12 burning questions all new parents ask

Clueless about caring for your new baby? We’ve got you covered with a paedi’s answers.

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Once your baby arrives, the first few months will probably be one of the most challenging you’ll ever experience as a parent. Not only are you a babycare newbie, it doesn’t help that your new parenting instincts haven’t quite kicked in yet!

When you panic and are desperate for help, you realise Google is your frenemy. It’s a godsend, but you’ll also have to sift through way too much information to find your answers. This is where your paediatrician comes in.

SmartParents expert Dr Low Kah Tzay of Mount Elizabeth Hospital fields questions frequently posed by new mums and dads.

New-mum questions

How can I tell if my baby is getting enough breastmilk? Can formula be given to supplement breastmilk?
Dr Low When baby is satisfied after feeding, he shows adequate signs of hydration such as a moist mouth and tongue and urinates regularly. Formula milk is to be used as a supplement when baby is still hungry and can also be used when the baby's growth is not optimal. To reduce your “confusion”, supplements should be given after breastfeeding.

When should I cut my baby’s nails and when is it the safest to do so?
Dr Low You can cut a baby's nails after one month. The best time to cut is after the baby has taken a bath as that is when their nails are softer and easier to cut.

What words of advice have you for mums caring for a new baby?
Dr Low Read up about babycare before delivery and try to build a support network with several new mothers. Establishing rapport with your baby’s healthcare providers like doctors and nurses will also be crucial. Remember to have adequate rest and be assured that it will gradually get better.

“Formula milk is to be used as a supplement when baby is still hungry and can also be used when the baby's growth is not optimal.”

Do I need to use diaper cream every time I change bubba’s diapers?
Dr Low For young babies, it is helpful to apply diaper cream every time you change your baby’s diaper. While you’re at it, be sure to also clean the buttocks thoroughly, including any diaper cream from the previous change. Be mindful that if you apply too little cream you’ll find urine or faeces sticking to the skin surface. Too much cream and it will cause skin irritation, as well as difficulty wiping it off. Also, excessive rubbing while cleaning may also lead to skin chafing, too.

Why do my baby’s bowel movements and diaper changes vary, though how much he eats doesn’t change?
Dr Low A baby’s bowel movements can vary day by day, especially in the first few weeks. The frequency can range from six to eight times daily to once in five to seven days. After the first two months, the bowel patterns will be more predictable.

I want to continue breastfeeding although I’m returning to work soon. How should I store my milk?
Dr Low The safest way is to express your breastmilk and store in the fridge or freezer, depending on when you’re using it. Check out the refrigerator at the workplace beforehand to make sure it’s the right temperature [4 deg C or less]. Working mothers can express at work and keep the expressed milk in the refrigerator, then transport it home in an insulated carrier.

Your new-dad questions asked and answered… Next.

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New-dad questions

When is it safe to bring my newborn out and are there places I should avoid?
Dr Low It’s safe to bring a newborn out as long as the parents know how to keep baby properly attired and avoid crowded areas. For babies below 3 months, as their immunity [isn’t] well developed, it is important to observe hand hygiene during handling and avoid excessive close contact with strangers.

What is your advice for new dads coping with a baby, as they don’t have “maternal” instincts?
Dr Low Be supportive and be present. Helping with the newborn is a great way to strengthen your marriage! Remember that as a father, your involvement in your infant’s life will leave a lasting and significant impact on the child — in terms of better self-esteem, school performance, resilience and less anti-social behaviour.

What’s the best way to change my son’s diapers without getting hit by pee?
Dr Low The best way is to always be alert and approach the baby from either side as opposed to standing at the leg or directly above the baby. Practice makes perfect!

“It is safe to bring newborn out if [parents] know how to keep baby properly attired and avoid crowded areas.”

My baby is passing a lot of gas although he is only on breastmilk. What’s causing the gas and how can I stop it?
Dr Low Baby can develop gas from crying or gut bacteria which start to build up after the first few weeks. The mother's diet can also affect the baby. Minimise foods like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. You can also try to burp or “wind” the baby after each feed and give the baby a “tummy massage” a couple of hours after the feed.

My breastfeeding wife had a glass of wine last night for dinner ― can she nurse?
Dr Low It is best to avoid alcoholic beverages if you’re breastfeeding. If the nursing mother has consumed some alcohol, it is best to wait for three to six hours, depending on the quantity and concentration of the alcoholic drink. Feeding your baby after you consume alcohol may cause your baby to feed poorly and thus grow poorly. Some studies have shown that it may affect the motor development of younger babies, too.

My wife has been fretting about her figure after pregnancy will she ever lose the weight she has gained?
Dr Low After delivery, she’ll usually regain her figure after a few months of watching her diet and exercising regularly. Breastfeeding is also helpful in losing the pregnancy weight. If a woman is unable to lose the excess weight after a few months, she should consult her doctor to rule out any medical conditions. Women are usually able to lose the weight they’ve gained during pregnancy. The first step is to be very conscious of a healthy diet during pregnancy. Don’t overindulge your cravings and avoid “eating for two”.

Photos: iStock

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