Bringing home baby for the first time can be a little overwhelming. You’re no longer in the reassuring cocoon of your hospital room with 24-hour support from a team of medical professionals.
It may be comforting to know that babies are more resilient than we think. Some of the issues that pop up during the first few weeks are normal and many resolve on their own over time.
Susan Clay-Hufford, MD, a pediatrician with ProMedica Physicians, has answers to many of the common questions new parents have once they leave the hospital.
- How should I care for my baby’s umbilical cord?
The body’s natural drying process will dry out the umbilical cord. Do not use rubbing alcohol or any drying agents. Also, do not submerge your child’s belly in a tub of water until the umbilical cord falls off. If the belly button is wet and gooey once the umbilical cord falls off, you can use rubbing alcohol to help dry the skin. If you have drainage after a week, see your doctor. It might need to be cauterized.
- There are rose colored spots in my daughter’s diaper and it looks like she has a period. Should I be concerned?
It’s completely normal for girls to secrete mucus that has a bloody tinge from the vaginal area for the first two weeks of life. It’s just due to the hormonal nature of birth.
- My son is circumcised. How should I care for the penis as it heals?
Apply petroleum jelly around the penis to prevent it from sticking to the diaper for five to seven days until the glans heal.
- I see yellow, flakey scales on my child’s scalp. What made them appear and how can I get rid of them?
Cradle cap shows up around one to two months of age and it doesn’t bother the baby. It’s caused by the excess secretion of oil on the scalp. Use a comb or a finger nail to loosen the scales and wash the hair with a dandruff shampoo. It shouldn’t return.
- It looks like my baby has acne. What should I do?
The red, raised bumps on the baby’s face and neck are normal. It occurs around three weeks of age, peaks around two months and starts to resolve around three months. The rash is caused by hormonal spikes during infancy. It goes away on its own with time. Just clean the area with a mild soap and water.
- My child’s eyes tend to cross and uncross throughout the day. Do I need to have her vision checked?
Babies don’t develop vision until two months of age. Until then, they frequently look with only one eye so the other eye wanders. If they have continuous crossing after four months, talk to your doctor.
- My two-week-old baby is sleeping through the night. Should I wake him up and feed him during the night?
Yes, wake him up. In the first month of life, babies should be fed every two to four hours. After the first month, you can let them sleep longer if they are gaining weight appropriately.
- Sometimes after feeding my baby, some of the milk comes back up through the mouth and nose. What causes this?
Reflux happens in about 60 percent of babies from birth to six months of age. It occurs when milk or formula from the stomach is pushed up from the stomach and out the mouth and nose. It’s very common. In most cases, reflux corrects itself by as the baby grows and begins sitting upright. It’s usually not due to the milk or the type of formula.
Parents who have questions about the care of their babies shouldn’t hesitate to call their doctor.
Do you have a question about general newborn care? Let us know in the comments below.