The newborn baby
The newborn baby
Newborns have irregular breathing, normally it is 30-40 breaths/minute.
The first few days the baby faeces is blackish-green, gluey and resembles tar. It is called meconium. Around day 4-5 it turns yellow and loose and is called milk stool, it is a sign that breastfeeding has been established. It is normal for a baby to poop anywhere from once a week to several times a day. Children that are exclusively breastfed don’t get constipated.
The temperature in the bathwater should be 37 degrees Celcius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Babies can take their baths in the sink, in a baby bath or in a bathtub. If you want to use a bath oil choose one free from perfume. Always keep the baby under supervision. It is perfectly fine giving the baby a bath even if the umbilical cord stump hasn’t fallen off, but make sure to dry carefully around it after the bath.
Change the diaper each time the baby has pooped. Don’t pull back the foreskin on boys when cleaning them. Wash girls from the front towards the back to avoid contamination of gut bacteria in the urinary tract. If the baby turns red and irritated in the bum you can use breast milk as a cream and air it. Avoid pastes and powders. Never leave the baby on the changing table without supervision.
The breast glands can be swollen in both boys and girls and sometimes they may leak fluid.
Girls can have whitish, mucuous secretions from their vagina. Sometimes they can be tinted by blood. This is caused by hormones and is completely benign.
It is reasonably common that babies develop a slight jaundice during their first week of life. The jaundice is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells leaving behind a byproduct called bilirubin. When the liver is immature it has a hard time breaking down the bilirubin and it will turn the skin and whites of the eyes yellow. It is a good idea to check the skin color a couple of times a day during the first week. Contact us if the baby is clearly yellow. Jaundice is diagnosed with a test lamp or a blood sample. Severe Jaundice is treated with light therapy and supplemental feedings.
Hiccup is common and completely safe
The skin tone in newborns is usually pink. The hands and feet of can be a little cold and blueish the first days. It is normal for babies to have dry skin, especially in the creases of the hands and feet. You can use the greasy yellow layer (the vernix caseosa) that the baby is covered in at birth to rub into dry spots, you can use breastmilk as a lotion or add non-perfumed baby oil in the bath. The tiny white bumps on the baby’s face are called milia, they will disappear by themselves and do not need any treatment. Babies often develop red spots, sometimes with a yellow top, it is a normal newborn rash and is caused by activation of the baby’s immune defense, it will disappear spontaneously.
It is normal for newborns to be nauseous and vomit, it is often caused by swallowing of amniotic fluid during birth. As a parent you can help by putting the baby on its side when they are feeling ill or throwing up. Some babies throw up more easily than others. If you think that your baby is throwing up more often than what feels normal contact your pediatric outpatient clinic or the pediatric emergency. If the baby is throwing up green or gall-coloured vomit - seek hospital care.
The sexual organs in newborns are often swollen.
The baby gets warmth and comfort in arms. A lot of closeness and body contact soothes the baby. Hold a hand under the baby’s neck when you lift the baby. To support your back and shoulders a shawl wrap or baby carrier can be helpful (we can lend you a carrying tube wrap during your stay with us).
Many newborns are bothered by stomach cramps early on because of an immature intestine. Tummy cramps can be eased by staying upright or by burping. Sometime a gentle tummy massage or flection of the legs can cause relief by letting out gases.
Newborns often have long nails. Avoid cutting the nails with a scissor in the beginning since skin and nail are often attached and it is easy to create small wounds. Use a nail file instead to avoid the risk of wounds and infections.
Pacifier can have a protective effect against sudden infant death. We recommend waiting until the breastfeeding is established and the baby has returned to its birth weight before using a pacifier. Make sure that the baby is fully fed before giving the pacifier.
To begin with the umbilical cord stump is white and gelatinous. Slowly it will decay and become black and fall off by itself around day 3-10. It is normal for the stump to smell bad, be a bit messy and bleed a little. You can wash it yourselves with lukewarm water and gently rub it dry. If the skin around the stump becomes red and irritated it can be a sign of infection, contact the pediatric outpatient clinic in this case. The baby has no sensitivity in the umbilical cord stump.
Newborns breathe only through the nose. Some babies get clogged nostrils and sneeze but it is both due to a cold. Breastmilk is a great option to lessen the swelling and ease nasal congestion, saline solution can also be used.
Sudden infant death
Sudden infant death is very rare and in Sweden it occurs in less than 1 in 6000 babies. Six factors that can lessen the risk of sudden infant death:
- Let the baby sleep on its back
- Make sure that the baby’s face is free, that the baby is at a comfortable temperature and can move around
- Avoid nicotine
- Newborns under the age of three months are the safest when sleeping in their own bed
- Breastfeed if possible
- A pacifier can be used during sleep times
The advice to let the baby sleep on its back, keeping the face clear and as a parent abstaining from nicotine has the biggest impact when it comes to decreasing the risk of sudden infant death.
The newborn heart is normally beating fast, between 140-160 beats per minute.
If the baby seems anxious after breastfeeding/feeding you can offer it to burp. It is easiest done by holding it against your shoulder while supporting its neck.
Shaken baby syndrome
There can be occasions when you feel completely helpless when your baby is screaming. It happens that parents shake their babies on such occasions. When the head of the baby is thrown backwards and forwards there is a great risk of brain damage. Never be violent and never shake a baby. If you feel great frustration and have a hard time controlling yourself it is better to put the baby down in its stroller or in another safe place and leave the room to collect yourself before making another attempt to calm the baby.
Small children and chemicals
Always wash new textiles before using them, avoid wet wipes and skin creams since they contain preservatives and can cause allergic reactions. See more information on Svanen, Naturskyddsforeningen or Kemikalieinspektionen.
All babies cry, some more, some less. It is easy to feel powerless as a parent. Try to find out the reason for the cries. The baby can be hungry, anxious, be in pain or feel general discomfort - maybe be too warm or too cold. Try breastfeeding or give the baby a bottle if bottle fed. Carry, sway, talk calmly, hum, create skin contact or massage the belly are all things that can soothe a baby. If you feel like you are loosing control, put the baby down for a moment to calm yourself.
Newborn babies often sleep a substantial part of the day. The moment of sleep varies from a couple of minutes to several hours. Newborns don’t separate between day and night, they follow the same rhythm they had in utero. We recommend that the baby sleeps in the parents bedroom. The baby should have their own place for sleep and should be sleeping on their back. If either of the parents have been drinking alcohol, are affected by medication, or if any of the parents is a smoker, the baby should have their own bed. The baby should have free space and opportunity to move.
Normal body temperature for children is 36.5-37.5 degrees Celsius (97.7-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit). If you don’t have a thermometer you can check the baby’s temperature by feeling its back or rib cage with the inside of your wrist.
Clean the baby’s folds every day, don’t use soap. Try to refrain from giving the baby a bath in the first 24 hours to allow the fat that covers the baby at birth to soak in. Don’t attempt to pull back the foreskin on boys.
There will be only small amounts of urine to begin with. There are salts in the urine and sometimes that can look like small, rust coloured patches in the diaper. This is normal. In the beginning the baby often pees very little and it can be had to notice in the diaper. Observe that the baby is peeing in the first two days of life. If you can’t see any pee in the diaper, place some kitchen roll in the diaper or let the baby lay without a diaper for a while. The quantities of urine will increase when the baby gets more milk and the urine gets less concentrated.
Babies see best at a distance of 20-30 cm. It is common to see small bleedings in the whites of the eyes, it is caused by the pressure during childbirth and it not a sign of anything dangerous. The eyes are often swollen. Sometimes the eyes can be filled with pus and if that doesn’t pass contact your pediatric primary care provider.
Hearing screening for newborns (the patient hotel Mörby, 8th floor)
Hearing screening is offered all newborns. The test can be done 3 days after birth at the earliest and preferably within a week. The test is best done while the baby is asleep or well fed and content. It is quick and does not hurt the baby. The hearing screening is performed by an auxiliary nurse.
Phone number: 08 - 755 39 22