My newborn sometimes throws her arms out from her sides. Is she okay?
This is the Moro, or startle, reflex, and it usually occurs when a baby is surprised by a loud noise or sudden movement, Dr. Shu says. If you never see it, tell your pediatrician because your baby could have a hearing, nerve, or muscle problem.
When this reflex occurs often and prevents baby from falling or staying asleep, swaddle her in a blanket. Here's how to create a snug wrap: fold back the corner of a blanket and lay baby's head there. Take one pointed edge of the blanket and pull it across her body. Next, bring up the bottom corner of the blanket to her chin, then wrap the remaining side around her body.
The roof of my daughter's mouth is covered with small white bumps. What are they?
Don't stress -- they're just harmless cysts, known as Epstein's pearls, that will disappear as your baby gets older. However, if you spot big, blotchy white areas growing in your child's mouth (even on her tongue), this could be thrush -- a type of yeast infection, Dr. Bolling says. Visit your child's doctor, who'll probably prescribe an antifungal medicine (e.g., Nystatin).
How do I know if my newborn is getting enough to eat?
"Babies will cry for more food if they're still hungry and turn their head away if they're not," Dr. Shu says. Infants who are fed formula drink about 16 to 28 ounces daily during the first month, while breastfed babies often nurse about 15 to 20 minutes on each side every two to three hours. If you breastfeed, you can't tell how much your newborn is drinking. A sign that baby is eating well is her number of wet or dirty diapers -- expect several during the first few days, then look for six or more per day when you stop producing colostrum (a low-volume, high-protein milk) and start to make a creamy milk.
If your baby sleeps past a feeding, there is no need to wake him once he has regained his birth weight. But if he is still below his birth weight (even by a few ounces) and sleeps through or falls asleep during feedings, change his diaper or give him a bath to wake him up to eat, says Dr. Shu.
My baby's skin has a yellow hue. Should I be concerned?
Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes that occurs in many babies. It's caused by bilirubin, a substance that accumulates in the blood. As the baby's liver matures -- usually within a week or two of birth -- the yellowish tone of his skin should fade away, says F. Sessions Cole, MD, director of newborn medicine at St. Louis Children's Hospital. But because many moms and their babies are discharged from the hospital soon after birth, some babies may be home when their jaundice level peaks, typically at 3 to 5 days of age. If the bilirubin levels get too high and go untreated, the jaundice can lead to kernicterus, a type of brain damage. That's why all newborns should be seen by a doctor or nurse within a day or two of coming home from the hospital, Dr. Cole advises. If baby is in the hospital for three days or longer, a doctor will then decide if a follow-up visit is required to check for jaundice following discharge.
My newborn's head is misshapen, and her toes turn inward. Is this normal?
A baby's skull is made up of five head bones and two soft spots in between called fontanels. (Note: call your doctor if your baby has a bulging or sunken fontanel. This could indicate infection or dehydration.) It's built this way to help the head pass through the birth canal, which is why some newborns wind up with cone-shaped heads. But don't fret, his skull will round out.
Likewise, turned-in toes -- a result of baby's curled position in the womb -- are usually nothing to worry about. Mara Berkley, of Providence, Rhode Island, was concerned that her son's feet would remain inward, but they straightened out on their own within a few months, and he took his first step by age 1.
During well-baby exams, your pediatrician will try to move baby's foot into the proper position, Dr. Cole says. If her toes are turned too far inward or her feet cannot be moved into the right position, your child's doctor will refer you to a specialist before your baby begins to walk.