Newborn Q&As

Newborn: The Early Days

Dawn Kelly​

Question: This probably sounds irrational, but I keep worrying that my baby will just stop breathing in the night. My husband is getting annoyed and tells me to relax but sometimes I just can’t sleep and stay awake just checking I can hear his breathing. How can I calm down?

Answer: You would be surprised how common a worry this is especially for first-time parents. Keep in mind that all babies have somewhat irregular breathing in their first weeks of life. Your baby may seem to stop breathing for long periods, but almost always those pauses last just a few seconds before normal breathing resumes. There are monitors that you can try out if you wish. If you are concerned talk to your health visitor or GP for further reassurance.

Question: I’m 38 weeks pregnant and already have a 2 and a half-year-old son. I’m feeling anxious that my little boy will play up when we bring the new baby home. Do you have any advice on how to make things a bit smoother?

Answer: A new addition to the family is always a major change for everyone, especially older siblings who may be used to having you all to themselves. There are a few things you can do to make sure the arrival goes as smoothly as possible for you and your toddler such as keeping previous routines and activities (where possible!), this will reassure your older child that not everything will change. Try and encourage your son to take an interest and be involved with his little brother or sister, but don’t push him if he isn’t interested. You can let him help you when bathing your baby such as passing you things you need, this will make him feel more involved. Some parents choose to give the older sibling a little present from the baby. Also, some girls (and boys) enjoy copying mum & baby and love having a baby doll of their own to play with.

Question: My 3-month-old baby spits up milk all the time. Is this normal? 

Answer: Babies passively spitting up milk or whatever they have swallowed is known as reflux, and usually stops when a baby reaches 12-14 months of age. Reflux is completely normal and is a result of your baby’s oesophagus not yet being fully developed. To try and help your baby’s reflux, avoid overfeeding them as some babies prefer to feed little and often, burp your baby regularly throughout the feeding and make sure
you hold your baby upright for a while after finishing the feeding.

Question: This is not a nice question but my baby’s poo has recently changed colour. It was a yellowy colour but is now a lot darker. Is this normal?

Answer: All babies’ poos can be different, and generally a change like this is likely to be a result of a change of diet. You don’t mention if you formula or breastfeed, but it’s possible that you have recently switched from breastfeeding to formula feeding and this is a completely normal change for your baby to be going through. If you notice a big change of any other kind, such as the poos becoming very smelly, very watery or harder, particularly if there’s blood in them, you should talk to your doctor or health visitor.

Question: When can I start expressing my breast milk? I want my partner to be able to give my breast milk in a bottle sometimes to give me a chance to have a break!

Answer: You can begin to hand express as soon as your baby is born, but this can be very difficult, and many mums choose to wait. I would suggest breastfeeding for the first two weeks or so then once your breastfeeding is well-established, you can begin to use a hand pump, a battery-operated pump, or an
electric pump, whichever you prefer and find easiest to use.

Question: My baby is two weeks old and his umbilical cord is still attached. Do you think it should have fallen off by now? My daughter is three now but hers came off in less than a week.

Answer: Shortly after a baby is born, the midwife will cut the umbilical cord and clamp it with a plastic clip. The cord can then take anything from 5 to 15 days to drop off naturally, so your little boy’s may just be at the longer end of the time scale. Make sure you are keeping it clean and dry, and don’t fiddle with it to try and pull it off at all. If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge from the area, tell your health visitor or GP.

Question: How often do I need to bathe my new baby? I’m trying to do it every day but it takes so much time and I’m exhausted!

Answer: You don’t need to bathe your baby every day, but you should wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully every day. This is often called “topping and tailing”. It is enough to then fully bathe your baby every other day, so roughly 3 times a week. When you do bathe your baby, don’t do it straight after a feed or when they’re hungry or tired. Make sure you have everything you need before you start and
make sure the room is warm.

Question: My baby has developed what I think must be cradle cap. Is there anything I can do to get rid of it other than keeping the area clean?

Answer: Cradle cap is a very common and isn’t caused by poor hygiene, but by overactive sebaceous glands on your baby’s scalp. Although it usually clears up on its own in a few weeks or months, there are a couple of things you can do to treat the area and most importantly not let the oil build-up. A good method is to apply an oil such as Colief Baby Scalp Oil and to gently massage this into your baby’s scalp to loosen any flakes, then gently brush the scalp with a soft baby brush to further loosen the flakes but do not pick them. You can then gently wash your baby’s hair and scalp with baby shampoo to prevent a build-up of scales and remove the oil. You can do this every other day or when you bath your baby. If you suspect your baby’s cradle cap has become infected at any point, make sure you speak with your GP who can provide treatment.

Question: I had never heard of baby acne, but my health visitor told me my three-week-old baby has it. What is it and what can I do to get rid of it?

Answer: Pimples can sometimes develop on babies’ skin and generally, these have to get worse before they get better. Baby acne is often caused by a surge in hormones passed to the baby during delivery, and as the hormones settle so will the acne. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or treatments intended for adult acne on your baby. Instead, wash your baby’s face with water to help soothe the area and keep it clean.

Question: I think my little girl has started to develop nappy rash but I’m not too sure. There are some spots forming but I thought nappy rash was just a redness of the area. Could this be a symptom of nappy rash and what can I do to help it?

Answer: Most babies get nappy rash at some point, and usually it is nothing to worry about. It can be caused by a number of factors including prolonged exposure to a wet nappy, sensitive skin or rubbing and chafing. The best thing to do is to try to avoid these irritants as much as possible. Steps to avoid these may
include changing wet or soiled nappies as soon as possible, using a barrier cream, and allowing your baby as much time as possible with their nappy off to let fresh air get to the skin.

Question: My baby cries all the time, he is 10 weeks old now and never cried this much before. Friends of mine have said it sounds like colic but how would I know for definite? Please help!

Answer: When it comes to colic, health visitors often refer to the rule of threes: colic is defined as a baby crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for three weeks. Unfortunately, the cause is not known and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating it. There are a number of things you can try to calm your baby such as swaddling him tightly in a thin blanket, tummy massaging, classic back-patting and winding, and taking him for a walk in the buggy or a drive. You may find that none of these methods work as the inconsolable crying is a classic sign of colic, which can be caused by temporary lactose intolerance. This means baby is unable to digest the lactose in their milk properly, causing them bloating, trapped wind and discomfort. If this is the case, you can speak to your pharmacist who may recommend a colic treatment such as Colief Infant Drops, which help to break down the lactose in the milk to make it easier for babies to digest.

Question: Is my baby eating too much? I’m feeding her 9 or 10 times a day at the moment – and it feels like even more than that!

Answer: Breastfeeding babies usually feed around 8 times a day, so a couple of times more throughout the day isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Although this may seem like a lot to you, it will be giving your daughter everything she needs to grow in this important time in her development. As long as she is putting on weight well and is satisfied after every feed then there is nothing for you to worry about.