Whether you are awaiting the arrival of your child or you’ve recently welcomed him into the world, it’s likely that you have some health-related questions about newborn care.

We invite San Francisco parents to contact the physicians at GetzWell Pediatrics for advice and to rely on our years of experience and holistic approach. To get you started, here are some answers we offer to common parent concerns.

My newborn keeps sneezing. Is she sick?

Sneezing isn’t necessarily a sign of illness, particularly in babies. Many newborns sneeze quite a bit.

Think of it as nature’s way of allowing your child to blow her nose. Newborns don’t know that they can breathe through their mouths and they have very small nasal passages, so it only takes a little bit of mucus to create congestion. As a new parent, it’s understandable that you might mistake noisy breathing for a health hazard.

To simplify things: as long as your newborn is feeding well, is content, doesn’t seem to be struggling to breathe, or is not crying more than expected, it’s likely he or she is just fine.

My newborn is only a few days old. What type of bowel movement is normal?

There are a few things to know about newborn care and bowel movements (BMs):

  • In the first few days of life, babies typically have meconium BMs, which are very dark and sticky.
  • After that, breastfed infants tend to have BMs that are loose and seedy and that range in color from brown to dark yellow (think “grainy mustard”) or even green.
  • Newborn BMs may also be watery and frequent. It’s easy to confuse this for diarrhea, but it’s completely normal for a newborn to have a liquid BM with every feeding.

Is it okay to take our newborn to a large public gathering, like a party?

Here are some guidelines we offer San Francisco parents for newborn care:

  • An infant’s immune system remains immature for the first 60-90 days of life. As pediatricians, we are particularly concerned about illness and fever during this period.
  • Infants will have less likelihood of illness if they are exposed to fewer people over this time. That’s not to say you can’t introduce your child to anyone outside of immediate family. It just means you should be more cautious about exposure.
  • Hand-washing is the best way to limit germs. When people are going to hold or touch the baby, we recommend that they rub their hands together for 15 seconds (or three rounds of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”) using soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Should I use a specific hand sanitizer?

Infants and small children have thin skin and immature detoxification systems. This makes them vulnerable not only to what they eat and breathe but also to the clothes, lotions, and sanitizers that touch their skin.

As part of newborn care, our doctors recommend that adults use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer product rated “0-2” on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) cosmetics database toxicity scale. This standard effectively kills germs without introducing highly toxic ingredients. EWG is also a great resource for guiding other purchasing decisions.

Do I need to give my newborn vitamin D?

As important as vitamin D is to health, babies may not get enough of it. One of the main sources of vitamin D is ultraviolet rays from the sun, and very young children spend much of their time indoors. Sunlight is also scarce in some San Francisco neighborhoods and during some months of the year.

To support newborn care, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive a vitamin D supplement starting in the first few days of life. Pregnant women should also consider vitamin D testing during pregnancy in order to optimize the health of the developing fetus.

At GetzWell Pediatrics we offer vitamin D level testing for new mothers. Based on our findings, we can make recommendations to optimize the health of our patients and their families.

What else should I know?

Having a child is a lifelong adventure, and our practice is here to serve as your partner along the way. We welcome other questions you may have and the opportunity to support your child.

Partner with the physicians at GetzWell Pediatrics about newborn care. Contact our San Francisco offices online or by phone.