Great Expectations

. January 29, 2013.

When a new family receives the news they’re expecting a new baby it evokes joy and a number of questions, especially for first time parents. Ann Arbor Family has compiled a guide full of advice — whether it’s your first or fifth child, there’s something for everyone!

Ann Arbor Family asked some of the best and brightest pediatricians for their best advice for new parents. Whether it’s blue,soft or serious…these docs have an answer!

Jason Kahn, M.D.
Medical Director
St. Joseph Mercy Neighborhood Family Health Center

Babies love to hear your voice and start learning language from day one, so keep the TV off and let your baby hear you: talking, singing, narrating your day together and reading! And remember — sleep when your baby sleeps!

Alissa Brekken, MD
IHA Pediatric Healthcare Canton

Take a deep breath and enjoy every moment, as your baby will grow up before you know it. Be attentive to your child and try to identify the different cries she/he may have in relation to her/his individual needs.

Patrick Gordon, MD
IHA Primary Pediatrics – Ann Arbor

Behavior is all about positive reinforcement. Reward behaviors you want them to repeat and do not give in to the behaviors you do not approve of. This is true for infant feeding to potty training to the middle school years.

Nicole R. Frei
IHA Pediatric Healthcare – Arbor Park

There is an abundance of information out there and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what is the right way to take care of a newborn. Remember there is no “right” way to parent, so learn to trust your instincts.

Bethany Anne Mohr, MD, FAAP
Clinical Assistant Professor
Child Protection Team Medical Director
Department of Pediatrics
University of Michigan Health System

As a new mom, one of the most important things to consider is the safest way for your baby to sleep.

Most new parents understand they will need a crib or bassinet for their baby, but there are many other things, which need to be considered to ensure your baby’s safety.

Unfortunately, a baby can die if placed in an unsafe sleeping environment. Bumper pads, pillows, soft bedding, blankets/quilts, toys and/or stuffed animals in your baby’s crib pose a risk for suffocation. Just because items are sold or advertised for a baby does not mean they are safe, especially when placed in your baby’s sleep environment.

Drop side cribs should never be used as these pose a risk for entrapment or falls.

A baby should always sleep alone on her back on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in a crib or bassinet with nothing else in the crib. A thin blanket may be placed over your baby at armpit level as long as the blanket is tucked under the mattress and her feet are near the end of the crib. Your baby may also be swaddled or placed in an appropriately sized sleep sack (as long as your baby will not become overheated).

You should never lie down with or hold your baby if you may fall asleep, as this places your baby at risk.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please consult with your baby’s doctor.

Andrew Hashikawa, MD
Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Department of Emergency Medicine,
University of Michigan
American Academy of Pediatrics – Michigan Chapter Child Care Contact

Finding the right childcare provider for your little one.

1 Talk with trusted childcare experts locally: Child Care Network – The Great Start Southeast
Regional Resource Center located right in Ann Arbor provides free child care referrals and can help you find quality, licensed child care. (

2 Determine what quality means to you: Ask yourself, what aspects of childcare are most important to you? Is there balanced free time and activities? Are the facilities clean and safe? Are there a variety of toys/materials to help your child develop? Can they accommodate your schedule? Is it affordable?

3 Do your homework: Interview caregivers and check references. Make sure they are licensed and registered providers. Ask to see a copy of their annually required training certificates (CPR/first aid). Find out if they have appropriate staff-to-child ratios.

4 Ask questions about health and safety issues: Can they handle any special health needs of your child? Ask about their health and safety policies and know how they handle illnesses and any emergencies that might arise.

5 Find a place where you can stay involved: Make sure you can easily communicate with your provider about your concerns and questions. Can you visit your child during the day? Can you find out how the day went? Are there ways to meet other parents?

Snooze you lose?

The topic of sharing the bed with a new infant is one that raises some controversy. There are pros and cons on familial bed sharing and with the assistance of a medical opinion from Therese Benevich, M.D. at St. Joseph Mercy’s Saline Adult and Pediatric Medicine and midwife and Indigo Forest owner Beth Barbeau, Ann Arbor Family has highlighted both the positives and the negatives.


Most babies are safe in the family bed. “When asked most couples say they wouldn’t feel comfortable sleeping away from their partner, so why would they away from their seven-pound baby?” says Barbeau.
The infant sleeps better, in longer stretches and the whole family is more content thanks to the shared sleep cycles of mother and baby.

Babies require a fourth trimester on the chest of an adult, new babies need to be with an adult in order to breathe well, maintain a healthy temperature and pulse rate.

Babies offer non-verbal cues parents become in tune to. The last resort is to cry, however, when in the same bed, these cues become evident which equals a happier baby.

Intimacy between parents takes on different forms.


Babies require their own ‘sleep space.’

They are at risk of a sleep-related death if they are in your bed while you are sleeping; it only takes and adult hand over their nose or mouth or an adult arm resting on their chest to suffocate them.

Babies should be put to sleep on their backs, and there should be nothing in the bassinet or crib, such as toys, positioners, blankets or bumper pads.

Avoid falling asleep with the infant while holding them when you are sitting in a recliner or couch, as it increases their risk of a sleep-related death.

Packing up
Leaving for the house to give birth is an exciting time; therefore
remembering everything to take along in an overnight bag might seem overwhelming. Rosa Lee of My Urban Toddler offers easy items to remember that are sure to make hospital stays comfortable!
•Your own pillow
•Shower shoes
•A comfortable robe
•Nursing pajamas in a
dark color
•Lip balm
•Maxi pads
•Belly butter
•An Ipad or similar device to watch movies because often hospitals offer free wifi
•Gifts for your other children

The basics of breastfeeding

A great deal of research demonstrates how beneficial breastfeeding is for babies. Breastfeeding provides babies with more than just good nutrition. Mother-infant bonding is enhanced during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding improves baby’s health, enhances baby’s brain development and provides the perfect nourishment needed at each stage of development.

How does breastfeeding benefit baby?
•Provides warmth and closeness which helps create a special bond between mother
and baby
•Easier to digest than infant formulas
•Has all the nutrients, calories and fluids a baby needs to be healthy and support growth
•Has substances that protect baby from a wide variety of diseases and infections
•Babies that are breastfed have a lower risk of ear infections, diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and certain kinds of meningitis
•Reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
•May decrease risks of food allergies and eczema in families prone to these conditions
•May decrease risks of juvenile diabetes
•Decreased risks of obesity in later life
•Improved long-term cognitive and motor abilities

How does breastfeeding benefit Mom?

•Feeling of maternal fulfillment
•Causes release of hormones in the body that promote mothering behavior
•Uterus returns to prepregnancy size more quickly
•Helps moms lose weight gained during pregnancy more quickly
•Decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer
•Much less expensive than formula

Tips to getting breastfeeding off to a great start

•Breastfeed baby within an hour of birth if mom and baby are able to do so
•Room-in with baby day and night during the hospital stay so feeding/hunger cues can be recognized
•Breastfeed on demand, as soon as the baby shows hunger cues such as increased
alertness/activity, rooting, smacking lips
•Request baby not be given formula, water or sugar water without a medical reason
•Most experts recommend avoiding pacifiers or bottles until breastfeeding is well- established – usually by three to six weeks
•Meet with a lactation consultant during and/or after hospital stay to make sure everything is going well. There are breast feeding support groups available in the community that can offer help as well.

For some moms and babies, breastfeeding goes smoothly from the start. For others, it takes a little time and several attempts to get the process going well. Like anything new, breastfeeding takes some practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of four months, but preferably for six months, followed by breastfeeding with the introduction of solid foods for the next six months, and continued breastfeeding thereafter as long as mutually desired by mom and baby.