Newborn Care

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! All of the staff at Columbus Pediatrics look forward to caring for your child. We welcome any questions you may have. We hope this brief guide makes your early days a little easier.

Call us at (812) 376-9219 if:

  • Your baby has a temperature under the arm of greater than 100.5
  • Baby has consistent, fast breathing (greater than 60 times per minute)
  • Baby has persistent vomiting
  • Baby seems much more fussy or sleepy than usual

After hours - call the hospital operator at (812) 379-4441. The operator will page our medical staff person on call. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to call.

Our staff is eager to meet your needs.

Going Out

For the first two months, try to limit your baby's exposure to illness. If a baby gets an illness with a fever (greater than 100.5 axillary) under the age of two months, then this must be taken fairly seriously and admission to the hospital is a possibility. Thus, avoid taking the baby to church, stores, parties, public gatherings, etc. Avoid coughing people coming into your home. If illness comes into your home, the best precaution to take is good hand washing since germs spread on the hands. Going out for a walk or a drive is fine. Dress the baby the way you would dress yourself.

Taking Care of Yourself
To help yourself recover from delivery, eat a sensible balanced diet, drink a lot of fluids, take a nap when you can, avoid hassles (take the phone off the hook if necessary), don't do a lot of physical work, and get out and take a walk or drive if you begin to feel confined.

Breast Feeding
Most babies know how to suck instinctively. Learning how to nurse is a matter of patience, time, and practice.

While you are in the hospital, please take advantage of the help and advice that the nursing staff can give you. Several of our nurses have had training in counseling for breast feeding.

Proper latching on is very important. If a baby learns to latch on to the nipple correctly, sucking is more effective and soreness is less.

Expose your nipples to air as much as you can until you are sure your baby is gaining weight, and until you are sure your baby is able to ask for feedings, try to get him/her to nurse every two to three hours during the day, and every four hours at night.

The milk that you produce that is highest in calories is the milk that comes out after 15-20 minutes at each breast. Therefore, try to get the baby to nurse for at least 15-20 minutes on at least one side every feeding.

Avoid caffeine, chocolate and alcohol. These substances can make babies fussy. Do not supplement with other forms of feeding (water or formula) in the early days, unless it becomes medically necessary.

Stools of a breast fed baby are always runny. Sometimes in the early days, they can be quite frequent. It is not unusual for a breast fed baby to have a little bit of stool with every feeding. This is not diarrhea. After about one month of age some breast fed babies will begin having infrequent stools, some stooling only once every few days. If you have any concerns or doubts about how things are going, please don't hesitate to either call our office (376-9219) or the nursery staff (379-4441).

Bottle Feeding
Use a formula with iron. Plan on continuing to use a formula with iron through the first twelve months. The formula with iron has everything in it that the baby needs for normal growth and development. Vitamins, juice, cereal, and water are NOT necessary.

The average term baby will usually want to eat about every 2-4 hours, but it is not necessary to impose a schedule. Don't force feed. Hold your baby every time he or she feeds. Never lay them flat while taking a bottle.

Some bottle fed babies have hard pellet-like stools. This is undesirable. Call our office if this happens.

No over the counter medications are recommended under 1 year of age unless specifically instructed by your doctor.

Skin Care
For the first couple of months, try to keep things simple and not put any scented materials on the baby's skin. Baby soap is okay, but an even milder soap is unscented white Dove.

Around the umbilical stump, clean several times a day with a dab of alcohol where the cord meets the skin. Keeping the diaper folded below the umbilical stump might help to dry it out sooner. If you notice any foul-smelling drainage from the cord or have other concerns about its appearance, please contact our office. After the umbilical stump has fallen off, you might see a little bit of mucus or blood come from the opening. This is normal.

If your son has been circumcised, you will see a little plastic ring around the end of his penis. This will fall off on its own between two and seven days. It requires no special care. Sometimes the ring partially falls off and appears to hang by a thread; if this happens, contact our office. Do not pull on the ring at home.

Vaginal Discharge
Most female infants will have a creamy, milky vaginal discharge. This might occasionally be lightly tinged with blood. This is normal.

Babies do not have the smooth quiet respiratory patterns that older children and adults have. They snort, sniff and sneeze. This is normal. They sometimes have periods of breathing rapidly. They sometimes have periods of breathing slowly. A lot of babies even have pauses in their respirations of several seconds. You will get accustomed to what is normal for your baby. There are two key things to be aware of about breathing: 1) the color of the inside of the lips should be pink and not blue, 2) most babies who are getting into trouble with breathing will begin to breathe rapidly all the time (60 to 80 times per minute).

Some newborns will be congested. This can be treated with over-the-counter saline drops and the blue bulb you received in the hospital for suction.

Hiccups are normal and do not require any special treatment.

All babies cry and fuss, some much more than others. A lot of babies will develop an evening fussy time. This usually begins at around two to three weeks of age in a full term baby. What you might see is a baby who is otherwise fine -- the baby is gaining weight, feeding well, alert, and doesn't seem to be sick -- but then during a certain time of the day the baby becomes fussy. If you begin to see this pattern of behavior, the chances are this will continue for several weeks no matter what you or we try to do. This fussy time usually ends by two months of age.

Safety/Car Seats
Always use a car seat with the manufacturer's recommended method of installation. Wear seat belts yourself. Second-hand car seats are not recommended. Any car seat that is involved in a car accident should be replaced.

Smoke Alarms
Have functional smoke alarms with fresh batteries in the recommended locations in your home.

Water Temperature
Set your tap water temperature at the water heater at 120 degrees.

Never leave your baby unattended on an elevated surface whether laying or in a car seat or bouncy seat (bed, couch, chair, etc.). Even though a newborn is not able to deliberately roll over, accidents do happen.

Your baby should sleep on a firm, flat surface. Do not let your baby sleep with fluffy things such as quilts, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. Waterbeds are not safe. Do not let your baby sleep with you. Sleep Position - Recommended sleep position is on the back. You will receive a brochure about this.

Passive Smoke - Do not let anyone smoke around your baby. Living in an environment of passive smoke is a SIDS risk factor.