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Seven Things To Know About Newborns

Are you a new parent with next to no experience handling babies? Is your newborn a little, um, intimidating, in that alien-creature kinda way? Don’t worry. Give it time, you’ll get the hang of it, and in a blink of an eye you’ll have a preschooler. In the meantime, we can help shed some light on a few things. Here are seven things to know about that new addition to the family:

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Delayed Cuteness
Newborns aren’t usually the most attractive package right at first. A smushed face, wrinkly or dry and peeling skin, chicken legs, a hairy forehead—it’s all fair game early on. “My oldest looked like a monkey, my second looked like a little old lady, and my youngest resembled a frog,” one mom put it in this BabyCenter article about newborns http://www.babycenter.com/0_5-things-you-didnt-know-about-newborns_10357995.bc . Don’t worry; it’s all normal. The mild skin issues are just the baby shedding some residual in utero stuff, and that weird hair is lanugo, downy and temporary. Before long s/he will plump up and smooth out and be ready for that closeup. Oh, and another thing: don’t expect a smile until at least week five or six.

Scary Pulsating Soft Spot
“Well, mind his little fontanel,” Holly Hunter’s character Ed anxiously implores her husband Hi (Nicholas Cage) in Raising Arizona. In truth, the soft spot, though it might seem fragile and vulnerable and maybe even a bit frightening as a visible representation of the baby’s heartbeat, is hardier than you might believe. Don’t be afraid to touch it (gently).

Forceful Elimination
A tiny newborn can spit up and poop pretty powerfully. Be prepared for blowouts (even a snug-fitting diaper often can’t keep it contained) by always having a few changes of clothes on hand—for the baby too. And when your little boy spits up after a meal of mother’s milk or formula, it usually just means you’re not burping him enough. It may seem like a lot all splattered over your shoulder, but rest assured, unless it’s projectile and continuous (in which case see your doctor) your baby hasn’t lost half his lunch, he’s just doing as babies do.

Eating And Weight Gain
Don’t buy a scale. You will make yourself crazy, weighing the baby yourself, at home, multiple times a day, to see if s/he is steadily gaining weight. What happens is, a newborn who is eating just fine will almost always lose a little weight right after birth, so you’ll see a dip before there’s an increase. Postnatal visits to your pediatrician’s office should be sufficient for charting the progress. You should be able to get a good sense of how things are going simply by diapering, clothing, holding and looking at your baby—which at this stage you’ll be doing practically ‘round the clock. Regular peeing and pooping is a good gauge. Any concerns, talk to the doctor.

Bloody Belly Button
One of the least appealing aspects of newborn care is tending to what remains of the baby’s umbilical cord. It can take a few days or even a couple weeks or longer to heal, and a little bleeding or oozing is normal. Keep it clean and dry, and let the area mend naturally. Only sponge baths until the stub shrivels up and falls off.

Baby Acne
One month in, your newborn who had initially resembled a frog is now the chubby-cheeked cherub you knew he would be. But now—gasp!—there are little pimples all over his face. Baby acne can appear at about one month old and can last two or three months or longer. It’s probably caused by exposure to the mother’s hormones while in the womb. Just keep bathing your baby in the same gentle soap you’re using for her whole body; don’t use special cleansers or scrubs and it should eventually clear up on its own.

You don’t have to put that baby in a bubble. You should feel free to interact with other humans and the outside world. A healthy baby’s immune system gets charged up during his time on the inside (when babies are born, they already have antibodies in their bloodstream, having absorbed them from the placenta http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/307311/?single_page=true, and breastfeeding provides some added protection). Still, it’s always a good idea to ask people to wash their hands before touching or holding the baby and to encourage siblings and other young kids to play with the baby’s feet instead the tiny hands or face.

Category:Baby Care
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