10 Common Questions New Parents Ask
Trusted pediatricians answer newborn FAQs
Does my breastfed baby need vitamin supplements?
The answer is yes, says Dr. Colson. “The AAP recommends Vitamin D for all breastfed babies from birth and some source of iron when the baby reaches six months of age.”
I know babies are supposed to sleep on their backs, but mine keeps turning over on his tummy. What should I do?
“I feel particularly passionate about this topic,” says Dr. Colson. “We recommend that all healthy newborns be placed on the back to sleep.”
She also suggests only putting babies to sleep in a safe environment and on a firm mattress, with no stuffed animal, heavy blankets, or pillows. “At about five months of age, the baby may learn to roll over,” Dr. Colson adds. At this point, parents no longer have to flip their baby onto his or her back in the middle of the night. However, SIDS precautions should still be taken.
When should my baby sleep through the night without a feeding?
“No baby really sleeps through the night,” explains Dr. Jacobson. “Even the ones that quietly proceed through the night without waking their parents are waking about every hour and a half. I think that babies can get through the night without a feeding as soon as [they've] regained [their] birth weight, are feeding frequently during the day and evening, and are continuing to gain weight normally.”
When can my baby sleep without a hat or without being swaddled?
“I don’t recommend that babies sleep with hats at home unless they are small for gestational age, premature, or are struggling with weight gain,” Dr. Jacobson says in response to the first part of this common question. Regarding the second part, he adds, “Swaddling means different things to different people. In general, babies should wear one more layer of clothing than their parents. If, by swaddling, you mean wrapping tight, then think of swaddling as a comfort measure for the newborn and young infant. Parents should abandon it when it no longer comforts the infant.”
Dr. Jacobson also suggests, “In the first few weeks of life with a full-term child, the parents might swaddle the baby below the arms leaving the arms and hands free. Some babies like that as they get older.”
When can I take my new baby out in public? I’m afraid she’ll catch a cold—but I need to run errands. What should I do?
Dr. Colson recommends avoiding crowds until your infant is at least three months of age. “If an infant under three months of age gets a fever (greater than 100), it’s hard for clinicians to tell if the infection is serious because babies don’t localize infections like adults, so they often have to admit the infant to the hospital for tests,” she explains. Also, you should request that people wishing to hold your baby first wash their hands, and anyone with an active illness should not be around your little one.
Are you a new parent experiencing cabin fever? Another expert has first-outing advice for you!
Your pediatrician isn’t a mind reader and can’t possibly know every question you have, so be sure to write them down before you visiting her office so you don’t forget. And after asking your questions, if you don’t understand your pediatrician’s answer—speak up! Ask your doctor to explain her response again, maybe in a different way. If she isn’t willing to answer your questions, don’t be afraid to consider seeking out a more communicative doctor. The answers are indeed out there; all you have to do is ask.
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