Doctors Share: What New Parents Should Know

Pediatrician Speaking with a MotherIn a CNN program, pediatricians discussed common mistakes parents of newborns make during the first few months. Parents learn on the job – from trial and error. Use and share these tips from the doctors.

  • Wake your baby for a feeding at least every 3-4 hours. Newborn babies should not sleep through the night. While babies typically sleep a lot, they need the breast milk or formula calories for growth. This liquid also keeps the baby from becoming dehydrated. Wake your newborn for nighttime feedings for at least 2 – 3 weeks and until your doctor makes sure your baby is gaining weight.
  • Feed your baby on demand. A baby knows when he is hungry and when he is full. As long as your newborn eats at least every 4 hours, feed her when she wants to eat. Breast fed babies typically eat more often than formula-fed babies.
  • Avoid crowded places.Your baby’s immune system is not as good as it will be in 2 to 3 months. Therefore, newborns are at a greater risk of getting an infection. Some infections may be life-threatening.
  • Trust your instincts as a parent. Do not worry about what well-meaning family and friends say. If you think something is wrong with your baby, call your doctor or seek medical care.SJS3548 St. John's Childrens Hospital 200x120
  • Go on outings. Do not stay cooped up at home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While you do not want to take your baby to crowded places, it is still good for you and your baby to get out of the house. Go for daily walks. Make trips to the store when it is not crowded.
  • Put your baby to sleep on her back.This is the best way to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Get your baby vaccinated against childhood diseases.Talk to your baby’s doctor if you have concerns. The Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies be immunized. (See, Health and Safety, for an immunization schedule.)
  • Take your newborn to a doctor if he has a fever. Newborns with a fever need medical attention.

You and your baby will soon get to know each other. Hold, cuddle, talk, play and love your baby. Go to her when she cries. You will learn how to meet her needs, and she will learn to trust that you are there for her.

Submitted by Parent Help Line and St. John’s Children’s Hospital.
Call the Parent Help Line. Help is just a phone call away. 1-217-544-5808 or 1-888-727-5889, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week. Or visit


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