Your baby's health care provider
During the last couple of months of your pregnancy, you will need to choose a doctor, or perhaps it will be your midwife, who will arrange to provide medical care to your baby once it is born. It is best to ask your family doctor if they will provide newborn care. Some people arrange to have a paediatrician (specialist doctor for children) to become the baby's doctor. You will need to make arrangements with a doctor to care for your baby (if you are not seeing a midwife) prior to the baby's birth.
After you have arrived in the Birthing Centre, be sure to tell your nurse what care provider will be looking after your baby. If you have not chosen a doctor/midwife or if your doctor does not have privileges at North York General Hospital, then we will have the paediatrician on call examine your baby. Before you go home, you should arrange for a follow-up visit with your baby's doctor/midwife two–three (2–3) days after you go home. Speak with your nurse on the Mother and Baby Unit if you need help making this appointment.
- View a list of family doctors accepting newborns.
Your baby needs to have a checkup within two–three (2–3) days of going home
During the first hour after birth, your baby will have:
- Erythromycin ointment put in his/her eyes to prevent infection
- Vitamin K injection to help prevent bleeding
Both of these procedures can be done while your baby is still skin to skin.
Testing for baby
- Heart rate, temperature, breathing
- Physical exam within 24 hours
- Bath at 6 hours of age
- Blood sugar if baby is very small or very large or you have diabetes
- Hearing test
- Ontario Newborn Screen
- Bilirubin (to check for jaundice)
The nurses will check your baby's temperature, heart rate and breathing shortly after birth and then several times during your stay. The baby's care provider will examine the baby within the first 24 hours of life. Your baby will receive its first bath after six (6) hours of age and it will be done in your room. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about bathing your baby.
If your baby is at risk for developing low blood sugar, s/he will have their blood tested several times. At around 24 hours of age, a public health nurse will test your baby's hearing. If your baby receives a "refer" result, it does NOT mean that your baby can't hear, it just means that the hearing test needs to be repeated. Some babies have fluid in their ears which can cause them to get a "refer" result. Your nurse will provide you with a phone number to call Public Health to book another hearing screening test for your baby. It is important to go for the repeat testing because hearing problems can interfere with speech.
After 24 hours of age, your baby will have a blood test called the Ontario Newborn Screen to screen for several medical conditions. Both you and your baby's care provider will be notified if the results are abnormal within two weeks.
Your baby's blood test will also include a bilirubin level which shows how much jaundice your baby has. You will receive your bilirubin results before discharge as well as instructions about follow-up.
Learn more by visiting the Newborn Screening Ontario website.
Bathing your baby
Equipment you will need
- Gentle shampoo
- Clean clothes
- Washcloth and towel
- Tub or large basin/sink
Tips for bathing your baby
- Have all your supplies gathered together before you put the water in the tub.
- Bathe before feeding, whenever it is most suitable for you.
- Make sure that the room is warm and free of drafts.
- Bathe your baby every one to two days.
- Your nurse will do a baby bath demonstration in your room and answer any of your questions.
- Babies can have a tub bath even if their cord is still on.
The clamp on the baby's cord will probably be removed before you leave the hospital. The cord will dry up and fall off in about one to two weeks. The cord should be kept clean and dry. You can use a Q-tip to dry around the base of the cord.
You do not need to use alcohol or anything else on the cord to speed up healing or reduce infection. Research has shown that keeping the cord clean and dry is just as effective as applying other solutions.
Put your baby to sleep on his or her back on a firm, flat surface. You do not need anything special to do this. Babies who sleep on their back are not more likely to choke.
Avoid soft mattresses, fluffy pillows, comforters, stuffed toys and bumper pads in your baby's crib because they prevent good air circulation around your baby's face.
Keep your baby warm, but not hot. If the room temperature is right for you, it is right for the baby too. To check if your baby is too hot, place your hand on the back of his or her neck. Your baby should not be sweating. Use light weight blankets, which you can add or take away according to the room temperature.
When your baby is awake and being watched, some "tummy time" is necessary for the baby's development. This will help avoid temporary flat spots that can develop on the back of their head from lying on their back.
At NYGH, we would like mothers and babies to snuggle in bed together while mum is awake. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that mothers should not be asleep when their babies are in bed with them. Learn more about bedsharing.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death, refers to the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant under one year of age. Such deaths usually occur while the baby is sleeping and remain unexplained, even after a full investigation.
Nobody knows how to prevent SIDS, but the latest research shows that there are things that you can do to make your baby safer.
Ways to reduce the risk of SIDS
- Put your baby to sleep on their back.
- Put your baby on a firm, flat surface.
- Avoid fluffy pillows, comforters, stuffed toys and bumper pads.
- Make sure your baby is not too warm.
- Make sure your cribs meets safety standards.
- Do not sleep with your baby if you smoke.
- Do not sleep with your baby if you are extremely tired, have been drinking alcohol, taking medications that make you drowsy or taking recreational drugs.
It is very important that parents who have lost a baby due to SIDS not blame themselves. Until the cause or causes of SIDS are found, all you can do is reduce the identified risks.
- Safe sleep for your baby brochure, Public Health Agency of Canada website
- Safe sleep for baby, Caring for Kids website
- What are SIDS, SUID, SUDI and SUDC? Baby's Breath website
All babies stay with their mothers in their room. They have their own cribs or may snuggle in bed with mum while she is awake.
Being together with your baby helps you learn about his/her feeding cues. Your support person may stay overnight to help you with your baby. There are pull-out beds in our private rooms. Due to space limitations, there are no sleeping accommodations for your support person in our semi-private and standard rooms. They may stay overnight and use a chair.
For security reasons, your partner or a support person must wear an identification bracelet at all times while in the hospital. If a visitor wants to walk your baby in the hall, make certain that you or your support person accompany them as you have an identification band on that matches the baby's band. As an added protection, your baby will receive a special security band. If anyone attempts to remove this band or leave the secured floor, an alarm will sound. Please speak with your nurse on the MBU to learn more about this security feature.
All the stairwells on the second floor are locked and can only be opened by a special card. In a fire, all the doors release. There are also numerous video cameras stationed throughout the second floor for added security. All hospital staff can be identified by a North York General Hospital photo ID badge. Do not leave your baby alone. If an adult is not available to watch your baby, take your baby in its crib with you when you go to the bathroom or take a shower.
You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.