Caring for Your Nine-Week Old Baby

Taking Your New Baby Out

Taking your baby out of the house doesn't have to mean a trip to the mall...
Taking your baby out of the house doesn't have to mean a trip to the mall... Photo © Justin Horrocks

Many experts recommend that you not take your newborn out much to try and limit her exposure to viruses and other germs. This can help make sure that she didn't get sick at a time when she still had an immature immune system and had not received many of her vaccines yet.

Now that she is in her third month, you can likely be a little more adventurous and can start taking your baby out in public a little more.

You still don't want your baby to get sick though, so keep the following tips in mind when you do take your baby out:

  • Continue to avoid going out in public if your baby was born premature and is likely still at increased risk if he gets a cold or other infection. This is especially important during cold and flu season and until your pediatrician gives you the OK
  • Try to avoid people who are obviously sick with a cough or a runny nose
  • When possible, go out during off-peak hours (early morning, middle of the week, etc.), when places may be less crowded
  • Keep your baby covered up when you go out, in a wrap sling, carrier, or stroller with a blanket, so everyone isn't tempted to try and touch and hold her
  • Encourage people to wash their hands before holding your baby
  • Avoid crowded places, such as the mall during peak shopping hours, sporting events, parades, etc.

Is it really necessary to be so cautious? After all, your baby's immune system is getting stronger and she likely already got her first set of vaccines last week, right?

Sure, but that isn't going to prevent her from getting a simple cold or other infections. And even though your baby's immune system is likely strong enough to handle these infections now and keep them from getting serious, it is still no fun for your baby to be sick.

Breastfeeding in Public

Often, when a mom is breastfeeding in public, many people around her don't even realize it.
Often, when a mom is breastfeeding in public, many people around her don't even realize it. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Breastfeeding in public is a surprisingly controversial topic.

The controversy should be that some people are bothered by a mother breastfeeding her baby when her baby is hungry, whether she is at a restaurant, the park, or a store.

Breastfeeding in Public

In addition to the fact that it bothers some people who are not supportive of breastfeeding, the other main issue about breastfeeding in public is that some breastfeeding mothers simply aren't comfortable doing it.

As breastfeeding mothers begin taking their babies out in public as they get older, breastfeeding in public is something that can make these outings more convenient. Otherwise, you have to rush home, go to your car, give a bottle, or find a hidden spot to feed your baby.

Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

Until you get more comfortable breastfeeding in public, which sometimes doesn't happen until your baby is five or six months old and you are out more, it can help to:

  • Practice around friends or family members who are supportive of breastfeeding
  • Practice in front of a mirror
  • Have a friend hold the baby or talk to you
  • Consider using a wrap sling or nursing blanket
  • Wear clothing that helps you breastfeed discretely, even without a blanket, such as a loose-fitting shirt that you can easily lift up or a nursing shirt
  • Find a discreet location away from people until you are more comfortable being in public

Breastfeeding Laws

Is it legal to breastfeed a baby in public?

Fortunately, yes it is legal to breastfeed a baby in public in most states, with some courts even defining it as a constitutional right. Breastfeeding laws in Texas, for example, state that "a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be."

Kids Height Predictors

When looking at your baby, thoughts quickly turn to his future...
When looking at your baby, thoughts quickly turn to his future... Photo © Leigh Schindler

As you look at your baby, you likely have lots of thoughts for his future...

Will he be a doctor, lawyer, fireman, teacher, or a pro football player?

What color will his eyes be?

Will he look like mom or dad?

Parents don't get a crystal ball to answer these questions, so any predictions about your baby's future will be little more than guesses right now.

A prediction about how tall your baby will be when he gets older can be a little more than a guess though.

Kids' Height Predictors

These height prediction methods can give you a pretty good idea of what your child's future height will be:

  • Two Years Times Two Method - simply double your child's height when he or she is two years old
  • Follow The Curve - use your child's current height and where they are on the growth curve right now to predict their future height
  • Genetic Potential Height Predictor - predict your children's future height based on their genetic potential 

Notes on height predictors:
Keep in mind that many factors may influence your children's future growth, including their overall health and nutritional status and their genetic potential.

Thumb vs. Pacifier

A pacifier can help soothe and calm a crying baby.
A pacifier can help soothe and calm a crying baby. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Q. My baby keeps putting her fingers in her mouth and sucks on them. I try to take them out and put a pacifier in, but she seems to prefer her fingers. Which is better?

A. Parents often think that it is better to let their baby suck on a pacifier instead of their fingers or thumb. They figure that they can always take away a pacifier, but they can't take away their baby's thumb or fingers.

The problem with this reasoning is that:

  • Few parents actually take away the pacifier
  • There is nothing to stop a child from switching to their thumb or fingers if you don't let them have a pacifier anymore

Non-Nutritive Sucking

Non-nutritive sucking (sucking for reasons other than getting food) is thought to be a normal behavior for most infants. In fact, some experts believe that "normally developed infants have an inherent, biological drive for sucking" that helps them calm and soothe themselves. So it shouldn't be a surprise that up to 90% of infants suck on a thumb, finger, or pacifier.

Most parents worry that the pacifier or thumb will still be in their child's mouth as they go off to kindergarten. However, many infants give up the habit before they even start walking.

Thumb or Fingers versus Pacifiers

Although you often don't have a choice and it will be up to your baby's preference, you likely don't need to discourage thumb or finger sucking, since:

  • Your baby has ready access to her fingers or thumb
  • Parents often overuse pacifiers, putting them in their baby's mouth every time they cry, while your baby can use her fingers or thumb when she really needs it
  • Your baby can stop sucking on her fingers or thumb when she is ready, while you may continue to use a pacifier longer than necessary, making it more likely to become a habit

Insect Repellents for Babies

Insect repellents can help reduce your babies risk of getting bit by mosquitoes and other bugs.
Insect repellents can help reduce your babies risk of getting bit by mosquitoes and other bugs. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Insect repellents for infants?

As you take your baby out more as he gets older, insect bites can become a problem. Fortunately, it is indeed considered safe to use insect repellents on infants age two months and older to prevent bites from mosquitoes and other insects.

Avoiding Insect Bites

In addition to using insect repellents, you can also take many steps to avoid insect bites. These protective measures include:

  • Dressing your baby in thin, loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing that doesn't include bright colors
  • Avoiding spending time outdoors during the evening to early morning hours (dusk to dawn), which when mosquitoes bite the most
  • Avoiding scented soaps and other things that might attract mosquitoes
  • Using a bug screen over your baby's stroller
  • Controlling mosquitoes and other insects around your home

Using Insect Repellents Safely

Most experts agree that an insect repellent with the chemical DEET is the best protection against mosquito bites and other insects. Keep in mind that insect repellents with higher DEET concentrations aren't necessarily stronger than those with lesser concentrations. They simply last longer.

Although insect repellents with DEET work great and are thought to be safe to use on children, many parents still prefer DEET-free insect repellents, such as Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Insect Repellent, and those with picaridin or citronella oil. Keep in mind that products with oil of lemon eucalyptus (such as OFF! Botanicals) should not be used on children under age three.

To be safe, it is also a good idea to:

  • Avoid reapplying insect repellents more than once a day
  • Do not apply insect repellents under clothing, on a baby's hands, near their mouth or eyes, or over cuts and irritated skin
  • Wash off insect repellents with soap and water once you bring your baby inside

Kids in Hot Cars

Never leave a baby alone in a car, especially a hot car.
Never leave a baby alone in a car, especially a hot car. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Parents don't often intentionally leave their babies alone in a hot car.

Unfortunately, getting left alone in a hot car is a serious "hidden danger." In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 25 kids a year die after being left alone in a hot car.

How hot can a car get? If it is 80 F to 100 F outside, the inside of a car can quickly reach temperatures up to 131 F to 172 F. That can quickly lead to heat stroke and death, even after just 10 or 15 minutes in the car.

That makes it important to never leave your child alone in your car.

How does it happen though? Often it seems to happen when someone unexpectedly changes their daily routine. For example, instead of dropping your baby off at daycare, you may go to the bank first. You may then go to work and forget that your baby is in the car.

To help reduce the risk that you might leave your child alone in your car, it might help to:

  • Place a reminder in the back seat, such as the keyless entry remote that locks a car (put it on a keychain separate from the car keys), your purse, wallet, briefcase, or anything else that you typically take with you and can't do without
  • Put something on the dashboard, your keychain (like a pacifier), or car window to remind you that your baby may be in the car
  • Ask your daycare provider to set up a system where they call if you don't show up with your baby and haven't called in sick
  • When you get home, bring your baby inside the house first and then bring in the groceries so that you don't get distracted inside the house and forget your baby outside in the car
  • Consider installing a safety device to warn you that your baby is in the car such as The Child Minder system.

Flu Shots

Get Your Flu Shot Now
Get Your Flu Shot Now. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Although your baby is too young to get a flu shot, that doesn't mean that the flu vaccine can't protect him from getting the flu.

If that statement confuses you, just remember that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long recommended that "household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age" should get a flu shot each year.

So if your baby lives at home with mom, dad, and a 6-year-old brother, and goes to daycare, then during flu season:

  • His household contacts (mom, dad, siblings, nanny, etc.) should get a flu vaccine
  • His out of home caregivers (daycare workers) should get a flu vaccine
  • The baby should get two flu shots one month apart if he turns six months old during flu season, which generally lasts from October to March or April in most years

Of course, the routine recommendations are now that everyone over six months should get a flu vaccine, so these household contacts, in addition to being considered a high-risk group, should get vaccinated anyway.

Even though your baby might be too young for a flu shot, if everyone that he is around is vaccinated, then they shouldn't get sick with the flu and won't bring the flu virus around your baby. And if your baby isn't exposed to the flu virus, then he shouldn't get sick with the flu.

View Article Sources
  • Infant oral health and oral habits. Nowak AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-OCT-2000; 47(5): 1043-66.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children and Cars A Potentially Lethal Combination DOT HS 810 636.
  • Tex. Health & Safety Code Sec. 165.002 Right to Breastfeed.