A baby boy approximately four hours old was found yesterday morning in a trash can in the basement of a Bethesda apartment building, Montgomery County police reported.

The infant, who was taken to Children's Hospital by the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, was reported in fair condition there last night. "He's just very young, so we're watching him," a hospital official said. "We expect him to be fine."

Police were seeking the child's mother.

Thomas Paul Blaszkowski, 49, a resident of the Parkside Apartments at 10631 Montrose Ave., said he discovered the baby after he heard muffled cries when he went to the basement to do his laundry about 8:30 a.m.

"I looked around and saw some trash, picked it up and started to put it in the trash can," Blaszkowski said. "Then I heard a faint noise. I knew what it was but was hoping it wasn't what it turned out to be."

He said he removed a cloth container from the top of the trash can but found nothing inside. Then he sorted through a plastic trash bag and finally came to "a brown paper bag, close to the bottom, on top of some newspaper." He said he looked inside and found the child.

"I picked up the baby in the bag and put it in my laundry basket and brought it to my apartment," he said. He then alerted police.

Blaszkowski, a health science administrator at the National Institutes of Health, said he moved the baby's hand from its mouth to help it breathe. Within 10 minutes paramedics arrived and tied what was left of the umbilical cord. Police said the baby was not born in a hospital.

"It was 6 1/2 pounds, the paramedics said, a nice little boy with blue eyes," Blaszkowski said.

Police said under normal procedures the protective service division of the Montgomery County Department of Social Services will petition in Juvenile Court tomorrow for temporary custody of the baby. A judge would then set a time limit before the baby can be put up for adoption, to allow the mother to come forward.

Police said this is the third baby to be abandoned in Montgomery County this year.