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5 Things Every New Mom Should Know

As a top pediatrician who also happens to be a mom, Dr. Lisa Thebner has experienced early-childhood health issues on both sides of the coin.

She shares essential information for keeping baby healthy -- and minimizing those sleepless nights.

1. Know What's Normal
Question marks abound for new parents, so educate yourself about behaviors and traits that may seem unusual but are actually fairly common.

Here are a few examples:

  • Belly button popping out: This indicates an umbilical hernia; these usually resolve with no treatment.
  • Gooey eyes: These are due to blocked tears ducts and usually resolve around one year of age.
  • Back hair: Called "lanugo," this is shed soon after birth.
  • Shuddering and crossing eyes: These should go away by four to six months of age.
  • Hiccuping and sneezing: These don't necessarily indicate illness in newborns; they simply clear secretions.

2. How to Prevent Allergies and Obesity
If either parent has a history of asthma, allergies, or eczema, breastfeeding or feeding with a hypoallergenic formula may prevent or delay these conditions for the child. Recent findings also indicate increased risk of obesity when food is introduced before four months; Dr. Thebner recommends waiting four to six months to introduce food.

3. New Recommendations for Introducing New Foods
Be sure to read the latest research on introducing new foods to your child's diet, as recommendations have evolved over the years, in some cases dramatically. For example, conventional wisdom once dictated avoiding foods like eggs and peanuts during your baby's first few years of life, but it now appears that doing so will predispose your child to more food allergies.

4. Protect Baby from Disease
Get a flu shot before birth: It gives the baby some protection in utero and also reduces the risk that the baby will catch flu from you. In addition, you may want to consider the Tdap vaccine, a booster for tetanus and whooping cough, which can be fatal in babies.

5. Encourage Healthy Sleep Patterns
It's important to establish healthy sleep patterns early, so read up on sleep strategies before giving birth (while you still have the energy to read!). Dr. Thebner recommends "The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight" and "52 Sleep Secrets for Babies," both by Kim West.

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