Looking back at my daughter’s newborn stage, I realize how overwhelmed I was by everything and how it felt like everything was spinning around me. Truth is, the constant feeding exhausts you so much that you have no time to think clearly. By the time your newborn is done eating, then falling asleep, it barely gives you time to eat something yourself, maybe take a shower or get a bit of snooze time as well. But I do remember the calm moments, when you’re both alone or when the house is calm, where your newborn is sitting there, waiting to be loved and entertained. Those were the best moments I can remember. On the day my mom’s friend got us an interactive newborn play-mat, I was really excited to put my then one-month-old daughter on it. She enjoyed it so much it became the place she was most often in. Until the day I found her on her side, I knew she was ready for more activities. Are you at home with your tiny human wondering about how your day should look like? We’ve got it! Read on to know everything about it!
A baby is a newborn for the first 2 to 3 months of his life. He then enters the infant stage until he celebrates his first birthday. Newborns spend their first week of life getting used to life outside the womb. From a comfortable place, where it was dark, comfortable and warm, they need time to get used to being out in their new world. They will need a lot of comfort and a lot of feeding. But feeding and swaddling are not the only things you can do with your tiny one during the day. This is the time to bond, comfort and enjoy them, as every minute presents them with something to discover. Sure, sleep deprivation and sometimes postpartum depression will make the first few months stressful and exhausting, but here are a few tips on how to make the most of some precious moments that will go by in a flash.
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Important things to set in place before the birth of your newborn
There are important things I believe should be set in place before you arrive from the hospital with your newborn child. To be able to go through this tough (but sweet) phase, being extremely organized in certain areas can go a long way. Here are some steps to consider:
1- Be strict about visiting times and limit the number of visitors. It’s okay, you are overwhelmed and exhausted, it is your right.
2- Have all the products you need at hand. A breast pump, even if you think you might not need it, can sometimes come in handy when you’re having some snooze time and someone else has to feed the baby.
3- Have your fridge full and lots of meals prepped before going to the hospital. This will go a long way as you’ll be able to feed yourself (and therefore your baby) properly and not worry about organizing that.
4- This is obvious, but have everything ready. From clothes, to creams, to diapers and wipes, organize everything so there’s no panic when a nappy needs to be urgently changed or a change of clothes is necessary for both you and baby (hello, milk stains).
By having these things organized before you come home with your newborn, you’ll at least be able to fully focus on them and their needs without being anxious about any logistics. Accepting all types of help will also bring you a lot of peace of mind and give you an opportunity to catch up on sleep.
Feeding and sleeping take up most of your day
It is known that most of the time in the very beginning, your newborn will eat and sleep. Newborns have tiny tummies, meaning they wake up every few hours to feed. During the first month, they feed up to 12 times a day, meaning every 2 to 3 hours depending on their needs. When a newborn is hungry, he wakes up to have his milk but sometimes, parents have to wake him for feeding. Depending on their weight and whether they are breastfeeding or having formula milk, you’ll slowly develop a routine of feeding and sleeping over the months. Once you see a pattern and learn about your newborn’s needs and cries, it will get easier. During the first few days, be ready to feel like you’re constantly feeding your newborn. After the first week, feeds will slowly decrease. When it comes to sleep, they are certainly random at first. Your newborn will sleep a total of 16 to 17 hours a day, broken up by feeding time.
In the whirlwind of the newborn phase, there will be magical moments where you’ll be able to take in every minute with that little human you have created. By giving them warmth, love, and undivided attention with a lot of cuddling and smiling, they will slowly start to get used to the outside world. It is important for new parents to have time to enjoy their baby, to sit and watch them, let them observe your face and memorize it and give them a lot of affection. Besides sleeping and feeding, it is considered important for newborns to bond with their caregivers. Even though they are very tiny and seem to be slowly waking up to their surroundings, talk or sing to them so they recognize your voice and gently touch them to help them feel safe. You will also learn about the way they communicate their needs, identifying different cries and their body language. Despite everyone around me telling me not to get my baby girl used to being rocked, I spent my time rocking her and carrying her, explaining everything I was doing. Holding her and kissing her as well was an important way to communicate and soothe my newborn. Bath time is also an important part of parent-newborn bonding time. Smiling at them while bathing them and massaging them after that will soothe them and make you both relaxed.
Your newborn’s development
As days go by, every minute is a chance for your newborn to learn and develop. Their brain is growing fast as they use all their senses. They see new things, they hear new sounds, smell and touch everything around them, constantly developing their brain. Your newborn will be developing his grasp reflex, startle at sudden sounds and have jerky movements while he sleeps (no panic here, it’s just new!). Newborns cannot see very far at the beginning but he will surely enjoy looking at your face and memorizing its features, trying to duplicate your facial expressions. Try holding him close and making faces to entertain him and help him through his development. The ideal time to entertain and talk to your newborn is when they are quiet and alert. This will allow him to take everything in and mimic your gestures, stimulating his brain. Remember that each one of them is unique and will eventually reach developmental milestones at their own pace. These are a few guidelines on what to expect at each stage:
- By 1 month, your newborn will be able to:
- Lift his head during tummy time
- Respond to sounds
- Stare at a face
- See in black and white
- Notice the light and turn his head towards it
- Follow moving objects
- Make sounds
- By 2 months, your newborn will be able to:
- Follow faces and objects
- Hold his head up and steady for a small period of time
- Know your voice
- Smile when smiled at
- Be able to bear weight on his legs
- By 3 months, your newborn will be able to:
- Hold their head well
- Recognize your voice and face
- Smile and laugh
- Bring his hands together
There are varied activities to do with your newborn to help their development. This article highlights them all and is of huge help.
So, what does a typical day with a newborn look like?
Your day with your newborn will mainly be structured by his feeding and sleeping time. A nice structure to your day would look like this:
1- Breastfeeding or preparing formula to feed them every 2 to 3 hours
2- Rock them to sleep
3- Interact and bond with your newborn to make them feel safe, loved and help his development
4- Bath time to stimulate their senses and make them feel rested. A massage would make them relax and help strengthen your bond.
5- Activities for their psychological, biological and social growth
6- Manage family and friends’ visits
7- Care for yourself and your wellbeing
How to deal with postpartum depression?
When you are a new mom, your emotions are at their peak. It is common to therefore experience postpartum depression, which affects 1 in 7 women. Taking care of yourself, bonding with your baby, having a support network including your doctor or therapist, and slowly starting exercise again, can all have a great impact on dealing with it. Remember, this too shall pass!
Can I go out with my newborn?
Every new parent is worried about going out with their baby, especially that going to crowded places can be dangerous for their still weak immunity. But a lot of research says that it is actually good for baby and mommy to go out and get some fresh air and Vitamin D. This will also go a long way for postpartum depression. Make sure you limit your outings in crowded places and be strict with people when it comes to touching your baby. Keeping this in mind, it is okay for you to go out with your newborn.
Bringing a newborn home is never easy. But the first 3 months can be absolutely enjoyable if you plan things right and read about your newborn’s development. Bonding time is the most important time you can spend during these months as it will help you and your baby adapt to that new life and environment.