Trapped wind can give rise to tummy pains and the baby will cry and will not settle after the feed. There are simple techniques that usually work to deal with wind, like holding your baby up against your chest as well as gently massaging the baby’s back. Sometimes walking up and down stairs with your baby held against your or your partner’s chest can help to shift the baby’s trapped wind.
Some babies will take to feeding without any problems while others need a little bit of encouragement. Your midwife will guide you on feeding; for most babies we recommend that you feed them when they seem to want it -‘demand feeding’. Small or jaundiced babies may require more frequent feeds.
You will recognise when your baby has had enough because they:
are happy and active
sleep well between feeds and
have wet and dirty nappies.
It is common for babies to lose a small amount of weight in the first few days; however, your baby should return to their birth weight by the time they are two weeks old. The midwife will weigh your baby before you go home from hospital. The public health nurse will also check your baby’s weight when she visits you at home. If you have any concerns about your baby’s weight always ask for advice early from your midwife or doctor.
Many babies have milk spots on their nose or face, which usually disappear in a few weeks without treatment. Newborns can develop spots on their bodies as they get used to the outside world. Generally these spots appear for a short time and then disappear. Please consult your midwife, public health nurse or GP if you are concerned about spots on your baby.
‘Sticky eyes’ are usually due to a mild eye infection. You can usually solve the problem by gently cleaning the affected eye with a piece of cotton wool dipped in cooled boiled (sterile) water. Use each piece of cotton wool just once and wipe the eyes from the inside (near the nose) to the outside. Sometimes a baby will need an antibiotic depending on the infection.
Crying is baby’s natural way of communicating. While you were pregnant your baby let you know they were happy with their movement and kicking, now the baby is more vocal and there are many reasons for crying.
As you get to know your baby you will begin to understand their different cries and what each one means. Reasons for crying can include that your baby:
is hungry or thirsty;
has a wet or dirty nappy and needs a change;
has trapped wind or colic;
is either too hot or too cold;
is sick or in pain; or
is lonely and wants a cuddle and some attention.
How to soothe a crying baby
Pick your baby up and hold them close to your body.
Talk or sing to your baby and gently massage their back.
Feed your baby.
Change their nappy.
Go for a short walk with your baby.
If your baby continues to cry, ask another member of the family to take over as sometimes the baby can sense if you are under stress. It is best to seek medical advice as soon as possible if:
you think the baby is in pain;
the type of crying is unusual;
the baby is pale
the baby has a purple or red rash on its body; or
the baby feels hot.
Remember never shake your baby as this can damage the baby’s body and brain.
Young babies frequently bring up some of their feed, which is called ‘posseting’, particularly if they are trying to bring up wind – this is normal. You only need to tell your midwife or doctor if:
the vomiting is forceful or repeated effortlessly and
occurs after every feed.
Your baby will pass a sticky green-black bowel motion for the first few days. This is called meconium; following this the stools turn yellowish. Formula fed babies commonly pass firmer stools than breastfed babies. However, if you find the baby is constantly passing very runny stools tell the midwife or doctor because a baby can become dehydrated quickly.
The ammonia in urine can irritate the soft skin of a baby’s bottom and could lead to nappy rash. To avoid this becoming a problem, wash your baby’s bottom with warm water at each nappy change even if it is only a wet nappy. Avoid baby wipes in the early days as the perfume and chemicals in them may irritate the baby’s skin.
If you notice your baby’s bottom becoming red then use a small amount of a barrier cream until it improves. Do not use talcum powder on newborn skin.