Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thoughts on Baby Turning 2 Weeks Old

I never changed a diaper until I had a kid before. I have had limited time holding a baby, and never more than 10 minutes, I was afraid I would make them cry or they would choke. The only baby I ever remember holding was my niece Danielle who is now 15 years old and just held baby Luca not long ago. Now I am a pro at the one hand neck stabilzing Vulcan grip while gun slinging breast milk or a diaper with the other.


Luca at 2 weeks is more alert, and peaceful. He has more fat folds on his upper arms, forearms and a couple on his wrists. His upper thighs are getting chubbier. I noticed more capillaries in the cartilage of his ears. His ears have perked up a bit and no longer look like pressed violets. He is starting to smile.

He had his first bath today. His umbilical cord fell of at Day 4 or 5, but I waited till now when it looked healed and dry. I used the pirate temperature tester duck by Munchkin. He loved the water, and he smells fabulous.

I put together the diaper changing table, and the new Bob's Revolution stroller that I got from Shady Sadie and her honey. I took pictures, but I lost my digital camera, so I will have to have them printed up and post later!

Off to Spanish class with my bundle of love. I will drive or walk to the BART station, take BART for 30 min 1 train change, walk 6 blocks to class and back by 10:30 PM. Oof.

Developmental Milestones for Newborns:

  • Can see faces. During the first days and weeks of life, babies can focus on objects 8 to 12 inches away. At the end of the first month, most will be able to briefly focus their attention on objects as far away as three feet.
  • Can suck their thumbs. Those of you who happened to catch a glimpse on ultrasound will already know that babies suck their thumbs (and fingers and hands) even before they are born. And despite some old wives' tales that are still out there, there is no harm in allowing them to do so after they are born.
  • Can recognize certain smells. If you've always thought it was coincidence that a baby begins to stir and act hungry when his mother walks in the room, think again. Even a newborn can recognize the smell of his mother's breastmilk.
  • Can hear. If you watch your newborn closely, you should be able to determine if she reacts to sound — whether she turns her head towards the sound of a voice or reacts when there's a sudden noise in the room. And by the end of the first month, most babies will recognize the sound of a familiar voice. While it is important to let your baby's doctor know if your baby doesn't seem to react to noise, do keep in mind that the phrase "sleeps like a baby" exists for a reason. Even if a newborn sleeps right through impressively loud noises, her hearing is likely to be fine as long as she responds to noise at other times.
  • Can move their heads. Most babies, by the time they reach a month of age, are able to turn or even lift their heads. Some babies are particularly skilled at this particular milestone, and are even able to do so at birth. That said, it is important to remember that you always need to carefully support a newborn's head, since it will be many months before she can do it on her own.
Begin to smile. The first smile you see may well be while your baby is sleeping, but by the end of the first month, you will likely find yourself rewarded with smiles specifically directed at you.


PHYSICAL HEALTH

    • As the parent of a newborn, it's helpful to brush up on some baby basics as well as pay attention to several important aspects of your baby's health. In addition to your own observations, be sure to take your baby for regular well-baby check-ups.
    • Newborn skin. At birth, a baby's skin is typically covered by a white substance called vernix that is easily washed away with the first bath. However, there are several other common newborn skin conditions that are useful to know about: Jaundice describes the yellowish coloration of the skin that occurs in some newborns during the first several days or week of life. Parents should always discuss jaundice with their baby's doctor, since it may require treatment. Also, while the causes of jaundice are most often harmless, on occasion it can occur due to a more serious underlying problem.
    • Dry peeling skin is very common, especially with overdue babies. It is generally harmless and goes away on its own.
    • Baby acne. Most people find breaking out with pimples to be disconcerting, but it can be particularly upsetting to new parents when their baby develops acne. The good news is that this condition, which typically occurs towards the end of the first month and is caused by exposure to Mom's hormones before birth, doesn't last long. Treatment generally requires nothing more than a wet washcloth.
    • Bruising of a newborn's skin (most often during delivery) may take a while to go away. While it may be unsightly, it, too, is generally harmless. If a baby has a significant amount of bruising, however, it is a good idea to keep a closer eye out for the appearance of jaundice.
    • Downy body hair, typically found on the back or shoulders, may stay for a week or two.
    • Umbilical cord. To the extent that it's possible, umbilical cord stumps should be kept clean and dry. They typically fall off within the first month of life. When they do, they can occasionally have a little associated bleeding. Any umbilical cord that is oozing, red, smelly, bleeding, or hasn't fallen off within a month, however, should be evaluated by a health care professional.
    • Growth. Following a baby's growth is one of the best ways to know that she is healthy and doing well. Early on, babies gain a tremendous amount of weight — on average, half an ounce to 1 ounce a day, and two pounds per month! As their bodies grow, so do their heads. The fact that the bones of the skull aren't yet fused together allows a baby's head circumference to increase by as much as an half an inch per month. If a baby's weight or head size does not seem to be increasing as expected, then he needs to be evaluated by his doctor.
    • Crying. The fact is, babies cry. As a parent, the trick is to figure out why. Sometimes, a baby will cry because he is hungry. At other times, his cries may be due to overstimulation, pain, a dirty diaper, or fatigue. And sometimes you just won't be able to figure out exactly why, but rocking, swaddling, singing, rubbing his back, or simply offering a pacifier will stop the crying. Inconsolable crying that seems to occur at the same time each day, most commonly in the late afternoon or evening, is called colic. About 20 percent of all babies develop colic, generally between the ages of two and four weeks. While we do not have a good explanation for why colic occurs (and therefore, no clear answer as to what to do about it), the good news is that it generally goes away on its own around 3 to 4 months of age, and does not seem to result in any harm to the baby. Before deciding a baby is colicky, it is important that she be checked by her doctor to rule out any medical cause for the crying.
    • Body Temperature and Fever. Young infants do not control their body temperatures as well as adults do. Their hands and feet can quickly become mottled or even bluish when they are cold, and they may feel excessively warm after only a short time if bundled too snugly or after being out in warm weather. Quite often, simply unbundling or warming them up will bring an otherwise healthy baby's body temperature back to normal. However, it is especially important for the parents of newborns to recognize fever. This is because newborns do not fight infection as well as older children, and fever can be a sign of infection. In general, it is best to avoid bringing them in contact with friends and family who are sick — especially if they have a fever. Remember that many illnesses are spread by direct contact; making sure that people wash hands and cover their mouths and noses can decrease the likelihood that a baby will become sick. When fever is a concern in a newborn, it is important to take the temperature with a thermometer — preferably a rectal one — and discuss the situation with a doctor.
    • Urine and Bowel Movements. While at the hospital, newborns are closely observed to make sure they start urinating and pass their first bowel movement. The first urine a baby passes usually looks normal, but occasionally newborns pass pinkish crystals of a substance called urate. Babies normally urinate 6-10 times a day — a sign that they are drinking enough and their kidneys are functioning well. For breastfed babies, the frequency may be less in the first several days until their mothers' milk supply comes in. In addition to urine, it is important to pay attention to a baby's bowel movements. A newborn's first stool is blackish and sticky. This early stool, called meconium, is gradually replaced (usually within a few days) by normal, greenish, or yellowish stools. Breastfed babies, in particular, tend to have several mustard-colored, loosely formed or even watery stools a day — sometimes after every feeding. Constipation or going days without a bowel movement does not normally occur in the first month, and should be discussed with a pediatrician.
    • Common Newborn Behaviors
    • Hiccups. Hiccups are fairly common during the newborn period. Some babies get them even before they are born. Just as with many other newborn reflexes, they tend to become less frequent and go away over the first weeks (or months) of life.
    • The Startle (Moro) Reflex. It doesn't take the parents of newborns long to become acquainted with this reflex, since it is so commonly displayed during the first month of life. When a newborn is startled, he will stiffen and extend his arms and legs, and then quickly bring his arms together in front of his chest. Crying often accompanies this particular reflex.
    • The Grasp Reflex. Newborns can't intentionally grasp or pick up objects, but the grasp reflex allows them to hold on to a small object (or an adult's finger) when it is placed in the palms of their hands.
    • The Rooting Reflex. When you stroke a newborn's cheek near the side of the mouth very lightly, it will cause him to open his mouth and turn his head towards the side that was stroked. This reflex is especially useful to know about when attempting to get a baby to latch on to a nipple — either breast or bottle — and start feeding.

    In the first several weeks (and even months) of life, a baby's primary tasks are to eat, sleep, and grow. And since babies grow so fast in the first weeks of life, it requires both a lot of eating and a lot of sleeping.

    EATING
    Plain and simple, newborns need to eat a lot — typically no less than every 3 or 4 hours and sometimes as often as every 1 or 2. Whether you choose to breast feed or bottle feed, the unavoidable fact is that you will spend much of your days (and nights) feeding your newborn. And while it would be ever so convenient if newborns were born inherently skilled at this important task, many will seem clumsy and uncoordinated at first. Some are just slow to learn, some are pokey eaters even after they have mastered the concept, and others eat voraciously right from the start. As you work on establishing the process with your own baby, there are certain things you should watch for to help reassure yourself that your baby is getting enough: Make sure that she is gaining weight as expected, as well as urinating frequently (6-10 times/day) and having regular bowel movements. Regardless of your baby's eating style, you will hopefully be well settled into a regular feeding pattern by the time your baby is a month old. As a side note, just when you think everything is going smoothly, don't be surprised if your baby seems discontent and much hungrier than usual. Babies often have growth spurts around two weeks of age, and then again at the end of their first month, and generally want to eat more than usual.

    SLEEPING
    Healthy babies should be laid down to sleep on their backs, not on their bellies, to help reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Newborns generally sleep about two-thirds of each 24 hour day, but their periods of sleep tend to be rather brief and scattered all around the clock. By a month of age, however, many are able to cluster their sleep into longer stretches and spend more time asleep at night than during the day. That said, many still prefer sleeping cradled in a parent's arm, or being driven around in a car seat to sleeping in their cribs. While many sleep experts do recommend teaching infants to learn to fall asleep on their own without needing to be rocked, nursed, driven, or held, almost all would agree that this doesn't apply to the newborn period. Simply helping your baby to distinguish night from day by making nighttime feedings quiet and dark and less entertaining than those in the daytime can help put your baby on a path towards healthy sleep habits.

    PLAYING
    Babies thrive on love and attention. Many new parents never consider the idea of playing with a newborn — perhaps because the word "playing" conjures up images of hide 'n' go Seek and baseball. But playing with a very young baby can be as basic as placing him in different positions — sometimes on his front, sometimes on his back — and helping him to move his arms and legs around. Simple actions we all take for granted as adults, such as making eye contact, smiling at, singing or talking to, and even just holding a baby are not just age-appropriate activities for a newborn, they are actually more enriching than any toy or battery-powered plaything you could buy in the store. As you explore ways to interact with your baby, keep in mind that infants this age are easily overstimulated. Even a walk around the block can seem like a day at the amusement park, and many babies will cry, become cranky, eat poorly, or not sleep well when they are overstimulated.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
While many harmless and common newborn behaviors cause new parents great concern, it's always best to check with your child's doctor if your infant:
  • Doesn't raise her head when lying on her stomach after the first few weeks
  • Doesn't seem to respond to sights or sounds
  • Exhibits a lack of energy or alertness
  • Refuses to feed
  • Is vomiting (as opposed to spitting up — which is normal!)
  • Is not urinating
  • Has a weak, high-pitched cry
  • Has a pale, blue, or mottled complexion
  • Has diarrhea (copious, watery stools, sometimes with mucus visible)
  • Has a fever
  • Has an irregular breathing pattern

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