A Pediatrician's Guide On Preparing For Your Baby's Arrival
A pediatricians has tips for what parents should do prior to and after your child is born
Having a baby is one of the most exciting and life-changing events of your life. The first few days to weeks before and after baby is born are also some of the busiest and most overwhelming moments of your life.
So before your child arrives, it’s important try to be as prepared as possible.
Prior to Delivery
- Every mother should get a Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy to protect her baby against whooping cough. Any other family members who will be spending time with your newborn should also get a Tdap vaccination. If it’s flu season, family members should also receive the flu vaccine to protect your child from getting the flu, since babies are unable to receive the flu vaccine themselves until they are 6 months old.
- Pack a to-go bag for the hospital with clothes, toiletries, and a camera (or at least have your phone charged and ready to go), as well as anything that you may want to have during delivery such as soothing music. Formula, diapers and wipes are readily available in the hospital and do not need to be packed. Don’t forget to bring your baby’s car seat, as your family won’t be allowed to leave the hospital without having one.
- If possible, before delivery, ensure that car seat/car seat base is installed tightly. If it can be moved more than an inch side to side or front to back, it’s not tight enough. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer, which is usually about 40 pounds. Most children can stay rear-facing until after 2 years old. Rear-facing is the safest way for babies/toddlers to ride.
- Make sure your baby has a safe sleeping space at home. This may be a crib or bassinet with a firm, flat surface for your baby to sleep on. Besides a tight-fitting sheet over a mattress, there should not be anything else in the crib/bassinet. No loose blankets, stuffed animals/toys, pillows or bumpers in the sleep space. It’s recommended that babies share a room with parents. The bassinet or crib should be close to your bed for at least the first 6 months of life, but preferably the first year of life. This has been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS.
- After delivery, your child will be examined by a pediatrician within the first 24 hours of life, and then each day your baby is in the hospital.
- Every baby will receive a vitamin K shot and erythromycin eye ointment soon after they are born.
- After your baby is born, he or she should be fed on demand, which is usually every 2-3 hours. Every baby loses weight in the first week of life, and then usually gains back to their birth weight by about 2 weeks of life. Until that time moms, be prepared to feed at least every 3 hours.
- Breastfeeding: In the first few days after birth, a mother’s body will produce nutrient rich colostrum for her baby. Breast milk usually comes in 3-5 days after the birth. It’s helpful to breastfeed often to stimulate milk production. Breastfeeding is a learning process for both mother and baby. It’s very helpful to utilize lactation consultants in the hospital. They are a wonderful resource for parents.
- Babies should receive their first hepatitis B vaccine prior to discharge from the hospital. Babies will also have a hearing screen, congenital heart screen, and newborn screen done prior to discharge from the hospital.
- When placing your baby in the car seat after leaving hospital: Harnesses should be at or below the baby’s shoulders. When testing the harness strap over your baby’s shoulders, you should not be able to pinch any slack between your fingers. The harness chest clip should be at the center of the chest, even with your baby’s armpits.
- Your baby should have a follow-up appointment with your pediatrician 2-3 days after discharge from the hospital, or sooner if needed.
- Keep the umbilical cord clean and dry. Only give sponge baths until the umbilical cord has fallen off. If there is any redness/swelling or foul smelling discharge, call your pediatrician.
- Try to keep yourself and your baby away from people who are sick. Wash your hands with soap and warm water often. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Call your pediatrician if your baby has a fever, which is 100.4 degrees F. The most accurate way to check a baby’s temperature is rectally.
Argh! I know. It seems like a lot. But by taking a few precautionary steps now, you will have more time to enjoy your baby and this exciting time in your lives!
Get to know Halley Hogan, M.D., Prosper Trail's Pediatrician
Dr. Hogan was raised in the Dallas area. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from SMU, she attended the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for her medical degree. She then completed her pediatric residency at University of Texas Southwestern in Austin. Dr. Hogan is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Hogan provides comprehensive health care to children of all ages. She has a passion for pediatrics and loves getting to know families, with the philosophy that providing the best primary care depends on developing personal relationships with her patients and their families. She has a special interest in preventative medicine and promoting healthy, happy childhoods for all children. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two young sons, as well as reading and traveling. Make an appointment with Dr. Hogan here.
Babies don't come with an operating manual. But don't worry! Cook Children's pediatricians can answer any question you have and then some. We have convenient locations all across North Texas, and just like your family, we're growing. So finding the best pediatric health care has never been easier. Begin your journey here: find a pediatrician, schedule a prenatal consultation, and explore the many articles presented by experts in newborn care.
And if you've got questions, we've got answers. Click on any of the links below to find articles and resources to prepare you for parenthood and support you through those early days.