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The black, tar-like stuff called meconium is made up of mucus, fluid from the womb, and anything else they digested while inside mom. But it doesn’t yet have the gut bacteria that make poop smelly. As soon as you start feeding a baby, bacteria will start colonizing their intestines. After a day or so, bowel movements become green, yellow, or brown — with that familiar odor.
Sometimes infants stop breathing.
Likely when they’re sleeping, they may pause without a breath for 5 to 10 seconds — just enough time to make a new mom or dad panic. Irregular breathing is normal. (But if your baby stops breathing for a longer time or turns blue, it’s a medical emergency.) When babies are excited or after crying, they may take more than 60 breaths in a minute.
They can scare themselves.
It doesn’t take much to startle a newborn: a loud noise, strong scent, bright light, sudden motion, even their own cries. You’ll know it’s happened when he flings his arms out to the sides, hands open, then quickly closes up and tucks back in toward his body. This Moro reflex might have developed as a warning signal that a young monkey was off-balance, so mom could prevent a fall.
While most parents are eager to give their babies the experience of their very first bath, it is important to ensure that your baby is truly ready. When you first bring your newborn home from the hospital, the stump of their umbilical cord must be kept clean and dry. While it is still attached, sponge baths are the best option for your baby.
Typically, after about 1 to 3 weeks, the umbilical cord stump will dry up and fall off. It is important to continue caring for the umbilical cord until the area completely heals. The ideal way to do this is to moisten one end of a cotton swab with water, gently clean around the base of the umbilical cord stump, and dry with the other side of the cotton swab.
Although moisture and drops of blood around the belly button is normal during this period of time, keeping the area clean and dry will help fight infection and prevent delayed healing. Check out our blog post on bathing a baby with an umbilical cord for more information.
Bathing Your Newborn
To get started, fill the baby bathtub or sink with just a couple of inches of warm water. Next, bring your baby to the bath area and undress them completely. Slowly place your baby in the bath, feet first, while supporting their head and neck above the water.
Remember to never, ever leave your newborn unattended in the bath – not even for a split second! You can use the plastic cup to pour warm water over the portion of their body that is not fully immersed in water, in order to prevent your baby from getting too cold during the bath.
Use your hand or the washcloth with a tiny amount of mild soap to gently wash your baby’s body. Ensure that their head and neck remain fully supported throughout the duration of the bath. After their whole body has been washed, use the plastic cup to gently rinse off the soap, and wipe your baby down with a clean washcloth.
Finally, slowly lift your baby out of the bath. Make sure to use an abundance of caution, as babies can be very slippery when wet! Wrap your newborn in a towel, and pat to dry. Your baby’s skin may still be peeling from birth, so you can also use a mild lotion before getting them dressed.