Caring for a baby is all-consuming. One of the biggest adjustments new parents have to make is coping with the constant fatigue that comes from caring for a newborn. While babies eat and sleep on their own schedule, new parents should rest whenever they can and ask for help when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
Each baby is different and may have a slightly different feeding schedule.
“My wife and I found this to be very true with our son and daughter,” says Dr. Paul Lansdowne, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Women’s Health Specialists of North Texas and an independently practicing physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “Generally, breastfed babies feed every two to three hours while formula-fed babies need to eat every three to four hours,” he explains. “Babies will give you signs that they are hungry before they cry. A baby is getting enough food if they are making six to eight wet diapers per day.”
One of the most crucial steps in growing a healthy baby is breastfeeding.
“Formulas today more closely resemble breast milk than in previous years, but a mother’s milk is still superior,” Lansdowne says. “Working mothers can breastfeed by using a breast pump and preparing bottles of breast milk in advance.”
Some breastfeeding mothers notice an obvious difference in their baby’s behavior when they eat certain foods.
“My daughter had food sensitivities and my wife had to cut out all dairy products because it upset my daughter’s stomach,” he says.
Lansdowne advises new parents to be mindful of other baby basics:
• A number of rashes and birthmarks are common and not dangerous in newborns. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have a question about your baby’s skin.
• Your baby should have two soft spots on his or her head. Do not push on these spots or put anything directly on them.
• Most babies should be put on their back to sleep.
• Never shake a baby — severe brain damage or death can occur.
• Immunizations are extremely important. They are the best method we have for fighting infections.
• Fever is an important thing to watch in newborns. Learn how to take a rectal temperature, and report all temperatures greater than 100 degrees to your doctor.
• Respiratory distress or trouble breathing can be serious. If your baby is grunting, you can see the skin retracting from the ribs during breathing, or the skin is persistently blue, call your doctor.
• Dehydration can become a big problem quickly. If your newborn has not had a wet diaper in eight hours, call your doctor.
Babies generally have a period of fussiness, usually in the evening for three hours or so. Colicky babies cry much more than this. They may scream, be inconsolable, and extend or pull up their legs. We do not know what causes colic. Sometimes a mother’s diet can upset a breastfed baby.
Other times switching formulas will help. If you baby has colic, you can try rocking or walking your baby, using a pacifier or swaddling.
“Car rides and bouncing helped with my colicky son,” Lansdowne says.
“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed from time to time,” he says. “Ask for help. Babies can often sense when their parents are stressed. A break will do you a world of good.”
Want to learn more about babies’ health and support a good cause? Join us April 12 for the March of Dimes March for Babies fund-raising walk at White Rock Lake. The money raised will help fund research and programs that help babies begin healthy lives. Log on to marchforbabies.org and join the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center team.
To find an obstetrician on the Methodist Mansfield medical staff, call toll-free 877-637-4297 or visit MethodistHealthSystem.org and click on “Find A Physician.”