Prepare & Learn > Caring For Your New Baby > The First Few Weeks after Your Baby is Born

The First Few Weeks after Your Baby is Born

The first weeks after you bring your baby home can be overwhelming.  Here are some tips to help keep you on track.

Pediatric Care

You will have many questions as the days go by, so have your important contacts phone numbers listed and available for easy access.
 
Your baby will be scheduled for regular well-baby exams in order to monitor his growth and development and allow you to talk about routine care with your baby’s healthcare professional. It is a good time for you to learn how to handle problems such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, crying spells or feeding problems. These visits are most frequently scheduled with routine immunizations for many of the preventable childhood illnesses.

Visitors

Many well meaning friends and neighbors will want to visit you and the baby once you are home from the hospital. If you’re not up for it, these visits can be taxing. Don’t feel obligated to entertain. After birth, you should be taking time to enjoy your newest addition and taking time to rest.
 
Keeping your baby away from people who you know have a contagious illness is always the best policy. Keep the touching of your baby to a minimum and ask people who are going to hold your baby to wash their hands first.

Weight Loss and Gain

The average newborn weighs approximately 71⁄2 pounds at birth. Infants typically lose weight (5 to 8% of their birth weight) in the first few days of life before they start to gain. Most regain their birth weight by day 10, double it by the 6th month, and triple it by one year.

Diaper Rash & Skin Care

Prevention of diaper rash is the best cure! Change the diaper as soon as possible after the baby wets or has a bowel movement. Wash the baby’s bottom with warm water and apply a diaper rash cream or petroleum jelly.

Skin Care

Newborn babies are often prone to a variety of harmless skin blemishes and rashes. A common condition is newborn acne, which mimics the teenage variety, and likewise is caused by hormones. However, in this case, it is simply evidence of the mother’s hormones and will lessen in the first few weeks.
 
Your baby’s skin may be dry and peeling, particularly on the feet, hands and scalp. This is simply the shedding of dead skin and is best left alone since lotions tend to slow the elimination of these layers.

Bowel Function

Babies frequently have changes in the number, color and consistency of their stools. These changes are of no concern as long as the newborn is eating normally and has no symptoms of an illness.
 
Stool color and consistency may vary from day to day. Formula fed babies generally have stools that are yellowish-tan. Breastfed babies have more liquid, runny, mustard color stools that are seedy in consistency. All babies can have stools that vary from gray, green, to brown in color on occasion. The number of stools can vary from 6 to 8 each day to one every other day.
 
Constipation in newborns is present when stools are small, firm and pebble-like. The number or frequency has nothing to do with constipation as in adults. Babies often grunt, strain and turn red in the face during normal bowel movements. This is usually not an indication of constipation.
 
Diarrhea is characterized by stools that are usually frequent and associated with excessive water. Call your baby’s healthcare provider if diarrhea persists more than one day or is associated with bleeding.

Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord will fall off by itself after 1 to 4 weeks. As it heals, it will have the appearance of a scab. Do not pick at it, cut or pull it off. You need to allow it to fall off on its own. Care for the healing cord according to your baby’s healthcare provider’s instructions. Clear or slightly blood-tinged discharge can occur from the navel after the cord falls off. This should not be a concern to you. If the oozing persists more than a couple of days or is associated with a foul odor, redness in the surrounding skin, or fever, report it to your baby’s healthcare provider immediately.