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Surviving Week 1 with your new baby: Take it easy whenever you can

Surviving Week 1: Take it easy whenever you can

Green baby poo? Umbilical cord stumps? Sleeping through the night? There are lots of things to worry about in your newborn baby’s first week - read our advice and you’ll breeze through it. 

MEET THE EXPERT: Dr Ellie Cannon is a GP, mum of two, and author of Keep Calm: The New Mum’s Manual (£10.99, Vermilion).

Survive the nights

One day your baby will sleep through the night. ‘The age your baby does this is mostly down to temperament,’ says Ellie. ‘One way to help him get there is to make it clear when it’s night and when it’s day. Night means quiet, dim lights and minimal interaction. Day means light, noise and interaction.’ It’s important to go outdoors in the day. Natural light helps regulate your baby’s body clock (remember his delicate skin needs to be shielded from the sun). And try to catch up on lost sleep. Can your partner get up with your baby in the morning and let you have a lie-in?

Keep an eye on hydration 

If you feel like your baby isn’t feeding well, get him checked by a healthcare professional. ‘A baby can become dehydrated in a matter of hours if he’s got a fever, is vomiting or has diarrhoea,’ says Ellie. Dry nappies for more than half a day indicate dehydration – take your baby to see the doctor right away if this happens.

‘If you can’t tell whether your baby is weeing (maybe because he has diarrhoea and the nappy’s full of poo), pop a piece of cotton wool inside the nappy towards the front,’ advises Ellie. ‘If he has a wee, the cotton wool will get wet.’

Leave his umbilical-cord stump alone

The stump of your baby’s umbilical cord should be left to fall off by itself. This normally happens between five and 15 days after birth. ‘It will dry out and turn black,’ says Ellie. ‘It’s important not to fiddle with it or to pull it.’ Clean around it with damp cotton wool. Visit your midwife or doctor if it starts to smell or look inflamed. Don’t pick at it, however tempting it is!

Green poo is fine!

In the first week of your baby’s life, you will see the colour of his poo change. It starts off black and sticky and, as he starts to drink and digest milk, it goes a greenish colour and then turns yellow. ‘If your baby’s breastfed, his poo will probably be soft or even runny,’ says Ellie. ‘It might have little pale bits in it that look like cottage cheese. If he’s bottle-fed, his poos will be firmer and more paste-like and a pale brown colour.’

Feet at the foot of the cot

The safest way for a baby to sleep is on his back, with his feet at the foot of the cot or Moses basket, so he can’t slip under the covers. 


It helps to make the baby feel secure. Ask your midwife to teach you how.

Don’t fret over the heel-prick test

When your baby is five days old, he’ll have the heel-prick test. ‘Four drops of blood are taken to be tested for certain conditions,’ says Ellie. ‘These are all rare – the metabolic disorder Maple Syrup Urine disease only affects one in every 116,000 UK babies, so don’t worry.’ 

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