In the hospital, the doctor and/or nurse will probably:
1. Check your baby's weight, length, and head circumference and
plot the measurements on the growth
2. Ask questions, address any concerns, and offer advice on taking
care of your baby:
Feeding. Breast milk is the best form of nutrition
for infants, but formula also can provide the nutrients they need. Newborns should
be fed on demand (when they're hungry), which is about every 1 to 3 hours. Your
doctor or nurse may watch as you breastfeed and offer help with any problems. Formula-fed
newborns take about 1–1½ ounces (30–45 ml) at each feeding. Burp your baby midway through a
feeding and at the end. As they grow, babies start to eat more at each feeding, so
will need fewer feedings over time.
Peeing and pooping. A breastfed baby may have only
one or two wet diapers a day
until the mother's milk comes in. Expect about six wet diapers by 3–5 days of
age for all babies. Newborns may have just one poopy diaper a day at first. Poop is
dark and tarry the first few days, then becomes soft or loose and greenish-yellow
by about 3–4 days. Newborns typically have several poopy diapers a day if breastfed
and fewer if formula-fed.
Sleeping. A newborn
may sleep up to 18 or 19 hours a day, waking up often (day and night) to breastfeed
or take a bottle. Breastfed babies usually wake to eat every 1 to 3 hours, while formula-fed
babies may sleep longer, waking every 2 to 4 hours to eat (formula takes longer to
digest so babies feel fuller longer). Newborns should not sleep more than 4 hours
between feedings until they have good weight gain, usually within the first few weeks.
After that, it's OK if a baby sleeps for longer stretches.
Developing. Newborn babies should:
pay attention to faces or bright objects 8–12 inches (20–30 cm) away
respond to sound — they may turn to a parent's voice, quiet down, blink,
startle, or cry
hold arms and legs in a flexed position
have strong newborn reflexes, such as:
rooting and sucking: turns toward, then sucks breast/bottle nipple
grasp: tightly grabs hold of a finger placed within the palm
fencer's pose: straightens arm when head is turned to that side and bends opposite
Moro reflex (startle response): throws out arms and legs, then curls them in when
3. Do a physical exam
with your baby undressed while you are present. This will include an eye exam, listening
to your baby's heart; feeling pulses; inspecting the umbilical cord; and checking
the back, hips, and feet.
4. Do screening tests. Your baby's heel will be pricked for a small amount of blood to test for certain harmful
diseases. Your baby should also get a hearing test and oxygen levels checked before
leaving the hospital.
5. Give first immunizations. While in the hospital, your
baby should have his or her first immunizations. Immunizations can
protect infants from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your baby
get them on time. Immunization schedules can vary, so talk to your doctor about what
Here are some things to keep in mind until your baby's next routine checkup in
a few days:
Girls may have vaginal discharge that may include a small amount
of blood during the first week of life.
Give sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off and a boy's
circumcision heals. Make sure the water isn't too hot — test it with your wrist
Use fragrance-free soaps and lotions.
Call your baby's doctor if your infant has a fever, is acting
sick, isn't eating, isn't peeing or pooping, isn't latching on or sucking well when
nursing, doesn't seem satisfied after breastfeeding, looks yellow, or has increasing
redness or pus around the umbilical cord or circumcision. Do not give any medicine
without talking to the doctor first.
It's common for new moms to feel tired and overwhelmed at times. But if these
feelings are intense, or you feel
sad, moody, or anxious, call your doctor.
Talk to your doctor if you're worried about your living situation. Do you have
the things that you need to take care of your baby? Do you have enough food, a safe
place to live, and health
insurance? Your doctor can tell you about community resources or refer you to
a social worker.
Avoid sun exposure
by keeping your baby covered and in the shade when possible. Sunscreens are not recommended
for infants younger than 6 months. However, you may use a small amount of sunscreen
on an infant younger than 6 months if shade and clothing don't offer enough protection.
These checkup sheets are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP)/Bright Futures guidelines.