Having a new baby is an exciting time, but one that can also be a bit overwhelming…especially for first-time parents. It can feel like there a million questions that need to be answered. Luckily many of the most pressing queries are quite common, and have been answered thousands of times by pediatricians. Susan Terry, MD, the executive medical director of community clinics for University of Utah Health, asked her physicians about the questions they get most, and then gave us the answers.
How do I know if my newborn is getting enough to eat?
"I would say the most common question is about whether or not a newborn is getting enough to eat," Terry says. "We tell parents as long as a baby is feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock and baby is making plenty of wet and poopy diapers, they're probably getting plenty to eat." Still there are those who worry they need to supplement breast milk with formula. Dr. Terry says that isn't a great idea. "Milk production is naturally in sync with the newborn's needs-the first few days the newborn only needs colostrum, this is normal and expected, and generally there is no need to supplement unless there is a medical condition," she says. "Supplementing with formula, especially in the first few weeks of life, can hinder breast milk production, so if a mom is planning to exclusively breast feed it is better not to supplement unless really needed."
When will my baby sleep through the night?
While the first full night's sleep won't come until at least four months, there are things parents can do to help with sleep training. "Place them in the crib when they're relaxed but still awake, rather than rocking them to sleep," Terry says. "It's perfectly fine to rock and cuddle the baby - just try to practice laying them down in the crib before they're completely asleep, so that they learn that they are able to fall asleep on their own."
Is my baby constipated because they look so uncomfortable when trying to poop?
"All babies at some point will grunt and scream and turn red in the face while trying to have a bowel movement," says Terry. "Until babies learn how to control the muscles in their rectum, they use their stomach muscles to create more pressure to be able to push the stools out. Babies eventually figure out how to have easier bowel movements but it can take up till 12 months old." When should a parent worry? "If stools are hard or ball like, or blood is present, you may want to call your pediatrician," she says.
Should I be worried about the rashes and newborn pimples/"acne" on my baby's face?
Terry says baby acne, is perfectly natural. And she says they shouldn't be reaching for the Clearasil or astringents. "It is completely normal and harmless. It will go away and no treatment is needed."
Why do babies need so many shots when they are so little?
Any parent who has had to hold a crying baby while they get shots will tell you just how awful it feels. Terry says that's better than dealing with a seriously ill child later. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with several other worldwide health organizations, have developed the vaccine schedule to protect children at a rate that is safe and with the vaccines they need most at the time they need it most," she says. "By giving them several vaccines prior to this 6 month mark, they are given a boost to help develop their immune system."