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Your baby right after birth

  • Your baby gets a full checkup right after birth.
  • Your baby also gets newborn screening tests.
  • Decide if circumcision is right for your son.
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Getting ready for baby

You'll want to make sure everything is ready to care for your baby before you bring him or her home. Here are some things you can do:

Find a health care provider

A pediatrician is a health care provider who takes care of babies and children. To find a pediatrician in your area, go to the Web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A family physician is a health care provider who takes care of people of all ages. To find a family physician in your area, go to the Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

It's a good idea to choose a pediatrician, family physician or another health care provider for your baby before he or she is born. When you first meet with the provider, ask:

  • How often should I bring my baby in for checkups?
  • How far in advance should I make an appointment?
  • How do I make an appointment if my baby gets sick?
  • What do I do in case of an emergency?

Decide about breastfeeding

Before your baby is born, decide if you'll breastfeed or feed your baby formula. Breastfeeding is feeding your baby with milk from your breasts. Formula is a special liquid food that you feed your baby from a bottle. Talk it over with your partner and your provider. Here are some benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk protects your baby from infections that formula does not.
  • Breast milk is always ready when your baby wants to eat.
  • Breast milk is free.
  • Women who breastfeed may receive some protection from breast and ovarian cancer.

Ask you provider about breastfeeding classes in your area.

Get ready at home

Here are some things you'll need:

Child safety seat: Make sure your baby's child safety seat is correctly installed in your car before you go to the hospital.

Crib: Choose a crib with slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Make sure the crib isn't painted with lead or varnish. Cribs made after 1989 meet these safety rules.

Diapers: Plan on using about 70 diapers (disposable or cloth) a week.

Layette:

  • 6 to 8 T-shirts or onesies
  • 6 to 8 sleepers
  • 4 to 6 pairs of booties or socks
  • 4 to 6 receiving blankets
  • Washcloths and towels

Medical supplies:

  • Rectal digital thermometer (not a mercury thermometer) and lubricant (petroleum jelly). A rectal digital thermometer gives the best temperature reading for newborns.
  • Non-aspirin liquid pain reliever for infants (such as acetaminophen)
  • Rubbing alcohol to help clean the umbilical cord stump
  • Cotton swabs
  • Saline drops to help relieve a stuff nose
  • Infant nail clippers
  • Suction bulb for nose

Last reviewed March 2008

In the delivery room

  • Your baby gets a full checkup.
  • Your baby gets a test called an Apgar.
  • Your baby gets eye drops.
  • Your baby gets some shots.
  • You can breastfeed your baby.

Most common questions

Are vaccines safe for my baby?

Vaccines (also called immunizations) are one of the best ways to avoid serious diseases caused by some viruses or bacteria. For vaccines to be most successful, everyone needs to get their vaccine shots.

Several years ago, some people were concerned about thimerosal, a preservative used in some shots. Thimerosal contains mercury. Some people worried that thimerosal might cause autism. After a lot of careful research, medical experts found no link between thimerosal and autism. Still, to help ease some parents' concerns, thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines, except in tiny amounts in some flu shots. If you're concerned about thimerosal, ask your children's health care provider to use thimerosal-free vaccines.

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