By: Jessica C. Kauk, D.O.
Evergreen Internal and Family Medicine
As we head into the warm summer months it is important to know how to keep your newborn safe this season. Remember that your newborn is just that – new. Their bodies have not yet adapted to their environment, and it is important to keep that in mind when planning your trips, whether they go to the grocery store or on a nice mountain hike.
Don’t over bundle your baby; give them one extra layer of clothing than what you are wearing. Make sure they are protected from the sun with a hat or umbrella, and try to stay in cooler areas and find shade if you are going to be outside for a long time.
Illness and fever:
Newborns are very sensitive to temperature changes. Coughing and sneezing are normal reflexes, but if your baby is not acting normally – crying all the time, not eating, not sleeping or sleeping all the time – these are reasons to call your doctor. It is important to look out for these clues and subtle shifts in their behavior. It is important that you have a rectal thermometer at home, as this is the most accurate way to take your baby’s temperature and determine if there is concern. Call your doctor right away – even after hours with the 24/7 on-call services – about any fever (>100.4F).
Make sure that you are always putting your baby on their back to sleep. Do not have loose blankets, pillows or toys in the crib with baby. It is best to have your baby sleep tightly swaddled in a thin blanket and have your baby in their own crib, not in your bed.
Thought it may not be the most pleasant topic, it’s important to monitor your newborn’s poop. Newborn poop will change from black to green to yellow and seedy, which are all are normal colors in their first weeks of life. Important: newborn poop should always be soft. If it comes out dry, hard, or in little balls – this is not normal and you should alert your doctor. Make sure they are making enough wet diapers as well: 7-10 per day, or with almost every feed. If not, speak with your doctor, as this could be early signs of dehydration.
Make sure that all visitors wash their hands well or use antibiotic gel prior to holding baby. Avoid kisses to mouth/nose especially with younger kids. Make sure that if they are sick to try and stay away from baby, because if your baby does get even a simple virus they can get very ill because their immune system is not formed yet.
Bathing and Skin:
You do not need to bathe your newborn every day. Only 1-2 times per week is plenty. Newborns don’t sweat like adults do, and are not crawling yet so they are not getting dirty. All babies have dry skin and peel, this is normal. Make sure that you do not over bathe them, as this is very drying. Use mild baby soaps and gentle lotions, such as Aveeno. Most babies have very sensitive skin so avoid any products with color, perfume or dyes.
NO WATER! NO COW’S MILK!
On these hot summer days it may be tempting to give your newborn water, however this can be very dangerous. Babies should not drink tap water until at least 6-8 months of age, as this can cause dehydration and other serious electrolyte abnormalities. Cow’s milk is unsafe in newborns as well, and it is recommended to wait until 12 months of age to give cow’s milk. The protein in cow’s milk is difficult to digest, and can lead to severe vitamin deficiencies that can harm the healthy development of your baby. So stick to formula or breastmilk only to keep your newborn safe!
Rule of 3s for Storing Breastmilk:
Room temp: 3 hours Fridge: 3 days Freezer: 3 months Deep freezer 6 months