Winterizing your Newborn
By Dr. Mike
Protecting Against Infection
a pediatrician, I will never say there is a bad time to have a baby.
However, there are better times than Winter. There are a number of
illnesses that are predominant in the winter, that place your baby at
risk for infection. The flu, Respiratory Syncitial Virus (RSV), and
Rotovirus (a vomiting and diarrhea virus) to name a few. Remember, the
outside air is not contagious, people are, so make sure no one with an
illness, including a cold, is near your newborn. Also, make sure
everyone washes their hands before touching your baby. To help decrease
the risk of infection, all members of your household and caregivers
should receive the flu shot and both children and adults need to be up
to date on the tetanus vaccine, which immunizes against whooping cough
(Pertussis). Your baby will start his vaccination series at two (2)
months but will not be protected well against whooping cough until six
(6) months. If possible, avoid flying with your baby. It is not the act
of flying that is the issue – that is safe for a baby – but all the
people your baby will encounter in the airport and on the plane that
increase the risk of transmission of illness.
Dressing for Sleep
The temperature of the room your baby sleeps in should be comfortable
for an adult dressed in light clothing, around 70 degrees. A baby should
be lightly dressed for sleep, as overheating during sleep increases the
risk of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. You can use your hand as a
thermostat, by feeling the nape of your baby’s neck while he/she is
asleep. If that area is very hot or damp with sweat, the baby is
overheated and the layer of clothes should be removed. If cold, then the
layer might need to be added. A lot of parents make the mistake of using
a baby’s hands and feet as a measure of the baby’s temperature. This is
incorrect as a baby’s hands and feet are usually colder than the rest of
It is okay to adjust the straps of your baby’s car seat slightly for
bulkier clothing. However, you want to avoid loosening the straps a lot
to accommodate for a thick winter coat. During a crash, that coat might
compress leaving room between the baby and the straps, placing your baby
at an increased risk for harm. What is recommended is to remove the
bulky coat, strapping the baby in the car seat tightly and then using
the coat as a blanket over the straps of the car seat. You can tuck the
coat in around the baby, making sure not to obstruct the baby’s nose or
Picking a Hospital
Most of you will deliver at the hospital where your Obstetrician is
affiliated. Some obstetricians have privileges at more than one hospital
and you will want to discuss with your doctor which hospital is right
for your specific situation. This is not just based on proximity. For
example, if you are prone to premature babies or your pre-natal care has
detected a possible problem, you will want to deliver at a facility that
has the appropriate level of care to handle your specific needs, like a
NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Make sure to discuss these issues
with your physician.
Most hospitals will let
you pre-register. This allows you to fill out all the paperwork in
advance, including the mountain of insurance forms, so when the big
moment arrives it is an easier and less stressful process to be admitted
to the hospital.
Some hospitals offer a
tour of their labor and delivery departments. I recommend taking
advantage of this as it will make the hospital admission and stay more
familiar to you and will also lower your stress level.
Make sure to plan for
your admission in advance. That includes a pre-packed bag for your stay.
Also, know where to park the car. The last thing you will want to worry
about is finding the right parking lot! Lastly, have an alternate route
to the hospital to plan ahead for uncertain traffic patterns.
Picking a Pediatrician
There are pros and cons of small and large practices. The smaller
practices offer more consistency with the same doctor, but appointments
can be limited, especially at the popular times. Larger practices offer
a lot of availability, but patients are sometimes seen by different
There are some other
questions for you to find out about a pediatrician's office before you
What are the after
How do you get in
touch with the doctor when the office is closed?
Will you speak to a
doctor from the practice, or a call center/nurse?
Are there weekend
What hospitals are
the doctors affiliated with?
These are all important
attributes of a practice to consider before choosing.
You should feel very
comfortable with your pediatrician as you will be spending a lot of time
with him/her. The first year of life you will see your pediatrician
after delivery, in the hospital, after discharge from the hospital, at 2
weeks, at 2 months, at 4 months, at 6 months, at 9 nine months and at 1
year. That is 9 times without being sick! Some doctors may want to see
you even more. So, you need to feel that you can communicate with your
child's doctor and that he/she has a personality that you feel
comfortable with. A lot of pediatric offices offer a "meet the doctor"
visit. This is a scheduled time while you are still pregnant to sit down
with a pediatrician and get a feel if he/she and their group is right
for you and your baby-to-be.
*All information given is
not a substitute for the advice of your pediatrician, primary care
provider or trained health professional. Always consult with your
pediatrician or health care professional.
Bio - Michael was born and raised in California and has never left. His
higher education has all been through the University of California
system - Bachelor of Science with honors from UCLA, his MD degree from
University of California at Irvine and his pediatric training at UCLA.
He has been practicing pediatrics in Valencia, a suburb of Los Angeles
for over 10 years. Dr Mike is the featured pediatrician in the DVD,
101-- What Parents Need To Know and he and his DVD have appeared on
multiple media outlets including Pregnancy magazine, he is the resident
pediatrician for Brooke Burke's website for new moms and has recently
been on The Doctors television show discussing newborn care. He is
married and has a seven year old son and a four year old daughter. He
enjoys golf, UCLA sports and family time. Baby shower 101 is happy to
have him as their resident pediatrician.