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Bringing your baby home: what to expect

I will never forget the day we brought Josie home from the hospital. My wife and I were so excited. Since it was winter, we had an adorable snowsuit that made her look like a cuddly stuffed bear. First, I went inside to get the camcorder ready to document everything as mom and baby arrived. With the camera rolling, Noel entered carrying Josie and was excitedly greeted by our dog, Brewer, who nearly tackled both of them. The combination of seeing Noel for the first time in a few days and what he thought was a new stuffed animal led to a scene that was quickly erased from our camera’s memory. Thankfully, no one got hurt, but it certainly wasn’t what we expected. Most pregnant women get a lot of advice about what to expect when they bring home their baby. Here is a list of my top tips, both as a pediatrician and a father:

  • Breast-feeding: Breast-feeding moms should put baby to the breast about every two to three hours. All babies don’t need much milk for the first few days, usually just a few ounces. Mother’s breast-milk will start to come in after a few days, and volume will typically match the baby’s needs. Most bottle-fed babies will take about 2 ounces every 2-4 hours. All babies initially lose weight with the goal of being back to birth weight by 2 weeks of age. The initial newborn visit in the first week of life is important to make sure that your baby isn’t losing too much weight. Weight loss up to 10 percent is acceptable. Dads can help support Mom by bringing her snacks, water and helping around the house so Mom can concentrate on breastfeeding.
  • Jaundice: Most babies have jaundice for the first few days after being born. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and sometimes eyes and is caused by a buildup of a substance called bilirubin. Too much bilirubin can lead to problems with brain development, so it is important for you and your baby’s doctor to monitor the bilirubin level.
  • When baby sleeps, you sleep: Babies will sleep most of the day. Take the advice of others when they tell you to sleep when your baby is sleeping. Having a newborn can be very stressful, so don’t hesitate to utilize support from family, neighbors and friends. This brings me to my final top tip, sleep safety.
  • Sleep safety is extremely important for your baby. Don’t forget the sleep A-B-C’s of sleep safety:
    • Alone: no extra blankets, pillows or loose clothing
    • Back: babies are safest sleeping on their backs
    • Crib: babies should sleep on a firm flat mattress with no crib bumpers

One of my greatest joys in pediatrics is caring for new parents and their babies. There will always be surprises for even the best-prepared expectations. That’s what makes parenting so exciting.

Click here for more information on newborn care.

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