Q: My baby is 5 days old and she has diarrhea.
A: After the first few days of life when your baby has meconium bowel movements that are very dark and sticky, it’s normal for your newborn’s poop to begin to be very watery and seem like diarrhea. Breast fed infants, in particular, have BMs that are loose and seedy and range in color from brown to mustard yellow to green. A typical newborn’s poop looks a lot like grainy mustard–think Grey Poupon country style!
Q: My newborn must have a cold because he keeps sneezing.
A: It’s very unlikely that your baby is sick. Newborns often sneeze quite a bit and we think of it as nature’s way of allowing your baby to blow his nose. New babies have very small nasal passages and usually make a little bit of mucus which can produce some degree of nasal congestion. This usually isn’t a problem, but because newborns don’t know they can breathe through their mouths, you may hear your newborn’s breathing and think it means he is having difficulty. As long as your baby is feeding well, is content, doesn’t seem to be struggling to breathe or crying a lot (which forces babies to mouth breathe) he is likely just fine.
Q: We want to take our baby girl to a party but she is only 2 weeks old. Is this OK?
A: The immune system of a newborn is immature and the more people she is exposed to the greater the likelihood she may catch something which could cause her to become quite sick. We generally stress being very careful regarding hand hygiene and potential exposure to germs for the first 60-90 days of life, when pediatricians consider a fever a sign that an infection may be serious. Hand washing is the best way to prevent introducing illness-causing germs to your newborn; proper cleaning of your hands involves rubbing them together for 15 seconds (or 3 rounds of “Row Row Row Your Boat”) with good old soap and warm water or the use of an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Q: Which hand sanitizers are best?
A: Generally we recommend an alcohol based product which is rated 0-2 on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) cosmetics database toxicity scale (http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com) so that you’re sure to purchase something effective while avoiding highly toxic ingredients. This is an important factor when considering what to buy for you and your baby. EWG is a tremendous resource available to guide purchasing decisions. Babies and small children have very thin skin and immature detoxification systems, and thus are vulnerable not only to what we feed them but also to what we use on their skin, what we clothe them in, and what they breathe.
Q: Do I need to give my 2 month old baby Vitamin D drops? There is not much sun in our San Francisco neighborhood and we spend most of our time indoors.
A: Vitamin D is important to our health and many of us have insufficient levels due to lack of adequate sunlight exposure or supplementation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children receive a vitamin D supplement starting in the first few days of life because evidence has shown this could have life-long benefits. Furthermore, because of the growing body of evidence that a pregnant woman’s vitamin D status is important to her developing fetus, the AAP has recommended that physicians caring for pregnant women consider vitamin D testing during pregnancy.
At GetzWell we test all new mothers’ vitamin D levels and often find they are lacking. This is critical both for mothers’ health and directly impacts the breast feeding baby. Once we have these results, we can tailor our recommendations to each mother and baby as part of our effort to optimize the health of our patients and families.