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Your “prepare the nursery and procure everything on the baby checklist mode” was in full throttle leading up to your baby’s arrival. But once your newborn arrives, each day will present new learning opportunities. If your baby isn’t feeling well, it may be hard to tell whether their symptoms warrant a visit to the doctor. So it’s important to remember: It’s probably not an emergency. Here are some common questions most new parents have about their newborn's health.
In their first year on the planet, babies sleep a lot, but they also wake up a lot. This can wreak havoc on a parent’s sleep schedule—hence all the stories about going weeks without a good night’s rest. But knowing how much sleep your baby needs depends on some environmental triggers and their age.
“The newborn sleep cycle is governed solely by feeling hungry or being soiled. It is common for babies to sleep until they are hungry—especially if your baby has a cold, they might sleep a little longer. Chronic sleepiness can sometimes indicate an underlying issue, but it’s usually accompanied by other symptoms,” said Pratyusha Katta, M.D. a Nemours pediatrician providing ER and inpatient care at Inspira Medical Center Vineland.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a 0- to 3-month-old newborn will sleep for 14 to 17 hours a day and a 4- to 11-month-old newborn will sleep for 12 to 15 hours. Speak with a pediatrician if you notice your baby is:
If your baby has a rash around their buttocks, thighs or mid-section, it’s likely a diaper rash—a sensitivity to a wet diaper that has caused some chafing.
“While it may be alarming to see a red, bumpy, inflamed rash on your baby, it is usually nothing to worry about. You may see some faint pinkness or dark redness in the afflicted area, but this can be remedied with some gentle cleaning and over-the-counter ointment,” said Dr. Katta.
Diaper rash is commonly caused by irritation or an allergy to a product, and it usually clears up within a few days with some changes to your diapering and bathing processes. If the rash is not going away, your baby may need a doctor-prescribed antibiotic. Speak with your pediatrician if the rash:
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 5 out of 6 children will have an ear infection by the time they are 3 years old. If your newborn is tugging at their ear or has trouble responding to your voice, chances are they are experiencing an easily treatable ear infection.
“The most common ear infection is acute otitis media, which stems from the middle ear and causes fluid retention and inflammation,” said Dr. Katta. “These infections can be caused by a simple cold and usually clear up within 72 hours. Some disappear with home remedies, like applying a warm compress.”
Although ear infections usually go away on their own, babies younger than 6 months require antibiotics. Be sure to consult your doctor if your baby is experiencing:
Caring for your newborn will involve a learning curve, but you will begin to feel more confident with time. “Adjusting to your baby’s sleeping habits, sensitivities and irritabilities is an intuitive process. If you are worried or if something doesn’t feel right, never hesitate to reach out to your health care provider or pediatrician,” said Dr. Katta.
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