New Moms' FAQs

Practical answers to the most common concerns that pediatricians hear in the first year.

Eating and Bathing

New mother holding her baby and looking up quizzically

Andrew Parsons

Forget all those complicated topics like vaccinations, co-sleeping, and baby sign language. Now that your newborn is here, what you really need to know is more basic: How can I tell whether my baby is eating, sleeping, and pooping enough? "By far the most common questions I get from new parents involve issues like these," says Barbara Frankowski, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, in Burlington. We asked pediatricians to give us the scoop on new moms' most common concerns.

Is my baby getting enough to eat?
The proof is on the scale. As long as your baby is growing normally, you can trust him to let you know if he needs more. Let him nurse when he's hungry, even if he just ate an hour ago. And if you're bottle-feeding, don't worry about the exact amount he drinks. "If your baby only wants 6 ounces of an 8-ounce bottle, you don't have to make him drink those last two," says Dr. Frankowski. But if you're worried that he's not eating or growing enough, see your pediatrician.

Does my newborn need a bath every day?
"No," says Mika Hiramatsu, MD, a pediatrician in Castro Valley, California. "In fact, a lot of babies get rashes and dry skin from too many baths." Until her umbilical-cord stump falls off, wash your baby with a soft sponge or cloth instead of putting her in the tub. "When the cord has healed, she only needs a bath once or twice a week," says Dr. Hiramatsu. After a few months, daily baths are fine (though not necessary), but use a moisturizer as soon as she's out of the tub.

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