FAQ: Newborn


Frequently Asked Questions: Newborn

How often should my newborn urinate?

For the first 5 days, newborns should generally urinate as many times as they are days old.  For example, a one day old should urinate at least once a day, a two day old at least twice, and so forth.  By the time your infant is a week old, you will be an expert at changing diapers!


How often should my newborn stool? 

Newborns should stool at least once before they are 24 hours old (if not, you should call your pediatrician!).  At first, the stool will look dark and sticky.  As your newborn’s feeding improves, the stool will change to green and yellow, and they will stool more often. Let your pediatrician know if the stools look black and/or red after day 3 or 4 of life.


How should I care for the belly button?

If the area on the cord gets dirty, use rubbing alcohol to clean it, otherwise you can leave the umbilical cord as is. You should expect the umbilical cord stump to fall off 1-3 weeks after birth.  Studies have shown that infections from the umbilical cord are rare, however you should call your pediatrician if there is any redness on the skin surrounding the umbilical stump or if fluid or blood leaks several days after the cord falls off (a little blood for a day or two after the stump falls off is normal).


How often should my newborn take a bath?

Newborns do not need to be bathed that often!  As long as their diaper area is kept clean, they do not need to be bathed more than once or twice a week.


How should I bathe my newborn?

Sponge bathe the baby as needed until the umbilical cord has fallen off and the belly button area is dry and healed.  After that, you can start giving your newborn tub baths.


Should I circumcise my newborn son?

There are benefits to penile circumcision including a small decreased risk of sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections and penile cancer.  The downsides to circumcising include cost, discomfort from the procedure, and it may very rarely cause damage to the penis.  Ultimately the decision should be based on parental preference.


How do I cut my newborn’s fingernails?

Babies can be born with long nails and they may scratch their face.  We suggest filing your newborn’s nails for the first few months—it is less likely to cause trauma than cutting.

What is a fever in a newborn?

Fevers in newborns need to be taken very seriously.  A fever is any temperature 100.4F (38 Celsius) or higher. Rectal temperatures are the most accurate and are the preferred method in newborns.  You can coat the end of the thermometer with a lubricant (like Vaseline) and insert about ½ an inch into the rectum.  If the temperature is 100.4 or higher in the first 3 months, call your pediatrician.


Does my newborn need any water to drink?

There is no need to give your newborn water.  Formula and/or breast milk is all they need – in fact, you should not give your baby anything except formula or breast milk! Remember, breast milk and formula are over 90% water anyhow.  Water can be introduced around 4-6 months.


Should I give my baby formula or breastfeed?

Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding if possible because breastmilk contains the exact nutrients your baby needs as well as substances to help fight infections. Not every woman is able to breastfeed, however.  If you are not able to breastfeed, don’t fret: children who are formula-fed turn out just fine!


How often should my newborn be feeding?

Initially, your newborn should feed about 8-12 times a day (or every 2-3 hours). Most newborns will lose weight in the first few days of life as it takes about 2-3 days until a mother’s milk comes in).  Until your newborn has regained their birth weight, we suggest not waiting longer than 4 hours in between feeds.


Should my baby sleep face down or face up?

Infants should be placed on their back to sleep (face up) to best prevent against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When your infant is awake, try to give “tummy time” to help strengthen the head, neck and upper body. Remember, a newborn resting against your chest (and off the back of their head) even counts as tummy time!


Should my newborn use a pacifier?

There are good things and bad things about using a pacifier.  Pacifiers may be a great way to soothe your baby and they have even been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS.  However, early use of pacifiers may interfere with breastfeeding, may slightly increase the risk of ear infections and may be a hard habit to break down the road.  If you do decide to give your infant a pacifier it may be best to wait until breast-feeding has been well established.


Should my newborn take Vitamin D supplementation?

The AAP recommends a daily intake of vitamin D of 400 IU/day for all infants and children.  While breast milk is the recommended diet for infants, breast milk in itself does not supply infants with enough Vitamin D.  Most breastfed infants, however, are able to make enough vitamin D from routine sun exposure (especially where we live in sunny southern California!). Vitamin D supplementation is especially important for those who have limited sun exposure (for example, if you live in an area with cloudy weather) or for those who have darker skin. For infants who consume at least 32oz of a vitamin-D fortified infant formula each day, vitamin D supplementation is not necessary.