Newborn Care and Baby Development: Wellness, Sleep, and Skincare

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Pregnancy & Parenting

Newborn Care and Baby Development: Wellness, Sleep, and Skincare

Last week, we had the opportunity to host an interactive WhatsApp chat on newborn care and development. Our Guest expert, Dr Yvan Niyondavyi answered questions raised by mums in our community, which we have compiled below. Dr Yvan Niyondavyi is a Paediatrician with a Master’s degree from the University of Nairobi. He is passionate about children’s health in general and specialises in Neonatology.


When should I start washing my baby after birth? 

It is usually recommended to delay washing newborns by 24 hours because that white sticky substance on the baby’s body helps keep him warm and bathing the baby too soon is associated with low body temperature, which will lead to difficulty in breathing and feeding. Once at home and the cord has not detached yet, you can start by sponge bathing (which means gently wiping with a wet sponge) every 2 days and wiping the face and private area daily. After the cord has fallen off, you can then start bathing the baby in a basin with water and soap. 


How soon can the baby sleep on their cot or Moses basket after birth?

Baby should start sleeping in his own cot/Moses basket as soon as possible/right after birth. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a condition where a baby unexpectedly passes away while sleeping and the causes are not known so far by the doctors. But it has been shown that there are some risk factors that increase the odds of it happening and those are babies sleeping in someone else’s bed, sleeping in their own room, sleeping on the tummy or the side.

That’s why we usually emphasize that, as soon as you are discharged, the baby to be put in his own cot but in the same room as the parents, sleeping on a firm mattress with no toys, not over-covered, baby to be sleeping on the back with the head tilted on one side. Breastfeeding prevents SIDS too.


How can a mother know if the baby is breathing well like below 10weeks without doing a scan?

One of the first indicators of whether the baby is breathing well is breastfeeding. If he is able to breastfeed well with no interruption and well-gaining weight, then the breathing is good. But some signs should make you seek medical advice if you see them on your baby like loud breathing, fast breathing, lower chest caving in with each breath or just any lip bluish discolouration. This may be a sign that he is not breathing well and you should go see your paediatrician. 


What are the danger signs in newborns?

Great question; there are some signs if found on your baby should prompt you to seek medical care urgently:

  • Fever (temperature more than 38C): newborns are very at risk to get a serious infection because their response to it is still immature.
  • The yellowness of the body: Sometimes it is normal but other times it can be a sign of a serious infection hence the reason to get seen and counselled accordingly
  • Not breastfeeding: At birth, babies only have 3 things to do, feed, cry and poo/pee. When a baby is not feeding well, it is a sign that something is not right.
  • Not passing urine or very little: This is a sign of severe dehydration due to not feeding. It is a late sign and can be associated with complications in the kidneys
  • Convulsions/very sleepy baby: Convulsions are jerky movements that the baby would do (it can be any part of the body from the hands and feet to the mouth only). Any new sudden movement that you feel is not normal should be reviewed by the paediatrician to rule out convulsions.


What can I do with my baby to help her physical & mental development?

The best thing to help your baby development is PLAY. From birth to 6 months, the fact of talking to him while breastfeeding, smiling back when he starts having his social smile, having some play/bonding time will help his emotional and social development. But also bright colours are very stimulating. 


Once he starts grasping things and being more aware of his surroundings (from 6 months to 1 year), peek a boo, hump and jump plays usually will help with motor development/coordination. Talking to him at all ages, singing, reading will help him grasp new vocabulary more and it helps with when and how the baby will start to talk.


How much damage does kepra have on a seven-month-old breastfeeding baby? The mother is on kepra tablets. Does it harm the child’s neurological development?

Keppra has very little residue in mom’s breastmilk and very rarely give some neurological development issues. I would recommend maybe to be well assessed and rule out any other cause


What are we supposed to apply to the baby’s cord so that it may heal fast?

The falling of the cord takes something from a week to 3 weeks. The trick is usually to keep it dry and apply chlorhexidine to keep it clean. There is no specific drug to make it fall off quicker.


Why do newborns suck their tongue and how can we prevent this.

That is a normal reflex that goes away as he grows, typically around 7 months.


What could be wrong if the baby has wheezing sounds.

It can be many things from a viral infection, conditions like asthma or even a foreign body that they have ingested.


What is the cause of jaundice and how can one prevent it?

Many causes really: infection, breastmilk, some other serious blood diseases, but most of the time, it is normal. babies are born with a lot of blood cells that normally breaks down by the 3rd to 7th day, hence causing jaundice.

But there are levels once reached it becomes harmful for the brain. So once the baby is jaundiced, you should go to the doctor so they rule out the big things and see if bay just needs breastmilk and sunlight


What would cause pneumonia in an infant who is well covered and kept under warm temperatures?

Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria and viruses and mostly apart from covering the baby well and making sure they are well fed. Sometimes the infection comes “out of nowhere”  because the bugs are all around us. So it’s to make sure the baby is healthy all around, do your well-baby check and if it happens, it shouldn’t be too much trouble.


Is it okay for the baby to sleep on his stomach?

No. it is dangerous and associated with a condition called SIDS. The first 6 months baby should sleep on his back.


Is it advisable to give baby painkillers after the 6,10 and 14weeks of injection?

No, a mild fever is normal as long as the baby is okay. But if he starts being too fussy and not feeding, then you can administer painkillers.


Do you think it’s safe for me to have the Covid 19 vaccine while breastfeeding my 4 months old boy? Can a pregnant lady get the vaccine?

I can’t answer that as it is still a new field but I think the vaccination team might more qualified to answer it.


Why is it that my five-year-old coughs usually at night and in the wee hours of the morning?

Sometimes it can be caused by the fact that his respiratory system is sensitive (allergies) and most of the time they will be having that kind of cough (allergies varies from asthma to normal rhinitis).


How can you manage eczema? I’ve tried dove soap, epimax and the baby still has patchy skin

Eczema is mostly due to sensitive skin. It never really goes away. the trick is keeping the skin hydrated. Always hydrate several times a day. When you touch and it feels a bit dry, hydrate. Avoid any soap or lotion that has fragrance as these tend to cause outbreaks.


What should be given to the baby when he/she is experiencing stomach pains three or four days after birth?

Sometimes it is just the gut getting used to the milk, but sometimes the baby is too gassy and it is uncomfortable for him. Then mostly you can cut down on dairy in your diet, beans and cabbage and usually, it heals the baby. If it continues, you can then consult a paediatrician.


We are 4 months old and the baby is very irritable, he scratches his face eyes and chews on his fingers and fist. Is this an allergy or is he teething?

He is a bit too young to be teething but I think it would be best to consult and be reviewed thoroughly.


What is laryngomalacia in infants and how can it be treated?

It happens in babies around 2 weeks old and you start noticing a loud breathing sound when they breathe in, and worse at night. It is usually due to weak muscles in the throat but most of the time it is nothing to worry about. It resolves on its own by 3-4 months, as long as the baby is growing well.


Which is the recommended soap to use when giving birth to a newborn?

Anything without fragrance. From oilatum to dove soap.


What causes a healed cord to be swollen? My 2-year-old has one that swells when she coughs but seem not painful. Should I be worried? Will it go down to hidden size as in not protruding?

It is normal. In some instances, the muscles on the abdomen are still weak and sometimes it bulges. Give it up to 2 years. As long as the baby is comfortable, it resolves slowly.


Is it okay for a 7month old to lose weight? Weight at 5 months was stagnant but after we started weaning, the baby lost 300grams.

This would prompt a good weaning teaching! because when baby gets too many things at once, they tend to not be able to digest and lose weight.


Is there any remedy for hiccups on newborns?

Most of the time it is because either baby is full, has a lot of gas or poo. There isn’t a specific remedy but it rarely stays for long. If it does, it would be best to consult a doctor.


How do you tell your baby has rickets? Can it be seen through observation by a doctor, without an x-ray?

Yes. During well-baby checks, we can notice some signs and then suggests further tests.


My baby is one year 7 months with bow legs what can I do?

Bowlegs are usually not noticeable before a baby can walk. So I don’t think that is a bow leg yet, give him time.


At what age should a mom stop using diapers on their baby?

Once they can verbally commend that they want to use the loo, then it’s time.


What should I use to treat heat rash and diaper rash?

Depends on how it looks but most of the time.,let it breathe change constantly and bepanthen cream helps most of the time.


After how long can you detect your child has defects. Eg autism

This is usually well picked up during well-baby checks. But it can be as early as 1 year.


With the current outbreak of recurring colds, is it okay to give a baby 6months of different antibiotics, as most are not working, or what other remedies can one use?

Antibiotics DO NOT WORK on colds. Most of the time just stay hydrated and maybe the nasal drops when blocked are enough.


Can newborn take 3-4 days without passing urine?

NO… BABY SHOULD PASS URINE EVERYDAY AT LEAST 4 DIAPERS.  If not please go to a doctor for urgent care!


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