baby well during and after feedings, and offering a pacifier may help. Swaddling babies is another comfort measure that is useful.
Immunizations have played a very important role in decreasing infant mortality rates. It is VERY IMPORTANT, however, that you understand what each immunization is and the possible side effects of them. Research childhood immunizations before you are faced with the decision in the hospital or clinic!
I wholeheartedly recommend The Vaccine Book for its balanced look at the increasingly controversial subject of baby vaccinations. Read my full review of the book to see why it should be on your bookshelf.
When your baby gets a diaper rash, it can be very painful. Check out this article to help determine the causes and choose the best diaper rash remedy for your little one.
If a cold has your baby stuffed-up, try keeping her head elevated as much as possible. Have her sleep in her car seat, reclining it enough that her head doesn't fall forward, restricting her breathing.
A nasal aspirator/bulb syringe works well for helping to clear babies' noses (though they usually hate it!). Using a cool mist vaporizer is also a good option.
Do not use over-the-counter medications for newborn babies without the direction of your pediatrician.
You may find that you can provide some relief for your baby's mild congestion in these ways, but be sure to consult your baby's doctor should the symptoms persist. If your baby has a fever over 100.4 degrees (rectally), seems very uncomfortable, or is struggling to breathe, seek medical help right away.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(also known as crib death)
During periods of deep sleep, newborn breathing can be very quiet and hard to detect. Most parents (myself included) admit to periodically checking for signs of life during sleep times.
While there are no "fool-proof" protections against SIDS, there are some steps you should take to lower the risks. These include always putting your baby to sleep on her back, and keeping her away from second-hand smoke. See this article on SIDS Prevention for more ways to lower your baby's risk.
Newborn snoring can be disconcerting. If not accompanied by symptoms of illness, it is very possibly nothing to worry about. If you are concerned about the snoring, videotape your newborn while she is snoring and take it to your pediatrician for his analysis.
It's usually one extreme or the other that concerns parents. Newborn diarrhea and newborn constipation can be serious, but identifying when there is truly a problem is tricky.
Do not confuse typical newborn bowel movements with diarrhea. Since your newborn baby is consuming only liquid, it makes sense that her bowel movements will be runny and unformed. This is especially true of breast fed babies (think, mustardy cottage cheese - Don't think about it too long!).
Newborn constipation is rare in breast fed babies, but more common in formula fed babies. At times, the issue is that your baby just hasn't yet learned how to work those muscles very well. It is a totally new experience, so once she figures it out, you will be sure to know it!
While some babies are regular like clockwork, others like to save up enough to make sure you both need a bath when it "comes through" (like in the middle of the park after I left home without any wet wipes - Yuck!). What I'm saying is that each newborn is unique, and this may mean a couple times a week or 7 times a day.
If you think that your formula fed baby has a problem with constipation, you can try changing to another brand of formula. See this article on Newborn Constipation Troubles for more ideas on how to help your baby overcome this "obstacle".
These tips apply only to otherwise healthy newborns. Any medical information suggested on this web site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. If there is ever any question as to the safety or appropriateness of any home treatment, or if the symptoms do not improve, please consult a doctor.
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