Pearls of Wisdom: Caring for Your Baby

Welcoming a new baby to your home is a time of joy and excitement. To many parents, taking care of a newborn is like driving a car without any instruction. All hands are on deck and lessons come from experiences with your own “little miracle.” You may feel more anxious if you haven’t spent much time around infants. Family, friends or nurses can help and support you in your new role. The more time spent with your own baby, the more confidence you will build for providing care for him. Here are some tips on essential care aspects for your baby.

How do I burp my baby?

Babies swallow a lot of air when they breast or bottle feed. When air is trapped in your baby’s stomach, this can cause a lot of discomfort. Burping your baby brings up that extra air that your baby swallowed during feeds. Bottlefed babies should be burped after every 2-3 ozs. of formula while breastfed babies should be burped after every 5 minutes of feeding and when switching breasts. If your baby doesn’t burp immediately, try to feed him a little more. Always burp your baby after you finish feeding. Occasionally, your baby may spit up and this is perfectly fine. However, if it becomes persistent vomiting especially if it is forceful or projectile, you should call your pediatrician.Burp

There are varied ways of burping your baby. You can burp him over your shoulder, across your lap or sitting up. Always support his head and neck since he still does not have good muscle strength and control in these areas. Always hold him securely with one hand and use the other hand to pat his back gently. Again, do not let your baby’s head flop backward.  Burping may take a few minutes so be patient .That precious burp will reward you and your baby a restful day ahead.

How do I take care of my baby’s umbilical stump?

It is important to keep your baby’s cord stump clean and dry until it falls off. You may use 70% alcohol and a cotton swab to clean the cord and allow it to air dry. You may need to clean the stump every diaper change until it falls off. Fold the top area of your baby’s diaper below the stump to avoid the diaper rubbing on it and allowing the air to help dry the stump.

Normally, the umbilical stump falls off in 1-3 weeks. Do not try to pull it off even if it looks like it is barely attached or hanging on by a thin piece of skin. It is common to see a few drops of blood when the stump starts to fall off. Continue cleaning the belly button area with alcohol until it completely heals after which no special care is needed.

Call your doctor if the umbilical stump gives off a foul odor or if you note that area around the stump appears red and inflamed and starts to ooze some yellow or green discharge. This could indicate that it has become infected.

How do I take care of my baby’s circumcision?

Some parents choose to have circumcision — the surgical procedure to remove the foreskin from a baby’s penis – performed on their newborn baby boys. Circumcision is a very personal decision that should be thoroughly researched and discussed with your partner, pediatrician, obstetrician, or with friends and/or relatives whose experience you trust. After birth, your obstetrician may ask you for consent to do the procedure in the nursery. Following circumcision, your baby’s penis will appear raw and have a yellowish covering. The penis may remain red and swollen for a few days but will continue to heal after a week. Sometimes, you may see a plastic ring that comes off by itself after 5-8 days. Keep the penis as clean as possible and use warm water to wash baby. Do not use soap or wipes to clean the area, since this could sting and irritate your baby’s penis. Call your doctor if your baby does not urinate after 8 hours, if penis remains swollen with pus or if you note any bleeding from the area that does not stop.

The first year of your baby’s life can be a very challenging time. It is recommended that you have seven visits to your pediatrician in the first year alone beginning at 3-5 days, 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months of age. These regularly scheduled “well baby visits” to your doctor are done for many reasons, but also so your doctor can offer you valuable advice on caring for your baby. Please take advantage of these visits to voice any questions or concerns. No one knows your baby like you do, so you are her best advocate!


All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site. 

Dr. Pearl CenonDr. Pearl

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.

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