My Baby's Here! Now What Do I Do?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 09, 2022
3 min read

You've got a brand-new baby. Now what? Here's some help as you get to know your little one.

Newborns mostly sleep, eat, and poop/pee. Sometimes they make strange noises and movements, and breathe irregularly. Don’t worry, most of these are normal.

Here are some sounds that may come from your baby:

  • Crying. This is how newborns communicate. Cries can mean, "I'm hungry," "I have a wet diaper," "I am tired," or "I want to be held." You'll learn your baby's cries and how to respond to them.
  • Babies burp from swallowing air during feedings. They also hiccup, sneeze, grunt, and squeak.
  • Newborns can pause between breaths, breathe rapidly and then normally for intermittent periods. Short pauses are OK.

Some of these movements are also normal:

  • They curl up, just like they did in the womb.
  • They throw out their arms and legs in a startle reflex.
  • They curl their toes when you tickle the bottom of their foot.
  • They also have tremor-type movements when stretching. You may encounter this when changing a diaper.

Your Baby's Development This Week

Most new moms stay in the hospital for a few days after delivery. Use this time to recover and rest; you’ll be very busy when you go home! The pediatrician will look at your baby here to make sure they are healthy. Ask in the hospital if you have or see any concerns before leaving for home.

What to watch for when you bring your baby home:

  • Newborns should eat eight to 12 times a day.
  • You can tell they’re getting plenty to eat when they spend 10 to 15 minutes at each breast actively sucking and swallowing, or they drink 2 to 3 ounces of formula at each feeding.
  • Even big eaters can lose up to one-tenth of their birth weight during their first 5 days of life. Don’t worry, they'll gain it back by day 10. Babies that fall asleep or turn away from the bottle or breast while they feed could experience even greater weight loss. If this starts to happen before you baby is back up to birth weight, discuss it with your pediatrician. Once babies have gained back their weight, falling asleep or turning away usually means they are full.
  • You should be changing at least four wet diapers a day, and one or more poopy diapers.
  • Your baby’s poop is a mustard-colored mush if you breastfeed. Formula-fed poop is yellow or tan. It may also look seedy.
  • Newborns sleep for 16 to 17 hours each day,  and in the first 2 weeks after birth may sleep for hours at a stretch. Remember to wake your baby during the day to feed, and don’t allow more than 3 hours to go by between feedings.
  • Caring for a new baby is tiring! Ask for help from family members and friends -- you need sleep, too. You can also condition yourself to nap when the baby naps.
  • Newborns should sleep on their backs in their own crib or bassinet. Don’t put pillows, crib bumpers or wedges, toys, or soft bedding in with them.
  • Had a C-section? Take it easy. Have someone else help you carry and diaper your baby.
  • Your baby still misses the comfort and warmth of the womb. Wrap them in a blanket and hold them in your arms so they feel protected and secure.
  • As a newborn, your baby's internal "thermostat" still doesn't work very well. Dress them with one more layer than what you would wear.
  • Your baby’s skin is delicate. Change a dirty diaper right away and clean their bottom thoroughly with a warm, damp cloth and pat dry to avoid diaper rash. Save the scented baby wipes and bubble bath for when they’re older.
  • If your baby was a preemie, ask the hospital if you can do "kangaroo care," spending skin-to-skin time, to help you and your baby bond.
  • Skin-to-skin contact helps the bonding process for all babies. So does talking and singing to your baby, and looking into their eyes and smiling.
  • Burp your baby after every 2 to 3 ounces from the bottle, or when they change breasts. Then burp them again when the feeding ends.
  • Your baby's umbilical cord will dry up and fall off in about 10 -14 days. Until then, keep it clean and fold down the diaper so the area stays dry. Do not bathe them until it falls off. Consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about redness, pus, a foul smell, or fussiness.