A new survey from theNational Institutes of Health (NIH) released today revealed that many new moms do not get basic information about infant sleep practices, breastfeeding or vaccinations from their doctors. The report found:

"20 percent of mothers said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs—a practice long proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep."

The study's authors emphasized the crucial role that doctors must play in communicating evidenced-based information to parents. Without a trusted source of information to keep their children healthy and safe, many new moms rely on unscientific or anecdotal information to make choices about sleep, nutrition and illness/immunizations. Keeping baby healthy and safe is an essential part of any mother's life, but is particularly crucial at the sensitive newborn stage.

Motherly talked to Dr .Tiffany Otto Knipe of Washington Market Pediatrics in NYC, who shared her top tips for new parents in the areas of sleep, nutrition and illness.

1) Infants should ALWAYS be placed on their backs to sleep; on a firm mattress, with nothing else in their sleep space (no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or crib bumpers)—this is the #1 was to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

2) Newborns should be fed breastmilk (if possible) or formula every 2-3 hours around the clock, until instructed by their pediatrician to do otherwise.

3) if your baby is under 8 weeks of age and has a fever (rectal temperature of 100.4F) it is considered a medical emergency and your baby needs to go to the ER for a complete evaluation. Infants can not contain and control infection effectively, so the same germs that can cause benign illness in an older child, can cause devastating infection in newborns. No need to take your baby's temperature unless he/she feels warm, is irritable, unconsolable or lethargic (unable to wake up).

Call your pediatrician with any questions or concerns—being a new parent is not always intuitive—and there is no question that is “dumb" coming from a new parent, so ask! Additionally, trust your maternal instinct: If something does not “seem right," don't wait. Call your doctor!