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Caring For Your Newborn

  • Milestones: Caring For Your Newborn - Boys Town Pediatrics

    Hi, I'm Dr. Heather Zimmerman—pediatrician at Boys Town Pediatrics. After a few days home with your newborn, you may have many questions you never thought of before leaving the hospital. The Caring for Your Newborn video addresses common questions on newborn feeding and sleeping, physical and emotional development and when to contact your pediatrician.

    Over the next few weeks your baby will be developing right before your eyes. Enjoy these precious moments. We are so excited to be with you on this journey.

    Newborn Feeding

    Your baby is growing! Which also means your baby is hungry.

    Most breast fed newborns will feed for about 10 minutes at each breast, during each feeding. Formula fed babies will take about 2-3 ounces of infant formula every 2-3 hours. Babies only need breast milk or formula at this time. Starting cereal or solid foods too early could contribute to food allergies.

    Spitting up after a meal is normal and it can last for several months. If your baby seems unhappy, in pain, or is spitting up an entire feeding on a regular basis, contact your child's pediatrician.

    It is normal for newborns to lose weight in the first 3 to 5 days of life. Most babies are back to their birth weight by two-weeks of age.

    Everybody Needs Sleep

    For many mothers and fathers, the first few weeks at home with a new baby can be tiring, stressful and overwhelming. The best thing you can do is ask for help from family, friends and loved ones who would be more than happy to cuddle your infant baby while you catch up on your much needed rest.

    A newborn sleeps 16-20 hours a day, but wakens every 1-3 hours for feedings. The rule of thumb is to sleep when your baby sleeps.

    If your baby must be woken up for feedings after you have left the hospital, contact your child's pediatric clinic as this may be a problem like dehydration, jaundice or an infection.

    Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep in a crib or bassinette. Use a sleep sack or swaddle your baby to avoid loose blankets around your baby's face. Proper sleep positions and avoidance of co-sleeping are extremely important for the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome.

    You may think all your baby is doing is eating and sleeping, but your newborn is hitting some very important milestones by two weeks of age.

    Babies are learning to use their eyes and their ears. Your baby will begin to recognize mom and dad's face and voice.

    Right now your baby's movements are jerky and uncontrollable. You'll see his or her arms waving and legs kicking. You may notice that you will have to hold your little one a little tighter as your baby learns to wiggle and squirm. Your baby is also learning to grasp items placed in his or her hands.

    You can begin supervised tummy time at a few weeks of age. Letting your baby play independently while content will help to establish independent sleeping skills down the road.

    Babies are beginning to sense the world around them. The large movements are making your baby stronger and getting your baby ready to support his or her own head and roll from side to side—which usually happens around one-two months of age.


    All babies cry. They can't talk, so crying is the only way your baby knows how to communicate that she or he is hungry, needs a diaper change or would like to be held.

    It is important to tend to your baby's cry. You cannot spoil your newborn. In fact, you are actually teaching your child that he or she can depend on you.

    Some newborns become increasingly fussy, even inconsolable. If you have addressed your baby's needs and he or she continues to cry, you can try rocking, listening to soothing music or maybe a luke-warm bath. Your baby can sense when you get upset and may be crying because he or she can tell you are uncomfortable. It is okay to put your baby in the crib or bassinette and walk away for a few minutes to relax yourself. Crying will not hurt your baby and a few minutes may be all you need to calm your own emotions.

    When to Call the Doctor

    Whether you are a new or seasoned parent, it's not always easy to know when to call your child's doctor. Even a mild fever can indicate an infection in a newborn.

    The best way to check your newborn's temperature is to use a rectal thermometer. An underarm measurement is the next best method. Forehead and ear thermometers are not accurate in young infants.

    Call your doctor immediately if your newborn has a temperature of 100.4 or higher.

    Call your physician's office immediately if your baby is having labored or difficulty breathing, wheezing or has a cough that sounds like a squeal or bark.

    Contact your physician immediately if your baby's skin has a yellow or blue tone, seems lethargic, has difficulty waking or has been crying for 4 or more hours.

    Call your doctor within 24 hours if you notice your baby is not eating or drinking, or urinating less than once every 6-8 hours.

    It is important to maintain your baby's routine well visits with your pediatrician. These appointments plot your child's growth and development and will keep him or her on the path to a healthy future.

    As a pediatrician and a mother, my advice is to contact your child's physician anytime you have a question or concern about the health or well-being of your child.

    Boys Town Pediatrics offers a 24-hour nurse helpline, so answers are only a phone call away, anytime of day or night.

    We hope this video answers many of your newborn questions.

    Remember, each baby grows and develops differently. This video generalizes on where most babies are from newborn through two weeks. Please contact your pediatrician if you have any questions about your baby's growth and development.

    For more videos, articles and podcasts on pediatric health and development visit Thank you for watching this Boys Town Pediatrics Milestone video.

Newborn Pediatrics