For months, you have focused on having a healthy pregnancy and a smooth labor and delivery. Now that your baby has arrived, your focus will shift to life at home. These tips will guide you through the first few weeks at home on how to feed, change and bathe your new baby; ways to keep your baby safe; and when to call the doctor.
This information, along with advice from your baby’s doctor and other healthcare professionals, will help make the transition to life at home with a new baby a safe and happy time for your family.
Diapering will not be one of your favorite chores, but it is one that you will need to learn almost immediately when your baby is born. It may seem that you are changing diapers constantly. This is normal for newborns and will change as your baby grows.
Changing Your Baby
Follow these simple steps to bathe your baby, but remember that newborns do not need bathing every day:
Umbilical Cord Care
Some details of your new baby’s appearance may not be expected though they may be perfectly normal. You
may see the following:
Common Newborn Birthmarks
Stork bites (also called angel kisses or salmon patches) are common birthmarks in children and usually begin
as a flat pink or red area on the skin on the back of the neck, forehead, eyelids or around the nose. Stork bites
usually fade as your child gets older, but faint remnants may persist.
Mongolian spots are dark, flat, bluish-black areas on the lower back or buttocks. These birthmarks will darken
at first and then fade by the time the child is 6 to 7 years old. Occasionally they may be seen on the upper back,
arms or legs. Mongolian spots often are mistaken for bruises.
Café au lait spots are flat, light brown, oval-shaped patches of skin that may occur anywhere on the body. They
do not fade and may even increase in number as your child gets older, especially around adolescence.
Common Newborn Rashes
Newborn acne—More than 30 percent of newborns develop acne of the face, mainly small, red bumps. This
neonatal acne begins at 3 to 4 weeks of age and lasts until 4 to 6 months of age. The cause appears to be the
transfer of maternal androgens (hormones) just before birth. Since it is temporary, no treatment is necessary.
Baby oil or ointments will make it worse.
Drooling rash—Most babies have a rash on the chin or cheeks that comes and goes. This reaction often is
related to contact with food and acid that have been spat up from the stomach. Rinse the baby’s face with water
after every feeding and every spit-up.
Heat rash—Other temporary rashes on the face are heat rashes seen in areas held against the mother’s skin
during nursing (especially in the summertime). Change your baby’s position frequently and put a cool washcloth
on the area.
Erythema toxicum—More than half of all babies get a rash called erythema toxicum on the second or third day of
life. The rash is composed of red blotches with a small white or yellow lump in the center. They look like insect
bites. They may be numerous, may keep occurring and may be anywhere on the body surface. Their cause is
unknown; they are harmless and resolve themselves by 2 weeks of age.
Milia—Milia are tiny white bumps that occur on the faces of many newborn babies. The nose and cheeks most
often are involved, but milia also are seen on the forehead and chin. Although they look like pimples, they are
smaller and not infected. They are blocked-off skin pores and will open up and disappear by 1 to 2 months of
age. No ointments or creams should be applied to them.
Blisters—True blisters (little bumps containing clear fluid) on the skin that occur during the first month of life
must be examined by a doctor. If they are caused by a serious virus, treatment may be required. If you suspect
blisters, call your doctor immediately.
Jaundice in Newborns
What is jaundice?
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. It is caused by the buildup of a pigment in the blood
called bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment released during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Jaundice
can occur in babies of any race or color.
The liver of a newborn often is immature. Before birth, the mother’s body helps remove bilirubin from the baby’s
blood. Most babies develop jaundice in the first few days of life because it takes a few days for the baby’s liver to
get better at removing bilirubin. Jaundice occurs in approximately six of every 10 newborns.
Will my baby be screened for jaundice?
We screen all babies for jaundice by checking their bilirubin levels before leaving the hospital. At your newborn’s
first office visit, the provider will assess your baby for signs of jaundice as well.
How can I check my baby for jaundice?
Gently press your baby’s forehead, nose or chest with your fingertip. Your baby’s skin should be white once
you remove your fingertip. If a yellowish color is present after you remove your finger, your baby probably has
jaundice. It is very important for your baby to be seen by a nurse or doctor when the baby is between 3 and 5
days old—that’s usually when the bilirubin level is the highest.
Can jaundice hurt my baby?
Most babies have mild jaundice that is harmless. However, in unusual situations, the bilirubin level can get very
high and may cause brain damage. This possibility is why newborns should be checked carefully for jaundice and
then treated to prevent a high bilirubin level.
How is jaundice treated?
Treatment depends on the amount of bilirubin present in your baby’s blood. When necessary, a baby can be
treated with special blue lights called phototherapy. The lights help change bilirubin in the baby’s blood so that it
can be easily disposed of in the urine. Your baby’s doctor will tell you if phototherapy is needed in the hospital.
Sunlight used to be the only treatment available for jaundice, but it is less effective and can burn your baby’s
skin. Never place your baby in direct sunlight to treat jaundice.
When should I call the doctor?
Call your baby’s doctor right away if …
• Your baby’s skin or eyes look more yellow
• Your baby’s abdomen, arms or legs are yellow
• Your baby is jaundiced and is hard to wake, fussy or not well
• Your baby is not wetting at least four diapers a day
When does jaundice go away?
Jaundice usually goes away within a week or two. Consult your baby’s doctor, who can confirm when jaundice is
no longer a concern for your baby.
What is infant safe sleep?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants between 1 month and 1 year of age. This is what you can do to help your baby sleep safely and to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS.
CPR saves lives: The American Heart Association estimates that up to 200,000 lives could be saved each year if CPR were performed early enough. If you have not had Infant CPR training recently, consider taking a class.
For more information on classes (known as “Friends and Family CPR” at Greenville Memorial Hospital), call 1-877-GHS-INFO (447-4636).
To create a safe sleep environment:
For additional information and education on safe sleep please visit: https://cribsforkids.org/
Before the first ride home, Safe Kids™ Upstate, led by Children’s Hospital of Greenville Health System, encourages you to act on the following questions:
What is the best car seat for my child?
Where is the safest position to place my child in the back seat?
When should I install my infant car seat?
What is a car seat inspection?
Safe Kids Upstate has trained certified technicians who can inspect your installed car seat. They will help you make any corrections so that the seat is ready for your new precious cargo. These technicians continue their training to stay current on all advancements and recalls of car seats.
One of the easiest things we can do as parents and caregivers is to wash our hands properly. Hand hygiene saves lives.
Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections, including the common cold, flu and even hard-to-treat infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
You should practice hand hygiene:
With soap and water:
With an alcohol-based hand rub: