Most Common New Parent Questions
Dr. Adel Taha Elhamamsy
Medcare Medical Center _Sharjah
like all new mums, we’ll bet you have more questions about motherhood than you know what to do with .
So we thought we’d do our best to answer the questions asked most frequently by new mums.
1. Is my baby getting the right amount of milk?
Unfortunately, BABIES aren’t like kettles – they don’t have convenient markings to show how full they are! So you’re not alone if you’re worried that your baby is feeding too little or too much. Usually, you can let your baby be your guide – he’ll let you know when he’s hungry or full, as will those regular checks to monitor his GROWTH.
We found these tips from BabyCenter[i] helpful for making sure baby is getting enough milk
- Your baby’s wee is PALE and odourless and they have at least 6 wet nappies every 24 hours (after 5 days old)
- Your baby is FEEDING at least six to eight times a day.
- Your baby looks a HEALTHY colour, and has firm skin that bounces right back if you pinch it gently.
- Your baby is ALERT when he is awake, and readily asks for feeds.
If you’re breastfeeding then these can possibly raise concerns:
- Your breasts don’t feel SOFTER after feeds.
- Your nipple looks misshapen or pinched at the end of a feed, or feel SORE or damaged.
- Your baby is unsettled after FEEDS.
- Your baby’s SKIN becomes more yellow, instead of less, after the first week.
- Your baby has dimples in his cheeks, or makes clicking NOISES while breastfeeding. This is a sign that your baby is not latched on properly.
Regular weigh-ins with your health professionals should pick up any growth issues with your baby – but if you are still worried, do visit your doctor.
2. I’m not sure that I’m bonding with my baby. Isn’t this something that’s supposed to happen automatically?
Love at first sight isn’t a guarantee. For some parents and infants, bonding can be a slow and gradual process. Keep in mind that you’re adjusting to the most intense physical and emotional changes in your whole life. Give it time, and those feelings of attachment will develop. Meanwhile, there are steps you can take to help your natural instincts kick in:
Breastfeeding. If you can, nurse as often as possible. Holding your baby close while you give her nourishment can create an intimate connection that few other activities match. Breastfeeding also releases the hormone oxytocin, which has a relaxing effect on the mother — and that’s always good for the baby. Moms who aren’t able to breastfeed, as well as dads, can simulate this experience by wearing a short-sleeved shirt to promote skin-to-skin contact and by caressing, making eye contact with, and talking to their infant during feedings.
Baby wearing. Toting your infant in a carrier is a terrific way to get close, and it’s one of the best strategies for calming her down when she’s fussy.
Bedtime closeness. Take advantage of quiet time at night to get to know each other. Create a soothing routine just before bed that promotes physical intimacy, such as a bath or a few minutes of snuggle time.
Balance. It’s natural for new parents to want to give and give to their baby, leaving no energy for themselves. Make a point of sharing babycare responsibilities, ask friends and family members for help, and remember to treat yourself to time alone — to read, go out with friends, or do whatever else makes you feel relaxed and contented.
3.For How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
It’s up to the mother to decide when to stop breastfeeding her baby because a number of personal factors affect this decision. However, according to expert opinion, for a baby to get all the possible benefits from the mother’s milk, it’s recommended to breastfeed them for 6 months exclusively (with no other fluids or solids) and for 12-24 months combined with other foods.
But the actual amount of time can differ from situation to situation, from mother to mother. Some mothers need to go to work soon after giving birth and for others, breastfeeding can cause certain problems. For this reason, it’s a personal choice of every mother. So remember how important it is for your baby to get all the nutrients out of your breastmilk and continue breastfeeding for as long as you want.
4. Our 5-month-old wakes up four to six times a night. Sometimes he’s not even hungry — he just wants us to comfort him. How can we get him to sleep through the night?
While many babies this age are able to sleep for five-hour stretches, or even all night, others are prone to waking periodically. To help your little one stay in dreamland:
- Play recordings of lullabies or other soothing sounds (such as waterfalls or crashing waves) or place a ticking clock or metronome in the nursery. (Infants are often comforted by this because they’ve just spent months listening to the regular beat of their mom’s heart while in the womb.) That way, your baby can soothe himself back to sleep more easily when he awakens during the night. If he has a tendency to rise with the dawn’s early light, put blackout curtains in his bedroom.
- Nurse or bottle-feed right before bed so that he’s less likely to wake up for a feeding. If he does wake up during the night because he’s hungry or because he needs his diaper changed, keep stimulation to a minimum by not turning on the light or playing with him.
- If you plan to try the cry-it-out approach or another strategy to get your child to sleep through the night, wait until the connection between you and your baby is stronger and you’re proficient at reading his cries. While all babies eventually need to learn to fall asleep on their own, forcing your child to soothe himself to sleep before he’s ready can undermine his trust in you as a source of comfort and may keep you from figuring out which style works best for you and your family. Worst of all, it may hinder the discovery of other possible causes of your baby’s discomfort, such as an ear infection, stuffy nose, gastroesophageal reflux, or other medical condition.
5. Our 3-month-old’s bowel movements vary from day to day. Sometimes she has several in one day and none the next. Should we be concerned?
A baby’s bowel movements typically differ from one day to the next. At this age, most infants will have several in one day but will occasionally go a whole day without having one at all. Constipation is rare in babies who haven’t started solids yet, but if your child seems to be straining or cries when she has a bowel movement, breastfeed more frequently or, if formula-feeding, give her two tablespoons of prune juice daily.
6.Do I really have to breastfeed for a whole year?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for 12 months, exclusively for the first six. “But a mom should stop breastfeeding if she realizes that she’s no longer enjoying it, even though it has myriad benefits,” says Erica Brody, M.D., director of pediatric breastfeeding medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. On the other hand, there’s no need to wean as soon as your child turns 1, if prolonged breastfeeding makes you both happy.
7. Do I need to sterilize bottles and pacifiers after every single use?
In a perfect world, yes. “But since that’s not realistic for many parents, we recommend washing bottles with soap and water after every feeding, and sterilizing them overnight, This kills the bacteria and viruses that caregivers can pass on to a baby. Keep in mind that frequent hand-washing and good hygiene are just as important as sterilizing.
Also, you should never “clean” your child’s dirty Binky by putting it in your mouth. “A human’s mouth is the germiest one on the planet—even worse than a dog’s!
8. I’m going back to work in a couple of weeks and I’d like to continue breastfeeding. What’s the best way to do this?
First, invest in or rent a good pump. The more convenient it is to express and store your milk, the easier it will be for you to take on the challenges of breastfeeding and working. Consider such factors as where you’ll be pumping (if at your desk, an electric model might be your best bet; if in the rest room, a lightweight, portable manual pump may be a better choice), your baby’s age and how long you’ll be pumping, and whether you plan to have another child.
To keep up your milk supply, breastfeed as much as you can when you’re at home. In the mornings, set your alarm early so that you can have a little extra time to nurse and cuddle your baby before you leave for work. Ask your caregiver not to feed your child within an hour of when you expect to be home in the evenings so that when you arrive you can breastfeed right away. On weekends, try not to spend too much time away from your baby, and nurse her as often as she wants.
At work, don’t skip pumping sessions. Even if you have only a few minutes, it’s better to pump for a short time than to put it off till later. It’s the frequency, not the length of pumping sessions, that stimulates your body to produce milk.
9. I can’t get my husband more involved in caring for our 6-month-old son, and I want his help. What can we do?
When I first became a dad, I took a backseat too. Martha was such a good mother that I thought I wasn’t really needed. But I soon came to realize that this is a lose-lose situation. Dads provide a unique way of caregiving that’s different from moms’, and babies thrive on both. And staying on the sidelines prevents fathers from learning how to comfort, care for, and develop a relationship with their babies.
Give your husband time and room to learn how to be a caregiver. If he’s in charge, don’t rush over as soon as you hear your baby cry; trust him to work it out himself. If possible, leave him alone to sit during times when you know your baby’s likely to be in a good mood — say, right after a feeding or a nap.
Dads can also carve out roles that are uniquely theirs, such as taking the baby for a walk in a carrier either in the evenings, when an infant is likely to get cranky, or right before bedtime. When my son Matthew was an infant, I used a comforting technique I called the “neck nestle.” I held him to my chest with his head tucked under my chin as I sang him to sleep.
10.Can My Baby Sleep Through The Night?
Experts claim that no infant can sleep through the night. “Even the ones that quietly proceed through the night without waking their parents are waking about every hour and a half,” specialists say. As infants grow, these sleep patterns go away and they are able to sleep longer hours.
Parents also need to know that, overall, babies sleep about 16-18 hours a day. Most of this time, they sleep during daytime. To help them set proper day and night patterns, during the day parents should put them to sleep in a common room where they’re performing their daily activities, and keep the night time quiet and dark.
11.Is it always bad to wake a sleeping baby?
No. In fact, there are instances when it’s beneficial. “If your baby isn’t gaining weight, your pediatrician will likely advise waking her to feed at regular intervals to ensure she gets the nutrients she needs,” says Dr. Mindell.
It’s also a good strategy to wake a sleeping infant before you go to bed for a “dream feed,” in which she’s awake enough to latch on or suck a bottle (and then dozes as she eats). That way, she may snooze for a longer stretch during the night. And by 6 months, you can wake your baby from a long nap to keep her on schedule so that she goes down more easily at bedtime.
12. How many layers of clothing does my infant need to go outside?
Dress your child in one more layer than you have on. “If you’re wearing a shirt and a light coat, your baby needs those plus a blanket,” says Dr. Brody. This guideline doesn’t apply if you’re wearing your child in a carrier, since your body heat will help keep him warm.
13.Is green poop normal?
Sure. So is brown, light yellow, and seedy mustard. These variations in hue depend on whether your baby is drinking formula or breast milk (and, in the latter case, whether her bowel movement comes from fore milk or hind milk). You can ignore the color unless it’s white and chalky, thick and black, or red, says Dr. Krych. These tints could signal an illness, so let your pediatrician know right away.
You should also avoid fixating on how often your baby goes, whether it’s ten times a day or a few times a week. A more significant marker: She should have at least six wet diapers a day, which indicates that she’s well hydrated and getting the nutrients she needs.
14.How Do I Take Care Of My Newborn’s Umbilical Cord?
Normally, the umbilical cord should fall off within 1-2 weeks after the baby is born. Until then, parents need to see that it’s kept clean and dry. “As it starts to crust and/or fall off, and you want to clean it, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol a couple of times a day,” specialists say. “If you notice a lot of redness or foul odor, have your baby seen by the pediatrician.”
Don’t be afraid to touch the umbilical cord, Because it doesn’t have any nerve cells, so you won’t hurt your baby. Just make sure that you don’t put too much alcohol on it and don’t tug on it.
15.Why Is My Baby Crying?
Most often, there’s nothing wrong when a baby is crying, because it’s the only way they can express their emotions. But it doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t pay attention to a crying baby. Instead, it’s necessary to understand what the baby wants. Perhaps it’s the time to feed them or change their diapers, or maybe the baby’s hot or cold. At times, of course, crying can mean that the baby’s unwell. So it’s also recommended to check for any symptoms of a medical issue.
In any case, parents gradually learn to understand what the baby’s crying means in every situation and deal with it accordingly.
16.What Should I Do If My Baby Has A Rash?
Most parents become worried when they see that their baby is starting to get a rash. However, in most cases, it’s nothing to be worried about. It’s common for babies to get rashes, especially on their cheeks. They can develop it when they’re only a few days old, because their sensitive skin is adapting to new conditions. In this case, it’ll go away by itself within a few weeks or months. Rashes can also be caused by food allergies, so you should watch your own (if you breastfeed) and your infant’s diet. Consult with your pediatrician to make sure you know what foods are safe to eat.
However, if the rash doesn’t go away and is accompanied by other symptoms, you should see a doctor.
17.What Should I Do When My Baby Has A Fever?
The majority of calls to a pediatrician’s office come from the parents whose babies have a fever. But is it necessary to call any time an infant has a fever, or are there instances when parents can deal with it by themselves?
In fact, any infant three months or younger should be seen by a doctor right away in case of any fever. If the baby is older than three months, specialists say that parents should call a doctor if the fever becomes too high (over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for babies under 3 months old and over 104 degrees for babies older than 3 months old).
If the temperatures are lower, parents can give their baby acetaminophen. It’ll reduce the fever by one degree and let the little one sleep comfortably.
Important note: Talk to the caregiver about the medication and its dosage before giving it to the baby.
18.Should I Be Concerned If My Baby Is Spitting Up?
Most parents get scared if their baby’s spitting up after most meals. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the kid is having a medical problem. In fact, regurgitating is normal for over two-thirds of healthy babies. Most likely, your infant will outgrow it by the age of 1. You can help the baby with it and relieve their unpleasant symptoms if you eat less spicy and fatty food (if you’re breastfeeding) and if you feed them smaller and more frequent meals.
But if spitting up is accompanied by poor weight gain, irritability, and sleeping problems, check your baby with a doctor and see if there’re any problems.
19.When should I start weaning?
Weaning is a hot topic for NEW MUMS, with the most recent research indicating that you should start introducing SOLID FOODS when your baby is about six months old. There’s also an interesting debate about the merits of baby-led (finger food) weaning versus spoon-fed purees.
The NHS gives great advice on the signs that your baby is ready:
- Your child can stay in a SITTING position and hold their head steady.
- Your child can CO-ORDINATE their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
- Your child can swallow FOOD. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.
A lot of this depends on you and your baby, so check with your physician if you have any doubts.
20. When do I start Potty Training?
This You don’t need to worry right away – while there’s NO SET AGE to start potty training most children will show signs that they’re ready between 18 months and 3 years old. When the time comes, don’t force the potty on your little ones – if they’re not ready, they’re not ready!
These tips (from Practice Parenting[iii]) really helped one of the BeHappyMum Team know that their little one was READY for the potty.
- Your child stays DRY for a couple of hours regularly
- Your child shows interest in the toilet environment and loves JOINING you or their siblings.
- Your child can SHOW when he’s having bowel movement (by squatting or making a grunting sound for example)
- Your child feels uncomfortable when their NAPPY is wet and asks you to change it.