What all your elders and loved ones say is true. Parenthood is the start of life’s most exciting journey. But the delight of becoming new parents is coupled with a million doubts and suddenly you feel you are on unknown turf. Caring for a new born is made of so many tiny details and nuances. It is a huge task to identify normal from abnormal and every small detail you notice on the baby’s being becomes a cause of anxiety at times. Lets talk about a few aspects of care that can sometimes unnecessarily throw parents into a tizzy.
Poop and pee : Wait for 24 hours after birth for the new born to pass stools and almost 36 -48 hours to pee. The 1st stool is brownish black in colour and then appears seedy yellow or green. It will be of a watery consistency for the first few months. Babies on breast feeds generally have this stooling pattern. The frequency and consistency may take 3-6 months to normalise. On the other hand, some babies may pass stools only once in 4-5 days. That is normal too unless the baby is passing very hard or painful stools which should be brought to medical attention.
Weight : Weight loss of around 10% is a normal phenomenon in the first week of life.
Umbilical cord care– the umbilical cord stump generally falls off on its own 1 or 2 weeks after birth. Take care to keep the area clean and dry. Avoid any application over it. Some blood or yellow fluid may ooze out after the stump falls off, which is normal. Only if the skin around the umbilicus looks red and is tender to touch must medical consultation be sought.
Eyes– The eyes should be wiped gently from medial to lateral end using a cotton gauze soaked in lukewarm water. Sometimes, a discharge or persistent watering of the eyes may be seen. This occurs when the tear duct drainage gets blocked. A lacrimal massage on the medial sides of nose must be done in that case. Avoid application of Kajal to your baby’s sensitive eyes
Oil massages– These help to improve bonding through the medium of touch and most babies enjoy them. However avoid this massage if baby develops a rash or if the weather is too hot.
Bathing – The baby can be sponged with warm water in the first week and can be bathed thereafter in Mum’s lap.
Jaundice– Many babies develop slightly yellow skin and eyes starting around day 3 of life but don’t worry, this will resolve completely at around 2 weeks. Exclusive breast feeding should be continued. It is advisable to get a physical consultation with your paediatrician, although there is no cause for worry in the majority of cases.
Skin– Most newborns have greenish spots over the their buttocks or back, and may have small pimples over their cheeks and nose- these are normal and will resolve on their own.
Diaper rash– Cotton nappies can be used in the initial 3 months as babies poop frequently and require to be changed often. Otherwise if diapers are being used, the bottom can be wiped using cotton swabs dipped in oil or lotion instead of wipes to reduce friction over the baby’s gentle skin. A diaper rash cream containing zinc and other emollients should be applied ideally after each diaper change.
Temperature- Bundle up, swaddle and dress up your baby according to the ambient temperature. We need not burden the baby with too many layers, lest the little one gets uncomfortable. Having said that, they do need caps, socks and booties to keep them warm and cozy in the initial few months.
Newborn screening tests -When your baby is 5 days old, a health professional will prick their heel and collect 4 drops of blood on a special card. This is to screen for some common conditions like hypothyroidism and other inherited conditions. Newborn hearing screening is a quick painless test and must be done for all babies.
Sleep: Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep for long periods, others in short bursts. Some soon start sleeping soundly through the night, while some don’t for a long time.
Your baby will have his own pattern of waking and sleeping, and it’s unlikely to be the same as other babies. It’s also unlikely to fit in with your need for sleep. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
So that’s it from me, for now. I hope that these quick tips will be useful and will help allay some of your fears and ease your apprehensions.
An Expert Blog by Dr.Shreya Sharma
Dr. Shreya Sharma is a childcare expert and an M. D. in Pediatrics; she is currently a Fellow Pediatric Endocrinologist in Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai.