Caring for your Newborn in the First Week of Life

Mom breastfeeding baby



  • Take good care of your baby by taking good care of yourself!
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps. You can’t spoil your baby by holding him/her too much at this age, but you need to put him/her down when he/she is asleep so you can rest and have time for yourself and your family.
  • Accept help from family and friends and don’t expect too much from yourself.
  • If you have other children, try to spend a few minutes of one-on-one time with them early in the day to help prevent sibling rivalry.
  • Read with siblings and baby as an alternative to watching TV.
  • Teach young children to gently pat the baby’s head or touch his/her feet rather than touching or kissing his/her face or trying to pick him/her up.
  • Maintain family routines and mealtimes as much as possible.
  • Your baby needs you to talk to him/her often in order to develop properly. Avoid being on your phone or computer as much as possible when your baby is with you.
  • Calm your baby by holding, rocking, speaking, or singing softly, and stroking his head.



  • Feed your baby only breastmilk or iron-fortified formula until about 6 months of age.
  • Your newborn needs to be fed every 1 to 3 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night.
  • If necessary, wake your baby up for feeding by undressing him/her and changing his/her diaper.
  • Feed your baby when he/she shows hunger cues. He/she may fuss, open his/her mouth, and suck or root to indicate he/she is hungry.
  • Stop feeding your baby when he/she turns his/her head and closes his/her mouth. He/she may relax his/her arms or fall asleep when he/she has had enough.
  • You will know your newborn has eaten enough if he/she has at least 6 wet diapers and 3 stools in a 24-hour period.
  • Always feed your baby while holding him/her in your arms and looking at him/her.
  • Don’t prop a bottle to feed her. Propping the bottle for feedings can promote ear infections and cost you or a family member important bonding time with your baby.
  • Practice paced bottle feeding to prevent overfeeding and make feeding more comfortable for your baby.
  • Delay giving a pacifier until about 4-6 weeks.

       If breastfeeding:

  • Expect to feed your newborn 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Take advantage of our free Lactation Consultant who can help you feel more confident and comfortable with breastfeeding.
  • Start giving your baby Vitamin D drops (400IU) daily in the first week of life in order to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Continue to take your prenatal vitamins with iron too.
  • If you need to take medication, check with your doctor and here to make sure it’s safe for breastfeeding.
  • Drink lots of water and eat plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables. In general, you do not need to limit or restrict certain foods from your diet.
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs, smoking, and vaping. Limit caffeine. While the caffeine you drink doesn’t affect your baby as much as it affects you, it might keep you from getting the rest you need.

       If formula feeding:


  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid large crowds until your baby is at least 2-3 months old.
  • Ask all visitors to wash their hands thoroughly and wear a mask when they visit your baby. Visit with others outside when possible. Make sure sick friends and family stay away until all their symptoms have resolved.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Even a few minutes of direct sunlight can burn your baby’s skin. Sunscreens should be avoided until your baby is 6 months old.
  • Sponge bathe your baby with warm water and a washcloth until the umbilical stump falls off.
  • Baby shampoo can be used on the scalp 2 or 3 times a week but avoid soap. An unscented gentle skin cleanser for babies can be used a couple of times a week on heavily soiled areas but rinse it off well with clean water.
  • Use fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic products to moisturize your baby’s skin
  • Never leave your baby unattended in the bath even for a second.
  • Keep hot water heater thermostat to 120 F (49 C) or less to avoid hot water burns.
  • Don’t drink hot liquids while holding your baby.
  • Keep emergency numbers and a first aid kit handy.
  • If you think your child has a fever, take a rectal temperature. A fever is a temperature above 100.4 F (38 C).
  • Call us right away, day or night if your newborn has a fever. 919-460-0993
  • Make sure your baby’s rear-facing car seat is properly installed in the back seat of your car.
  • Always make sure your baby’s car seat is securely buckled.
  • Dress your baby in thin layers of clothes when in the car seat, never try to buckle car seat straps over a swaddle, bulky clothes, or a coat. Click here for car seat safety in cold weather.
  • Make sure all other passengers are also restrained in seatbelts or car seats.
  • Never leave your baby in the car alone.


  • Put your baby on his/her back on a firm, flat surface designed for infant sleep for all naps and at night. 
  • We don’t recommend swaddling your baby during sleep, but if you choose to swaddle, make sure you follow these guidelines. A tight swaddle can cause impaired hip development or overheating, and a swaddle that is too loose can entangle and suffocate your baby.
  • Weighted blankets or swaddles, crib bumpers, toys, pillows and other objects should never be placed in the crib with your baby because they are suffocation hazards.
  • If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, swing, infant carrier, sling, or even in the arms of a loved one, move him to a safe sleep surface as soon as possible. Because your newborn will sleep about 14 to 18 hours a day where he/she sleeps is very important. Sleeping on surfaces not designed for sleep can impair breathing and make it more difficult to get him to sleep through the night in the next few months. Never use an inclined sleeper.
  • We recommend that your baby sleeps in your bedroom in his/her own crib until 6 months of age.
  • Never let your baby sleep in bed with you. For more details on safe sleep and why these measures are important to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation, click here.
  • Call our office if your newborn is not feeding at least every 3 hours and/or not wetting at least 5 diapers in a 24-hour period.


If you have a question about your baby, don’t hesitate to call us! 919-460-0993.