OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
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Karla Schlimgen, MD

Guidelines for Parents
& their New Babies

Karla Schlimgen, MD, FAAP. Pediatrics
OakLeaf Pediatrics, Eau Claire

The time prior to a new baby’s arrival should be devoted to learning what to expect in those first few months of life. Establishing a good and open relationship with your baby’s doctor, will provide you with an excellent source of guidance for the decision making required as a new parent. Remember you and your baby’s doctor are partners in your baby’s health. If you haven’t chosen your baby’s doctor yet, consider a board-certified pediatrician. Some doctors allow prenatal interviews free of charge. You may want to discuss such topics as breastfeeding, sleep schedule, childcare and vaccinations prior to your baby’s arrival.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for infants for about the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is beneficial in combination with solid foods through at least twelve months and can be continued as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. Infants that are exclusively nursed beyond three months will need VitaminD supplementation. Ask your doctor for more information.

If breastfeeding is not an option, formula will provide for adequate growth and development. Consult your baby’s doctor at the start of formula feeding and before making any changes in the baby’s formula.

Health Risks for Formula-Fed vs. Breastfed Babies

A formula-fed baby has the following increased chance of contracting a disease or infection, compared to a breastfed baby during the breastfeeding period.

allergies, eczema 2-7 times
ear infections 3 times
gastroenteritis 3 times
meningitis 3.8 times
urinary-tract infections 2.6 to 5.5 times
diabetes, type 1 2.4 times
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 2 times
pneumonia/lower-respiratory-tract infection 1.7 to 5 times
inflammatory bowel disease 1.5 to 1.9 times
Hodgkin’s lymphoma 1 to 6.7 times

Adapted from American Family Physician, April 1, 2000, Vol. 61, No. 7

Sleep Schedule

Most newborn babies sleep 16 to 20 hours a day. Parents can expect that a newborn will sleep at least one long stretch of 3 to 5 hours in 24 hours. Parents should prepare for the fact that they will be getting up several times a night, once the baby arrives. By about four months, many babies will sleep more at night and remain alert for increasingly longer periods in the daytime. This can be encouraged by engaging the infant during wakeful daytimes and keeping nighttime awakenings calm, quiet and no longer than necessary. Parents should always position infants on their backs for sleeping during the first six months of life to prevent increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.


It is wise to arrange childcare in advance, rather than waiting until after the delivery. Be cautious in finding help. Keeping infants in small childcare settings for the first 6 to 12 months of life minimizes exposure to sickness while their immune systems are still young and more vulnerable. Large group daycares increase your baby’s risk of respiratory infections, ear infections and diarrhea. Check your childcare provider’s licensure and references. Drop in unannounced to check on your child periodically.


Certain vaccine preventable diseases can infect babies within the first few months of life. Vaccinating your infant will provide protection when they need it.

All vaccines that are approved for use in the United States have been thoroughly tested for safety, and serious side effects are very rare. Ask your doctor for more information or visit these web sites to learn more about vaccines:

Besides your pediatrician, sources that can be trusted include: accredited medical schools, government agencies, professional medical associations and recognized national disorder/disease-specific organizations. The Web site for the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org, is a good place to start.

For more information, call Dr. Schlimgen, Oak Leaf Pediatrics, Eau Claire » 715.830.0732