When can my baby take a pain reliever without a call to the doctor first?
"Irritability and fever before three months of age should be evaluated by a physician," responds Dr. Robert M. Jacobson, MD, chair and professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Between three and six months, for mild illness with or without fever, a parent may administer acetaminophen for a few days. But parents should seek medical attention for fever if it is high (104 or more), unexplained, or lasts more than three days."
Dr. Jacobson also suggests seeking medical attention when a baby is experiencing irritability which prevents sleeping or eating, and/or lasts more than three days, and adds, "After six months of age, with the same guidelines, parents may use ibuprofen."
How long is it OK for a baby to cry?
"Generally speaking, you don't need to let your newborn infant cry," says Dr. Colson. But it's OK to put a crying baby in a safe place if you need to go do something, like answer the telephone or help an older child. "It also depends on the age of the baby and the exact issue you're dealing with, says Dr. Colson. "If you're having trouble getting your baby to sleep, for example, contact your pediatrician for advice." (And learn more about soothing your wailing baby in our Crying & Comfort Guide.)
Should I wake a sleeping baby to feed him?
"In newborns who are small (especially less than six pounds at birth), you really need to consider waking the baby every three hours," Dr. Colson points out. "It is not true that every baby will let you know when he or she is hungry, especially during the first weeks of life. Larger babies, who have many feedings during the day, may be able to sleep longer stretches at night without waking for feedings and still have plenty to eat. It really should be evaluated on an individual basis depending on your baby."
The best way to tell if an exclusively breastfed baby is getting enough food is to closely monitor her diapers. "By four days of age, the newborn should have at least four stools and they should be changing from dark meconium to light brown, and then yellow," says Dr. Colson. If your exclusively breastfed baby is not stooling much during his or her first month, you should bring him or her to the pediatrician to be weighed.
Feeling brave? Check out our slideshow of Baby's first stool patterns.