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Early Newborn Care

By Heidi Johnson, M.D.

​​​​​​​​​​The arrival of a new baby has most parents reading up a storm on baby books, taking prenatal classes, decorating the nursery and picking out baby names. Once the newborn arrives, new parents may find they have unexpected questions. Boys Town Pediatrics offers quick and helpful early newborn care tips for new parents.

Sleeping Patterns

Did you know that babies usually sleep about 16 to 20 hours in the first few weeks of life? That is almost the whole day! Most babies do not start with a regular sleeping schedule and can be awake during the night and asleep during the day. Unfortunately, your baby may not sleep when it is convenient and parents should try to sleep at the same time as their baby in order to be well rested.

The first few weeks of your baby’s sleep schedule may be erratic and your baby might sleep in increments anywhere between 20 minutes to 4 hours. Try to establish a routine sleeping pattern with these tips:

  • Draw the curtains when it is time to sleep and turn on lights when it is time to wake up.
  • Give your baby a bath or sing a lullaby to establish a routine before sleeping.
  • Develop sleep independence with your baby by laying them down awake and letting them drift off to sleep on their own.
  • Make sure to put your baby in the crib by himself/herself without any additional blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in order to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Feeding

Feeding a newborn is a round-the-clock commitment with most newborns feeding every one to four hours, about eight to 12 feedings a day. Breast milk or formula will provide the necessary nutrients for your newborn. Weight gain is an indicator that your baby is getting enough to eat. Parents should watch for following feeding signs from their baby:

  • Signs of hunger include stirring, sucking, crying, rooting and being fussy.
  • Signs of being full include milk leaking from side of mouth and turning away from the nipple or bottle.

Consider ​vitamin D drops for your baby if you are breast-feeding. Sometimes breast milk may not provide enough vitamin D, which helps your baby absorb calcium and phosphorus and the development of strong bones.

Playtime

Even though your baby is still tiny and doesn't interact much at this early stage, playtime interaction and bonding will help the process of learning and developing. Parents can encourage this growth by:

  • Snuggling and cuddling your baby as much as possible. You cannot spoil a newborn and you are reinforcing that you are a protector.
  • Reading to your baby. Although your baby may not understand what you are saying, you can develop language and familiarize your baby with your voice.
  • Clapping, smiling and speaking in friendly tones when acknowledging your baby when he/she is making noises. This helps your baby began to understand your signs of praise as a good thing.

Check out our newborn care tips as we answer more of your baby’s milestone steps!​