Advice for New Moms and Moms-to-Be


Becoming a first-time mom is often a time of utter joy, but with it comes new challenges and many questions. Pediatrician Rachel Dawkins, M.D., at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital guides moms along their motherhood journey in her clinic every day.

We sat down with Dawkins for a Q & A to learn about the top five most commonly asked questions.

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Having a new baby at home is rewarding, but also exhausting! Newborn babies need to wake frequently to feed. As babies get older, they sleep for longer stretches at a time. Some babies, though not all, will sleep through the night at three to four months of age. Setting up a good sleep environment with babies in their own crib on their back, and having consistent routines will help your child sleep and put your mind to rest.

Going potty–more specifically: poop.

  • How often should a newborn or infant poop? Some babies poop multiple times a day, and some only poop once every three days. As long as it comes out soft and not in hard balls, this is normal.
  • My baby strains to poop. Is this normal? Babies often strain, turn red and cry when trying to have a bowel movement. This is normal.
  • What color should my baby’s poop be? Poop comes in all colors. A newborn’s poop is called meconium and looks like thick black tar. The poop then becomes green, and eventually yellow and seedy. The color depends on a few things, including diet. However, if the stools are white, you should contact your pediatrician. 

How do I stop my baby from crying all the time?

Every baby cries. Babies cry the most between one and two months old. Some experts call this the “Period of PURPLE Crying” where the crying jags become longer and more frequent, seem unexplained and nothing makes the spells better. Babies may look like they are in pain for long periods of time, especially in the evenings. Some people also refer to this as colic.

Try swaddling, shushing, and swinging the baby. Repositioning may help as well. If need be, try a pacifier to calm your crying baby.

Most importantly, never shake your baby. If you can’t find a way to soothe your baby, put the baby in a safe place such as the crib and take a break.

How often will my baby get vaccines?

Vaccines are an important way to protect your baby from illness. Your infant will likely get a vaccine in the nursery and then again at two, four and six months old.

How will I know if I’m doing everything right?

Don’t stress about being perfect. No one is perfect! You will have great mommy or daddy instincts that will help you be a great parent and you can partner with your pediatrician. That’s what we are here for!

Also know that feeling emotional after giving birth is very common. You may feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster—laughing one minute and crying the next. These “Baby Blues” should get better in a couple of weeks. If the feelings of sadness or exhaustion are strong, last throughout the day or for multiple days in a row, talk to your doctor about it. This may be postpartum depression, a serious medical condition which can last for a long time if not treated.

Learn more about the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

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