Instructions To Parents

This section is intended to provide an introduction to routine care of the newborn infant and to answer the questions parents most commonly ask in the first few months of their baby’s life.

If you have other children at home, much of what follows already is familiar to you. If this is your first child, you will quickly gain the experience, which will give you confidence in caring for your baby. It is important for you to develop this self-confidence. Without it, life with a baby can be unnecessarily frustrating. This booklet, like the advice of friends and relatives, may be helpful, but it is no substitute for your maternal instincts and common sense. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts. In so doing, usually you will be doing the correct thing.

Getting To Know Your Baby

The newborn that I have just examined is now a member of your family. Remember that he is just as much an individual as you or anyone else, and that he must be treated as one. Everyone will have advice for you. This, however, is your baby to raise as you see fit. Try to develop your own pattern for your child. I will be available to answer your questions and to help you with your problems, but there is no such thing as a standard response. There are wide variations of normal growth, development, and nutritional requirements. Do not be afraid of your baby. Remember that children grow up, and do well, often in spite of us and not necessarily because of us.

The baby senses any distress and emotion in those who handle and take care of him. If you learn to relax and enjoy your baby, your baby will be able to enjoy you. Following are some basic rules. These too can be varied, but may give you some useful information.

Babies Are Babies

All babies sneeze, yawn, belch, have hiccoughs, pass gas, cough and cry. They may occasionally look cross-eyed. Sneezing is the only way in which a baby can clean his nose of mucus, lint, or milk curds. Hiccoughs are little spasms of the diaphragm muscle. They may often be stopped by giving a few swallows of warm water. Coughing is baby’s way of clearing his throat. Crying is his way of saying I’m hungry, I’m wet, I’m thirsty, I want to turn over, I’m too hot, I’m too cold, I have a stomach ache, or I’m bored. You will gradually learn to know what the baby means. Even a well baby will probably cry for a little while each day and could cry for an hour or so occasionally without doing himself any harm.

Almost all infants have a fussy period, which frequently begins in the first or second week of life and occurs in the late afternoon or evening, but hopefully not at night. This is not colic, but a normal phenomenon for which there is no complete explanation. It lasts up to several hours and occurs daily at approximately the same time, usually when the baby is most tired. Do not be afraid to let the baby “cry it out.” If the crying is excessive or too frequent, please call us for further advice. It may take up to three months for the fussy period to pass.


There should be no visitors the first day at home. Every new baby must adapt himself to new surroundings, just as you and I would have to do. For this reason the first 24 - 48 hours at home should never be expected to be “smooth sailing.” Both you and the baby will fare better if you have time to adjust to new circumstances and one another.

Do the best you can to limit visitors during the first few weeks because a newborn baby has not had time to build up a resistance to infections, which can be easily transferred to him. Discourage people from handling the baby. There’ll be lots of time for that later on.