Congratulations and welcome, or welcome again, to the wonderful world of parenthood! Every baby is special, and even if you've been here before, you'll find that there will be surprises galore along the way.
Hiccups and sneezing are really common, and normal. Babies are supposed to eat more or less all the time, every couple of hours. They pee and poop a lot. We don't call it diarrhea as long as they start gaining weight, but they don't start gaining weight until they're a few days old.
If you're planning to breast-feed your baby, that's terrific. For sure it's less expensive than buying formula, and it's almost always a little bit better. But you should know that it doesn't always work, even for mothers who are completely committed to making it work. And you should know that formula isn't so bad either – and it's a big improvement over being hungry and underfed if there isn't enough breast milk available.
Spitting up is normal – every baby does it. That’s why you carry a cloth around protecting your clothes.
Coughing, on the other hand, isn't really normal. Call if your baby coughs.
I would not advise taking your baby's temperature unless he or she seems to be really hot or unless he or she is acting sick. And if the temperature is over 100.0 degrees before the baby is three months old, you should call me right away.
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At the beginning, especially if this is your first baby, everything seems really new and strange and it's hard to have a sense of what is normal and what is not normal. But you will find – hopefully after not too many days – that the whole situation of parenthood becomes familiar and you feel more comfortable in your new role.
Every baby is different, and you know yours the best. If there are things that seem really strange or weird or which you're nervous about, you should call so we can evaluate them together. Often all that's required is an explanation and reassurance, or sometimes a minor "course correction" is in order.
Don't forget to take advantage of your friends and relatives -- you'll get lots of advice, and you should sort through it and keep the parts that you like and disregard the parts that you don't like. (You can blame your pediatrician if necessary!) Much of pediatrics is more based on culture and common practice than on science, and I try to be respectful of a very wide range of parenting styles.
If you want some advice that’s more generic, there are plenty of books and magazines for you to consult. And for advice that’s less generic, ask your mom.
I look forward to seeing you in my office, and unless we’ve made other arrangements, you should plan on making an appointment to come in in about a week. After that, excluding sick visits, I like to see babies every one or two months through through six months of age, then every two or three months until age 1, twice a year until age 4, and yearly after that.