Functioning day to day on broken sleep and often in physical discomfort in a lifestyle that is totally foreign can cause anxiety. This coupled with the overwhelming responsibility of a newborn cause’s memory glitches and decision making blips. Don’t panic – life will run smoothly again. Here are some realistic things you can anticipate while caring for your baby in the first three months.
You’ll find looking after your baby in the early months tiring or even exhausting. To help you through, accept offers of help or use paid help. Rest and put your feet up after lunch, eat well and get fresh air and a little exercise every day.
The first two weeks with your baby may be heavenly. You’ll think how perfect he is as you watch him contentedly feed, sleep and pass bodily fluids. Then the mystical three week mark arrives when this blissful life with a newborn in the house turns to chaos – your little one is growing up and becoming more alert. It is from here your baby needs more awake time – about one to one and a half hours between sleeps which includes feed time and floor play. Make sure you don’t get too love struck and keep him up too long. An overtired or overstimulated baby is very difficult to settle to sleep. It normally takes about ten to fifteen minutes for him to settle to sleep. Expect him to then sleep for one to one and a half hours. This period of sleep consists of three or more sleep cycles. Be mindful not to get him up too early. Just because the eyes are wide open when you go in and check on him doesn‘t mean he is ready to get up. It’s probably the stare that happens just before he settles back to sleep. Try not to hover and interrupt natural processes as without adequate sleep your baby is grumpy and doesn’t feed well. At night, let him wake for feeds. He may give you four to five hour stretches of sleep. If he doesn’t, don’t worry he will. Feed with low light, no interaction and stimulation and he will improve. Some bubs have night and day mixed up – sleeping in the day and waking frequently overnight. Help turn this around by waking bub regularly during the day for feeds, sleeping him in daylight areas and letting him wake on his own overnight. In total your baby will usually sleep about fifteen to sixteen hours in twenty-fours during these first few months.
Breastmilk is premium nutrition for your baby in the first three months. Unfortunately, as committed and as hard as some mums try, breast feeding ends early. Thankfully there is a variety of infant formulas when breast milk is not available. Seek professional advice before starting infant formula. Breast milk is easily digested and needs to be offered every three hours during the day. Most infant formulas are offered every four hours. The length of a breast feed is not a good indication of how much milk bub is getting. Some will suck efficiently and down enough in fifteen minutes while others take forty minutes to drink the same amount. Others feed for over an hour but are not getting much due to poor attachment. Forty-five minutes is a long enough feed, after this length of time bubs suck will not be effective enough to get much milk and he would be better off catching up on needed sleep or stimulation. Weighing your baby every couple of weeks is the best way to see if he is getting enough milk. Rumbling hungry tummies or discomfort is usually what wakes him in the early weeks. If your baby is due for a feed, don’t delay the feed fiddling around changing the nappy, start feeding and change the nappy after ten minutes when the sucking slows down. Newborns have a habit of dosing off before completing a feed.
Following feeds during the day your baby will enjoy watching you and the surroundings for a while. At six weeks, introduce bright toys, mobiles and rattles for extra stimulation at this wake time. Lay him on a soft mat on the floor on his tummy and back and not just in bouncers and rockers. Give nappy free time for air and sun kicks. This activity is important to tire him before a sleep.
Watch for at least six wet nappies in a twenty-four hour period. Poo can vary between fifteen times a day to one every three to five days or even once every ten days in totally breast fed bubs. Infant formula fed babies need to have a bowel motion every day or two as they risk constipation.
This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children. For more online resources visit