Caring for Your Newborn

Family Adjustment

  • It is very common for parents to feel exhausted at this stage. If you feel overwhelmed or overly sad, ask for help or call our office.
  • Try to rest while the baby is sleeping. Accept help when offered.
  • It is normal for older siblings to feel displaced or angry. Try to keep older siblings involved in a way that is helpful to you and lets them feel included in the attention the baby is receiving.
  • Find ways to spend time alone with each child and with your partner.
  • If you are returning to work outside the home, make arrangements for child care from a reliable, trustworthy source.


  • Exclusively breast-fed infants require supplemental vitamin D (400 IU/day), which is available at most drug stores/supermarkets.
  • Bottles should be held, not propped, for babies. Bottle-fed newborns usually drink one to two ounces at a time.
  • Infants need to nurse/feed every two to three hours.
  • Water, other drinks and solid foods should not be given at this age.


  • Most newborns will make about eight wet diapers a day.
  • Over the course of the first two weeks of life, your baby’s stool will go from tarry black to army green, to yellow and mustardy in appearance. Regular, easy-to-pass, soft yellow stools at least once daily are the norm in this age group.
  • If you have concerns about the frequency or consistency of the baby’s stool, talk with your baby’s doctor.

Baby Care

  • When the child is fussy, a change of scenery can be helpful. If the weather cooperates, try going for a walk outdoors.
  • Fever in a newborn is a medical emergency. A central temperature (using a rectal or temporal artery thermometer) of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher is worrisome. If your baby feels warm or is registering a fever, call the doctor immediately.

Growth and Development

  • New babies rely on their parents for everything. Infants cry when they need something. Promptly responding will not spoil the baby.
  • Calm your infant by swaddling, rocking and holding him or her close to you.
  • Singing and cuddling with your baby will build trust and closeness.
  • Newborns are usually good sleepers. When awake, they should respond to noises, often by acting startled.
  • “Tummy time” helps your infant develop strong muscles in the neck and back that will eventually allow the baby to sit up. It is encouraged while the baby is awake and alert, although at this age, babies may only enjoy it for a few minutes.


  • Take an infant/child CPR class offered by your local fire department or Red Cross chapter.
  • Never shake your baby.
  • Newborns can easily catch illnesses from others since they do not have well-developed immune systems. To prevent illness, anyone who comes into contact with your infant should wash his or her hands with soap and water. For the same reason, avoid crowded places such as weddings and family reunions.
  • Parents, older siblings and caregivers can protect newborns from a deadly germ called pertussis (also known as whooping cough) by staying up-to-date on their own tetanus/pertussis vaccinations.
  • Babies have sensitive skin. Do your best to avoid direct sun exposure. Apply sunscreen if there is no shade available.
  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Co-sleeping, sleeping with your child, increases the risk for SIDS. Infants should sleep in a crib with a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Keep bumper pads, pillows, blankets, loose bedding and soft objects, like stuffed toys, out of the crib.
  • Make sure your home has working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Never leave your baby unattended in a tub or on high surfaces, such as the sofa, bed or changing table.
  • Closely supervise pets and siblings when around the baby.
  • Keep your living environment (including the car) smoke-free. Keep small items (choking hazards) and hot liquids (burn risks) away from the baby.
  • All infants must ride in a rear-facing five-point harness car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.

This document contains general parenting information based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and is not meant to replace the expert advice of your pediatrician.