For more than four decades I have had the privilege of sharing the joy parents experience as their babies are born. And I have also been privy to their concerns, their fears, and the sense of being overwhelmed once it is time to take their newborn home – especially first-time parents. So, in anticipation of many of the small concerns that will prompt a panicked call, if not a trip, to the doctor’s office, I have complied a list of a few basic bits of information I make sure to share with them.
New babies will sometimes have little white dots or small white nodules on their noses. This is normal. The nodules are called milia, and they are not baby acne. They will not bother the infant, and no creams or lotions are necessary. They will tend to disappear on their own. So tell the grandparents “not to worry about them!”
Newborn infants will sometimes get a splotchy, red rash over different areas of their bodies. Sometimes, it even has the appearance of mosquito bites. This is a normal newborn rash called “Erythema Toxicum” or “E-tox” for short. Again, it will not bother the infant, and no creams or lotions are necessary. It also goes away on its own.
Sneezing, nasal congestion (snorking), hiccoughs, and sudden shaking of the arms, legs, and chin are all perfectly normal in a newborn. If any of this is accompanied by a fever, or if it lasts more than a couple of weeks, of course contact your pediatrician. But in general, this is perfectly normal.
Baby girls will have a tendency to have a mucous, vaginal discharge. Sometimes it’s thick and sometimes even red. This is normal also. The discharge is from the baby being inside the mother during the pregnancy and exposed to her hormones. Once the infant is delivered and no longer exposed to the mother’s hormones, this will slowly disappear.
Every infant will lose weight after birth and every baby will be jaundiced. This is perfectly normal and will be measured each day while the mother and the baby are in the hospital. It will also be evaluated in the follow-up office visit–usually within 48 hours of discharge from the hospital. Extreme jaundice is treated at the hospital. And weight gain should begin as soon as the mother’s milk is in or formula is accepted by the infant. It should take only a short time for a healthy baby to regain the weight lost after birth.
Newborns sometimes choke when eating. For some mothers, their milk expresses in huge amounts, making the flow of it to the infant faster and more generous than they can easily accommodate. When this happens, it is not unusual for the infant to choke a bit. A simple fix is to express some milk before feeding your baby, making the flow easier for him to handle.
These are just a few of the things new parents will notice about their infants. And while I may seek to alleviate concerns about these, never hesitate to call your pediatrician if your instinct tells you something is not quite right with your baby. Parental instinct, in combination with a receptive and responsive pediatrician, will ensure your child’s well-being.