Locating a great pediatrician can take time and patience, so it’s a good idea to start while you are still pregnant. Considering that this potentially is the person who will guide your child’s care for the next 18 years, the effort is well worth it.
Winter means holiday outings, celebrations with family and friends … and, for new parents, worries about their baby’s health. From when it’s safe to take a newborn out for the first time (especially in cold weather), to what to do if your child catches a cold or a more serious respiratory infection, here are answers to your most commonly asked questions.
When is it OK to take my new baby outside?
“Why isn’t my baby sleeping?” is the No. 1 question new parents ask, says Jill Spivack, M.S.W., of Childsleep, a pediatric sleep practice in Los Angeles.
One reason your child might be having difficulty staying settled at night is that she is approaching a developmental milestone, Spivack says. Those exciting “firsts,” from rolling over to sitting up, can shake up a sleep routine. Here’s help:
You know how good it feels to get a full night’s sleep: You awake refreshed and ready to face the world. But while adults usually prefer a seven- or eight-hour stretch, newborns typically sleep in two- to three-hour spurts. As a new parent, how do you reconcile that difference?
Your baby’s first year is full of milestones: his first smile, his first tooth … and your first frantic call to the pediatrician. There’s no way around it—sooner or later, your child is going to get sick. “The average infant gets six to eight colds each year for the first two or three years,” says Sue Mahle, M.D., a pediatrician in Minneapolis.
There may be nothing scarier to new parents than a spike in their baby’s temperature. Because babies can’t complain, fever is often the only indication that something is wrong. But a raised temperature is rarely the enemy. In fact, a fever can be beneficial by fighting the virus or bacteria causing it.
you’re finally at home with your new baby. What could feel more natural? That wave of anxiety you might be feeling is pretty natural, too. For first-time parents in particular, caring for a newborn can prompt a host of questions. “Many parents are worried when they bring a newborn home; babies require so much maintenance,” says pediatrician Janet Michaelson, M.D. Michaelson speaks from experience: She’s had 20 years’ worth in her Philadelphia-area practice, and she has four sons of her own.
You’re home from the hospital and finally feeling energetic. You’re even ready to brave a beautiful, blustery winter day and get out and about with your baby. But before you pack up your little bundle of joy and venture out into the cold, there are some precautions you should take.
Picturing yourself without your pregnant belly and with your baby in someone else’s care may be difficult right now. Nevertheless, whether your child will need an occasional baby sitter or will be among the 44 percent of infants younger than 1 year who receive regular non-parental care, the last few months of pregnancy is the time to start your search for caregivers.
Teensy, miniature, fragile. The pure smallness of my first baby is what I remember being most unprepared for. I was shocked by how tiny he was, even at 8 pounds, 11 ounces. (The “-3 month” baby garments I’d brought to the hospital were useless.) For most first-time parents, that tiny new baby is a fascinating mystery, from the way he stares into your face to the softness of his skin. And while each infant is different, there are some universals, which can help you unravel why your baby does the things he does.
They lose and gain weight.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life: Your child is likely to get an ear infection sometime in her first few years. In fact, about one-third of all children will be diagnosed with acute otitis media, or ear infection, by the time they turn 1. About 50 percent will get an ear infection by age 2, and up to 85 percent will have had at least one by the time they start preschool.
When he’s a month old or so, your baby is going to return your smile. And you are just going to melt. Then, before you know it, he’ll begin to coo like a dove and clutch objects with his chubby little fingers. He’ll roll over from his back to his tummy, and soon he’ll be sitting up on his own. Every time he masters one of these developmental milestones, you’ll marvel at his accomplishment, run for the video camera and boldly announce his progress to various friends and family.
Falls are the leading cause of injuries for children younger than 1 year, a Canadian study found. Many of these and other injuries can be prevented by using products made specifically for babyproofing—and by employing some good old common sense, such as keeping a close eye on your child and always using safety straps.