Congratulations on the birth of your new baby

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby
Resource Guide
Congratulations on the birth
of your new baby
Thank you for choosing TriHealth as your health care provider
for maternity services. It is our hope that your care has been
outstanding, your stay has been comfortable and your
experience has been exceptional. May your life as a mother
be one filled with joyous memories.
TriHealth Mother/Baby Nurses and Staff
I Self-care for new mothers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
III Safety check . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Uterine contractions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Cribs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Lochia (bleeding after delivery) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Car seats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Perineal care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Child car seat fitting locations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Cesarean birth and incision care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Falls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Hemorrhoids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Suffocation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Elimination (ridding the body of waste products) . . . . . . . . . 3
Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Nutrition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Supervision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Breast care for formula-feeding mothers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Choking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Activity and rest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Shots for your child’s health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
The Kegel exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Adjusting to family life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Follow the ABCs of safe sleep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Baby blues and postpartum depression/anxiety . . . . . . . . . . 5
Your child’s Social Security number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Postpartum complications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Your child’s birth certificate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Resuming sexual relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
II Caring for your newborn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Your baby from head to toe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Parent information about Universal Newborn
Hearing Screening (UNHS) in Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) screening . . . . . . . 8
Jaundice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Infant behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Feeding your baby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Caring for your baby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Your body went through tremendous
changes during pregnancy and birth. In
the upcoming weeks, you will continue
to undergo physical changes as well as
experience emotional changes as you
return to your normal, pre-pregnancy
state. During this adjustment period, it
will be very important to take care of
yourself. To help make the adjustment
easier, please review the information
provided in this section.
I. Self-care for new mothers
Uterine contractions
After delivery, your uterus will begin shrinking. By the
eighth week after delivery, uterine contractions will cause
it to return to its normal size. You may feel cramping as
your uterus contracts. Contractions may feel stronger to
women who have had children previously because the
uterus has been stretched more, and it must contract
harder to get back into shape. These contractions can be
uncomfortable, but keep in mind that they are temporary
and important for getting the uterus back into shape.
An added benefit is that the more quickly your uterus
shrinks, the more quickly your bleeding will subside.
To get your uterus back in shape:
• Empty your bladder frequently (every three to four hours)
• Lie on your stomach
• Massage your uterus (ask your nurse how to do this)
• Walk
If you are very uncomfortable with the contractions,
you can try relaxation and breathing techniques. If these
suggestions do not help, you may try pain medication as
prescribed by your physician. The pain should subside
naturally in four to seven days.
Lochia (bleeding after delivery)
Lochia is the term used to describe the shedding of the
uterine lining after delivery. This vaginal discharge of
blood, mucus and tissue occurs in three stages with both
vaginal and Cesarean births. It begins as a red, bloody
color that lasts three to four days. During the first couple
of days after delivery, you may notice small clots on
your sanitary pad or in the toilet. This is normal. In the
second stage, your blood flow will be pinkish and mixed
with mucus. Lochia eventually will turn a brownish color
and last until the ninth or 10th day. The final stage lasts
two to three weeks and is a yellowish-white color. The
process generally lasts four to six weeks. (Time frames
are approximate and vary from person to person.)
You may notice an increase in bleeding during the
first days at home due to an increase in activity. If your
bleeding increases, your body may be telling you that
you need more rest.
Do not use tampons, douche or have intercourse until
you have the approval of your physician/midwife.
Call your physician/midwife if:
• Your vaginal bleeding returns to a bright red color after
beginning to lighten or returns to a heavy flow after
beginning to slow. Occasional clots may be passed but
should not be larger than a golf ball. In general, the
more babies you have delivered, the heavier and longer
you will experience bleeding
• Your discharge has a foul smell, unlike your
menstrual flow
The first one or two menstrual periods after delivery
are seldom the same as the periods you had before.
They usually are somewhat heavier in flow and longer
in duration, but they may be lighter in flow or shorter
in duration. Do not let this alarm you. The first period
usually will begin anywhere from four to six weeks after
delivery. However, some women may go longer before
resuming their periods.
Perineal care
The area between the vagina and the rectum is called the
perineum. Even if you do not have an episiotomy or tear
during delivery, it will be important to keep this area clean
and dry to prevent infection and to promote healing. Your
perineal muscles will be stretched and weakened during
the delivery and may be swollen, bruised and painful.
The discomfort generally will decrease each day. Kegel
exercises will provide comfort and aid in the healing
process. Details on performing Kegel exercises are given
later in this section.
At delivery, you may have had an episiotomy or a tear
that required stitches. Depending on the type of suture
your physician/midwife used, you can expect stitches to
dissolve in as soon as seven to 10 days or as long as four
weeks, and you may notice tiny black “strings” (stitches)
on your sanitary pad.
Caring for the perineum at the hospital and at home
• Always wash your hands with soap and water before
and after you care for your perineum.
• Change your sanitary pad every time you go to the
bathroom or at least every three to four hours.
• With each pad change, use the squirt bottle provided
by the hospital to rinse the perineum from front to
back with warm water.
• You may pat, blot or wipe gently from front to back.
• Medications applied directly to your stitches, such
as foams or creams, sometimes are ordered by your
physician/midwife. These medications are designed to
increase comfort and should be discontinued if irritation
occurs. Use only one medication at a time and apply
directly to affected area.
• Use ice packs to help reduce swelling and increase
comfort. Ice packs will be provided during your
hospitalization immediately after delivery and for the
next six to 12 hours depending on your physician’s/
midwife’s recommendation.
• Per physician order, you may be given a portable sitz
bath to take home. Your physician may prescribe that
you start using sitz baths after you are finished using ice
packs. Sitz baths should be taken at least three times a
day, or more if you prefer.
Instructions for sitz bath use
• Fill the sitz bath pan and bag with water as warm as you
can tolerate. Be sure to have the tubing clamp shut.
• Raise the toilet seat and place the sitz bath pan on the
commode, suspending the bag.
• Sit in the water and open the clamp.
• When the bag is drained, the sitz bath is complete.
• Pat the perineum dry and replace your sanitary pad
with a clean one.
Sitz baths are recommended at least three times a day.
Medications that may be prescribed for
perineal care include:
• Epifoam—Apply a quarter-size amount in the middle
of your sanitary pad directly to affected area. Use no
more than three to four times a day. Epifoam contains
hydrocortisone and a local anesthetic.
• Hydrocortisone cream—Apply a quarter-size amount
directly to affected area with your fingertip.
• If your physician/midwife prescribes both Epifoam and
hydrocortisone cream, do not use both medications at
the same time on the same area. Use Epifoam first before
you switch to the hydrocortisone cream.
Cesarean birth and incision care
If you had a Cesarean delivery, your incision may be closed
with internal stitches that will dissolve by themselves, or
with metal staples that may be removed in the hospital
before you go home or in your physician’s office at a later
date. A special tape called Steri-Strip™ may be placed over
your incision upon removal of the staples. Your physician
will give you instructions on when to remove the Steri-Strip.
It is important to keep the incision clean and dry. Air drying
will help promote healing. Cotton underwear is preferred
to nylon or other material. Most physicians will permit
showering the day after surgery. Your physician will give
instructions for showering along with information regarding
your care.
Call your physician if you experience:
• Increased redness at the incision site
• Increased swelling or tenderness at the incision site
• A fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
• Separation of the incision
• Continued bleeding or drainage from the incision site
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum. You may
develop them during your pregnancy or during delivery.
Hemorrhoids often cause a persistent dull pain and a
feeling of pressure in the rectal area. Hemorrhoids usually
shrink on their own with time. To ease discomfort:
• Apply ice packs or take sitz baths
• Use Tucks® pads or other medications prescribed by
your physician
• Rest on your side and avoid prolonged sitting
• Drink six to eight glasses of water per day
• Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
• Perform Kegel exercises frequently
Elimination (ridding the body
of waste products)
After vaginal and Cesarean deliveries, the body will begin
to produce more urine due to IV fluids given during the
birth process and as the body begins to rid itself of extra
fluids retained during pregnancy. With this in mind, it will
become important to keep track of how frequently you
empty your bladder. If your bladder becomes too full, it
can inhibit the uterus from contracting, thus increasing
your bleeding. A full bladder also can cause you not to be
able to urinate and can add discomfort by putting more
pressure on your uterus and surrounding tender tissues.
Your nurse will assist you to the bathroom the first time.
The first attempt to urinate may be difficult. To help ease
this process:
• Drink plenty of water
• Use the squirt bottle to spray water over the perineum
• Turn the faucet on and listen to the water run
• Use the sitz bath or shower (your physician will give you
instructions for showering) to allow warm water to help
you relax
• Perform Kegel exercises
Constipation is a common problem after giving birth. It
occurs for a variety of reasons, including inactivity, relaxed
abdominal muscles and narcotics contained in some pain
medications. Some women become concerned about
episiotomy stitches and worry that a bowel movement
will pull the stitches loose. This should not be a concern
because the stitches generally are stronger than that.
It is important not to delay bowel movements. Bowel
movements will relieve the feeling of abdominal and
perineal pressure.
To assist this process:
• Get up and begin walking as soon as your physician/
midwife allows
• Drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of fresh fruits,
vegetables and whole grains
• Drink warm fluids to help soothe and promote
intestinal activity
• Avoid gas-forming foods, such as cauliflower, broccoli
and cabbage, and carbonated and ice-cold beverages
You can expect a weight loss of about 12 to 15 pounds
during the first week after giving birth. You should
continue to gradually lose the weight you gained to
support your pregnancy. It is important not to diet until
after the follow-up visit with your physician/midwife.
Healthy eating habits include a wide variety of foods to
obtain essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Breast care for formula-feeding mothers
Almost immediately after delivery, a hormone is secreted
that stimulates milk production in the breast. There will be
some milk present in your breasts. You may experience
milk leakage for several weeks. If your breasts are not
stimulated or emptied, no additional milk will be produced.
Engorgement occurs when breasts fill and are not
emptied. Your breasts will become firm, tender, swollen
and sometimes painful 48 to 72 hours after delivery, and
symptoms may last for about 24 to 48 hours. To relieve
discomfort during engorgement:
• Begin wearing a well-fitting, supportive bra within six
hours after giving birth and wear it continuously until
milk production is inhibited
• Apply ice packs to the top of the breasts (above the
nipple area, toward the armpit) as needed for comfort
for 20-minute intervals
• Turn your back toward the water when showering to
avoid direct stimulation of the breast
• If discomfort continues, you may try medication as
directed by your physician/midwife
Entertaining is tiring. Ask your partner to help you limit the
number of visitors and time that they stay.
Many women are eager to regain their figure and will want
to begin exercising. An exercise program should begin
only after your physician/midwife has approved the types
of exercises you can perform. When you begin, start slowly
and gradually increase as your strength improves.
If you had a Cesarean delivery, your recovery process will
take a week or two longer. Your physician/midwife will
advise you of limitations on other activities such as driving
and exercising.
The Kegel exercise
The pelvic floor muscles form a hammock that extends
from the pubic bone to the tailbone. These muscles
support the uterus and other organs in the pelvic cavity.
The pelvic floor muscles surround the three openings in
the perineum—the urethra (where urine is passed), the
vagina and the rectum (where stool is passed). To locate
the muscle group, pull in as if you are stopping a stream
of urine. Then pull in as if you are stopping a bowel
movement. This action of tightening the muscles is called
the Kegel exercise.
• To perform the Kegel exercise: (1) Tighten your pelvic
floor muscles (see guidelines above) and hold to a count
of five (this can be increased to a count of 10); (2) relax;
and (3) repeat in a series of five at a time.
• During postpartum, to strengthen muscles and increase
urinary control: (1) Tighten muscles and hold to a count
of 10; (2) relax; and (3) repeat 100 times.
• Women should do Kegel exercises 100 times a day for life.
Resource: Nichols, F., and Humenick, S. Childbirth Education:
Practice, Research, and Theory. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders
Co., 1988.
Activity and rest
Adjusting to family life
It usually takes about six to eight weeks after you have your
baby for your body to return to its normal state. Recovery is a
progressive process. You will feel stronger each day. You must
remember you have just been through the equivalent of a major
operation and you should give your body time to recover.
During the first few weeks after giving birth, life will be
extremely hectic. Even if you have had children before,
caring for an infant will still be challenging. This little being
you have brought into the world depends on you 24 hours
a day. With this dependency, there will be a change
in daily and nightly schedules, loss of sleep, frustration,
irritability and loss of your former lifestyle. All of this may
seem overwhelming at times. Remember that good
communication is the cornerstone for your new family.
Share your concerns, doubts, joys and insights, and make
decisions together. Trust your instincts. Many new parents
are unsure of their parenting skills. As you experiment and
It is very important to rest after giving birth. It will be easier
to cope with the physical and emotional demands of
parenting if you are well-rested. Allow family members and
friends to take care of household chores such as cooking,
cleaning and laundry. (Family members feel useful when
they know they are helping you recover.)
If stair climbing is necessary, limit frequency by planning
trips. Do not lift more than 10 pounds. If you have other
small children, you will need to sit down and encourage
them to climb up next to you to snuggle rather than you
lifting them.
learn new skills and attitudes toward parenting, you will
become more confident, and life will settle into place.
Baby blues and postpartum depression/anxiety
Postpartum depression is the number one complication of
pregnancy, affecting nearly 700,000 women in the United
States each year. It is a physical disorder that can occur
any time from childbirth to a year postpartum.
The “baby blues”
The baby blues start within the first three days of giving
birth and fade away within two weeks. Most new mothers
may feel weepy, drained, anxious, irritable and sad. A call
to your physician or nurse midwife may be necessary if
baby blues go beyond two weeks.
Postpartum depression (PPD)
As many as 30 percent of new mothers may have feelings
of hopelessness, irritability, sadness, loneliness and
isolation that last longer than two weeks. They also may
cry a lot, have frightening or repetitive thoughts, and have
trouble eating or sleeping.
What does postpartum depression feel like?
• It feels scary.
• It feels out of control.
• It feels like I’m never going to feel like myself again.
• It feels like no one understands.
• It feels like I’m a bad mother.
• It feels like I should never have had this baby.
• It feels like if I could only get a good night’s sleep,
everything would be better.
• It feels like I have no patience for anything anymore.
• It feels like I’m going crazy.
• It feels like I will always feel like this.
• It feels like I can’t do anything right.
• It feels like I’m all alone.
Why did this happen to me?
There is no single cause or reason. Postpartum depression
(PPD) is a condition that results from a combination of
biologic, hormonal, environmental and psychological factors.
It is caused by a number of risk factors, including dramatic
hormonal changes, unexpected childbirth experience, chronic
sleep deprivation, your family’s medical history, your previous
experience with depression (particularly PPD), recent losses, lack
of social support, environmental stressors, a high-needs infant,
perceived loss of control, unsupportive partner and history of
abuse. PPD can affect women with no risk factors too. It is not
fully understood why it happens to some women and not to
others, but the good news is we do know ways to treat it.
The factors that cause PPD are unique to each woman.
Will this ever go away?
Yes! The key is to let someone know that you are having
some of these feelings so that you can receive help.
Postpartum depression affects 20 percent of new mothers.
It is not your fault. It did not happen because you did
something wrong or you are not a good mother. PPD
is a mood disorder characterized by symptoms such as
irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, crying, loss of appetite, guilt,
difficulty concentrating, feelings of sadness, hopelessness,
thoughts about death and general fatigue. These feelings
and thoughts—which can make you feel like you are doing
something wrong or simply not handling motherhood very
well—are symptoms that respond well to treatment.
How do I know if I have postpartum depression or if what
I’m feeling is normal?
Trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong,
it probably is. You could be feeling overwhelmed and
overloaded and need a break to feel like yourself again.
This is normal and expected after having a new baby. You’ve
gone through a lot of physical changes and your whole life
is undergoing adjustments. You may be experiencing baby
blues, which last for only a few days as you get used to being
a new mom. However, if you feel like you’re not getting
better and these feelings worsen or continue for a couple of
weeks, it is important to seek help.
What can I do about it?
First, focus on self-help measures, such as eating nutritiously,
even if you’re not hungry; resting as much as you can, even if
you can’t sleep; and getting out of the house for a walk, even
if you don’t feel like moving. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and
high-fat and sugary foods. Talk to someone you trust about
the way you are feeling. Let your doctor know. Let your
partner know. Find supportive people who can help you and
accept their help. Do not delay getting proper treatment. The
sooner you get help, the sooner you will begin to feel more
like yourself.
What if I still don’t feel better?
Sometimes, self-help measures are not enough. If
symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you should
seek professional support. Ask your doctor for the name of
a therapist who specializes in the treatment of women and
depression. Therapy and medication can help treat PPD.
What can my husband/partner/family do to help?
• They can encourage you to rest as much as possible.
• They can listen to your concerns.
• They can go to the doctor or therapist with you to get
more information and support.
• They can sit with you when you’re feeling bad.
• They can tell you they love you and remind you that
you will get better.
• They can reassure you that they will support you as
long as you need them.
• They can give you permission to do what you need to
do to take care of yourself during this time.
Is there anything else I can do to help myself feel better?
• Stop blaming yourself.
• Stop feeling guilty.
• Begin to accept that you have an illness that is treatable
and take the steps necessary for recovery.
• Ask for help and accept it when it is offered.
• Make time for yourself.
• Give yourself permission to rest, to exercise and
to surround yourself with things that feel good.
• Avoid people and things that make you feel bad.
• Stay close to those who love you.
Postpartum anxiety
Some mothers may experience postpartum anxiety on its
own or together with symptoms of depression. Others may
feel worried or panicky, fear losing control or going crazy,
or have chest pains or a racing heart. Postpartum anxiety
also may make women feel shaky, dizzy or short of breath.
Postpartum psychosis
This rare condition can be a horrible experience for
the whole family. The mother may have severe mood
swings, hallucinations, and irrational or violent thoughts.
Postpartum psychosis is a serious condition that requires
immediate medical attention.
Please inform your doctor if you think you have symptoms
of PPD.
For more information, contact:
Postpartum Support International
800 944 4773
Postpartum complications
Call your physician/midwife if you experience:
• Symptoms resembling the flu—chills or fever of
100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
• Vaginal discharge that has a foul odor
• Frequent urination, burning during urination or the
inability to urinate
• Bleeding that saturates more than one sanitary pad per
hour during a few hours or clots larger than a golf ball
• A return to bright red bleeding after bleeding has
decreased and/or has lightened in color
• Severe pain in the lower abdomen
• Reddened, swollen or painful areas in your legs
• Reddened, swollen or painful areas in the breast
• Worsening pain in the episiotomy or hemorrhoid areas
• Any pus-like drainage from episiotomy or incision
• Baby blues lasting longer than two weeks
• Severe or prolonged depression (see previous section)
Always know your temperature and any other symptoms
when calling your physician/midwife. You also should have
your pharmacy’s phone number ready. The follow-up visit
with your physician/midwife is important to ensure that
you have healed from delivery. Keep a notepad handy
to write down any questions you may have. Take your
questions with you when you visit your physician/midwife
or your baby’s physician for follow-up care.
If you have additional questions, please consult your
For additional information, visit the Ohio Department of
Health website at
Resuming sexual relations
Your physician/midwife will advise you on resuming sexual
intercourse. Family planning can be achieved in a variety
of ways and should be discussed with your partner and
physician/midwife. Remember that breastfeeding is not
a form of birth control.
After the birth of your baby, your sex drive may decrease
temporarily due to hormonal changes, fatigue and
adjusting to the demands of parenting. Many men and
women fear that intercourse will be painful to the woman.
Not all women have pain. For women who do experience
pain, the intensity varies from woman to woman.
During this time, kissing, cuddling and massage can be
acceptable alternatives to intercourse. Most importantly,
talk to each other about your feelings and concerns.
When you decide to resume intercourse, the following
suggestions may be helpful to you and your partner:
• The natural lubrication of your vagina following childbirth
may take longer than before you had your baby,
particularly if you are breastfeeding. Use a lubricant such
as KY® jelly or Astroglide® to assist in this process.
• Breastfeeding before intercourse will help keep your baby
content and decrease the chance of leaking breast milk.
• Varying positions may help, as some may be more
comfortable than others.
• Maintaining your sense of humor will be helpful.
• Contact your physician/midwife for additional
II. Caring for your newborn
Your baby from head to toe
Your child is the greatest gift you will receive. Gathering
information and educating yourself will calm your fears
and answer questions as you prepare to care for your infant.
You probably know much more about being a parent than
you think. From childhood, you have learned parenting
skills by watching your own parents and other families.
Perhaps you have experience in caring for other children.
Also, you have instinctive responses that will help you
develop your own skills and parenting style. This section
will serve as a guide in the first days and weeks of life of
your newborn.
Soft spots
There are two fontanels, or soft spots, on your baby’s
head. These are normal and allow for rapid growth of the
brain. Fontanels can vary greatly in size from one baby to
another. The larger one, located on top toward the front
of the head, has a diamond shape. The other one is located
toward the back of the head and is somewhat triangular.
Do not be afraid to gently touch these areas. There is a
tough membrane under the skin that protects the skull’s
contents. You can expect the soft spot at the back of the
head to close by 4 months. The soft spot at the top will
close between 10 and 20 months.
Although your newborn’s eyes may be closed most of the
time, when he is awake, he can see. The best distance for
him to focus is eight to 15 inches from his face. Babies
can distinguish light from dark, prefer patterns to solid
colors and are fascinated by the human face. As you look
at your baby’s eyes, you may notice small red areas in the
whites of the eyes, making them appear bloodshot. This is
caused by blood vessels breaking during the birth process.
These areas will disappear on their own. You also may
notice his eyes appear crossed or like they are drifting. This
occurs because his eye muscles are immature and are still
developing. Eye color may change until he is 6 months.
Your newborn can hear at birth. Very early, your baby will
recognize familiar voices and can be comforted by them.
In addition to providing comfort, speaking to your baby
can aid in language development. If you watch carefully,
you may even see him make slight movements with his
arms and legs in response to your speech.
Smelling, tasting and touching
In addition to preferring certain patterns and sounds,
your baby will prefer certain smells and tastes. A nursing
baby quickly learns to recognize the smell and taste of his
mother’s milk and will ignore another nursing mother’s
milk. He also is sensitive to touch and the way you handle
him. Gentle stroking will comfort him, while picking him
up roughly is likely to cause him to cry.
At birth, you may notice a creamy, white substance
covering your baby’s skin or in the folds of skin. This
substance is called vernix and acts as a protective coating.
It is easily absorbed or wiped off and usually disappears
after the first bath. Your baby’s skin also may peel as it
adjusts to the air outside the womb. This process is normal
and requires no treatment. Small white dots on the face,
called milia, also may appear. They may look like pimples,
but don’t squeeze or wash them vigorously. They will
clear on their own. General skin rashes and birthmarks are
common. Most fade in the first weeks without treatment.
The breast area on both boys and girls may be slightly
swollen and even have a small discharge. This is normal
and will correct itself. A bluish appearance of your baby’s
feet and hands during the first few hours after birth is due
to immature circulation and will correct itself.
Male and female sex organs (genitalia)
The genitals of newborns are often reddish and seem
quite large for bodies so small. Your baby girl may have a
clear white or slightly bloody vaginal discharge caused by
exposure to her mother’s hormones during pregnancy.
This is normal and requires no special treatment.
Parent information about Universal
Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) in Ohio
In Ohio, hospitals perform a hearing screening, called
Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, on every baby
before going home so that hearing loss can be identified
at the earliest possible point.
What is UNHS?
UNHS is a statewide program that requires all babies to
receive a hearing screening before going home from the
hospital. In Ohio, there are approximately 450 babies born
with hearing loss each year.
For additional information, visit the Ohio Department of
Health website at
Sometimes your baby’s ears may appear flattened or even
folded against his head. This soon will correct itself.
Critical congenital heart disease
(CCHD) screening
Birth defects are one of the leading causes of infant
mortality in Ohio, and heart defects make up the largest
volume of birth defects that cause infants to die before
their first birthday. However, some babies appear to be
healthy and without symptoms, yet they may have CCHD.
Screening newborns by pulse oximetry prior to hospital
discharge has been shown to be an effective strategy
for identifying babies with seven specific CCHDs. Early
diagnosis of CCHDs improves health outcomes and
reduces health care costs.
Jaundice is a yellow or suntanned tint to your baby’s skin.
Many newborn babies get some jaundice. It is caused by an
increase of bilirubin, which comes from blood breakdown.
You can lessen the amount of bilirubin by breastfeeding soon
and often after the birth of your baby and for a long period
of time. Your milk has a laxative effect that helps your baby
move his bowels more. Bilirubin passes out of his system with
bowel movements. However, your pediatrician may suggest
supplementing with formula to increase the fluid intake. If
you are not breastfeeding, your pediatrician may increase the
amount of times you offer your baby formula.
An infant at home with significant jaundice that is not
appropriately treated can develop severe and permanent
brain damage. If your baby shows signs of significant
jaundice (spreading to include the chest and stomach),
blood tests must be performed, and occasionally
treatment will be required.
Keep in mind:
• Jaundice is rarely present at birth and may not become
evident until a baby is several days old. It typically peaks
at day three or four.
aundice is first noticed on the baby’s face. As it increases
in severity, it spreads to the chest, the stomach and then
the legs.
• Test for jaundice by pressing gently on your baby’s
stomach with your thumbs and pulling your thumbs
apart to stretch the skin slightly. If the resulting imprint
is yellow (not flesh), contact your pediatrician. Always
check for jaundice in natural light—not by lamp or
fluorescent lights.
Call your baby’s physician if:
• The yellow or suntanned tint spreads to your baby’s
eyes, stomach or legs, or if your baby is drowsy and
feeding poorly
• Your baby has fewer wet diapers and bowel movements
(recording them daily will provide good information
for your baby’s physician)
Infant behavior
Your newborn probably will sleep up to 16 hours a day
divided into two- to four-hour naps. Your baby’s sleep
needs will be unpredictable at first, and some babies
will sleep more or less than others. During this time, it is
important for you to get enough rest by sleeping when
your baby sleeps.
Crying is your baby’s primary method of communicating.
He will cry for many reasons. He may be hungry, tired,
uncomfortable, overstimulated, bored, lonely or sick. As
you get to know him, you’ll learn how to interpret each
cry. Respond quickly to your baby’s cries in the first few
months. You cannot spoil a baby by giving him attention.
The more relaxed you remain, the easier it will be to
console your newborn.
If your baby is crying a lot, try some of these consoling
• Burp him frequently during feedings to relieve trapped gas.
• Rock him in a chair or stand swaying back and forth.
• Gently stroke or pat his head, back or chest.
• Find a calm, quiet place. Turn out the lights, and turn off
loud music and the TV.
• Run the vacuum, dryer, dishwasher or fan to make
background noise.
• Place the baby in a baby swing.
• Wrap him snugly in a receiving blanket.
• Introduce rhythmic noise and vibration, such as riding
in the car or walking him in a stroller.
• Put him in a warm bath if his umbilical cord has come
off and healed (most babies like this, but not all).
• Sing, talk or play soft music.
If all else fails, place the baby on his back in a safe crib
or playpen. Walk away and check back every five to 10
minutes. Crying is difficult to listen to and can be frustrating.
If you need help dealing with frustrations, call a friend or
family member to help so that you can have a break. It
is very important to never shake a baby no matter how
impatient you feel. Shaking can cause brain damage, mental
retardation or death.
You are your baby’s protector
Choose caregivers wisely. Even when you aren’t with your
baby, you are responsible for your baby’s safety. Before
leaving your baby with anyone, ask these questions:
• Does this person want to watch my baby?
• Have I had a chance to watch this person with my
baby before I leave?
• Is this person good with babies?
• Will my baby be in a safe place with this person?
• Have I told this person to never shake my baby?
Never shake your baby
No matter how long your baby cries or how frustrated you
feel, never shake or hit your baby.
Shaking can cause brain damage that can lead to:
• Blindness
• Deafness
• Epilepsy
• Cerebral palsy
• Mental retardation
• Poor coordination
• Learning problems
• Behavior problems
• Death
Shaken baby syndrome is a brain injury that happens when
a frustrated person violently shakes a baby or toddler.
Trust your instinct
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t leave your baby! Do not leave
your baby with anyone who:
• Is impatient or annoyed when your baby cries
• Says your baby cries too much
• Will become angry if your baby cries or bothers them
• Might treat your baby roughly because they are angry with you
• Has a history of violence
• Has lost custody of their own children because they could
not care for them
• Abuses drugs or alcohol
Has your baby been shaken? Call 911
All of these signs are very serious:
• Limp, like a ragdoll
• Poor sucking and swallowing
• Trouble breathing
• Unable to waken
• Irritability or crankiness
• Seizures or trembling
• Vomiting
• Skin looks blue or feels cold
Save precious time! If you think your baby has been shaken,
tell the doctors right away.
For more help coping with a crying baby, contact:
Help Me Grow
1 800 755 GROW
Ohio Department of Health
Common traits
Additional behaviors you can expect from your newborn:
• He’ll sneeze to clear his nose and throat
• He’ll keep his arms and legs bent up close to his body
and his fingers tightly clenched
• He may startle easily or have tremors of the legs, arms or chin.
This is due to his immature nervous system that is still developing
• He will hiccup. Hiccups are little muscle spasms. You may
offer a feeding, but hiccups usually go away on their own
• He probably won’t have tears when he cries for a few
weeks or months
hen placed on his stomach, he may try to lift and
turn his head
Feeding your baby
Developing an “I can do it” attitude is the most important
step you can take toward successful breastfeeding. Breast
milk is the perfect food for your baby, supplying nutrients,
vitamins and germ fighters for healthy development.
Nursing your baby also is a wonderful time for closeness
as your body continues to nourish him just as it did in the
womb. For more information on breastfeeding, refer to
the breastfeeding guide given to you at the hospital. If
you have questions about breastfeeding, contact one of
our lactation consultants at 513 862 PUMP (7867) or visit
You may choose to bottle-feed your baby. There are several
infant formulas on the market. Contact your pediatrician
for a recommendation of a formula brand and type. Infant
formula is available in different forms: ready-to-use, liquid
concentrate and powder. Follow the manufacturer’s
directions for mixing, using and storing formula. Never give
your baby regular milk—always use formula recommended
by your baby’s physician.
If your tap water is chlorinated, you can clean bottles, nipples,
caps, etc., in your dishwasher or wash them in hot water
with dish soap. If you hand wash them, be sure to rinse them
thoroughly in hot water. If you have well or non-chlorinated
water, boil bottles, nipples, caps, etc. for five to 10 minutes. It
is best to feed your infant formula every three to four hours.
At first, some babies may take only one ounce of formula.
The amount he takes will increase over the first week. Most
babies take one to three ounces over a 10- to 20-minute
period. Call your baby’s physician if the baby takes less than
one ounce at each feeding for two to three feedings in a row.
Tips for bottle-feeding
• Powdered formulas will mix more easily and the lumps
will dissolve faster if you use slightly warm water.
efrigerated formula doesn’t necessarily have to be
warmed for your baby, but most infants prefer it warmed
at least to room temperature.
e extra careful when heating a bottle containing
formula to make sure it isn’t too hot. A few drops on your
wrist should not feel too hot. Never heat a bottle with
formula in a microwave or in a pan of water directly on
the stove! It can heat unevenly, feeling cool to warm on
the outside and yet be very hot in the center. Instead,
heat the bottle in a bowl of very warm water until it
reaches a comfortable temperature.
• There are several nipple styles available. Consult your
pediatrician for a recommendation. Periodically check
nipples for signs of damage or wear and check the size
of the nipple hole. A nipple hole that is too small may
cause the baby to suck harder and take in more air. A
nipple hole that is too large may allow the formula to
flow too quickly, causing the baby to choke.
o test whether the nipple hole is the right size, hold
the bottle upside down. When you first turn it upside
down, one drop should escape every second. After a
few seconds, the dripping should stop. You can also
tell if the nipple hole is the right size by how your
baby feeds. If he sucks hard for a while and then pulls
away frustrated and cries, the hole is too small. If he
gulps and milk keeps leaking out of the corners of his
mouth, the hole is too large.
ou can shrink a large nipple hole by boiling the
nipple for five minutes. If that doesn’t work, save the
nipple until your baby is bigger and can swallow more
fluids. You can widen a small nipple hole with a redhot needle. After you widen the nipple hole, sterilize
the nipple by boiling it.
• When feeding your baby, cradle him so that he is
sitting almost upright and support his head. Never
feed him when he’s lying flat and never prop the bottle.
This could increase the risk of choking or developing
ear infections.
• To minimize the intake of air while feeding, make sure
you hold the bottle so that formula fills the neck of the
bottle and covers the nipple. Bottle systems that use
pre-sterilized plastic inner liners prevent air from entering
as the baby sucks. Burp your baby halfway through each
feeding and at the end. If your baby is a fast eater, you
may need to burp him more often.
• You may need to increase the quantity and frequency of
your baby’s feedings. Your pediatrician can best advise
you regarding when to do this.
other. With his head turned toward one side, hold him
securely with one hand and pat him gently on the back
with the other.
Spitting up
Spitting up is another common concern during infancy.
Spitting up the first day or two after birth is most often due
to fluid swallowed at delivery. Sometimes spit-up is caused
by the baby eating more than his stomach can hold, or
sometimes spit-up will occur when the baby is burping or
drooling. This is no cause for concern. Some babies spit
up more than others, but most are out of this phase by the
time they are sitting. Spit-up never should be brown, red
or green in color. If it is, consult with your pediatrician; this
could be stool, blood or bile.
Vomit differs from spit-up in that it is forceful and
produces a greater volume (about a tablespoon of
fluid). To decide whether your baby is vomiting, splash a
tablespoon of water on a cloth and compare it to the fluid
your baby spit up. If your baby vomits on a regular basis
(one or more times a day), consult your pediatrician.
Using the bulb syringe
A bulb syringe will be sent home with you when you leave
the hospital. This can be used to clear formula from your
baby’s mouth and clear mucus from his nose. To use
it, completely depress the bulb before inserting the tip
into the side of the baby’s mouth; suction is achieved by
releasing the bulb. Empty the bulb completely and then
depress it before suctioning another time. After suctioning
the mouth, you may suction each nostril using the same
technique. Remember to suction the mouth first, nostrils
second. Afterward, wash the bulb inside and out by
depressing it in warm, soapy water and rinsing well. Prop
the bulb so all the water drains.
Caring for your baby
There are a few tried-and-true burping techniques. After a
little experimentation, you’ll find the one(s) that work best
for your baby. You also may develop new methods of
your own.
Your infant doesn’t need a lot of bathing as long as you
clean the diaper area well when you change his diaper. A
sponge bath two or three times a week until his umbilical
cord has fallen off and the area is healed is all he requires.
Tub baths can begin after the cord area is healed.
• Head on your shoulder—Hold your baby upright with his
head on your shoulder, supporting his head and back
while patting gently. Put a soft towel or cloth diaper on
your shoulder in case of spit-up.
• Gather supplies to be used for the bath before getting the
baby. You’ll need a basin of warm water, two washcloths, a
towel, mild soap, baby shampoo, Vaseline® for circumcision
care (if your child is a boy), a clean diaper and clean clothing.
• Sitting up—With your baby seated on your lap, lean him
forward and support his chest and head by allowing his
jaw to rest in your hand. Pat him gently on the back with
your other hand.
• In a warm room, lay the baby anywhere that’s flat and
comfortable for you. If the baby is on a surface above the
floor, use a safety strap or keep one hand on him at all
times to ensure he doesn’t fall.
• Tummy down across lap—Lay your baby on your lap with
his stomach over one leg and his head resting on the
• Keep the baby in a towel and expose only the parts of his
body you are washing.
• Test the temperature of the water with your wrist
or elbow.
• Start by washing the face with clear water—don’t use soap.
Use a corner of a washcloth to clean the area around each
eye, wiping from the inner to the outer corner. Use a
different corner of the washcloth for each eye.
• For the ears and nose, use a washcloth, wiping only what
can be seen. Never use cotton swabs in the ears or nose
due to the risk of damaging delicate tissue from cleaning
too deeply.
• To shampoo hair and scalp, cradle the baby’s head or
use a football hold, wet the head and apply a tear-free
baby shampoo. Massage the scalp using your fingers,
a washcloth or a soft brush. This will help prevent baby
dandruff called cradle cap. Rinse thoroughly with clear
water and gently dry.
• Wash the rest of baby’s body with warm, soapy water,
paying close attention to creases around the neck and
under the arms, and around the legs and diaper area.
• When cleaning the diaper area, clean girls from front
to back so that you don’t spread bacteria from their
bowel movement. When cleaning boys, be sure to wipe
beneath the scrotum. (See section on circumcised/
uncircumcised penis care.)
• Dry your baby thoroughly and dress him appropriately
for the weather.
• Cautions regarding the use of oil, powder and lotion:
Oils generally are not recommended for use on
newborns because they are not easily absorbed into
the skin. Powder creates a risk for suffocation if the baby
breathes the powder. If you are going to use powder,
shake it out away from your baby and then pat the
powder on his skin. Be sure to keep the powder out of
your baby’s reach. You should use only lotions and other
skin care products specifically made for babies.
Circumcised/uncircumcised penis care
Whether to have your son circumcised is a decision that
ideally should be made before coming to the hospital.
Your pediatrician can advise you on the risks and benefits
of either choice. Your obstetrician can perform the
procedure. Your baby may need to stay in the hospital as
long as two hours after the procedure so the site can be
observed for bleeding.
Circumcised penis care—For five days following the
circumcision, squeeze a pea-sized amount of Vaseline
onto the site during each diaper change until the tube of
ointment is used. It is important to keep the area as clean
as possible. If particles of stool get on the penis, cleanse
the area by squeezing warm, soapy water over the site and
wiping gently with a soft cloth.
The tip of the penis may look quite red and have a yellow
secretion for the first few days. This indicates that the area
is healing normally. If there is bleeding at the circumcision
site, apply pressure with a clean cloth or gauze pad. Contact
your pediatrician if this does not stop the bleeding. Within a
week, the redness and secretion should gradually disappear.
One week after the circumcision, you will need to pull back
the skin from the cut surface to keep it from sticking. You
can do this by giving the base of the penis a tug about two
times a day. If, after a week, redness persists or there is
swelling or crusted yellow sores that contain cloudy fluid,
the penis may be infected. If so, consult your pediatrician.
Uncircumcised penis care—During the first few months,
clean the penis with warm, soapy water as you would
the rest of the diaper area. Do not try to pull back the
foreskin. It is not necessary to cleanse the penis with
swabs or antiseptics. On occasion, you should watch your
baby urinate to make sure the opening in the foreskin is
large enough to permit a normal stream. The pediatrician
will tell you when the foreskin has separated and can be
pulled back safely.
Cord care
After birth, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. This
clamp will remain in place for 24 to 48 hours or until the
cord is dry. The remaining cord will turn black and fall off
when your baby is between 1 and 2 weeks old.
Do not give baths until the cord falls off. Simply wipe the
area with a wet washcloth or sponge, avoiding the umbilical
cord. If the cord becomes soiled or appears moist, or if
there is a small amount of discharge at the bottom near the
skin, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to wipe it down.
Because the cord will dry and heal faster if exposed to air,
turn the diaper down below it and fold clothing above it,
leaving the cord exposed. Do not place your infant in any
tight-fitting sleepers or onesies until the cord falls off. It is
normal for there to be a slight amount of bleeding as the
cord falls off. Call your pediatrician if the skin around the
cord becomes excessively red, if there is a foul odor or if
there is a lot of drainage.
Plan on using about 70 diapers per week. Change your
baby’s diaper as soon as possible after bowel movements
or wetting. Gather the supplies ahead of time and choose
a safe, flat surface with enough room to work. Never
leave your baby unattended. When changing a wet diaper,
cleanse from front to back. When changing a diaper after a
bowel movement, use a soft cloth and warm, soapy water,
cleansing from front to back. Be sure to rinse with clear
water and pat dry. Wipes that are manufactured specifically
for babies may be used to cleanse the baby’s diaper area.
Pay close attention to removing the stool from creases
around the legs and the diaper area.
Your baby may wet his diaper every one to three hours
or as infrequently as four to six times a day. If you notice
signs of pain while your baby is urinating, call your
pediatrician. Pain while urinating may be a sign of a urinary
tract infection. Urine should be clear or light yellow in
color. Blood in the urine or a bloody spot on your baby’s
diaper also should be reported to your pediatrician.
• To prevent your baby from slipping while bathing him in the
sink, set him on a washcloth and hold him under the arms.
Bowel movements
For the first few days, your baby’s bowel movements will
be thick and dark green or black. This is called meconium.
Once the meconium is passed, the stools will turn yellowgreen. If your baby is breastfed, the stool then takes on a
yellow, seedy appearance. The consistency of the stool
will be soft or slightly runny. If your baby is bottle-fed,
the stool will usually turn a tan or yellow color and will be
firmer in consistency than the stool of a breastfed baby.
Handling and positioning
Newborns have very little head control and need to have
their head and neck supported to keep their head from
flopping side to side or front to back.
The frequency of bowel movements varies from one baby
to another. Many babies have a stool soon after each
feeding. By age 3 to 6 weeks, it is typical for some breastfed
babies to have only one bowel movement a week. This
happens because breast milk leaves very little solid waste.
Infrequent stools are not considered a problem as long
as they are not hard and dry and your infant is otherwise
normal, gaining weight steadily and nursing regularly.
If your baby is formula-fed, he should have at least one
bowel movement a day. Whether you are breastfeeding
or bottle-feeding your baby, hard or dry stools may be a
sign that your baby is not drinking enough fluids or that
he is losing too much fluid due to illness or heat. Contact
your pediatrician for advice to manage this condition.
Call your pediatrician if your baby has a sudden increase
in frequency of bowel movements (more than one per
feeding) and the stool is more watery. This may be a sign
of diarrhea. Large amounts of blood, mucus or water in
your baby’s stool also could be a sign of severe diarrhea or
an intestinal problem. The main concern with diarrhea is
the chance for dehydration. If your child is younger than
2 months old and has diarrhea combined with a fever,
call your pediatrician immediately.
Diaper rash
Frequent diaper changes and thorough cleansing and airing
of the diaper area usually will prevent diaper rash (redness or
small bumps on your baby’s skin in the diaper area). If diaper
rash develops, call your pediatrician for recommendation of a
diaper cream or ointment and any further treatment.
• Do NOT begin tub baths until the umbilical cord falls off and
the area is healed (one to two weeks). Until this time, you
may wipe the baby down with a sponge or wet cloth.
• To prevent your baby from being scalded, adjust the
temperature of your water heater to less than 120 degrees
Fahrenheit. Never run water while your baby is in the sink or
bath, and never run it directly on your baby.
• Never leave your baby unattended when bathing him.
Drowning can occur very quickly in small amounts of water.
When positioning your baby for sleep, it is important to
place your baby on his back to help reduce the risk of
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (See section III).
Do this whether your baby is being put down for a nap
or to bed for the night. Although this recommendation is
different from the way many people were taught in the
past, physicians and nurses now believe that fewer babies
will die of SIDS if infants sleep on their backs. Be patient as
your baby adjusts to this safer sleep position.
Your baby should be placed on his tummy when awake to
help promote muscle development and prevent flattening
of the back of the head. Be sure someone is in the same
room watching your baby any time he is on his tummy.
Head flattening can also be avoided by changing head
position while sleeping on the back.
Kangaroo care
Kangaroo care is a special way to hold your baby for skin-toskin contact. Your baby is placed on your bare chest wearing
only a diaper and hat. The baby snuggles on your chest
covered with a blanket, just like a kangaroo’s pouch. That’s
why it’s called kangaroo care or KC.
Doctors say that holding a baby skin-to-skin is the “best
care” for your baby. Kangaroo care is good for your baby
throughout your hospital stay and when you return home.
You can pratice kangaroo care at home holding your baby
skin-to-skin as often as you like. You and your baby continue
to get all of the benefits that you had in the hospital.
Taking your baby’s temperature
We no longer use or encourage the use of a mercury
thermometer. Please follow the instructions on the package
insert for the proper use of any purchased digital thermometer.
When to call your baby’s physician
A fever is considered to be a temperature greater than 99.5
degrees Fahrenheit rectally or greater than 99 degrees
Fahrenheit axillary (under the arm). Notify your pediatrician
if your baby has a fever and specify the method you
used to take it—rectally or axillary. Also, contact your
pediatrician if your child has the following symptoms:
• Poor feeding, continued spitting-up of formula or
forceful vomiting
• Excessive drowsiness, sleeping through feeding times,
or unusual inactivity or quietness
• Persistent crying or irritability
• Less than two wet diapers a day during the first 48 hours
of life and less than three wet diapers a day after 48 hours
• Constipation or dry stools
• Loose, watery bowel movements
• Difficulty breathing or a persistent cough
• Grayish-blue coloring around the mouth, lips and tongue
when feeding or crying
• Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
• Redness or discharge from the eyes
• Generalized rash, especially if accompanied by fever
• Redness or foul odor in cord area
• Bleeding or drainage from the circumcision that
continues and increases after discharge from the hospital
• Reddened, enlarged breasts (both girls and boys)
• White patches in the mouth (thrush) that cannot be
wiped away with a soft cloth (unlike formula or breast
milk, which is easily wiped off)
When calling your baby’s pediatrician, have the following
information available:
• Your baby’s temperature and the method used to
measure it—rectally or axillary
• Other symptoms that are causing you concern
• The phone number of your pharmacy
Having all this information ready will help your physician
make a fast, informed decision.
III. Safety Check
Cribs should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission standards.
• Crib sides should always be up when baby is unattended.
• Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.
• The mattress should fit snugly inside the crib, and linens
should be well-fitted, not loose. There should be no missing,
loose or broken crib or mattress-support hardware.
• There should be no soft materials or objects such as
pillows, comforters or loose bedding under a sleeping
baby or in the crib. If blankets are to be used, they should
be tucked in around the crib mattress so the infant’s face
is less likely to be covered by the bedding.
• Avoid toys with long strings and small objects. Mobiles
and cradle gyms must be tightly secured. Big floppy toys
should not be in the crib.
Car seats
Ohio state law requires that your infant ride in a properly
installed, federally approved and crash-tested car seat every
time he rides in any vehicle, beginning with the trip home
from the hospital, until he both turns 4 and weighs 40 pounds.
Newborns always should ride in an appropriate car seat facing
rearward in the back seat of the vehicle. Never place an infant
in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an air bag.
If your baby does not have a safe car seat, an infant car seat
can be purchased through TriHealth’s Car Seat Program by
calling one of the numbers below. Parents must have a car
seat before bringing their baby home from the hospital.
Bethesda North Hospital
Good Samaritan Hospital
513 865 1526
513 862 4388
Basic car seat safety
• Your baby should ride in a rear-facing car seat up to at least
age 2. This is the safest position. It protects babies from
spinal cord injury.
• Transport your baby in the back seat. The back seat
usually is safer than the front seat.
• If your car has a passenger air bag, never put your baby
in the front seat, unless the air bag has been turned off
(see section on air bag danger).
• Make the seat belt tight around the car seat. Fasten the
harness snugly over your baby’s shoulders.
• Follow car seat instructions and the vehicle manual to
use and install the car seat correctly.
• Beware of used car seats. They may have hidden safety
problems, compromising safety effectiveness if you’re in
an accident and putting your baby at risk.
• Never leave your baby or child alone in the car. There are
a number of hazards including the danger of overheating.
Bringing your new baby home
• Dress your baby in clothes with legs so the crotch strap
can go between his legs.
• Adjust the harness to fit snugly. Avoid using thick
blankets, a heavy snowsuit or a bunting under the straps.
These make it impossible to get the harness tight enough
to hold the baby in a crash. To keep your baby warm,
buckle the harness first, then tuck a blanket over it.
• Put the harness straps in the lowest slots. Straps should
be in slots closest to or just below your baby’s shoulders
in the rear-facing position.
• Pad the sides of the car seat so your new baby sits comfortably.
• Tuck rolled blankets or towels alongside your baby. If he slumps,
add a rolled washcloth between his crotch and the crotch strap.
There is no need to buy a separate head pad, which could make
the straps too loose. A pad that comes with the seat is okay.
Note: Hospital staff are not allowed to help you place your
baby in a car seat or secure the seat in the car.
Air bag danger—put your baby in the back!
An air bag can kill a baby riding in the front passenger seat,
even in a minor crash. Some small trucks and sports cars
have air bag on/off switches. If you must put your baby
in front, make sure the air bag has been shut off. Older
children also are safer in the back. Buckle them up!
Installing a car seat securely
• Place the car seat in the back seat, facing the rear. The
back seat is usually safer than the front, especially in a
vehicle with a passenger air bag.
• Fasten the seat belt tightly. Different types of belts are
tightened in different ways. Check the vehicle owner’s
manual and labels on seat belts. Make sure the car
seat stays in place when you push down on the top or
sideways at the base. It is OK for a rear-facing car seat
to tip toward the back of the car. Some new car seats
have LATCH straps to anchor them to the vehicle. Use
the straps if you have a new vehicle with special LATCH
anchors (check car owner’s manual and seat instructions).
• Make sure your baby reclines far enough so his head
doesn’t flop forward. If the vehicle seat slopes, put a
tightly rolled towel or “noodle” under the base of the car
seat. Do not tilt it more than halfway back.
As your baby grows
• Keep harness straps in the lowest slots until your baby’s
shoulders reach the higher slots.
• If your baby uses an infant-only seat, move him into a
convertible car seat (one that can be used rear-facing
or forward-facing) when his head is one inch from the
top of the back of the car seat.
• Use a convertible seat facing the rear until your baby
reaches at least 2 years of age. Even after age 2, ride
facing the rear to protect your baby’s spine.
Child car seat fitting locations
To verify that your car seat is installed properly in your
car, you can call AAA, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Medical Center or your local fire or police station.
Car seat fittings are by appointment ONLY. Please be sure
to call ahead and bring your car seat and manufacturer’s
installation instructions. If you cannot get an appointment
within seven to 10 days, you might want to call another
fitting station location.
To learn more about car safety for babies:
• Contact the Vehicle Safety hotline at
888 327 4236 or
• Contact the SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. helpline at
800 745 SAFE (7233) or
• Visit these web sites:
To prevent falls, never leave your baby unattended above
the floor (e.g., on a changing table, etc.).
• Small objects such as safety pins, small parts of toys, etc.,
should be kept out of reach of your baby. This includes
the toys of older brothers and sisters.
• Keep plastic bags or wrappings out of your baby’s reach.
• Sleeping with your baby in your bed, or on a sofa or couch,
may be dangerous. (See section on helping your baby sleep
and nap safely.)
our baby should be dressed only in clothing treated
with flame-retardant chemicals.
• Install smoke detectors in appropriate locations
throughout your home and maintain them according
to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Never leave your baby alone in the house, yard or car.
• Never leave your baby alone with pets or other small children.
• Do not attach pacifiers, medallions or other objects
to the crib or to your baby with a cord.
• Do not place a string or necklace around your baby’s neck.
Shots for your child’s health
Your child’s health is at risk unless he is properly immunized.
Shots (immunizations) prevent serious illnesses that can cause:
• Pain
• Hearing loss
• Fever
• Blindness
• Rashes
• Crippling
• Coughs
• Brain damage
• Sore throat
• Death
All babies need shots
A baby may get one shot right after birth. This shot is
vitamin K, which helps prevent clotting problems. Before
your baby is discharged from the hospital, your baby
should receive his first immunization shot to protect
against hepatitis B virus. More shots should be given later,
starting at 1 or 2 months of age. Please talk with your
baby’s doctor at his first office visit about further shots.* If
a child did not receive shots as a baby, he should still get
them. Your child may need shots to go to day care, camp
or school. Don’t wait until then. Protect your child by
immunizing him now.
Your child can’t afford to be without shots!
This chart shows acceptable age ranges for shots. Consult
your child’s health care provider on when your child
should get shots.
*A combination shot may be given for hepatitis B, diphtheria,
tetanus, pertussis and polio in place of individual shots at
2, 4 and 6 months. Ask about this shot.
Child’s age
Birth to 2 months
Hep B (hepatitis B)
1 to 4 months
Hep B
2 months
DtaP (diphtheria, tetanus and
pertussis), IPV (polio),
Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B),
PCV (pneumococcal disease)
4 months
DtaP, IPV, Hib, PCV
6 months
DtaP, Hib, PCV
6 to 18 months
Hep B, IPV
12 to 15 months
Hib, MMR (measles, mumps and
rubella), PCV
12 to 18 months
VAR (chickenpox)
15 to 18 months
24 months to 18 years
VAR (if your child has not had the
chickenpox shot and has never had
chickenpox), Hep B (if your child has
not had the hepatitis B shots)
4 to 6 years
(before starting school)
11 to 18 years
Td (tetanus, diphtheria), then
Td booster every 10 years
Catch-up shot(s)
MMR (if your child has not had the
MMR shots)
Shots may hurt a little but are worth it
Ask your child’s health care provider what to expect after
a shot. Some side effects include:
• Crankiness
• Slight fever (see note below)
• Soreness or swelling where shot was given
Other problems are very rare. Call your child’s
health care provider right away if your child:
• Has a high fever (see note below)
• Has seizures
• Cries for more than three hours
• Is hard to wake up
• Goes limp/pale
• Has other unusual symptoms
NOTE: Call your health care provider if your child is:
• Under 3 months and has a temperature of 100.2 degrees
Fahrenheit or higher
• 3 to 6 months and has a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit
or higher
• Older than 6 months and has a fever of 102 degrees
Fahrenheit or higher
Read the vaccine information statement (VIS) for each shot
your child receives. Your child’s health care provider is
required to give you this statement.
Need help paying for shots?
For more information, call your local health department/
clinic or your Social Security or Medicaid office. You also
may wish to contact the Centers for Disease Control’s
National Immunization Hotline:
• 1 800 232 2522 (English)
• 1 800 232 0233 (Spanish)
• 1 800 243 7889 (TTY)
NOTE: Certain children may also need:
• Hepatitis A shots
• A yearly influenza (flu) shot
• Additional or catch-up pneumococcal disease shots
Be sure to ask your child’s health care provider if your child
needs these and other shots (such as for foreign travel).
Based on information provided by The Ohio Department of Health
Immunization Program, P. O. Box 118, Columbus, OH 43216-0118.
SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
What is SIDS?
SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under
1 year of age. Because many SIDS babies are found in their
cribs, some people call SIDS “crib death.” But cribs do not
cause SIDS.
Facts about SIDS
Physicians and nurses do not know what causes SIDS,
but they do know:
• SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between
1 month and 1 year of age
• Most SIDS deaths happen in babies younger than
6 months old
• Babies placed on their stomachs to sleep are much
more likely to die of SIDS than babies placed on their
backs to sleep
• Babies are more likely to die of SIDS if they are placed
to sleep on top of soft bedding or if they are covered
by soft bedding
• African-American babies are two times more likely
to die of SIDS than Caucasian babies
• Native American babies are almost three times more
likely to die of SIDS than Caucasian babies
What can I do to help lower the risk of SIDS?
Even though there is no way to know which babies might
die of SIDS, there are ways to make your baby safer.
lways place your baby on his back to sleep, even for
naps. This is the safest sleep position for a healthy baby
to reduce the risk of SIDS. Research now shows that
fewer babies die of SIDS when they sleep on their backs.
lace your baby on a firm mattress, such as in a safetyapproved crib.* Research has shown that placing a
baby to sleep on soft mattresses, sofas, sofa cushions,
waterbeds, sheepskins or other soft surfaces greatly
increases the risk of SIDS.
emove soft, fluffy, loose bedding and stuffed toys from
your baby’s sleep area. Make sure you keep all pillows,
quilts, stuffed toys and other soft items away from your
baby’s sleep area.
ake sure everyone who cares for your baby knows
about the dangers of soft bedding and to place your
baby on his back to sleep. Talk to child care providers,
grandparents, babysitters and all caregivers about the
risk of SIDS. Remember, every sleep time counts, day or
night. So, for the least risk, remind every caregiver to place
your baby on firm bedding and on his back to sleep.
ake sure your baby’s face and head stay uncovered
during sleep. Keep blankets and other coverings away
from your baby’s mouth and nose. The best way to do
this is to dress your baby in sleep clothing so you will not
have to use any other covering over him. If you do use a
blanket or another covering, make sure your baby’s feet
are at the bottom of the crib, the blanket is no higher
than his chest and the blanket is tucked in around the
bottom of the crib mattress.
o not allow smoking around your baby. Don’t smoke
before or after the birth of your baby, and make sure no
one smokes around your baby.
on’t let your baby get too warm during sleep. Keep
your baby warm during sleep, but not too warm.
Your baby’s room should be at a temperature that is
comfortable for an adult. Too many layers of clothing or
blankets can overheat your baby.
*For more information on crib safety guidelines,
call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at
1 800 638 2772 or visit
Follow the ABCs of safe sleep
Every week in Ohio, three babies die in unsafe sleep
environments. There are many misconceptions about
safe sleep for babies. Get the facts from the experts at
the American Academy of Pediatrics and follow these
guidelines to keep your baby safe while sleeping.
Share the room, not the bed! Never nap on a couch or
chair while holding your baby. Always make sure your
baby is placed in a crib, bassinet or play yard with a firm
mattress. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in
the room where you sleep but not in your bed. Place the
baby’s crib, bassinet or play yard near your bed (within
arm’s reach). This makes it easier to breastfeed and bond
with your baby. Don’t place your baby to sleep on adult
beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, air mattresses, pillows or
cushions—even for naps!
There is no proven safe way to share the bed with
your child because:
• You can accidentally roll too close to or onto the
baby while he sleeps
• Babies can get trapped between the mattress and the
wall, headboard, footboard or other furniture
• Your baby could fall from the bed and get hurt or fall into a
pile of clothing or other soft items on the floor and suffocate
Science has proven that back is best for your baby! It’s
actually less likely for the baby to choke while on his
back because healthy babies naturally swallow or cough
up fluids—it’s a reflex all people have to make sure their
airway is kept clear. Babies might actually clear fluids
better when on their backs because of the location of
the windpipe (trachea) when in the back sleep position.
Even though your baby may sleep more soundly on his
stomach, it’s safer for the baby to wake through the night.
When babies sleep deeper, they don’t arouse or wake up
as often. When a baby is in a deep sleep and gets into a
situation where he needs to take a deep breath or wake
up, his airway may be blocked by a blanket or loose
bedding or covered in some other way, so he will be at
more risk for suffocation.
For the most part, flat spots on a baby’s head go away a
few months after the baby learns to sit up. There are other
ways to reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on
your baby’s head, such as providing “tummy time” when
your baby is awake and someone is watching. Tummy
time not only helps prevent flat spots, but it also helps a
baby’s head, neck and shoulder muscles get stronger.
Many parents believe their baby won’t be warm or
comfortable without bumper pads, blankets, pillows
and stuffed animals, but these items can be deadly.
Babies can suffocate on or be strangled by any extra
item in the crib. Your baby will be safe and warm even
without bumper pads and extra items in his crib. There
have been no cases of babies who have seriously hurt
themselves by getting stuck between the crib railings.
Babies aren’t capable of exerting enough force to break
an arm or leg between the crib slats. Consider the
option of a baby waking up because his hand or foot
may be caught. He will cry and wake you, but he will be
alive and breathing.
“Changing Concepts of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Implications for Infant Sleeping Environment and Sleep
Position.” American Academy of Pediatrics. Task Force on
Infant Sleep Position and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,
Pediatrics Vol. 105 pp. 650–656, 2000.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
NIH Pub. No. 02-7040, August 2003.
Ohio Department of Health
Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted
sheet that meets current safety standards. Bumper pads
and sleep-positioning wedges should not be placed in
the crib with the baby. Sleep clothing, such as fitted,
appropriate-sized sleepers, sleep sacks and wearable
blankets, is safer for your baby than blankets! If you
plan to swaddle your baby when you get home from
the hospital, visit to learn how to
swaddle safely.
If you do not have a crib, please contact TriHealth Cribs
for Kids at 513 865 1725. You can also check with your
state health department about a crib donation program.
For additional information about safe sleep,
please visit the following:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development
Ohio Department of Health
American Academy of Pediatrics
Your child’s Social Security number
Social Security numbers are free and required when filing
a tax return. You have two options for applying for one:
• Check the box at the bottom of the Birth Certificate
Information Worksheet to receive a Social Security
number for your newborn. It will take about four to six
weeks to receive your baby’s Social Security number.
• If you need more information about obtaining a
Social Security number for your child, call the
Social Security office at 1 800 772 1213.
Your child’s birth certificate
The hospital cannot provide patients with birth
certificates. There are two things you must do to apply
for a birth certificate:
• Return completed Birth Parent’s Worksheet to your
nurse before leaving the hospital.
rder the birth certificate online at (click on birth
records). If you have questions, you can call the Hamilton
County Public Health department at 513 946 7800. After
ordering the birth certificate, it may take as long as eight
weeks to receive the certificate.
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