We are here to help! Every new mom is different as well each baby. We are all so perfectly imperfect. So fear no more! We’re here to answer some of the most popular Newborn Care questions.
Once you leave that hospital, you may feel a little alone. We hope that after you read this, you’ll be empowered and confident that you’ve got this!
The Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions by New Moms
When it comes to newborns, there isn’t much action involved. Their capabilities are limited to sleeping, eating, pooping, and above all, needing you. Seems like an easy job, right? Then why are we so bent out of shape when another mom boasts about her restful nights or abundance of milk production and we’re left feeling like a failure?
As a new mom, you may worry if your child is getting enough milk, enough sleep, too much sleep, did they poop, oh no the poop! … it now dominates almost every conversation.
Constantly worry about the perfect amount of what to feed, when to sleep, and how to interact with our newborn bundles of joy can be a bit overwhelming. So we’ll just start by breaking down these apprehensions one by one.
Also, check out what to eat to keep your strength up as a new mom.
1. Do those Sleepless Nights Last Forever?
Sleep is one of the most important factors for a newborn’s growth and development. At first, he or she will most likely sleep up to 16 hours a day, but periodically of course. A baby circulates his needs with intermittent episodes of feeding, napping, pooping, and interacting. But let’s be honest, we might wish those naps outweighed the other priorities so we don’t have to suffer sleepless nights!
When the baby was in your womb, you would walk and talk during the day to rock the baby to sleep. Did you feel a party in your belly at night? For many babies, nighttime was their awake time. This is why you might notice your newborn sleeping more during the day and awake in the middle of the night. This is what he or she is used to. It takes some time for your baby to adjust to the outside world.
Word of advice, everyone wants to help you during the day, but that’s the most restful time for the baby. Your guests will keep you awake and leave for you to handle the midnight shift alone. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t worry about being rude to your guests! They can stare at a sleeping baby during the day and you should nap.
Some babies sleep through the night as early as 4 months!
A baby’s ability to sleep through the night depends on a few key milestones to be met:
- Weight gain and increased feedings (which can mean your baby feeds more often or is feeding for longer)
- Decreased feedings at night (this may be delayed for breastfed babies because they metabolize breast milk faster than formula and may need more frequent feedings)
- Decreased Moro (startle) reflex. A newborn has the tendency to be roused from sleep by a sudden movement, change in temperature, or a loud noise. By 4 months, however, the moro reflex usually disappears. Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle! This helps reduce your babies chance of waking himself up
- Increased ability to self-soothe
The important thing to keep in mind is that no two babies are alike.
Just because one baby sleeps through the night early on, it doesn’t mean you are lacking as a parent when your baby can’t find restful nights until later stages of development.
My twins were sleeping at different times and for various amounts of time. My daughter was a heavy sleeper and could hold down a nap for hours upon hours at only 6 weeks. On the other hand, my son chose to stay awake during those times and couldn’t find a thorough night’s rest until 10.5 months. No two kids are alike, even twins.
Although they both came from the very same womb and developed in the same environment, their bodies behaved differently. On behalf of Freudian theory, it was truly it was a product of their nature, not their nurture.
My sister-in-law swore by the book, Baby Wise, which teaches parents how to sleep train their babies. She had a perfect sleeper in every way. Along comes her second child, and she followed the same methods and she had a completely different outcome. Her second baby didn’t sleep through the night until after a year. What works on one baby, may not work on another.
Try the 5 S’s
My husband and I loved the 5 S’s from the Happiest Baby on the Block book/ DVD. We just watched the DVD and what a sanity-saver!
2. Should I Feed My Newborn Formula at Night to Help Them Sleep Better?
Truly, this is somewhat of an old wive’s tale. Baby formula is far denser than breastmilk and therefore may seem like a great motivator to promote longer periods of sleep throughout the night.
However, the compounds in baby formula do not process in an infant’s stomach as easily as breast milk and therefore can cause more constipation, gas, and queasy stomachs. Needless to say, it can actually be a counterproductive approach.
Although formula will take longer to digest in a newborn’s stomach and can offer fewer feedings periodically, it may not be a good solution to your problem if the problem itself is not being caused by their appetite.
Hunger isn’t always the reason why a baby can’t sleep through the night.
Many moms seem to think that their baby wakes periodically solely because they are hungry and need to eat. Although it is certainly recommended to keep a consistent pattern of feedings during the first few months to ensure proper nutrition and a healthy development, a baby isn’t necessarily starving every time he or she awakens. As mentioned before, the Moro reflex initiates a startlement that can be caused by abrupt noises, movements, or even dreams. Even a slight change in temperature can affect the manner in which your baby stays asleep.
The best way to get your baby (and you!) to sleep longer through the night is by following a routine, says Jennifer Waldburger, M.S.W., co-creator of The Sleepeasy Solution book and DVD. A baby’s sense of security is heavily dependent on consistency and an invariable schedule. So try to keep the routine of when you put your little one to sleep.
Find a solution that works best for you and your family,
reading a book before bedtime or a brief bonding moment in the rocking chair. That way, the baby begins to expect a timeline of when he or she should prepare for sleep. It all takes practice and a lot of patience. So hold on, those sleepless nights are only temporary!
3. How often should I feed my newborn?
Newborns should be fed about 8-12 times a day, at approximately every 2-3 hours. At most, they should not go more than 4 hours without being fed, through the day or night. This is exactly why we weep in our coffee mugs and have that crazy cross-eyed look for the first few weeks of being a new parent! But once again, stay strong! It goes by much faster than you expect.
Social Media will show us nothing but these gorgeous pictures of well groomed new moms when in reality we are a hot mess… mostly hot because of the hormones leaving our body after birth. I looked like I had a bird’s nest in my hair and I could barely tether two words together.
But how do I know when they are hungry, and not in need of sleep or a diaper change?
A few key signs that a baby is due for a feeding can include the following:
- Moving his head from side to side (initiating a search for the breast)
- Opening his mouths or sticking out their tongue
- Placing his hand and/or fist to his mouth
- Showing signs of the rooting reflex (when a baby moves his mouth to the direction of the check that is being touched or soothed)
As emphasized before, every child is different and will develop at his or her own pace. Watch your newborn carefully to pick up on their signs and become familiar with their subtle requests and comforts. Before long, you’ll be a new mommy pro.
4. When Should I Bathe My Baby and How Often?
Bathing a newborn can seem a bit nerve-wracking at first, but the experience becomes a time of reflection and bonding between baby and parent. But how much is too much?
Bathing a baby too often can actually dry out his or her skin and cause rashes, making him or her more uncomfortable.
A newborn should only be bathed 3 times per week or less.
Hold off on the bath until the umbilical cord naturally falls off, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can use a soft washcloth or sponge to clean him if needed.
The main areas to clean on your baby include his or her face, neck, and genitalia. So if you’re keeping up with wipes and diapers, you’re already maintaining good hygiene. Some babies spit up more than others, so make sure you clean in those neck creases! If not, it can really irritate your baby and your baby will start to smell like sour milk.
Also, be sure to moisturize his or her itty bitty body with a hypoallergenic lotion after every bath to keep his or her skin soft and subtle and at a healthy ph level. For newborns, check with your doctor before applying any lotion. And, keep his or her underarm and neck creases dry to prevent any rashes from forming.
The time of day to bathe your baby depends on you!
Some seasoned parents suggest bathing in the morning when their babies are most alert and able to enjoy the experience. Yet others desire a soothing night time ritual to clean up their newborn just before bed. It ultimately depends on your schedule and what works best for you and your family. Just remember to keep them warm and dry if opting for the pre-sleep bath time.
5. What’s the Scoop on Baby Poop?
New moms often get a kick out of hearing mom veterans exclaim proudly the color of their baby’s poop. Gross, right?
Perhaps it’s not your favorite subject to talk about at the dinner table, but it will come up in conversation for good reason. The color of his or her poop can actually be a tell-all sign of the wellness of your baby’s health.
The color and consistency of poop says a lot about a baby’s health.
An important sign to consider is if your baby or young child is constipated. Fine and firm, pebble-shaped stool can be cause for concern of constipation. Read our article on How to Get Kids to Poop if they’re having a hard time passing number two! Also please take note of Why You Shouldn’t Keep Kids On Miralax Long-Term.
The typical hue of stool can range from a yellow to brown to green mixture. The faster milk is digested and processed through the infant’s bowels, the more yellow the stool. And on the other hand, the slower the milk has passed through the infant’s digestive tract, the browner the color will be. A parent won’t need to worry about the color of their baby’s stool unless the stool has a white, red, or black color.
In those rare cases, a doctor or pediatrician should be contacted. White stool can indicate an infection- while black signals digested blood from the gastrointestinal tract, and red shows signs of fresh blood possibly stemmed from the colon or rectum. Some babies have an allergy to dairy and your doctor may ask you to cut all dairy from your diet, if breastfeeding, to see if your baby’s stool changes.
Five to six stools per day is normal for a newborn, according to Kenneth Wible, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri and pediatrics medical director at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.
Again, sometimes more and sometimes less, all depending on your baby! Some babies can have bowel movements as frequently as 8-10 times per day while others need only a handful of diaper changes. What also determines the number of bowel movements is in their feeding habits. Breastfed babies will have thinner and more frequent stools than babies fed on formula.
If your newborn baby is not pooping or peeing enough, please contact your doctor and possibly a Lactation Consultant. Your baby may not be getting enough milk.
As your newborn greets developmental milestones such as consuming solids and a wider variety of foods, the stool’s consistency and color will change, says Wible.
6. Is it Necessary to Breastfeed?
Recent media has been in an uproar about breastfeeding in public. But what we should be more concerned about is how often it is occurring, regardless of where it is taking place.
Breastfeeding is extremely important during the first few weeks. Newborns need colostrum, which is the first milk produced at the very end of pregnancy. Naturally, all mammals carry colostrum in their breasts and it provides rich antibodies that ward off disease and infection.
Doctors Recommend Breastfeeding for as Long as Possible.
The vitamins and minerals found in breastmilk are unlike anything you can find on the shelf of a supermarket. Not to mention, it is produced perfectly by the right amount, temperature, and nutrients that a baby needs. Plus, it’s free and available at nearly any given time!
Long term effects have been found to establish great benefits as well. Children that were breastfed as infants established higher IQ scores than those of their counterparts and do better in school. Why? No one knows just yet, but these studies have tracked students through college and overall they do better than kids who were not breastfed. Plus, infants fed on breast milk maintain a healthier weight and digestive system.
What if You Can’t Produce Milk?
However, not all mothers can produce a large supply of milk and often are only capable of producing milk for the first few months. But just as each individual infant is unique in its own right, us mothers are unique as well.
But not to worry. If you are a new mom that is struggling with milk production, we have a few tips and pointers on how to increase that milk supply. We urge those new moms to check out our other articles related to breastfeeding:
- Breastfeeding 101: How to Increase Your Milk Supply Quickly
- Breastfeeding Tips: What I wish someone told me
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom
Not only is breastfeeding beneficial to your baby, but it yields great perks for moms too! Breastfeeding has been found to reduce a woman’s risk for certain cancers as well as Type 2 Diabetes. It has also shown a significant decrease in those suffering postpartum depression, and it creates an important bonding moment that is necessary for a baby’s emotional and cognitive growth.
Breast milk supplies all of the essential nutrients a newborn needs to grow and develop. Although all moms have different preferences and abilities to breastfeed, it is still recommended to continue to breastfeed for at least six months.
7. When Do I Start Feeding My Baby Solids?
We suggest consulting your pediatrician first, but generally speaking, babies can start experimenting with solids after they’ve doubled their birth weight or have reached 4 months of age. Here’s a small checklist to keep in mind when transitioning baby from liquid-only to more adventurous means of nourishment:
- Your baby should be able to hold his head on his own
- Sitting upright in a seat or highchair promotes safe swallowing habits, so be sure that she is strong enough to sit upright so that he can be strong enough to swallow food
- When they are rid of the extrusion reflex, also known as the tongue thrust which means they no longer push food out of their mouth, they may be ready to try eating solids
- Did you know a baby’s mouth and tongue develop simultaneously along with their digestive tract? When they learn to use their tongue to push food to the back of their mouth for swallowing, there will be less drool and a likely sign that they are ready to pursue solid foods
- A general weight requirement lands around 15 pounds but some babies may be ready sooner or later. As long as they are 4 months old and weigh twice as much as the day they were born, they’ll be ready for solids
- One of the easiest ways to tell if your baby is ready to try solids is if they are exceedingly hungry even after 8-10 feedings in a 24 hour period.
Keep in mind that homemade baby food can help your little one transition to solids. Try some of our delicious and healthy baby food purees and find how to look for signs of an allergic reaction with these important tips:
8. Does My Baby Have Acne?
No, it is not your baby reaching an extremely early case of adolescence, but it is a product of maternal hormones still circulating in their body. Also known as neonatal acne, it is most often noticeable between the ages of 2 weeks and 2 months. But don’t reach for the face wash! Neonatal acne will clear up all on its own.
A similar facial imperfection is known as milia and is very common in newborn infants. Small white dots on their nose and cheeks are a common sign of milia, and similar to neonatal acne, it will disappear in due time.
Although baby acne is not something to worry about, it is always a good idea to consult your Pediatrician to be sure that those pimples or rash is not a sign of something more serious such as an allergic reaction or eczema. Eczema while not dangerous to your baby can be an indicator that your baby might be prone to a food allergy. My son had eczema as a baby and later we found out he has a serious allergy to peanuts. Nonetheless, most babies with eczema will probably never have a food allergy.
9. Is the Soft Spot on My Baby’s Head Dangerous to Touch?
Contrary to popular belief, gently touching the soft spot on the back of a baby’s head is not going to harm him or her. In fact, that area, known as the fontanels, is thickly layered by a very protective membrane. It exists not to give us all a scare, but to help the baby navigate the narrow birthing canal during labor. It’s already survived a pretty rough ride, so don’t fret if you happen to run your comb or fingers across it by accident.
10. Why Doesn’t My Baby Interact with Me?
As mentioned before, there’s not much going on during the first stages of early development. Sleeping, eating, pooping, and observing is pretty much all a newborn does. He or she will probably not respond to your coos and call. They have a lot going on in their little bodies, so settling your disappointment isn’t quite at the top of their capabilities just yet.
Nonetheless, one-way interaction with your newborn is still extremely important. Although you might think they can’t see or understand you, there is a deeper connection happening when you share your energy with your tiny human being.
Developing a healthy interaction is just as important as feeding and napping your newborn!
Babies absorb a lot of information, from what your breastmilk or formula tastes like, to the temperature of his first bath and recognizing the familiar sound of his parent’s voice. Put yourself face-to-face with your little one, establish a strong bond, and make a connection that will help with his or her overall wellbeing. Just as milk and healthy food helps to nourish their bodies, consistent play and interaction helps them grow cognitively and emotionally.
The more you talk to your baby, the more they will speak.
Studies have shown that babies will likely have a larger vocabulary by the time they start speaking if their parents constantly spoke to them as infants. Although it may seem silly to teach them about economic matters or the environment, it will actually promote faster speech development and cognitive awareness. Start labeling early. Point to a certain area and tell your baby what is in the picture. Tell your baby what you are doing while holding your baby. Labeling is a great way to make sure you are speaking to your baby often and over time your baby will learn that is a picture frame.
Do you have other newborn care questions? Ask them below!