Remember, babies do not come with care tags and instructions. Give yourselves time, and as the days move forward, you will find your confidence and strength increasing as you settle into routines with your infant and household.

Soft spots

Your baby has soft spots (fontanels) on the front and back of the head formed by the gap between the bones of the skull. Both fontanels are covered by a tough membrane and can’t be damaged by shampooing, brushing, or gently touching your baby’s head. It is normal to see it moving up and down as your baby feeds or cries. It should not look sunken or bulging at other times.

Rashes

Some babies develop a blotchy, red rash within 24-48 hours after birth. This is harmless and disappears without treatment in a few days. If any rash is weeping (has drainage), bring it to the attention of your pediatrician. Please ask the nurses or your baby’s doctor about any rash you think your infant has.

Patches or spots

Some babies have patches of pink on the nose, eyelids and neck, commonly called “stork bites.” Dark bluish-gray patches on the back and buttocks are called “Mongolian spots.” Usually they fade slowly and disappear by two years of age.

Holding Your Infant

When holding your baby, support the back and head with your arm and hand. Touch your baby often. Use skin-to-skin contact and hold your baby close to you.

What Does Crying Mean?

Crying is a baby’s means of communication. Babies cry when they have to burp, are wet, soiled, tired, bored or just lonely. As time goes by, you’ll learn what your baby’s cries mean. If feeding cues accompany crying, it’s usually a sign of hunger.

You will not spoil your baby by responding promptly to crying. Your baby only cries if he or she needs something. When you satisfy his or her needs, your baby is learning to trust people and begins to know that someone cares for him or her.

Nail Care

During the first days of life, nails may be long and adhered to the skin high on the nail. Trim nails frequently with blunt edged small scissors or file with an emery board to prevent scratching. Cut nails straight across.

Bathing

Sponge bathe your baby until the cord falls off. Afterwards, tub baths may be given. Bathing every 1-2 days is all that is necessary. Shampooing two to three times a week is adequate. Never leave your baby unattended during the bath. If you have forgotten something, bring your baby with you! Be sure to test the water temperature with the outside of your wrist to make sure that the water is not too hot. Use mild soap sparingly, but not on baby’s face. Lotions and oils are unnecessary.

Diaper Changing

Diapers should be changed when wet or soiled. After each bowel movement or wetting, wash and pat dry.

  • For girls—separate the folds and gently wash area from front to back, using a clean area of washcloth with each swipe until thoroughly clean.
  • For boys—wash penis, creases and folds near the scrotum. Do not push back the foreskin of an uncircumcised baby. Your baby’s doctor will instruct you how to care for your uncircumcised baby.

Choosing a Doctor for Your Baby

Before coming to the hospital to deliver your baby, it’s very important to choose and schedule an interview with your baby’s doctor. A pediatrician or family physician will need to examine your baby before you leave the hospital.

Some questions to ask yourself when choosing a doctor for your baby:

  • Do you feel comfortable asking questions and talking with the doctor?
  • Where is the office located in relation to your home, workplace and daycare?
  • What office hours are available? Are they convenient to your schedule?
  • Are there any call-in hours for non-emergency questions?
  • Are there other doctors in the practice? Who covers for the doctor on weekends and holidays?
  • How long does it take to get an appointment? How long will you usually wait in the doctor’s office before your child is seen?