Do you feel uncomfortable trusting your own parental instincts? And does reading that pile of parenting and child development books on your bedroom nightstand add to your feeling of confusion—especially when the information is conflicting? You are not alone. Most people, whether they are first-timers or old hands at parenting, have some concerns or fears that they're not doing the best for their children.
As a result of these worries, many parents consider their pediatrician the ultimate authority. But overcrowded pediatric offices and shortened office visit times can prevent parents—who sometimes feel rushed, forget their questions, or are just too embarrassed to ask—from getting the answers they need. (The National Center for Health Statistics stated the average office visit in 1998 as only 18.3 minutes.) But, now's your chance to get all the baby facts and answers to your top ten common questions.
How should I care for my newborn's umbilical cord? How should I clean it? And when will it fall off?
"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping the umbilical cord clean and dry," responds Dr. Eve R. Colson, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Well Newborn Nursery at Yale-New Haven Hospital. "As it starts to crust and/or fall off, and you want to clean it, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol a couple of times a day. If you notice a lot of redness or foul odor, have your baby seen by the pediatrician. The cord should fall off in one to two weeks." (Read more about caring for your baby's umbilical cord, here.)
When is a baby's fever high enough for me to call the doctor?
Dr. Colson recommends that for infants less than three months of age, you should contact your pediatrician any time your child's temperature is greater than 100. She adds, "In general, if your baby is not acting well, call your pediatrician whether there's a fever or not." For more fever facts, read on.