The feeling of having a fresh newborn placed into your arms has to be one of the most surreal moments that someone can experience!
It doesn’t matter how that baby was brought into the world, when a parent first holds their child, it’s an instant understanding that nothing will ever be the same.
But it can also be scary! It’s impossible to predict how your baby will adjust to the world outside of the womb. It’s also impossible to determine what could be causing a newborn‘s discomfort, difficulty feeding, trouble sleeping and/or fussiness.
There are a few things that are helpful to keep in mind when it comes to newborns:
1. Great sleep at first!
Almost every newborn wants to eat and then sleep right after birth. This is called the recovery sleep and often parents cling to the hope for good sleep that it brings. What do I mean by that?
I talk to so many families whose baby slept like a champ right after birth. The nurses told them what a good sleeper that they had and immediately they felt a rush of joy come over them thinking that they have a miracle sleeper!
The truth is most babies will sleep really well for the first 1-2 days of life. And then they get home, and it feels like everything unravels.
This is normal! I just wish more parents were warned about this because such a small but mighty occurrence can cause some serious damage to the parents’ confidence about raising this little life once they get home and sleep seems different.
2. Cluster feeding!
This is a term you’ll want to remember. In the first few months of life, your baby will go through a few cluster feeding phases. This is when your baby will want to have frequent, short feedings over a few hours. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t feeding them enough or that you’re feeding them incorrectly (please consult with your pediatrician if you are concerned about this). This commonly happens when baby is going through a growth spurt. It’s also common for breastfed babies as cluster feeding helps boost and regulate milk supply.
3. Wake windows
Don’t forget about your baby’s sleep timing. One thing is for sure, newborns simply can’t stay awake for more than 45-50 minutes. Even that can be pushing it during the first week of life! It’s important to remember that forcing your baby to stay up longer will not result in them sleeping more. It’s more than likely going to backfire.
Instead, when they wake, feed them, burp them, change their diaper and once 45-50 mins has gone by, lay them back down to sleep again.
It’s also important to note that your baby may not be able to even make it that long. At some points in the day, they’ll want to sleep immediately after eating.
4. Help them to sleep
Your newborn will need help falling asleep and that’s ok! Rock them, feed them, pat their butts, bounce with them on your shoulder… whatever they prefer, do it and don’t be afraid of creating bad habits. Newborns need lots of assistance!
Tell me if this sounds like you:
You’ve learned all there is to know about baby sleep before your new baby arrives. You are confident you can handle this and help them get the best sleep possible!
Then, your baby arrives, and you feel like a lot of what you know has flown out the window at record speed!
This completely stresses you out because if there is one thing you remember from everything that you’ve learned it’s “put baby down awake and don’t use sleep props”.
But I want you to remember that newborns need help to sleep most of the time! As they get older, you can begin to scale back that help. You can also begin to lay them down a little more awake here and there. But don’t obsess about it during this newborn time.
If you are having a hard time figuring out how to navigate this, check out my newborn guide “Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Us This?!”. I will walk you through what to do and when, what to focus on and what to practice!
This stage is hard. It is so exciting and so amazing but that doesn’t mean you won’t be stressed out and lacking confidence in yourself.
I just want you to know that you are not alone, and you are not a bad parent for being totally lost when it comes to newborn care! You can do this! Your baby already loves you more than anything in the entire world! In fact, you are the only thing they love right now!
Hang in there and know that each day gets a little easier!