Q: My baby goes through so many diapers! Is that normal?
Babies aren’t able to hold urine or stool very well, so they do have frequent small voids. You don’t have to change them the second after they poop, however; they will typically have a second addition to their diaper within five minutes. You don’t want them sitting in their urine or stools for very long, though, because it can cause skin breakdown.
In general, babies should be changed at least six to eight times a day, usually after they eat, when they have a reflex to have a bowel movement. It gets easier as you start to learn your baby’s habits.
Q: I’m having trouble breastfeeding. Is formula okay sometimes?
Don’t feel guilty about supplementing with formula if you’re having breastfeeding challenges. As pediatricians, our goal is to help you become successful at breastfeeding, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen right from the start. We usually recommend supplementing if we are worried about dehydration, jaundice or too much weight loss. Then we work with you to get back to breastfeeding exclusively.
Q: How can I help my baby sleep better?
Babies’ needs vary widely. Some get their days and nights figured out very quickly, while others still wake every two hours for their food and mommy/daddy time.
To help your baby sleep longer at night, adjust feedings to be more frequent during the day and less frequent at night to clue your baby in to the day/night cycle. In addition, wake your baby if he has slept longer than three hours at a stretch during the day. Remember that babies should always be placed on their backs on a firm surface to sleep.
Q: My baby often spits up after eating. Am I feeding her too much?
Babies need to eat about every two to three hours in the first two weeks, and every three to four hours after that. They’ll typically breastfeed for 20 to 30 minutes each time. Bottle-fed babies will initially take one to two ounces at a time, working their way up to two to three ounces within two months.
A mouthful of spit-up after eating is normal, as long as your baby doesn’t seem upset by it. If she is spitting up more often or seems irritable when it happens, or if you are worried about her weight or dehydration, I recommend seeing your pediatrician.
Q: Any other advice?
There are no silly questions. We are on this adventure together, so let us help. Ask questions during your well-child exams; call and talk to one of our advice nurses if you’re unsure about anything; bring your baby in if you have a concern. That’s why we’re here.
Oana Enea, DO, is a pediatrician at The Portland Clinic.