Health Notes

Four Pieces of Advice Parents of Newborns Need NOW

by Dr. Matt Gibson on December 27, 2016

Any parent in the throes of caring for a newborn will say there’s no way they will forget how difficult it is. For as cute as they are, newborns don’t usually know how to eat, sleep, poop, or even pretend to give their family any semblance of normalcy. Yet, as time goes by, they learn to do more and more and you get into a routine and slowly forget just what life was like when they were so new.

A few months ago, my family and I were lucky enough to welcome another child into the mix. Like many other parents I thought: Hey, I’ve done this before. The second time around will be cake.

Yeah, right.

Like everyone else, I somehow had a selective memory about what caring for a newborn is really like. I ignored the hard parts with my rose-colored glasses. Now that I’m a few months back into the swing of things, I thought it’d be the perfect time to offer some advice to some of the most common newborn questions and concerns I encounter both at home and at my Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency office:

Breastfeeding Is Hard

For obvious reasons, I will never breastfeed a child. But after seeing countless new moms in clinic and my own wife struggle with getting nursing established, I can confidently report that it is hard.

Sure, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Babies often do not know how to latch properly, moms can have issues with nipple shapes and milk supply, and it’s a moving target as things change over the first few weeks as a mom’s milk comes in.

Take advantage of the expertise of lactation services both in the hospital after delivery. Never hesitate to ask questions and ask for help. The lactation consultants at Methodist Women’s Hospital and your pediatrician’s office are excellent resources after you get home. Struggling with breastfeeding or even being unable to do so doesn’t make anyone less of a mom, it just makes you normal.

Normal Bodily Functions

Sneezes and hiccups are normal behavior for newborns and infants. It does not mean a baby is developing an allergy or there is something wrong. Rest assured and instead just enjoy how cute they can be.

Dr. Matt Gibson
Matt Gibson, MD

Catch Some Sleep

A sleeping baby can be a beautiful thing, but getting them there often isn’t. The most important thing you can do for your newborn to help them sleep is keep them safe and set them up for success.

Always lay your baby on their back to sleep on a firm, flat surface without blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or bumper guards in the crib or bassinet. Swaddling can help keep them comfortable using either a sleep sack or swaddling blanket.

While some parents and grandparents might recommend placing a baby on her stomach to help her sleep, do not do it. Having babies sleep on their back has decreased SIDS by 50 percent over the past 25 years and all babies have a natural reflex to protect their airway should they spit up – so don’t worry about them choking.

New Guidelines Hope to Save Babies from SIDS

Isn’t the milk supposed to go down, not up?

One of the most common concerns from new parents is if their baby’s spitting up is normal. Almost all babies will spit up. They eat a liquid diet and spend most of their time on their back! Normal spit up is a laundry problem for mom and dad, not a problem for the baby.

But just because it’s normal for baby to spit up, that doesn’t mean we want to ignore it. While most babies are normal “happy spitters,” if it seems like your baby is extremely irritable with spitting up, has blood or bile in the spit up, is not wanting to eat, or has projectile vomiting, they should be evaluated by their pediatrician to make sure everything is okay.

Having a newborn is an exciting time for all new parents, but that never means it’s easy. Do not hesitate to ask for help from those around you or your friendly neighborhood Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician. We’re here to help!

Dr. Matt Gibson is a pediatrician now seeing patients at
Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.
Contact Dr. Gibson at
Dr. Matt Gibson


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