18 Most Frequent Doubts About Newborns in the First Hours of Life

The most frequent doubts about newborns arise when you get home from the maternity ward, so clarify them with the doctor before discharge.
18 Most Frequent Doubts About Newborns in the First Hours of Life
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

When the baby’s born, many concerns arise in parents, especially those who are going through this experience for the first time. Although certain physical manifestations are common and transitory, they can cause great concern due to a lack of knowledge. Therefore, today we’re going to share with you the most frequent doubts about newborns in the first hours of life and provide the answers to all of them. Keep reading!

1. My baby’s hands and feet are bluish, is this normal?

In the first hours after birth, it’s normal for the baby’s hands and feet to be cold and have a bluish tone because their circulatory system is in full adaptation to life outside the uterus.

This coloration is mostly observed in the extremities because they’re composed of blood vessels of a smaller caliber. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re cold, so it’s advisable to offer them the right amount of warmth.

After a few hours or days, these parts of the body will reach the same color as the rest of the skin.

2. Why is my baby’s head asymmetrical?

Some babies may be born with a somewhat deformed head because the bones that make up the head aren’t yet joined and sealed and may have been “squashed” when passing through the birth canal.

This asymmetry, elongation, or bump that appears in the newborn’s head usually normalizes as the days go by, so it shouldn’t cause major concern.

3. How often should I feed my baby?

One of the most frequent doubts about newborns is in regard to the frequency with which they should be fed. So, the best thing to do is to breastfeed on demand or guide breastfeeding based on your baby’s signals.

In general, newborn babies take between 8 and 12 daily feedings of milk, which is an average of one feeding every 2 to 3 hours. This is due to the low capacity of their stomach. Until they begin to regulate themselves, it’s best not to leave them for more than 3 or 4 hours without breastfeeding in the first weeks.

A other breastfeeding her newborn.
Breastfeeding on demand is the best strategy to feed your baby and also to favor the bonding between mother and child.

4. My baby sleeps a lot, is it okay to wake them up?

You shouldn’t be alarmed if your newborn baby sleeps a lot, as it’s usual for them to rest between 16 and 20 hours a day. It’s not recommended to wake them up unless they’ve been asleep for 2 to 3 hours and need to be fed.

It’s important to note that at this stage, babies don’t have a set sleep rhythm, so it’s important to adapt to their needs and gradually incorporate routines to help them rest.

5. My baby’s skin is dry, how do I treat it?

A newborn baby can have dry and flaky skin after birth, or start to replace it 2 or 3 days after birth. This flaking process is normal and usually lasts about 3 weeks. After this time, the new skin replaces the old one and the dryness disappears.

Using additional products to treat it isn’t necessary, although in some cases, a special oil or alcohol-free lotion or perfume can be applied.

6. When can I cut their nails?

Another of the most frequent doubts about newborns is the moment when their nails should be c ut. Babies are usually born with very long fingernails and to prevent them from scratching themselves, you should keep them short from the first day of birth.

Some mothers choose to put mittens on them to prevent them from hurting themselves, while they wait a few days to cut their nails. However, it’s best not to put mittens on them and let their hands be free to stimulate their sense of touch and allow them to get to know the world.

7. Why does my baby have white pimples on their nose?

70% of newborn babies may suffer from a transitory condition called erythema toxicum, which appears in the form of white pimples with a reddened base that appear on the face, trunk, and extremities. They usually disappear between 3 days and 2 weeks after birth.

Similarly, a newborn may have milium on the nose or chin, which usually disappears without treatment after a few days.

Their pediatrician will evaluate the possible dermatological conditions that the baby presents and will confirm their benignity and transitoriness.

8. Is it normal that my baby sneezes and hiccups frequently?

Sneezing and hiccups are two common manifestations in babies. Sneezing appears as a natural reflex necessary to clear the small nasal passages. Hiccups are also common, but their cause isn’t entirely clear. Certainly, over time, these two symptoms will diminish.

9. Why is my baby yellow?

Some newborn babies may suffer from a condition known as jaundice, caused by elevated bilirubin in the blood. This is normal and in most cases, subsides as the baby becomes established with breastfeeding.

If bilirubin levels are very high, the pediatrician may recommend placing the baby under a special light at the health center. The light energy allows the bilirubin to be metabolized in the skin and eliminated through the urine.

10. Does the umbilical cord hurt?

One of the most frequent doubts about newborns is whether the baby feels pain when the umbilical cord is manipulated. Moving and cleaning the umbilical cord stump isn’t painful, since there are no nerves in its stricture.

It’s very important that you’re not afraid to clean it daily and that you keep it aired out and out of the diaper so that it dries and doesn’t get infected.

It’s usual for this remnant to fall off during the first 2 weeks of life. During this period, you should evaluate the presence of signs of infection, such as bad odor, redness, and inflammation in the umbilical area. If any of them appear, consult your pediatrician.

11. How do I know if my baby is too bundled up?

The key rule when dressing your newborn baby is to put one more layer of clothing on them than what you’re wearing.

During the first days, your baby doesn’t have the capacity to regulate their body temperature, so they need more warmth if the environment is cold. But you should be careful not to bundle them up too much, as they can’t handle overheating and this can be risky for their health.

12. How should a newborn sleep?

Babies should sleep on their backs and on a safe surface in order to favor sleep and development and also to reduce the risk of sudden death syndrome, as stated by the Ministry of Health of Argentina.

Some points to make sure that the crib mattress is  firm and that there are no objects in it. It should be clear and free of sheets, quilts, pillows, and toys, as their presence increases the risk of suffocation.

Newborn babies shouldn’t sleep on their sides or on their stomachs.

13. Why does my baby’s head have soft parts?

The soft parts of the baby’s head are the fontanels: The upper one is diamond-shaped and is perceived as a slight dip in the middle of the head, and the back one is triangular and is at the back of the head.

These usually close in the first year of life, and their function is to allow the brain and skull to grow.

14. How soon can I take my baby out for a walk?

Another of the most frequent doubts about newborns is when you can start taking them out for a walk. You can take them out as soon as you’re discharged from the health center. It’s advisable a good idea to do it during the day when the temperature’s pleasant and the sun isn’t strong. Choose uncrowded places that are free of smoke and noise.

15. My baby’s diaper has vaginal discharge, why is that?

A somewhat strange discovery for parents is to discover some vaginal discharge in their baby’s diaper. However, it’s a quite normal finding in newborns and is produced by the passage of estrogens from the mother through the placenta.

This discharge is whitish and sometimes bloody, like menstruation. Don’t worry, it usually passes after a few days.

A newborn taking a bath.
Bathing a newborn baby doesn’t have to be done every day. But if you want to do it because the weather warrants it, you can.

16. Should my baby bathe daily?

It’s not necessary to bathe newborns on a daily basis. An ideal frequency would be 3 times a week and no more than 5 minutes. It’s a good idea to bathe them only with lukewarm water, and if the pediatrician authorizes it, add only a little neutral soap.

When a baby is bathed daily, there’s a risk of damaging his delicate skin. Of course, the face and neck should be cleaned daily, as well as the diaper area and the cord stump.

17. How much weight should a newborn baby gain weekly?

This can vary in babies, as there are several individual factors such as the type of feeding they have. First and foremost, watch your baby’s weight progression curve, whether they’re breastfed or formula-fed.

To establish a range, the baby should gain between 5 and 7 ounces per week. However, it’s normal for babies to lose about 10% of their weight during the first week after birth, so this progression will begin after that time.

18. When can I offer my baby a pacifier?

It’s best not to offer a pacifier during the first days after birth, as it may interfere with breastfeeding. It’s advisable to wait until this process is well established before starting to offer the pacifier, which is usually about 6 weeks after birth.

The most frequent doubts about newborns

Certainly, it’s normal for questions to arise in regard to the health and care of newborns in the first weeks of life. Especially when you’re a new mom and facing the challenges of meeting all the needs of a little creature.

The important thing is to clarify each of these doubts with your pediatrician and avoid taking any action without first having their approval. It’s a good idea to write down the questions that arise before your baby arrives in order to be able to clarify them early on.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.