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Infant Safety

How To Care For Your
Baby After Birth

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Newborn Care
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Newborn Care

Regardless of your newborn’s feeding method, healthcare providers evaluate newborns’ diapers to assess adequate intake and nutrition.

What to Expect

  • On the first day after birth, expect only 1–2 wet diapers.

  • On days 2–3 of your baby’s life, expect 2–4 wet diapers.

  • By day 4, your baby should have 4–6 wet diapers per day.

  • On day 5 and onward, your baby should have 6 or more wet diapers per day.

Things may start slowly with only two wet diapers on day 2 and three wet diapers on day 3. However, by the time day five rolls around you should see six or more wet diapers in a 24-hour period.

While not all of these diapers will be soaked, it’s important to make sure to change newborn diapers frequently to prevent diaper rash.

As your baby ages and their bladder is able to hold more, you may notice that they begin to hold their pee for longer, and soak the diaper more thoroughly. You’ll likely go through closer to 6 to 8 diapers a day instead of 8 to 10 when that happens.

In addition to wet diapers, you should also see at least 3 to 4 stools a day by the time your baby is 4 days old. The color of their stool should be changing as well.

While babies are born with black meconium poops, by day 4 or 5, the color should be yellow with a seedy, soft texture. All of this indicates that your baby is getting enough to eat!

A Note About Poop

For breastfed babies older than 6 weeks old, it’s very normal if there are 3–4 days between bowel movements. In fact, according to La Leche League International, some babies older than 6 weeks will go a week between poops.

As colostrum (a natural laxative) leaves the milk, babies will poop less frequently than they did in the early days. As long as your baby is still gaining 1–2 pounds of weight per month, there is no cause for concern.

Signs of Dehydration

After the first week, your baby is well hydrated if they have at least 6 wet diapers per day, with no more than 8 hours between wet diapers. If either of those conditions is not met, your baby may be dehydrated.

In addition to a lack of wet diapers, you can look for some of the following signs of dehydration to know if something may be wrong with your baby:

  • dry or cracked lips

  • lethargic behavior or excessive sleepiness

  • extreme fussiness

  • fast breathing or heart rate

  • no tears when crying

  • sunken soft spot (fontanel) and eyes

  • skin that is cold and dry or not as elastic

Preventing Dehydration

Slow and steady liquid consumption goes a long way to preventing dehydration.

If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you’ll want to offer them your breast frequently when you are in a warm environment or you know that they’re ill. If your child is drinking out of cup or bottle, you’ll want to be sure that this is accessible to them more frequently throughout the day.

Feeding sessions may be shorter than usual if your child doesn’t feel well, so increasing the frequency can help ensure that your little one has sufficient fluids in their body.

You’ll also want to think about what liquids you’re putting in your child’s body when they’re sick.

For older babies and toddlers, use of an oral solution like Pedialyte can help them to stay hydrated with lots of electrolytes. You can check with your doctor about whether they recommend the use of a rehydrating solution and how frequently.

In addition to keeping your baby fed, you’ll want to make sure that they are appropriately dressed. This will help them to avoid losing liquids through excessive sweating or shivering. And if you are traveling to higher altitudes, make sure to encourage your baby to drink as often as possible.

You Should Definitely Alert Your Child’s Pediatrician if

  • Your child does not seem to be rehydrating or appears to be becoming more dehydrated.

  • There is blood in the stool or urine.

  • Your child refuses to drink or take a doctor-approved rehydrating solution.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea is so severe that your little one can’t consume enough liquids to keep up.

  • Diarrheais lasting more than a few days.

  • Your child has an extremely high fever, above 104°F (40°C).

Wet diapers are one of the best indicators that your baby is well fed and hydrated. By keeping a close eye on the number of wet diapers your baby produces each day, you’ll be able to best respond to their needs.

As always, if you are concerned, talk to your pediatrician. But in the meantime, enjoy those happy, milk-drunk smiles when your little one is passed out in your arms after feeding.


Babies have different time clocks than adults. A typical newborn wakes up about every 3 hours and needs to be fed, changed and comforted. You and your partner can become overwhelmed by exhaustion, especially if this is your first baby. You may not get a solid 8 hours of sleep for several months. Here are ideas to help you get more rest:

  • In the first few weeks, you need to let someone else take care of all responsibilities other than feeding your baby and taking care of yourself.

  • Sleep when the baby sleeps. This may be only a few minutes of rest several times a day, but these minutes can add up.

  • Save steps and time. Have your baby’s bed near yours for feedings at night.

  • It’s nice to have visits from friends and family, but don’t feel that you need to entertain guests. Feel free to excuse yourself for a nap or to feed your baby.

  • Get outside for a few minutes each day. You can start walking and doing postpartum exercises, as advised by your healthcare provider.

Infant Safe Sleep

Follow the ABCs:

  • Alone – Baby should sleep alone, not with other people, pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals.

  • Back – Baby should always be on their back, not their side or stomach.

  • Crib – Your baby should sleep in a crib, not on an adult bed, sofa, cushion, or other soft surface.


Swaddling is a simple technique in which you wrap your baby up in a swaddle blanket in order to soothe him. You might even think of your swaddled little one as a baby burrito!

The benefits of swaddling include:

  • Helping to keep your baby warm when she’s sleeping

  • Limiting the startle reflex, which can wake your baby during sleep

  • Providing her with a sense of safety and security by mimicking the snug environment of the womb

  • Helping keep your baby calm, possibly even when your baby has colic

  • Comforting your baby during something that can be a little uncomfortable, like a vaccination, for example.

How to Swaddle Your Baby Step by Step

  1. Spread the blanket out flat on a changing table, bed, or the floor, and fold over one of the corners

  2. Lay your baby face-up on the blanket positioned with his head at the folded corner

  3. Wrap the right corner over your baby (with his right arm straight down by his side), and tuck the end of the blanket underneath him

  4. Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up over his feet

  5. Wrap the left corner over your baby (with his left arm straight down by his side), leaving just his head and neck exposed

  6. Check that the blanket isn’t too tight or constricting around his hips and legs, and that his lower body can still move about. Wrapping your baby too tightly in a swaddle can lead to hip dysplasia or dislocation.

A swaddle blanket can be made of cotton, a cotton blend, linen, muslin, or another natural material. It’s a good idea to choose a fabric that allows for breathability, which can help keep your baby from overheating.

Besides swaddle blankets, you can also find wraps or sleeping sacks on the market, which may be easier to use. It’s worth weighing your options when you’re shopping for one. Alternatively, you can go with a receiving blanket, such as the one you used to take your newborn home from the hospital for the first time.

When Should You Swaddle Your Newborn?

You can swaddle your newborn for nighttime sleep, for a nap, or when she needs some soothing due to colic. Swaddling can help your baby stay warm, calm, and secure. And at bedtime or naptime, swaddling can help promote better sleep for your newborn.

When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby?

Although swaddling is usually fine to do in your baby’s first couple of months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you stop swaddling once your baby is able to roll over, which may happen around the time he turns 2 months old. Reach out to your baby’s healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Using the proper swaddling technique, your baby’s arms should be positioned straight down by her sides, not crossed over her chest, or sticking up out of the swaddle.

Swaddling isn’t a requirement, and some experts say it isn’t even necessary or recommended. If you’re unsure about whether to swaddle your newborn or not, talk to your baby’s healthcare provider.

If you need a demonstration on how to swaddle your baby in order to make an informed decision, your healthcare provider or the nurses at the hospital where she was born may be able to show you how it’s done.

For Your Little One’s Safety, Keep These Tips in Mind When Swaddling Your Baby

  • Remember to always place your baby on his back in his crib, whether he has been swaddled or not. Placing your baby to sleep on his back is crucial as it can help reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Also, ensure that there are no blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, or any additional bedding or soft items in your baby’s crib. Since your baby will be quite warm and comfortable in his swaddle, he won’t need the additional blanket anyway.

  • Using the proper swaddling technique, your baby’s arms should be positioned straight down by her sides, not crossed over her chest, or sticking up out of the swaddle.

  • Since swaddling may lower your baby’s natural ability to arouse himself from sleep, it may make it harder for him to wake himself up. Be aware that this, too, can increase the risk of SIDS.

  • Swaddling your baby too tightly can cause him to develop hip problems. If you can fit two to three of your fingers in between your baby’s chest and the swaddle, then you’ve swaddled just right.

  • Ensure that your baby isn’t too warm when he’s swaddled. If you see that he’s sweating, has damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, or rapid breathing, he is most likely overdressed.

How to Keep Your Baby Safe

No smoking around baby. Do not use commercial devices or cardiorespiratory monitors unless ordered by doctor. Do not use crib bumpers, pillows, or blankets. Do not use products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS. Do not allow any cords near baby while sleeping.


For many parents, bringing home a baby is a happy and exciting time. However, it can also be daunting — especially the thought of bathing this tiny, fragile human. Fortunately, with a little practice, bathing your baby is simple and only needs to happen two to three times a week, as long as the diaper area is thoroughly cleaned during each diaper change.

The first thing to keep in mind is to start with sponge baths until your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off and heals.

To give your newborn a sponge bath, dermatologists recommend these tips:

  1. Gather the supplies. You will need a bowl of lukewarm water, a washcloth and a mild, fragrance-free baby soap.

  2. Lay your baby down on a comfortable, flat surface. Keep your baby warm by wrapping him or her in a towel and only exposing the part of your baby’s body that you are actively washing. For safety, keep one hand on your baby at all times.

  3. Clean the rest of the body. Add the baby soap into the bowl of water and use the washcloth to gently wash the rest of your baby’s body. Make sure to rinse off all of the soap after cleaning each area.

  4. Then wash your baby’s head. Dip the washcloth into the bowl of lukewarm water and gently wipe your baby’s face and scalp. It is safe to gently clean over the baby’s soft spots. Don’t forget to clean the creases in the neck and behind the ears.

Once your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off, switch to traditional bathing. However start slow; if your baby seems to hate getting a regular bath, revert to the sponge bath method for another week or longer.

To give your baby a traditional bath, dermatologists recommend these tips:

  1. Prepare ahead of time. Decide where to bathe your baby, such as a sink or a small plastic tub, which can make the task easier. Gather a wash cloth, a mild, fragrance-free baby soap, and a baby shampoo if your baby has hair.

  2. Place your baby in the water. First, fill your baby’s bath with lukewarm water. Test the temperature of the water on the inside of your wrist to ensure that it’s not too hot. Then, gently guide your baby into the water, feet first. Most of your baby’s body should be well above the water, so occasionally pour warm water over your baby’s body for warmth.

  3. Clean the rest of the body. Use the washcloth and baby soap to gently clean the rest of your baby’s body. Don’t forget to clean between your baby’s fingers and toes. Make sure to rinse off all of the soap after cleaning each area.

  4. Then wash your baby’s head. Use the washcloth to gently wash your baby’s face and scalp. Use baby shampoo once or twice a week to clean your baby’s hair.

After bathing, immediately wrap your baby in a towel for warmth. If you notice your baby’s skin is dry after bathing, apply a fragrance-free moisturizer or consider bathing your baby less.