4 Questions Every New Parent Has
February 18, 2019
“If you have a lot of questions about your recently arrived bundle of joy, that’s totally normal,” says Megan Delp, MD, a UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s pediatrician at University Premier Pediatricians. “Similar to how your baby is trying to make sense of the world, you might be trying to make sense of everything about this new little person.”
Here are answers from Dr. Delp to some common questions that are likely to cross a new parent’s (probably sleep-deprived) mind:
1. Will I spoil my baby by comforting her every time she cries?
Some people worry that rushing to pick up a crying baby reinforces crying, but this is not the case. In fact, when a child knows she has someone there to calm her, she’ll often learn to calm herself. So go ahead and comfort away. Try holding your baby close to your chest and quietly singing or talking. Gentle rocking can help, as can swaddling – wrapping your baby tightly in a blanket. Basically, it’s soothing to create an environment that reminds your baby of the womb: cozy, quiet and tight.
2. Just how much can my baby see?
Not a whole lot at first – infants can only see about 6 to 10 inches away. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to look at you. Babies love faces! But she’ll have trouble tracking your face if you’re far away, so get up close. It’s also nice to give babies fun things to look at, like bull’s-eye patterns, checkerboards and bright, contrasting colors. Your baby’s vision is just one of many things that will rapidly change, and she’ll soon know the difference in colors (3 to 4 months), develop depth perception (4 months) and see at adult resolution (by 12 months).
3. Should I bathe my baby every day?
Newborns should only be given occasional sponge baths until their umbilical cord falls off. After that point, a bath about three times a week is enough. Just make sure you’re keeping the diaper area clean during changes. More frequent baths can dry out skin, especially if you use soap. Plain water is fine for washing, but you can use baby-specific soaps and shampoos if you prefer. Keep skin soft by patting baby dry instead of rubbing.
4. Is what I see in the diaper normal?
Your newborn should pass her first stool within 24 hours of birth. It will be black or dark green and odorless, but don’t get too excited – from here on out, poop will smell like poop. Stools that are earth tones, like yellow, tan, green and brown, are all normal. Until solid food begins, they will be soft or even runny. Hard or dry stools could mean your baby is dehydrated. If you see white or red, contact a doctor, as these colors can indicate that something may be wrong.
Have a question? Staffed by registered pediatric nurses, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s Ask Rainbow pediatric advice line can be accessed 24/7 to assist parents when the pediatrician’s office is closed. Call 216-815-0059 or ask a question online.