Doctor Q & A for first-time parents

Area pediatricians answer questions about newborns

hudson valley doctors answer questions for first time parents

As you plan for your first child, you’re probably doing all you can to prepare for baby’s arrival on the great stage of life – including regular visits to your obstetrician, brushing up on the baby nutrition information, and making sure all the nursery furniture is where you want it.

Parents have questions about their growing bundles of joy – and who better to ask than a doctor?

Here’s what four area pediatricians said about do’s and don’ts for newborns:

Q: Should parents meet their child’s doctor before delivery?

A: Absolutely yes! You are starting a new relationship for your baby and family that you hope will last 18 or more years. As in any relationship, you need to discover if you have the same values and philosophy about such important topics as vaccines, breastfeeding, and parenting practices.


You can learn about the physician and their practice, through questions such as: How many providers are in the practice? Will I see the same provider each time? How are emergencies handled?  What hospital is the practice affiliated with?  What happens if my child is sick outside of scheduled office hours?


At your prenatal visit, ask for a tour of the practice and talk with a staff member, as well as gather important advice about newborn care, safety, feeding, and circumcision, and what to expect after the birth in the hospital. Any family can come for a prenatal, and it is especially beneficial for first time parents, families new to an area, and families that are anticipating a child who will have special needs. 


Dr. C. Barbara Gannon

Washingtonville Pediatrics

Q: Is it possible to “train” your child to sleep through the night?

A: A child’s sleep needs changes throughout his/her life. A newborn does not know the difference between day and night and her stomach holds only enough to keep her satisfied for three to four hours, so in the first few weeks of life, I recommend not letting your baby sleep for more than four hours without waking him up to feed.

Although newborns don’t usually sleep for more than a few hours at a time, they average about 12 to16 hours a day of sleeping. As your baby gets older and feeding becomes consistent with good weight gain, you’ll notice the stretches of sleeping and wakefulness lengthen. By 3- to 4- months, some babies sleep at least five to six hours at a time and shift more of their sleep to nighttime. 

Even at this early age, you can begin to teach your baby that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for play-by keeping nighttime feedings and diaper changes with minimal light and noise. During the day when awake, have the light on and engage your baby. Try not to let your baby take longer naps in the afternoon, this way she will be trained to save her extra sleeping for nighttime. Begin to develop a relaxing routine before bedtime that your baby will associate with sleep.

Learning to read your baby’s signals for being tired-droopy eyelids, rubbing eyes, yawning-and putting your baby in the crib while he or she is drowsy – but still awake – can help your baby learn how to fall asleep on his/her own.

Dr. Lydia Park
Crystal Run Healthcare

Q: Is there a “proper” way to diaper my newborn?

A: Newborns need LOTS of diaper changed – about 10 to 12 a day! I recommend changing baby’s diaper after each feeding, nap, or when your baby is fussy. First, gather all your supplies (diaper, wipes) and never leave your baby unattended on a bed or changing table. Unfasten the soiled diaper, clean the skin with an unscented baby wipe or warm washcloth front to back, making sure to clean between skin folds. By gently lifting your baby’s ankles you can remove the soiled diaper and slide a clean one in. Fasten the clean diaper, being sure it’s not too tight or too loose. You should be able to fit two fingers between your baby’s skin and the clean diaper.

Dr. Stuart Tashman
Middletown Medical

A: Although there is no “proper” technique for diapering a newborn, I am often asked whether cloth or disposable diapers are better for newborns and which brands are preferred. Setting aside personal questions of cost, convenience, and environmental impact, the choice of which type or brand of diapers to use may depend upon skin sensitivity and, oddly enough, body type. Some infants have chubbier thighs while others have bigger bellies. You may find that a particular brand gives your baby better coverage. One type or brand of diaper may irritate sensitive skin while others may not. It is often a matter of trial and error (as with much of parenting!) – especially when it comes to brands and sizes. And if you start to notice frequent diaper leaks, it may be time to go up or down a size.

Dr. Dana Larkin Mitchell
Children’s Medical Group