Excerpt from Your Baby’s First Year Week by Week (part 1) - Umbilical-Cord Care, Penis Care for Circumcised and Uncircumcised Boys , Feeding Your Baby

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1. Baby’s First Visit to the Doctor

In the past, a baby didn’t go to the doctor’s office for her first visit until she was between 1 and 2 weeks old. Today, baby’s first well-baby checkup usually occurs within 4 to 6 days after birth to help make the evaluation and treatment of jaundice more reliable.

When you go to this appointment, be sure to bring your insurance card and be ready to fill out various forms. Your baby is a “new patient.”

You will be asked for all sorts of information, such as date, time, place and the name of the doctor for your delivery. You will need to supply the doctor’s office with information on problems during pregnancy or delivery, and baby’s weight and length at birth. If you have other children, leave them at home for this visit. You have a lot to discuss.

Your doctor will give baby a pretty thorough checkup. He or she will weigh baby, measure her length and the circumference of her head, check for jaundice, be sure her arms and legs move properly, listen to her heart and lungs, and check for abdominal obstructions. It’s a good time for you to ask any questions you have.

2. Umbilical-Cord Care

In the hospital, triple dye, an antibacterial substance, may be applied to the stump of the umbilical cord to prevent infection and to help it dry out more quickly. If it is used, the area is blue-purple.

At home, if the area becomes dirty, use soap and water to cleanse the area gently. Don’t clean your baby’s bellybutton area with rubbing alcohol. Studies show it may actually delay how long it takes for the cord to fall off. Air drying—also called dry care—seems to work the best. It takes from 7 to 10 days for the stump of the cord to heal and fall off.

If the area appears irritated, you may want to buy newborn diapers with a half circle cut out at the waist. Or fold down baby’s diaper so it doesn’t rub against the cord. If the umbilical cord oozes pus or leaves more than a couple of drops of blood on baby’s diaper, call the doctor. If skin at the base of the cord is red or if baby acts as if it is painful when you touch it, let your doctor know.

3. Penis Care for Circumcised and Uncircumcised Boys

For Circumcised Boys. After the circumcision, you may notice your son’s penis is a little red, and there may be a yellow secretion. Both are signs the incision is healing.

The penis should be healed within a week; however, if you notice any swelling or sores, call your doctor. He or she may suggest using mild antibiotic gels or advise you to clean the area more often. Sometimes ice or a cold pack is used, but do this only when directed to do so by your doctor.

For Uncircumcised Boys. If your son is not circumcised, care for his penis will be different from care of a circumcised baby. The penis is made up of a shaft with a bulb at the end, called the glans. The glans is covered by the foreskin, which is a layer of skin. The foreskin is not removed or cut on an uncircumcised baby boy.

During this first year, your baby will probably grow about 10 inches and triple her birthweight.

Do not force the foreskin back. This can cause bleeding and can lead to skin adhesions. Skin adhesions are folds of skin along the penis shaft that become stuck to the head of the penis. They are fairly common, so do not become worried if they develop. They aren’t painful, so you don’t need to do anything to deal with the situation; they will naturally resolve by themselves.

The foreskin will eventually retract on its own, so avoid cleaning the penis vigorously. Gently wash the area with soap and water, just as you do any other parts of the baby’s body.

4. Feeding Your Baby

Feeding your baby is one of the most important things you do for him. You’ll know when he’s hungry; he’ll exhibit definite signs of hunger, including fussing, putting his hands in his mouth and turning his head and opening his mouth when his cheek is touched.

In the first 2 weeks of your baby’s life, he should be feeding every 2 or 3 hours during the day. At night, he should be feeding every 3 to 5 hours.

A newborn infant’s stomach can hold only 2 to 3 ounces of milk. His metabolism burns this amount of nourishment in 2 to 3 hours, then he’ll be ready to eat again. A newborn spends over 3 hours of every day feeding and usually eats 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.

A newborn gains about an ounce of weight a day. You may feed at regular intervals to help your baby get on a schedule. Or you may decide to let your baby set his own schedule—some babies need to eat more often than others. There are times a baby needs to feed more often than usual, such as during periods of growth.

A baby is usually the best judge of how much he needs at each feeding. He’ll usually turn away from the nipple (mother or bottle) when he’s full.

It’s a good idea to burp your baby after each feeding. Some babies need to be burped during a feeding.

You may want to ask your doctor about vitamin-D supplements for baby. Vitamin D is necessary to help children build strong, healthy bones. A child needs at least 200IU a day of vitamin D. If you feed your baby formula, he’ll get the vitamin because formula is fortified. However, if you breastfeed, beginning at 2 months, baby should receive liquid supplements of vitamin D. Be sure you discuss this with your pediatrician.

Babies frequently spit up some breast milk or formula after a feeding. It’s common in the early months because the muscle at the top of the stomach is not fully developed. When a baby spits up enough to propel the stomach contents several inches, it is called vomiting. If your baby vomits after a feeding, don’t feed him again immediately. His tummy may be upset; wait until the next feeding.

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