Bringing Your New Baby Home

by Carol Berkowitz, M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Bringing Your New Baby Home

As a new parent, you’ll receive your fair share of advice  — some helpful, some unsolicited, and some downright questionable. In addition to providing useful guidance for new parents, a new book from the American Academy of Pediatrics, [TOUT_LINK {} {Heading Home with Your Newborn}], by pediatricians Laura A. Jana, M.D., and Jennifer Shu, M.D., helps debunk some common parenting myths.

What’s “natural” doesn’t always come naturally. While it’s true that breast milk is the ideal food for your baby and the act of nursing is “natural,” it doesn’t always come easily. In fact, clinging to an idealistic picture of breastfeeding bliss can set you up for failure. Your best bet is to expect it to be a learning process for you and your baby. And keep in mind that there are only a few universally accepted truths about nursing: The rest of what you do and how you do it is a matter of establishing your own personal style.

Some really do like it cold. Contrary to what you may have heard, there’s no medical, nutritional, or even comfort-related need to warm your baby’s bottle. So once your baby has gotten the hang of feeding, you can try giving him unwarmed formula or pumped breast milk. Chances are, he’ll like it, and you’ll be able to save time by skipping this step  — a good thing when you’ve got a hungry baby on your hands.

Pacifiers are not the enemy. No matter how much some people may warn you against pacifiers, you don’t need to fear them. Sucking is comforting to babies, and most rely on it to soothe themselves. Just be careful not to offer your newborn a pacifier at times when he really should be fed instead. (If possible, wait to introduce a pacifier until feedings are well established, and your baby has at least regained his birth weight.)

Go ahead and wake him. Regardless of the old adage to “never wake a sleeping baby,” there may be times when you’ll need to wake up your baby to feed him. This is especially true for babies who are born small, who haven’t yet mastered breastfeeding, or who are just a bit too sleepy for their own good. Check with your baby’s pediatrician to see how long you should let your newborn sleep at any one time and how often you should feed him.
Many parents actually find that waking a sleeping baby can be easier said than done. Some things that may help include softly talking or singing, undressing, diapering, or even (as a last resort) bathing him. (Note that you should seek medical help immediately if you find that your newborn seems increasingly sleepy, unresponsive, or difficult to arouse.)

You can’t spoil a baby. Ignore anyone who tries to tell you that you’re spoiling your newborn by responding whenever he cries. Soothing is not spoiling. Each time you respond promptly to your baby’s cries, you’re sending him the message that you’re there to tend to his needs, and he’ll take comfort knowing that he’s able to communicate with you.

Remember that you can always check out any questionable advice you may get with your baby’s pediatrician. For more helpful information about life with a newborn, be sure to check out the [TOUT_LINK {} {“Parenting Corner”}] of the AAP website at