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10 Things to Know About Newborns

Here are a few basics you need to know about your new arrival. By Tricia O'Brien 1 Baby may be, well, a little funny-looking. His head may be smooshed from his journey through the birth canal, and he might be sporting a "bodysuit" of fine hair called lanugo. He could also be puffy-faced and have eyes that are often shut (and a little gooey). After all, he just spent nine months in the womb. But pretty soon, he'll resemble that beautiful baby you imagined. 2 Don't expect rewards -- smiles or coos -- until about the 6-week mark. Up until then, you're working for a boss who only complains! To get through the exhaustion and emotional upheaval, keep this in mind: your efforts aren't lost on baby in those early days. "He feels comforted by his father or mother, he feels attachment, he likes to be held," says Los Angeles-based pediatrician Christopher Tolcher, MD. 3 Give baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off. If it's kept dry, it falls off faster -- usually within two weeks. Besides, newborns don't get very dirty! If the cord does get wet, pat it dry. And if the stump bleeds a little when the cord falls off, that's okay, too, as Alyson Bracken, of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, learned. "It scared me at first," she says, but then she found out that, as with a scab, mild bleeding was normal. 4 The soft spot can handle some handling. "I was terrified of the soft spot," admits April Hardwick, of New York City, referring to the opening in the skull, also called the fontanel, which allows baby to maneuver out of the birth canal. "Gemma had a full head of hair at birth, and I was initially afraid to comb over the soft spot," Hardwick says. But there was no need to worry: "It's okay to touch the soft spot and baby's hair near it," says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls. The spot may pulsate because it's directly over blood vessels covering the brain. 5 She'll let you know if she's getting enough food. Baby needs to eat every two to three hours -- but if you're nursing, it's tough to know how much milk she's getting. "The baby's weight is the best indicator in the early days," says Dr. Tolcher. Your pediatrician will check it within a few

days of discharge. A newborn loses 5 to 8 percent of her birthweight within the first week but should gain it back by the second. Diaper-counting can also act as a gauge: her schedule those first five days is haphazard, but after that, you'll see five to six wet diapers a day, and at least one or two stools. Dry skin is the norm for newborns. Initially, he may be soft and silky, but that changes. "If you soaked yourself in liquid for nine months and then hit the air, you'd be dry too!" says Laura Jana, MD, pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. You don't have to do anything about dry skin (it typically peels and flakes off), but if you're so inclined, reach for a hypoallergenic baby lotion that is fragrance-free. Little pink bumps, diaper rashes, and even baby acne may also make an appearance. "Acne tends to last for a few months," Dr. Jana says. "So get those cute newborn pics before one month!" You don't have to hole up at home. "Lead a normal life, but use common sense when you go out in public," Dr. Tolcher says. Keep baby out of the sun, and avoid sick people (no toddler birthday parties!) and crowded enclosed spaces (such as the mall during the holidays). "Teach older siblings to touch baby's feet instead of her hands and face, which will help prevent the spread of infection," he adds. And make your older child the hygiene police, says Dr. Jana. He'll love telling guests, "Don't touch the baby without washing your hands." Babies cry a lot -- that's how they communicate! Their piercing wails will let you know they're hungry, cold, have a dirty diaper, or want to be held. These early "conversations" can be frustrating, but rest assured, you'll get a better handle on what she needs in time. Laurie May, of Boardman, Ohio, and her husband quickly learned to read their daughter's hunger signal. When they were brand-new parents, they set an alarm to go off every two hours to wake Carter for a feeding. "We did not need the alarm!" she says. "We love to laugh at that one now." Newborn babies also sleep a lot -- but not for long stretches. Those first three months are a free-for-all. Baby needs to eat every two to three hours, so you're not getting much sleep either. "It does get better," assures Dr. Altmann. "Most infants can sleep for six to eight hours by 3 months of age." In the meantime, try to get baby on a day and night schedule: during the day, don't let him snooze more than three hours without waking him to feed; at night let him sleep as long as he wants once he's regained the weight he lost at birth.


The newborn stage is fleeting. Stressed, tired, and lonely? Yes, those early days are hard. But they'll soon be behind you. Barbara Evans, of New York City, says, "I wish I'd known how quickly the time goes." The mom to Luella, 8 months, says, "I didn't take enough pictures or keep notes!" Rabeea Baloch, of Sugarland, Texas, shares some veteran-mom experience: "With my first, I stressed over every single thing, from changing diapers to whether baby was crying more than usual. With my second, I just enjoyed holding her, smelling her, kissing her, and loving the time together."

10 Newborn Worries (Not to Fret About)

There are plenty of things to pay attention to after your baby is born. Here are some things you don't need to put on that list. By Denise Schipani Touching the Soft Spots on Baby's Head Despite cautions to the contrary, you shouldn?t be stressed if you happen to have touched these areas of Baby?s head. When you touch your baby's soft spots, known as the fontanels, you're not touching his brain. So what are you touching? A thick, very protective membrane. The soft spots exist so your baby can safely negotiate the narrow birth canal. Since his skull is flexible, your little one's downy head has already survived a pretty rough ride with no harm done. Seeing Baby's Pulse in His Fontanels What you're seeing are the normal workings of your baby's circulatory system. Because the fontanels cover areas of the skull that have not yet fused together, they're soft, making veins and arteries visible. Blood in Your Newborn Girl's Diaper

During pregnancy, a surge in maternal estrogen levels can stimulate a female fetus's uterus. Within the first week of life, it's not uncommon for baby girls to have a mini period in which the uterus sheds a little blood. A Small Hollow in Baby's Chest Relax -- this isn't a heart problem. According to experts, the breastbone is made up of three parts. The indentation you see is likely the bottom piece, angling backward. As your baby grows, her chest and belly muscles will pull it straight. Even before then, layers of baby fat will cover up this very normal bit of newborn anatomy. Soft, Squishy Poops After Every Feeding Breastfed babies may poop after each feeding because breast milk is so quickly digested. (Formula-fed babies may have less-frequent bowel movements.) As for as the squishy issue is concerned, most newborn poops are soft simply because babies are on an all-liquid diet. Constant Hiccuping Experts aren't sure why young babies hiccup so much; some say it's due to a miscommunication between the brain and the diaphragm, the abdominal muscle that controls breathing. Regardless of their cause, hiccups are a harmless part of babyhood. Crying Newborns have an immature nervous system and startle easily, which are just two reasons why they shed so many tears. And crying is Baby's only way of communicating his needs. Simply put, he's wired to cry a lot, so though he may look pained, he's not harming himself. A Pimply Facial Rash Thanks to maternal hormones still circulating in their body, many newborns have acne, which usually occurs between 2 weeks and 2 months of age. It's harmless and just requires gentle cleaning, not Clearasil. Swollen Breasts on a Newborn Girl...or Boy!

Those same hormones that cause baby girls to have a mini period can also swell the breasts of babies of both genders. Surprising? Yes. Temporary? Absolutely. Worrisome? Not at all. Sneezing All the Time Babies have tiny noses! Just a small bit of mucus will make them sneeze. And because your newborn has just emerged from his watery home in your uterus, he's likely to have at least a little congestion, which may cause quite a few sneezes. Unless his sneezing is accompanied by thick, yellow mucus, which indicates a cold, all that sneezing is just a phase he'll outgrow.

Must-Read Tips for Your First Week with Baby

Around-the-clock feedings. Nursing troubles. No sleep. No problem. We'll help you through the first crazy days. By Rachel Rabkin Pechman Before giving birth to my daughter, Lena, I thought I was equipped for our first week home together. After all, I'd assembled the crib, washed the tiny clothes, stocked up on diapers, and hung the pink butterfly curtains in the nursery. Looking back now, I think: How could I have been so naive? Sure, I'd done the necessary prep work for my baby's arrival. But all that stuff is fluff when it comes to making it through the maiden days of motherhood. That's when you need to master new skills that you can't prepare for or practice until your baby arrives, like breastfeeding, soothing a crying child, surviving on no sleep, and tackling other areas of uncharted territory. To help you ease into your first week, we've asked experts and moms who've been there how to handle the most common challenges. Sleep Deprivation Yes, your newborn will snooze as much as 20 hours a day, but it won't be in long stretches -- think one- to four-hour spurts.

Survival Technique: If you're like me, and you can sleep just about anytime and anywhere, then by all means, sleep when the baby sleeps. What if you're not wired for naps? Then enlist help, stat. Mom Tip: "My mom stayed with us after we brought my son home," says Kim Brown, of New York City, mom of Tessa, 2, and James, 6 months. "Having her there at night to take shifts with the baby allowed me to get stretches of uninterrupted sleep." If a relative isn't available to do a night shift, trade off with your husband. Have your hubby keep the baby in the living room while you get some much needed zzzs and tell him to bring the baby to you only when it's time to nurse. Soothing the Baby Infants, fresh out of the cozy confines of the womb, crave constant holding and soothing, says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of the Happiest Baby on the Block book and DVD. Survival Technique: Don't worry about spoiling your newborn -- it's not possible. Instead, re-create the sensations of the womb, which can trigger a calming reflex in your newborn, Dr. Karp says. To do this, he recommends swaddling, swaying, shushing, holding your baby on her side, and letting her suck on your finger. "These steps performed individually or together can often be a virtual 'off' switch for the crying," he says. Mom Tip: Experiment to see what works for your baby. "My first one loved walks outside in the Bjorn, even in the dead of winter in Indianapolis," says Donna Belville, who now lives in Olympia, Washington, and is mom to Julianna, 5, and Samantha, 2. "I bundled her up and got outside." Breastfeeding It happens naturally, right? Um, hardly! Survival Technique: Make plans to see a lactation expert ASAP postdelivery -- before a problem arises -- and ask her to come to your house to help you get the hang of nursing there. "Having an expert with you from the beginning to help you learn about latching, positioning, and milk supply -- and to boost your confidence -- can make the difference between a beautiful breastfeeding experience and giving up," says Giuditta Tornetta, a doula, lactation educator, and author of Painless Childbirth. Mom Tip: Kim Malin, of Los Angeles, mom of Logan, 4, and Emmett, 20

months, learned that the hard way. "With my first baby, pretty much everything wasn't working -- the latch, the sucking -- and I was in agony all the time," she says. "But I found a lactation consultant who came to my house and stayed with me as long as it took. She came back several times until I had the confidence to feel like, I can do this now." Round-the-Clock Feedings "Expect to feed the baby every one to four hours -- that's counting from the start of each feeding," says Laura Jana, MD, coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn. Survival Technique: You're going to be bound to a couch, rocker, or bed while your baby eats, so get as comfortable as possible. Mom Tip: "That first week, I read Anna Karenina -- all 700 pages of it!" says Nicole Hertvik, of Hoboken, New Jersey, mom of Mia, 19 months. "It gave me something to look forward to during all those middle-of-the-night feedings." Another tactic: arm yourself with a magazine or the TV remote and keep water and snacks close by. Getting Daddy Involved It can be tricky to include Dad right off the bat, particularly if he doesn't have time off from work or Mom is nursing. Survival Technique: Ask Dad to dive right in. Another way to get Dad on board: Leave the room while he's mastering a new task so he won't feel judged, and he'll be forced to figure it out for himself. Mom Tip: "I encouraged my husband to spend as much time as possible with the baby from the get-go, whether it was bathing, burping, cuddling, or diaper changes," Belville says. "Sometimes I had to bite my tongue if he didn't do something exactly as I would've. But the last thing I wanted to do was discourage his efforts!" The First Bath "The saying 'slippery when wet' applies here -- many new parents are very nervous when giving that first bath," Dr. Jana says. Survival Technique: Relax and take it slow. Because you'll want to work around the umbilical cord (the faster it dries, the sooner it will fall off), a sponge bath is the way to go at this stage. Plus, if your baby has been

circumcised, you'll need to wait for the area to heal before completely submerging it in water. Gather the supplies and have them within arm's reach -- this way you can have one hand on the baby at all times. Then place him on a towel and gently wash the areas that need cleaning with a warm washcloth and baby bath wash. Recovering from Labor "I was totally unprepared for how much pain I was in after birth and how tired I was," Malin says. "I e-mailed all my friends and asked, 'Why didn't you tell me?!'" Survival Technique: What you're going through is normal, even if no one clued you in beforehand to the gory details. In time, your body bounces back and you'll regain your strength. But while you're healing, designate a family member to take care of you -- or at least to make sure you don't overexert yourself. Mom Tip: "My husband was very good about telling me to sit back and let others cook and clean," says Emily Fancher, of San Francisco, mom to Lila, 1. Staying Sane Between lack of sleep, physical discomfort, and plummeting hormones, even the most excited new mommy can feel overwhelmed. Survival Technique: Prioritize. Decide what's most important to you -say, learning how to breastfeed, sleeping, and cuddling your baby -- and focus on those things. Then let everything else go for a while. "I remember feeling pressure to write thank-you notes and get birth announcements out, but some things had to slide," Belville says. Give yourself license to let the house get dirty. Mom Tip: Also key to staying sane: go outside every day. "Just seeing the sun and getting fresh air was really helpful to my mood. Even though I was tired, I got up, brushed my teeth, and went for a short drive or a walk," Malin says. Spirits still low? "Remember that it's normal to feel the baby blues for the first couple of weeks postpartum," says Liz Maseth, a nurse lactation consultant at Akron Children's Hospital, in Ohio. "Just make sure that your family understands about the baby blues -- and that if your feelings of

sadness or depression last beyond those first two weeks, your loved ones can assist you in getting the help you need." The Dish on Dirty Diapers Get ready for all colors of the rainbow. The first poop, meconium, is black, tarry gunk. As your baby eats more (or your milk comes in), her feces will change from brown to green to a mustardy yellow. But don't expect solid stool. "There will be nothing of substance for months," Dr. Jana says. A good indication that baby is eating enough? By day four, she's wetting four to eight diapers a day, pooping three to six times a day, and starting to gain weight. If you see red in the stool, contact your doctor. This could be blood. Call, too, about colorless stool, which could indicate an underlying disorder. First Week Survival Package You've got the essentials for baby (swaddling blankets, diapers, and layette), but what about you? Here are items you'll want to have on hand. Water Jug: Staying hydrated is key, but you probably won't have the energy to go to the kitchen for a drink. Park your jug by your side. Extra Pillows: Make yourself comfy with body pillows, doughnut pillows (which can ease pressure on a sore tailbone), or regular pillows to prop and cushion as needed. Handy Snacks: You will need them to keep your energy up. Sanitary Pads: After birth you can expect blood flow from the uterus for several weeks. See the next slide for more essential items.

12 Things No One Ever Tells You About Babies

Dirty diapers? Yes. Sleepless nights? Of course. A pimply, pointy-headed newborn -- what's up with that? Let us clue you in on the biggest surprises about little babies. By Denise Porretto

My baby's head looks strange

You envisioned a picture-perfect Gerber baby -- round, rosy, and oh-so-cute. If your newborn's head looks a little strange and cone-shaped at first, that's because he probably spent hours wedged in your pelvis. Openings in the skull allow it to mold its shape to fit through the birth canal. "This protects against skull fractures or brain injury during a vaginal delivery," says Anne Hansen, M.D., a neonatologist at Children's Hospital Boston and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Other imperfections add to your baby's temporary troll-like appearance. If he slid out on his nose, his nostrils may be a bit squashed. Fluids accumulated under his skin may make his eyes look swollen. And he may even have a few small bruises on his face and scalp if forceps or a vacuum extractor was used to deliver him. Your baby is a work of beauty in progress. Be patient, and he'll soon become the angel you imagined. My baby's so jumpy After spending months curled up in a bag of water inside a cozy, snug womb, your newborn now has all the space in the world to move, with no restrictions on her limbs. She hasn't quite figured out how to control her body in this new medium, so a small wave of her arm becomes a wide jerky swing. Babies are also born with the Moro, or startle, reflex: When your infant senses she's falling or is startled, she'll suddenly throw out her arms, open her hands, draw her head back, and then quickly bring her arms back in. This reflex disappears by 3 months. A still-developing neurological system also sends more electrical impulses to muscles than necessary, which can cause your baby's chin to

quiver or legs to tremble. As things become more organized over the first couple of weeks, she'll tend to shake less. Most quivers are nothing to worry about, but see a doctor if your baby's shaking is rhythmic or if a trembling limb doesn't stop when you touch it. My boy's so big down there Before your husband takes credit for your newborn son's huge testicles, he should know that neither genetics nor super-powered male hormones played any part in their size. The swelling is actually a result of pressure exerted on your baby during birth, as well as by fluids trapped in tissue. Also, all new babies still have Mom's hormones circulating in their body. In boys, these hormones enlarge the testicles; in girls, they cause the labia to swell. Genital swelling subsides over the first couple of days. y baby's always hungry In the first weeks, it might feel as if you're feeding your infant around the clock. Her frequent demands are nature's way of increasing your milk supply to meet her growing appetite. Breast-fed babies also tend to eat more frequently, because breast milk is more quickly digested and more completely absorbed than formula. The reason for the feeding frenzy, of course, is that your little one has a lot of growing to do. She'll double her birth weight in six months, which requires a huge caloric intake. Expect your baby to be particularly ravenous during growth spurts; the first typically occurs between 4 and 6 weeks of age. Just be careful that you don't misinterpret her cues as hunger when all she may want is comfort or closeness, says ob-gyn Glade Curtis, M.D., author of Your Baby's First Year Week by Week (Fisher Books, 2000). If she has eaten within the last two or three hours, try holding and swaddling her to see if that calms her down. My baby's hands and feet are cold Before you crank up the thermostat or wrap your little one in another blanket, feel his torso. If it's warm and pink, your baby isn't chilled. Because his circulatory system is still developing, blood is shunted more often to vital organs and systems, where it's needed most. His hands and feet are the last

body parts to get a good blood supply. It can take up to three months for his circulation to adapt completely to life outside the womb. In the meantime, it's common for his tiny fingers and toes to feel chilly and look pale. As your baby becomes more mobile and active, his circulation will improve. My baby has blood in her diaper The same maternal hormones that cause swollen testicles and labia are also responsible for the bloody vaginal discharge that newborn girls sometimes have. Don't worry if you see a small smudge of blood or bit of staining on your baby's diaper in the first weeks of life. This mini menstrual period usually lasts only a few days, Dr. Curtis says. Sometimes, what looks like blood may actually be concentrated urine, which can look quite dark in the folds of a diaper. Bright red blood, however, is unusual and warrants medical attention. My baby has a blister on his lips Many newborns develop a nursing tubercle or blister from vigorous sucking on a bottle or breast. In some cases, the blister is present at birth because of thumb-sucking in the womb. A sucking callus causes no discomfort to your baby. In fact, the overgrowth of skin stiffens the lip and may make grasping the nipple easier. The callus will disappear on its own in a few months, or it might come and go from day to day. My baby's poop looks like diarrhea Breast-fed babies have seedy, mustard-yellow stools that are liquid and unformed, while bottle-fed infants tend to have slightly more solid bowel movements with a brownish color and the consistency of soft ice cream. Some babies poop a dozen times a day, while others pass stools just a few times a week. As long as your child is gaining weight and has no abdominal pain or bloating, her pooping frequency is fine. It can be hard to distinguish normal bowel movements from diarrhea, particularly if you're nursing. Breast-fed babies commonly poop after every feeding. (It's called the gastro-colic reflex: Whenever milk goes into the stomach, something comes out the other end.) And their stools are naturally looser. Your best bet is to become familiar with what's usual for your baby. If the frequency, volume, or consistency changes dramatically, see your doctor.

My baby sneezes all the time Newborns sneeze a lot, but not because they're cold or sick. It's simply how they clear their nasal and respiratory passages of congestion and airborne particles. Sneezing also helps reopen a temporarily closed nostril. "When a mom nurses and her baby is pressed up against her, his nose might be flattened or one nostril pushed shut," Dr. Curtis says. "After feeding, the baby will take a breath or sneeze to open his nose again." My baby's skin is flaky While your baby was bathing in a lagoon of amniotic fluid, his skin was nicely protected from the watery environment by a coating of white, waxy material called vernix. But once he's exposed to the air and the vernix is rubbed away, the upper layer of his skin dries out and begins to peel. Your child's entire body may peel (although it's most noticeable on the hands and feet). Don't try to pick off the flakes -- you might remove skin that's not ready to be shed. Moisturizers aren't necessary either. The flaking usually lasts one to two weeks. My baby's breathing strangely Like many new parents, you probably spend a good part of each night bent over the side of your little one's crib, checking to make sure she's still breathing. And you've probably been freaked out a few times watching her irregular breaths. But it's actually normal for infants to take slight pauses and then go through periods of rapid breathing. "Occasionally catching or skipping a breath is part of the development of the diaphragm [the muscle that enables breathing] and neurological system," Dr. Curtis says. A pause of up to 20 seconds is considered normal. By the time she's about 6 weeks old, your baby should develop a more regular pattern of breathing. You worry about SIDS, of course, and you're wise to be vigilant. Put your baby to sleep on her back, keep all soft bedding and toys out of her crib, and don't smoke. If your baby ever stops breathing for longer than 20 seconds (a sign of apnea) or turns blue or limp, seek medical attention. My baby's cries all sound the same

You've heard how moms are supposed to know instinctively whether their baby's hungry, tired, or in need of a diaper change just from the sound of his cry. But if you're still not fluent in your baby's first language, don't worry. "Over time, you'll recognize the loud shrieking of the pain cry and the more subdued whimpering of fatigue," Dr. Hansen says. The hunger cry usually falls somewhere in between, although some babies can sound pretty desperate (and loud) when they want to be fed right away. But in the early days, it doesn't really matter why your little one cries (sometimes he'll howl for no reason at all). You'll still react with the same loving attention each time -- and that's all your baby really wants or needs.

14 Most Outdated Pieces of Baby Advice

Much of yesterday's baby wisdom has been proven untrue today. We checked in with Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411, to get the scoop on why these old-school parenting facts have become fiction. By Amanda First Myth: Infants need to be bathed every day. The truth Babies don't get stinky from sweat the way adults do, so they only need a bath every two or three days (except following a major diaper explosion!). If it's part of your wind-down routine, a daily bath is perfectly okay too--just moisturize afterwards. Myth: Babies sleep best in a room that's silent and dark. The truth While some children really are light sleepers, most do fine with background noise and a little light. Plus, if your little one gets used to some activity around him when he's sleeping, he'll be more willing to snooze in a variety of situations. Myth: When infants are running a high temperature, rub them down with alcohol to lower their fever. The truth Rubbing your baby with alcohol won't actually bring down her fever--plus it's unsafe, since alcohol can be absorbed through her skin.

Myth: Letting your little one stand or bounce in your lap can cause bowlegs later on. The truth He won't become bowlegged; that's just an old wives' tale. Moreover, young babies are learning how to bear weight on their legs and find their center of gravity, so letting your child stand or bounce is both fun and developmentally stimulating for him. Myth: Listening to classical music will raise your baby's IQ. The truth Music can enrich a little one's life, but no conclusive research has found that having a baby listen to classical music in particular can result in significant brain-boosting benefits. Myth: Let your baby cry it out; if you pick her up whenever she's wailing, you'll spoil her. The truth Babies under 4 months of age have few self-soothing strategies; they know how to suck to soothe and like being swaddled, but that's about it. Picking infants up when they cry helps them learn that parents will always be there to take care of them. Myth: Babies should be woken up in the night to have a wet diaper changed. The truth Urine is sterile, and today's diapers are highly absorbent, so it's fine to leave a baby in a wet diaper overnight. However, staying in poopy diaper for too long can cause a UTI or a bladder infection, especially for baby girls--so if you smell one, change it out. Myth: It's dangerous to immunize your infant if he has a cold or a low-grade fever. The truth A minor illness won't lower your baby's immune-system response to a vaccination--or increase his risk of any nasty reactions from a shot. Myth: Never apply sunscreen to an infant under 6 months of age. The truth The risk of skin cancer down the road from sun exposure is greater than the risk of your baby having a reaction to sunscreen. It's best to keep her away from dangerous UV rays as much as possible from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., but

put on sunscreen with at least 15 SPF if she'll be in the sun. The AAP says that it's fine to apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as a baby's face and the back of the hands. Myth: During the first month of a baby's life, it's critical that all baby bottles and nipples be sterilized. The truth Sterilize bottles and nipples when you first take them out of the package--but after that, washing with soap and water is fine. Babies are exposed to many more germs than those that remain on a well-scrubbed bottle or nipple. Myth: The safest way to put an infant to sleep is on her stomach. The truth The safest sleep position for a baby is on its back. In the past, doctors worried that babies might choke on any spit-up if they weren't lying on their tummy or side, but studies ultimately linked these positions to higher rates of SIDS. Myth: Putting rice cereal in your infant's bottle will help him sleep. The truth Hold off on introducing solids until 4 to 6 months. Research suggests that babies who are given solids before 4 months are actually worse sleepers than their formula-fed counterparts--an studies have revealed a link between the early introduction of solids and obesity later in life. Myth: It's critical to keep your baby on a strict feeding schedule. The truth It's better to feed on demand, as infants' internal hunger cues will tell them when they're hungry and when they're full. By putting your child on a feeding schedule, you may negatively affect your little one's inborn healthyeating habits. Myth: Infants need hard-soled shoes to protect their delicate toes and keep their feet properly aligned. The truth Babies use their toes to grip the surfaces that they're walking on, so they should actually go shoeless indoors. To keep tiny tootsies safe outside, get a shoe with a good grip on the sole--hard-soled shoes can be too slippery.

18 Tips to Soothe Baby

Soothing Tricks For the past few months, your little one was cushioned in the dark confines of your uterus, where she listened to a never-ending whooshing, thumping playlist and was rocked every time you stepped away from your desk to make a photocopy. So it should come as no great surprise that she still isn't entirely acclimated to the big, cold place that she was recently thrust into. For now the best recipe for a peaceful baby is to do everything you can to remind her of her last pad: the womb. "Start by thinking of your baby's first three months of life as the fourth trimester," says Parents advisor Harvey Karp, MD, pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block. Why? Mimicking what she heard, felt, smelled, tasted, and saw in utero can turn on her calming reflex and help her feel safe and secure -- so she'll cry less and sleep better.

Soothe with Touch Your baby's crib feels like a warehouse compared with the cozy home she was recently evicted from. Because things were snug in the womb, she's accustomed to ever-present touch. "A baby's skin is constantly stimulated in the uterus," explains Dr. Karp. Not only was your little one wrapped up as securely as a crystal vase being shipped overseas, her ride was just as bumpy -- so she's used to constant motion, notes Harry Zehnwirth, MD, a pediatrician and creator of the Sounds for Silence Baby Settling Program. "The transition from the womb to the world is easier if the baby is reminded of that packaging," he says.

Touch: Skin-on-Skin One easy way to re-create the physical sensation she enjoyed in utero: Take off your shirt and hold her close. "Skin-to-skin contact is very comforting to babies," says Dr. Karp. If going topless makes you blush, encourage Daddy to take over this duty: It's a great way for him to bond with your little one.

Touch: Play Masseuse Research has shown that regular rubdowns help babies sleep better and cry less, so give your baby a gentle massage for about 10 minutes daily, suggests Elaine Fogel Schneider, PhD, author of Massaging Your Baby: The Joy of Touch Time. Dr. Schneider notes, "This is best done when your baby is quietly alert. Massaging a squirmy or an agitated baby may overstimulate her, making her even fussier."

Touch: Binky Time Sucking -- which many fetuses do in utero -- is also a calming sensation for newborns. The rhythmic motion of gumming a Binky can work wonders when your baby is inconsolable.

Soothe with Smell All infants have preferences for certain odors based on what they experienced in the womb. According to Dr. Karp, the amniotic fluid picks up the scents of the foods Mom is eating; researchers now know that a fetus is aware of such odors because a baby is able to recognize its mother's scent immediately after

birth. "If you give a 1-day-old who's never been exposed to breast milk a breast pad with another mother's milk, the baby will turn to the one with his own mother's milk," he says. Moreover, research has shown that babies are comforted by familiar scents; in one study, breastfed babies who were exposed to pain through routine heel sticks were immediately soothed by just the scent of their mother's milk. That's good news for new moms: You can use your baby's fine-tuned sniffer to relax her.

Smell: The Scent of Mom Your smell is not only recognizable -- it's the most soothing of all, says Dr. Karp. Forgoing deodorant just to spread your scent might be extreme, but you can help calm your baby by making a mommy-scented lovey. Try tucking a blankie into your bra, then letting your little one cuddle with it. (Don't leave her alone with it in her crib until after 6 months, when the risk of SIDS diminishes.)

Smell: Deodorize On the other hand, strong scents that never made their way into your amniotic fluid -- especially those found in household, bath, and grooming products -can be irritating to a newborn and cause fussiness. So unplug that air freshener and lay off the scented baby wash for a while. "You might think you're doing your baby a favor by using 'calming' products, but many infants may not like that strong smell," says Parents advisor Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn. You should consider giving your perfume a rest as well, even if you wore it throughout your pregnancy.

Soothe with Sound If you've been tiptoeing around ever since leaving the hospital, stop. Silence won't help your baby relax because it's foreign to him. "The first sense an embryo develops is hearing, at around nine weeks," explains Dr. Zehnwirth. In the womb, your baby picked up the sound of blood running through your arteries, a rhythmic whoosh, which is similar to what his heartbeat sounded like in an ultrasound, explains Dr. Shu. Even with that racket, noises from outside -- a toilet flushing, your favorite radio show -- filtered in and became a part of the in-utero symphony. Luckily, you can re-create that easily.

Sound: Make Some Noise The most ancient method of producing that womblike sound: Say "shh" to your baby. It's important to be forceful, since "the noise a baby hears in the womb is louder than a vacuum cleaner," according to Dr. Karp. Try to match the volume of your little howler's wails. Don't have the lung capacity? Lull him with a white-noise machine or a CD.

Sound: Talk to Her All that office gossip you thought no one caught wind of -- turns out you had a secret eavesdropper. Your baby was able to hear people talking before he was born; your voice was clearest, so it's most familiar. Talking to him won't necessarily stop him once he's crying, says Dr. Karp, but it's a great way to keep him from fussing in the first place. If babbling makes you self-conscious, read aloud. "Newborns can recognize a story you've read over and over, so it's a good way of prolonging quiet alert time," he explains. Either way, keep the volume down: "Speaking softly and slowly is calming because babies have to strain to hear, which forces them to pay closer attention," says Dr. Shu.

Sound: Play Music The White Stripes song topping your iTunes most-played list might seem like a strange choice for a lullaby, but if you were addicted to it during pregnancy,

your little one will remember it -- and likely find it calming, according to Dr. Shu. Same goes for TV-show themes, as well as any songs you might have sung to your baby while you were pregnant, she notes.

Sound: White-Noise Machines A pristine house might be low on your list of priorities these days, but the dishwasher, vacuum, and clothes dryer all make whooshing, low-frequency noises similar to those heard in the womb, says Dr. Karp. Since babies like motion and feeling snug, put her in a baby carrier and do your chores with her in tow.

Soothe with Sight Your infant may spend most of the time with his eyes shut, but his vision development started months ago, around 26 weeks' gestation, and Dr. Shu notes that newborns can immediately see close up. In fact, studies show that within days of birth, a baby prefers an image of Mom to that of a stranger. What your little guy sees (and when) can contribute to his state of calm.

Sight: Adjust the Lights You might assume that your infant requires total darkness to sleep because it was pitch-black in the womb -- but he actually experienced filtered light in utero. In fact, Dr. Karp says, "If you take a bright light and shine it on the wall of the uterus, the baby will turn away from it." That said, soft, subdued light can be calming to babies and help them drift off. "It allows them to orient," he explains. So, if you've outfitted your nursery with blackout shades, try plugging in a night-light.

Sight: Show Your Face While you're caught up in the frenzy of trying to help your frantic infant settle down, it's easy to forget one important tactic: looking at him. "Your face is comforting because it is associated with the smell and the voice that the baby knows from the womb," says Debby Takikawa, coauthor of CALMS: A Guide to Soothing Your Baby. It might seem hard to make eye contact when your little one is wailing, but take a deep breath and make a point to put your face close to his, gaze at him directly, and speak in a calm voice.

Sight: Brighten Up How does your baby not realize that nobody should be up (let alone crying) at 2 a.m.? You can hardly blame him -- in the womb, day and night were the same. Says Dr. Karp, "If you want to organize a child into a circadian rhythm, expose him to daylight." His solution for correcting your little night owl's nocturnal tendencies: Strap your infant into a stroller or a carrier and head out for regular daytime walks.

Soothe with Taste

Before birth, your baby not only developed an affinity for certain smells, he also learned to like particular flavors. According to Dr. Shu, he was able to taste the foods you consumed via the amniotic fluid (a fetus swallows about a pint of the stuff each day!). Now that he's breastfeeding, his taste preferences can come into play as "flavors from things you're eating pass into the breast milk," says Takikawa.

Taste: Play It Safe Remember that second-trimester craving for blue cheese you refused to indulge because you were wary of unpasteurized dairy products? Don't be so quick to dig in now, either. Not only may unfamiliar foods be a taste turnoff for your little one -- they can be irritating to his stomach, explains Dr. Shu. "A lot of moms are careful about what they eat while they're pregnant but less careful when breastfeeding," she says. "Abruptly adding certain things back into your diet that you avoided during pregnancy can be upsetting to a baby."

Taste: Eat Well To give your breast milk a familiar taste, continue consuming the things you ate frequently during pregnancy (if you constantly craved Kung Pao chicken, your baby might be a fan too). Says Dr. Karp, "Some people will say not to eat foods like garlic while you're nursing, but many babies actually prefer it because it's what they're used to." Originally published in the September 2009 issue of Parents magazine.