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By Thea Theresa English

Answers to common questions concerning newborn care

You have a precious newborn at home and you worry if you're caring for him properly. Take heart, because all new moms have this concern and it means that you desire to do your best as a parent. Your child's pediatrician will be the main source of answers, but you can also seek advice from experienced mothers you know, as well as from accurate print and online sources. Most importantly, don't stress yourself out, because with a strong support system you will get through the newborn phase just fine.

What about newborn fevers?

Never attempt to treat the fever on your own if the baby is very young. According to pediatric experts, it is recommended that you contact the pediatrician as soon as your baby's fever reaches 100 or above, because this can become life-threatening if not treated immediately. To take the baby's temperature, lie him on his back and bring his knees near his stomach. Coat a clean rectal thermometer with water-soluble jelly, then gently place it in the baby's rectum. After you hear the beep, remove the thermometer.

My baby prefers co-sleeping to his crib. What should I do?

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend co-sleeping because of the dangers of suffocation for the baby. In addition, your baby could roll off the bed or be rolled over onto by you or your spouse. However, there are benefits of co-sleeping; it promotes a strong bonding between parent and child, and it can be done safely. You can buy a co-sleeper and install it next to your bed. If the baby will be in your bed, remove all pillows and stuffed animals from the area of the bed where the infant sleeps. Also do not place heavy covers over the baby as this could lead to suffocation.

What should I ask during pediatrician visits?

Since feeding questions are common for new parents, it is important that you ask your pediatrician how much you should feed the baby each day. Remember that for the baby's first six months of life, he will get the majority of his nutrition from breast milk or formula. Ask the pediatrician if you should feed on demand or stick to a flexible feeding schedule. If you are breastfeeding, ask for recommendations for a lactation consultant. You should ask him about normal baby sleep patterns and how you can ensure that he gets the sleep he needs.

What's up with the spit-up?

It is normal for babies to spit up after feedings; the frequency subsides after about five or six months. Just be sure to burp the baby after each feeding to reduce heavy spit-ups.

How often should I bathe my newborn?

Newborns should be bathed at least three times a week, but in between you can take a slightly damp sponge and wipe down your baby in an infant tub. Don't make the water too hot or cold. Slightly warm water works best for infant baths.

How do I deal with the constant crying?

Your baby will cry often and some of the main reasons include hunger, tiredness, boredom or a need for physical comfort. It will take time to read your baby's crying cues, but over time you will get better at understanding them. You can rock him gently, sing to him, walk around the room with him or swaddle him before placing him in the crib. It is not recommended that you let the baby cry himself to sleep, because this could hurt him emotionally.

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