Becoming a parent for the first time is a joyous, exhilarating and uncertain time in your life; filled with wonder and awe of this tiny, new member of your family. Even if you already have children, welcoming another child into your family is still a wonderful experience. If you are new parents, you probably have a million thoughts and questions swirling around in your head. Some of them may be: How will the other children react to the new baby? Will I give the new baby enough attention like I did with the other kids? How will I know when something is wrong?
All of these questions and concerns are normal. You will learn your baby’s cries in the first few days and know what he needs. Since he cannot talk yet, crying is his only form of communication at this age. Some of his cries will mean that he’s hungry or needs his diaper changed, others will let you know if something is wrong with him.
Some of the warning signs you should not ignore are:
- Do you hear wheezing sounds or a whistling sound while he’s breathing? If it sounds more like a whistle, try using the aspirator to remove dried milk or mucus that could be blocking his nasal passage. If it’s a wheezing sound, it’s more likely a more serious illness, like asthma, and needs immediate medical attention. If it is asthma, your pediatrician may give you a machine called a nebulizer. This device turns the medicine into the mist for your baby to inhale.
- Is your newborn inconsolable and fussy or cries for hours at a time? This could be colic. Unfortunately, doctors do not know much about colic, only that it affects your baby’s digestive system and causes your little one pain and discomfort. Doctors suspect that colic can be a result of your baby’s diet. You may want to try different formulas if you are bottle-feeding. If you are nursing, pay close attention to the foods you are eating. For more information, see our article entitled: What Is Colic and How Can I Help My Newborn Find Relief?
- Have you noticed that your baby’s umbilical cord stump doesn’t look, right? It’s red and oozing fluid. This is a sign that it is infected and needs immediate medical attention. There is another cause for this, and it is a small stump that protrudes from your newborn’s navel after the umbilical cord falls off. This is not as serious as an infection but still, needs to be seen by your pediatrician.
- Is your little one running a temperature? Fevers is the body’s way of fighting an illness. Your newborn could have a cold, an ear infection, a stomach virus, a bacterial or viral infection, or croup. Make sure you take your baby’s temperature and tell your doctor which method you used. You may also want to document when you took the temperature and what the reading was each time. This way when you go to the doctor’s, you will have the information handy.
- Has your child been throwing up? Does it have a greenish color to it? It’s one thing if your child is spitting up regularly after his feedings, but it’s another thing if it’s discolored or if he’s projectile vomiting. This is a signal that he could have a blockage in his digestive tract and needs immediate medical attention.
Newborns are very tiny “adults” if you will. They just haven’t mastered the art of communication and learning your baby’s unique ways of communicating can be a challenge. One of the best things you can do is to be available when your child needs you and to learn to distinguish his cues. He will let you know if something is bothering him. The hard part is figuring out what’s troubling him. These will help you care for his needs, no matter how simple of serious the problem may be.