Taking your baby home
Don’t panic, the first week is nerve-wracking for everyone.
You’ve got all the equipment and you know what a compactum is. But wait, what’s that weird stuff on your baby’s head? Why is he sneezing all the time and breathing like a steam train, and why are his nails coming off? Here are some common surprises you might encounter in the first week.Breathing
- A newborn baby's breathing is not always even and smooth. Their breathing can seem very shallow at times and then again be deep and rapid.
- Soon after your baby falls asleep his or her breathing will be deep and then after a while it slows down. This could alarm you and you might check your baby’s breathing every few minutes.
- It is normal for newborn babies to sneeze frequently. It is their way of clearing airborne fluff, dust and mucous from their nose as well as milk, which can go up into their noses.
- If you notice other symptoms such as a fever or cough you may need to have your baby checked by a doctor.
Damp and sweaty heads
- Cradle cap is caused by an overproduction and build up of an oily substance called 'sebum.
- The sebum mixes with dead skin cells on the baby's scalp to form the crust.
- Cradle cap is extremely common and can continue to happen on and off, for various periods during the first 6 - 8 months of your baby's life.
- Some children continue to have cradle cap well into their early childhood years.
- Cradle cap is harmless and will not hurt your baby in any way, however many parents worry about how their baby looks.
- Your baby is still learning to regulate his or her own temperature.
- You may notice that your baby's head becomes quite sweaty at times, particularly when feeding on the breast or bottle. You may also notice this when you pick them up after a sleep. The sheet they have been lying on may feel damp (or even quite wet in the warmer months).
- This is very normal, and may last until your baby is about 2 to 4 years of age.
Fingernails and toenails
- Your newborn might have a very dry skin in the first weeks after birth, because of the change from a watery environment to being in the outside world.
- The dryness on their skin can range from small patches to their entire body looking like it is going to peel.
- Your baby will probably have long fingernails and toenails at birth.
- A newborn baby's fingernails are generally quite soft and flexible, and longer pieces may peel off.
- As your baby grows older, their nails will usually become harder, and at some point you will probably need to trim them – try that for nerve-wracking.
- Most babies get nappy rash at some point.
- Nappy rash during the first 3 months after the birth id usually short-lived, and often clears up easily with simple treatments.
- Nappy rash can sometimes be confused with heat rash, which will go away by itself.
White tongue and white spots on gums
- It is not uncommon to notice a clear, white to yellow discharge at the inner corner of your baby's eye (or eyes), especially in the first 48 hours following the birth.
- There may also be a crust formed on the eyelid and eyelashes, causing the eyelids to 'stick' together slightly (particularly after the baby has been sleeping).
- To clear discharge, wipe your baby’s eyes gently, each with a fresh piece of cottonwool and warm water.
- Nearly all newborn babies have a white coating, or film, on the top of their tongues in the early weeks. This is normal, and is due to a buildup of milk sitting on their tongue.
- The coating can be comparatively thicker, if the baby is bottle fed. The milk builds up because babies do not produce much saliva in the first 2 to 3 months after they are born.