8 Frequently asked questions about baby care
From nappy contents to fever, here are some of the top questions moms find themselves asking about their babies

When does the umbilical cord stump normally fall off?

The umbilical cord is moist and bluish-white at birth. Shortly after birth it is clamped with forceps and then cut with scissors so that only a short length of cord remains. This dries and becomes almost black within 24 hours. It will shrivel up and fall off within seven to 10 days.

My newborn had jaundice – is this normal?

Jaundice is caused by an excess of bilirubin, which is the yellow pigment found in red blood cells. It is fairly common and usually shows up when your baby is 3 or 4 days old. The most obvious sign of jaundice is that your baby’s skin appears yellow. Mild jaundice is completely normal and harmless. However, there are unusual situations in which the bilirubin levels get too high and this is why all babies are monitored closely while they are in hospital. If treatment is necessary, she will be placed under phototherapy lamps.

How many poo nappies are normal when my baby is still very small?

The frequency of bowel movements varies a lot from baby to baby. Breastfed babies can have as many as 10 per day, or one after every feed in the early days, formula-fed babies usually less, but as long as she is passing one stool a day she is probably fine. From about 4 weeks the frequency of stools declines to about three or four, or in some cases one every couple of days. Breastfed babies rarely suffer from constipation and their stools are runny and mustard coloured. Formula-fed babies usually have slightly firmer poos and can become constipated. Watery, green stools indicate diarrhoea and it’s important to avoid dehydration.

My baby doesn’t burp very often after feeds

As a general rule, breastfed babies don’t take in as much air during a feed as bottle-fed babies do, so they may need to be winded only once between breasts. If your bottle-fed baby doesn’t burp very often and seems content, this probably means she is happy with the formula and bottle. You might find that she settles better though if you hold her upright after feeding and pat her back for a while, even if she doesn’t burp. 

Is it normal for a newborn to squint?

Newborns usually look cross-eyed at first, but this should improve on its own. If it hasn’t by the time your baby is 8 weeks old, there might be an imbalance of the eye muscles or poor vision and you should consult your doctor.

How do I know when my baby has fever?

For a child of any age, fever is generally defined as temperature above 38°C when measured in the rectum, or 37.5°C in the mouth. (Only use an oral thermometer when your child is over 3 years old.)

My baby has small white spots on her face, neck and chest.

Milia are present in about half of all newborns. These small white spots clear up on their own without scarring in three to four weeks. Don’t be tempted to squeeze them or put any ointment on them.  

When should my baby cut her first teeth?

This varies, but most babies begin teething between 6 and 9 months, to cope with solid food and a changing diet. After this, quite a few teeth will probably appear up to the end of her first year. Your baby will be teething for most of her second year as well. Some babies are even born with one or two teeth peeping out.

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