The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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What vitamins does my baby need?
To ensure adequate bone-building vitamin D intake, the AAP recommends giving breastfed babies a vitamin D supplement within the first two months. “Formulas contain as much vitamin D as babies need,” says Marianne Neifert, M.D., a pediatrician in Parker, Colo., and an AAP spokeswoman.
Babies also need iron. If yours is formula fed, choose an iron-fortified formula (don’t worry: it won’t cause constipation). Breastfed babies need a supplemental source of iron after about age 6 months. Good sources include iron-fortified infant cereal and puréed meats. If you live in an area with nonfluoridated water, you may need to give your baby a fluoride supplement starting at about 6 months.
When is it OK to let other people hold my baby and to go to crowded places?
“I don’t like to see babies out being exposed to germs before they are 8 weeks old,” Swislow says. “An infant under this age who gets a fever often has to undergo procedures like blood tests and spinal taps,” he explains. But as long as you ask adult family members and friends to wash their hands first, you can certainly let healthy people hold your newborn. Just don’t allow anyone who has a cold around the baby.
Should parents lose the pets?
Not necessarily, but do use common sense and err on the side of caution. “I have never heard of a cat smothering a baby, but I do recall a newborn patient whose ear had been partially chewed off by the family’s pet ferret,” says AAP spokeswoman Marianne Neifert, M.D. Keep pets out of your baby’s room, and never leave the baby unattended in an animal’s presence. And if you have a pet that has ever growled or snapped at a child (or worse), you should find the pet a new home.
When to call the doctor?
If your baby strains or seems very uncomfortable when she moves her bowels, has a distended abdomen or vomits (rather than just spits up), let your pediatrician know.