Newborn Care

Parenting is a wonderful journey and we are honored that you have chosen Dothan Pediatric Clinic for your child’s healthcare needs. We look forward to providing you and your child with well-child care, sick-child care, and parenting expertise. Below are some frequent questions that you may have about your newborn. Please feel free to call our office at 334.793.1881, if you have additional questions.

Breast-feeding is the best way to feed your baby. We encourage breast-feeding. If you are unable to breast-feed or choose to bottle-feed, we will recommend a formula that will provide you most recent advances in infant nutrition. You will see advertising on television and receive coupons in the mail for formulas other than those recommended by our practice. Your infant’s nutrition should be a decision made with the input of your baby’s Pediatrician. Our recommendations are based on experience, nutritional knowledge, and awareness of your baby’s needs. If you have any questions concerning your infant’s diet, please contact us. 

Choosing whether to breast or formula –feed is one of the first major decisions a new mother must make. For almost all babies, breast-feeding provides significant benefits over formula-feeding. This includes fewer infections and allergies. 

Both mom’s and baby’s needs are important. No one should pressure a new mother to choose one method over another.

  • Avoid nipple shields. These allow the baby to latch onto the shield, not the breast. This may decrease your milk supply.
  • Initially avoid supplementing with formula or pacifiers. These decrease nursing time. The baby’s nursing is the way your body knows to produce breast-milk. They also confuse the baby on accepting mom’s nipple.
  • Don’t worry that there is not milk at first. Colostrum is there and that is just what your baby needs for a good start. Expect your milk to come in within 36-72 hours after delivery. You will usually be aware that they milk “is there” and you may be sore. This will pass with nursing, warm showers, and compresses.

Remember, when the milk arrives, that it is your baby’s nursing that stimulates breast milk production. Interrupting nursing with supplements and pacifiers will delay breast milk production.

  • Take care of yourself. East well, drink plenty of fluids, and rest.
  • Open the baby’s mouse to ensure contact with the whole areola, not just the nipple.
  • Ask for help from the staff, doctors, and your family.

Feeding and preparation for feeding will occupy a lot of your time with your baby over the first month. Once you have begun breast0feeding, it is helpful to establish a routine for getting ready to nurse. Prior to nursing, wash your hands, gather whatever you need during nursing (a beverage, burp cloth, reading material), and consider taking the telephone off the hook so that you can nurse undisturbed.

It is important that you alternate the position you use for nursing so that you drain all of the milk sinuses regularly and properly distribute pressure on the areola and nipple to avoid soreness. The following are three of the more common positions for breast-feeding:

  • Madonna: Traditional sitting position. You sit with the baby’s body across your abdomen.
  • Football Hold: With pillows positioned along the side of your body, you can hold your baby under your arm; much in the same way a football player holds the football.
  • Lying Down: Lie on your side with knees bent. Use pillows for comfort.

Improper positioning of the baby at the breast is a major cause of nipple soreness. The baby should be held closely enough so that the tip of the nose touches the breast. The chin should press against the breast as well. The mouth should be opened widely and positioned slightly below the center of the breast. This will result in the lower lip covering more of the areola than the upper lip. The baby’s mouth should cover much of the areola, not just attach to the nipple.

During the first few weeks, it is important to provide some support for the breasts during feeding. The newborn has not yet learned how to suspend the nipple in his mouth with suction and tongue action. The preferred method is supporting the breast is the C-hold. You cup your free hand to form the letter C with your thumb on top and your fingers curved below the breast. You can then gently guide the breast so that the nipple is centered in the baby’s mouth. Because this technique also helps to keep the breasts from obstructing the baby’s breathing, it is especially useful for large-breasted women. 

If the baby is allowed to determine the length of the feeding, his mouth will gently release the nipple when he is finished. If you wish to remove your child from the nipple before this occurs, you will need to break the suction. Insert your finger gently into the corner of your infant’s mouth and press your finger against your breast near the corner of your baby’s mouth. The nipple should then slip easily out of the baby’s mouth.

In order for you to product equal amounts of milk in each breast, you want to ensure that both breasts receive the same amount of stimulation. They must also be emptied regularly in order to avoid problems with plugged ducts, engorgement, or breast infections. Routinely offer both breasts at every nursing. Alternate the breast you begin with at each feeding. Encourage your baby to take the second breast. Burp him and stimulate him after he has finished nursing on the first side. He can then have unlimited nursing time on the second breast. If you end with the left breast at a nursing, you will begin the next nursing with the same breast.

After nursing, let your nipples air-dry. Moisture can lead to tender and sore nipples. You can pat the nipples dry with a soft cloth or leave the bra flap down for a few minutes. Air-drying is especially important if you plan to apply a lubricant, such as lanolin, to the nipples, since this lubricant can trap moisture.

The supply of breast-milk is determined by the amount of nipple stimulation that you receive from your baby. When the baby nurses frequently there is greater nipple stimulation and greater milk production. NURSING MAKES MILK. To ensure that you have enough breast milk, nurse your baby frequently, offering both breasts at each feeding. This will ensure that more milk will be produced.

Please give special attention to your diet by eating sufficient quantities of nutritious foods and drinking more than enough to satisfy your thirst. There are a number of signs that suggest that your baby is receiving enough milk. Enough urine output to soak 4-5 regular diapers and 2-3 stools per day indicates adequate milk intake. Your baby’s weight gain is also evidence that he is thriving on your milk. Babies lose weight in the hospital but your baby should be back to birth weight by the two-week checkup. A visit 48-72 hours after discharge from the hospital is recommended for weight check. Frequently nursed babies usually have less initial weight loss and more rapid weight gain.

In the first few days nursing times are generally short, about 10-15 minutes. Your baby may nurse only on one breast each feeding and then drift off to sleep. The second breast should be offered each time. As the days pass and your baby becomes more alert, nursing times usually increase. In general, feeding length should be determined by your baby’s needs. When the flow of milk diminishes from your first breast and the rich hind milk has been extracted, the baby will release the nipple and it will slide out of his mouth. You can then offer the second breast and again permit sufficient nursing time for the baby to receive the hind milk. This hind milk is rich in fast and is important for your baby to receive.

Unlimited suckling time, beginning directly after birth, improves breast-feeding. There is no reason to restrict feeding frequency or duration when you first begin breast-feeding. Unlimited nursing time has been shown to help decrease breast engorgement for moms and jaundice in babies. Some initial nipple discomfort is to be expected on about the third postpartum day. Prevention of sore nipples through use of proper positioning and correct feeding techniques is the most effective. Decreasing the time or frequency of feedings will only serve to delay nipple soreness by a day or two.

During the first month, nursing frequency for your healthy baby may range from 8 to 14 feedings per day, with most babies requiring 10 to 12. Some breast-fed babies nurse as often as every two hours for part of the day with some other feedings spaced four to five hours apart. Generally you should nurse your baby around every two to three hours during the day. Try not to allow more than three hours to lapse between feedings during the day. You do not need to wake your baby up at night for feedings unless your baby has not nursed enough during the day or unless he has poor weight gain. Don’t be alarmed if your baby wants to nurse as often as every hour or hour-and-a-half during the day and several times during the night. Every baby’s needs are different and you should remain flexible to meet your baby’s requirements. By about six weeks of age your baby usually will have developed a pattern of nursing every two to three hours with a longer stretch at night. As your baby matures and becomes a more efficient nurser, he will obtain more milk in a shorter period of time and will begin to space his feedings further apart.

Almost all medications taken by a breast-feeding mother are passed to the baby through the milk. Check with your physician before taking any medications. Avoid cigarette smoking. Nicotine is excreted in breast-milk and has been found to decrease breast-milk supply.

Remember that breast-feeding is the best way to feed your baby. It works best if you remain relaxed and let nature take its course, but knowing what to do can help prevent problems. Please call our office or the hospital lactation consultant if you have any questions about breast-feeding.

Infant formulas are sold in three forms: ready-to-use, concentrated liquid, and powder. The ready-to-use is most expensive. Powder is least expensive. There are differences in cost and convenience between the different types of formula. Keep bottles and nipples clean. Wash in a dishwasher or scrub bottles, nipples and caps with hot, soapy water and a bottlebrush, squeezing water through holes in nipples. Rinse, dry, and place in a protected location until time for use.

We do not recommend one brand of nipple or bottle over another. Nipple holes should be the correct size. Milk should drop at a rate of 1-2 drops per second. If holes are too large, discard the nipple. Formula may be mixed as you go or mixed in advance and stored for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.

Offer formula at room temperature. We do not recommend using a microwave to heat formula as the milk can get very hot in places and scald the baby’s mouth.

Warming a bottle from the refrigerator can be done under warm running water or a bottle warmer.

Seated comfortably and holding your baby with his head slightly elevated, hold the bottle so that the neck of the bottle and nipple are always filled with formula. NEVER PROP THE BOTTLE.

Burping helps to removed swallowed air. Both breast and bottle-fed babies swallow air. Sit him in your lap with his head supported, hold him upright over your shoulder or place him face down over your lap, and pat his back. Burp your baby frequently during the feeding as well as at the end.

Feed on demand – that is whenever the baby seems hungry. This usually is between 2-4 hours. In general, the baby will have more knowledge as to his hunger than anyone else. Begin by placing 2-3 oz. of formula in the bottle. If this is not finished, discard the remainder immediately. When your baby finishes the amount of milk offered, begin to increase the amount placed in the bottle by ½ to 1 oz. In general, have a little more milk in the bottle than is ordinarily taken. Water may be offered occasionally, but is not necessary, as there is adequate water in the formula. Remember, if the baby is sucking his fingers and smacking, and it has not been 2 hours since the last feeding, he may be suckling for comfort and a pacifier may be tried.

Sucking comforts babies. Even when not hungry, babies often suckle the fingers and thumb for comfort. You will learn the difference in your baby’s hungry behavior and “I need comfort” behavior in time. For formula-fed babies, a pacifier is fine. Breast-feeding moms may want to limit pacifiers until your milk supple is well established, as mentioned earlier. Allowing frequent nursing will meet your baby’s comfort needs.

At bedtime and naptime, prepare your baby by being sure he is warm, dry, and not hungry. It is fine to rock for comfort, then place him in his bed to go to sleep. Babies should sleep on their backs with no pillows or soft bedding. Babies that are put in bed awake, sleepy, and satisfied, and allowed to go to sleep on their own are better sleepers in the long run. 

Items needed:

  1. A warm room
  2. Table or counter top of comfortable height
  3. A soft washcloth
  4. No tears shampoo
  5. Rubbing alcohol
  6. Cotton balls and Q-tips
  7. Full sized towel

Your baby may be washed in a dishpan or sink. Always check water temperature. He may be placed in water before the cord is off. Daily baths are fine but are not necessary. Wash his face and head first, and his diaper area last. After bathing, rinse and dry. If the skin is too dry, you may use baby lotion or hand cream. We don’t recommended baby oil/powder.

The umbilical cord should dry and fall off in 1-3 weeks. After bathing, clean the cord with alcohol using cotton balls or Q-Tips. Lift up the cord so that the base of the cord can be cleaned and dried. When the cord drops off, clean the base with alcohol until this area completely heals. Position the diaper below cord and leave cord uncovered. Some bleeding, green or yellow discharge, or odor is common as the cord separates. If the skin around the cord is warm or red, call our office.

Gently wash the penis with a cotton ball and mild soap, rinse and pat dry. Apply Vaseline until healed.

Don’t try to pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis. As your child grows, the foreskin will gradually loosen and you will be able to gradually retract it more and more.

Babies need very basic clothing for the first month of life. They should be dressed comfortably for their environment. A cotton gown and diaper will be sufficient for several months. A light blanket for sleeping will be needed. Do not overdress. Either cloth or disposable diapers may be used.

Ear temperatures are often inaccurate with infants and are not recommended.

When taking an axillary temperature, first dry your baby’s armpit. Shake down the thermometer below the 96 degree mark. Place the bulb of the thermometer in the armpit and place the baby’s arm flat against his chest. The recommended time for an axillary reading is 3 minutes. Remove thermometer and read results where the mercury stops. Cleanse the bulb with soap and cool water and return to its case. Axillary temperature records skin temperature. A normal axillary temperature can be 97.0 to 99.0 degrees.


When taking a rectal temperature, first shake down the thermometer below the 96 degree mark. Lubricate the tip with Vaseline or other lubricant for easy insertion. Lay the baby on his stomach in your lap (with a diaper underneath for protection) holding the baby firmly. Spread the buttocks with one hand. Carefully insert the thermometer in to the rectum ½ to ¾ of an inch. Do not let go of the baby or the thermometer. Hold the thermometer in place 2-3 minutes. Remove the thermometer and read results where the mercury stops. Cleanse the bulb with soap and cool water. Rectal temperature records the baby’s internal temperature. A normal rectal temperature can be 97.0 to 100.0 degrees. A rectal temperature is most accurate and is the preferred way to take your baby’s temperature.

If, during the first three months of life, the baby’s rectal temperature is over 100.5 degrees, he is extremely fussy or lethargic, has difficulty breathing, or has excessive vomiting or diarrhea, notify your physician. In this age group, we don’t recommended giving Tylenol without talking to a doctor. Your pediatrician will instruct you further with any special care or treatment.

Squeeze the bulb syringe. Insert into each nostril or the sides of his mouth. Release syringe compression and suction mucus out of the baby’s nose or mouth. Cleanse bulb often with soap and water.

Newborn screening for hearing loss, PKU, congenital hypothyroidism, low thyroid hormone, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, galactosemia, and Sickle Cell disease and related red blood cell disorders, biotinidase deficiency, amino acid disorders, fatty acid oxidation disorders, organic acid disorders, and cystic fibrosis are routine in Alabama. Testing starts in the hospital and results are usually available at the two-week checkup. Newborn screening test and abnormal hearing tests are repeated at the two-week checkup.

An abnormal screen DOES NOT MEAN something is wrong with your baby, only that follow-up is important to make sure that the test is normal. All of these conditions can be treated If detected early, giving babies the best outcomes. That is why we screen!

If you do not see the physician at Dothan Pediatric Clinic, Eufaula Pediatric Clinic, or Enterprise Pediatric Clinic for your two-week checkup, please ensure that your baby’s doctor follows up on these screenings and gives your baby a Hepatitis B vaccination at two weeks of age.

You should be notified of your infant’s hearing screen results before leaving the hospital. These screens are often abnormal because infants have fluid in the middle ear space. This does not mean your child has hearing problems. Follow-up is very important.