Your Baby May Look a Little Funny
Here’s the truth: Your baby’s face may be smooshed from their journey through the birth canal, and they might be sporting a “bodysuit” of fine hair called lanugo. They could also be puffy-faced and their eyes may be shut (and a little gooey). After all, your baby just spent nine months in the womb.
You’ll to Have to Wait for Smiles
Up until then, you’re working for a boss who is pretty demanding. To get through the exhaustion and emotional upheaval, keep this in mind: Your efforts in those early days aren’t lost on your baby.
“Your baby feels comforted by you, they do feel attachment, and they do like to be held,” says Los Angeles-based pediatrician Christopher Tolcher, M.D.
You’ll Also Have to Wait for Bath Time
Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, it’s sponge baths only for your baby. If the cord is kept dry, it falls off faster—usually within two weeks. If the umbilical cord does get wet, pat it dry.
And if the stump bleeds a little when the cord falls off, that’s OK, too, as Alyson Bracken, of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, learned. “It scared me at first,” she says, but then she found out that mild bleeding and even a scab can be normal.
The Soft Spot Is Nothing to Fear
“I was terrified of the soft spot,” admits April Hardwick, of New York City, referring to the opening in the skull, also called the fontanel, which allows a baby to maneuver out of the birth canal. “Gemma had a full head of hair at birth, and I was initially afraid to comb over the soft spot,” Hardwick says.
But there was no need to worry: “It’s OK to touch the soft spot and baby’s hair near it,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls. The spot may pulsate because it’s directly over blood vessels covering the brain.
Your Baby Will Let You Know If They’re Eating Enough
Babies need to eat every two to three hours, but if you’re nursing, it’s tough to know how much milk your baby is actually getting. The good news is, there is a way to tell: “The baby’s weight is the best indicator in the early days,” says Dr. Tolcher.
Your pediatrician will check your baby’s weight within a few days of discharge. A newborn loses 5% to 8% of their birthweight within the first week but should gain it back by the second.
Diaper-counting can also act as a gauge: The schedule those first five days is haphazard, but after that, you’ll see five to six wet diapers a day, and at least one or two stools.
How to Change a Diaper
There’s no doubt that babies poop—a lot! If you’re still getting the hang of diapering, learn how to change one at 6 weeks.
Dry Skin Is Normal for Newborns
Initially, your baby may have soft and silky skin, but that will soon change. “If you soaked yourself in liquid for nine months and then hit the air, you’d be dry too!” says Laura Jana, M.D., pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn.
You don’t have to do anything about your baby’s dry skin (it typically peels and flakes off), but if you’re so inclined, reach for a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free baby lotion.
Little pink bumps, diaper rashes, and even baby acne may also make an appearance.