By: Krystal Rogers-Nelson
As a new parent, it’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed – every parent has questions about what’s best for their baby. Your little one can’t communicate with you, but you’ll start to get more confident with your baby sooner than you might expect.
Understanding Your Baby
For new parents, asking questions is a great habit to develop. Amy Lynn Stockhausen, MD, FAAP, recommends asking your pediatrician any questions you have about your baby’s needs. Parenting skills take time to develop; be patient, and don’t worry about not knowing everything. Chances are your parents had the same questions when they were raising you!
Many of the most common questions about newborns revolve around feeding. Making sure your baby has enough food to meet their developmental needs is essential, but it can be difficult to determine “normal” patterns until you’ve gotten to know your baby.
Q: How often should I feed my newborn?
A: Babies are reasonably good communicators, despite being totally nonverbal. When your baby wakes up, they’ll begin signaling their hunger by fidgeting in their crib, opening their mouth, and moving their hands to their face – crying or wailing in hunger usually comes later. Pay attention to your baby’s body language, and you can ensure they don’t go hungry for long. Some babies feed just a few times in the first day or two but will quickly work their way up to eight feedings a day (or more!).
Q: Should I stick to a feeding schedule?
A: A baby’s internal hunger signals are tuned closely with their energy needs. They know when they’re hungry and when they’re satisfied, so it’s okay to let them guide your feeding schedule. Paying attention to your baby’s signals, like turning their head away from the nipple, can help you when your baby feels full so you don’t have to worry. And as long as their stool and urine amounts are healthy and they’re gaining weight, you’ll know they’re getting what they need.
Q: How long should I breastfeed?
A: Breastmilk provides lots of benefits for newborns, including increased nutrition, antibodies for their growing immune systems, and a full spectrum of vitamins and other essential compounds. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends breastfeeding as the sole nutrition source for your baby for at least the first six months.
Accidents happen, but your child’s well-being should never be at risk. Babyproofing your home and monitoring your baby’s safety are skills, and skills take practice. Hazards aren’t always obvious, so it’s a good idea to ask questions or see what common safety questions parents ask as you learn to look after your baby.
Q: How do I babyproof my home?
A: Protecting your child from common household threats is important since your baby will become mobile surprisingly fast. “Hot zones” like stairs, bathrooms, and kitchen cabinets with cleaning supplies, must be securely closed off. Other hazards like small objects, magnets, batteries, cords, and loose change should be safely stored out of reach.
Q: How do I protect my baby from germs?
A: Babies have weaker immune systems than adults, and their natural defenses take time to develop. Sanitizing your home and limiting common germ hotspots is the best way to protect your baby as they begin crawling around. Dish towels, sponges, sinks, and cutting boards are all common household items that can be rife with bacteria and germs.
Getting a good night’s sleep might feel nearly impossible with a newborn, but with a little practice, you and your baby will find your rhythm.
Q: How often do I wake up my baby to feed?
A: Newborn babies often sleep through their feeding. “Demand feeding” won’t start until your baby is a few weeks old, so you’ll have to get used to waking up your newborn every two hours to breastfeed, with one three- to four-hour stretch at night. Once you’re past the early weeks, let your baby set the pace. It may not be necessary to wake them more than once a night.
Q: How do my partner and I get enough sleep?
A: You’ll probably be on a hectic sleep schedule for the first few weeks. For the first six to nine months, babies tend to wake themselves up every few hours, and they might need soothing before they’re ready to fall back asleep. If breastfeeding, pump breastmilk into bottles to allow both partners to trade off throughout the night and each get at least a five-hour stretch of sleep. High-energy snacks like peanut butter or yogurt can also help you manage exhaustion.
Keep Asking Questions
The idea of protecting your new baby from everything might feel a little frightening, but your willingness to ask questions and seek answers will help you find your way through new parenthood. Don’t forget to devote some time to self-care – taking care of your own needs will put you in the best place to take care of your new baby.