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    Learning About Your Health

    Patients' Frequently Asked Questions (PFAQ): Parenting & Infant Care

    Is it ok to use sunscreen on my infant?

    Yes it is. Sunscreen is safe for children - even those less than 6 months of age. Sun exposure - in particular sunburns - is a known risk factor for skin cancers. The majority of a person's lifetime exposure to the sun occurs before the age of 18. Sunscreen should be a daily habit for children - especially if they are fair-skinned.

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    At what age should my infant start to eat solid foods?

    An infant needs only breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first six months of life. After this, infants need an additional source of iron in their diets. Typically this can come from baby cereals such as rice, oatmeal, barley, that have iron added to them.

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    Can my newborn infant see?

    Yes. At birth a newborn's vision is about 20/200 to 20/400. (Normal adult vision is 20/20.) Newborns can certainly see - but not very clearly. Color vision develops around three months of age. If you have any concerns about your infant's vision, you should definitely consult with your pediatrician.

    Authored By: David Tejeda, MD
    Reviewed By: Deborah Wyatt, MD

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    My baby has an IV in his head. Is it going into his brain?

    It can be a real scary thing seeing your baby hooked up to a lot of things but the IV in your son's head is going into a vein in the scalp. The only way anything can be given there to get into the brain is by traveling back to the heart first — the same for every other vein in the body. In adults, we usually just use the veins in the arm or the back of the hand to place IV lines because that's where the vein is easy to see. The veins in a baby are much smaller and more fragile than in an adult. Our primary goal is to place the IV into the biggest vein we can, with the least number of attempts and have it last for the longest period of time. Veins in the head are often the easiest to see because the skin on the scalp is thin and there is not much hair there. Although an IV in the head looks a little scary, it doesn't harm the brain. It also means your son can move his arms and legs around without being restricted by an IV board.

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    Is the NICU open on weekends? Can I come see my baby on the weekends?

    The NICU is always open and ready for business. Although some specialized testing is primarily done during the weekdays, we have the services and people we need to care for baby emergencies at any time. We are also always open and ready for you to be with your baby. We encourage families to make the times to come to care for their baby fit into their family routine. If you have older children, visiting during the day while they are in school or late in the evening after they are in bed and the homework is done might work out for you. Although we don't have specific visiting hours, we do have some minor restrictions to help keep your baby secure and maintain his privacy. The NICU is closed to visitors only 3 times a day while nurses sign in for the next shift. We also occasionally need to close the unit to families and visitors while we perform surgery or have a staff meeting.

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    What is a Neonatologist?

    A Neonatologist is a pediatrician who has completed 2 or 3 extra years of training to specialize in the care of newborns. Most Neonatologists practice in the Newborn Intensive Care Units which we often call NICUs for short. As specialists, we care for all types of babies, including very tiny preterm infants, very sick full-term babies, and babies with birth defects.

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    My baby was born at 25 weeks of gestation. How long will she remain in the newborn ICU?

    There is not a specific length of time that a baby born 15 weeks early needs to stay in the hospital. For tiny babies, we often tell you to expect to have your baby home about the time of your due date. This is because many of the things she needs to learn to do before coming home like being able to take all her feeds by breast or bottle and keep herself warm outside an incubator will fall into place as she nears term gestation. The staff will help you watch for signs that your daughter is getting close to coming home and make sure you are ready.

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    How will the doctor decide my baby is ready to go home from the newborn ICU?

    In deciding a baby is ready to come home, we don't use any particular weight but we look at their skills. For example, some of the things a preterm baby needs to show us he can do before going home are: being able to take all of his feedings by breast or bottle and gain weight; being able to keep himself warm outside of an incubator, and not needing any medications or special treatment that you can't give him at home.

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    Who can visit my baby in the NICU?

    When your baby is admitted to the NICU, we ask you to let us know who may visit your baby when you're not there. Those visitors need to be ready to show a picture ID to get into the Intensive Care Nursery.

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    I'm worried, my baby isn't gaining weight.

    In the first days after birth, babies should lose weight. This early weight loss is mainly due to passing out the extra fluid the baby has on board. This extra water is just Mother Nature's protection until mom's milk production gets going at 2 to 3 days. Sometimes, babies lose as much as 8 to 10% of their body weight in those first days but this is normal. Once nutrition can be established either by feeding with special forms of intravenous nutrition or with your milk, your baby will regain that weight. Although watching your baby's weight fall can be scary, its a normal process and we promise your baby won't "dry up and blow away."

    Authored By: Terri Slagle, MD
    Reviewed By: David Lee, MD

    Produced by the Center for Patient and Community Education in association with the staff and physicians at California Pacific Medical Center.

    Funded by: A generous donation from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Ciocca Foundation.

    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

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