6 Tips for Bringing Newborn Baby Home (Part 2)
Bringing a baby home from the hospital is daunting. In Part 2 of this series, Mighty Mommy discusses what to expect with your baby's feedings, bowel movements, sleep habits, and, of course, crying.
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- Hunger. Hunger is one of the most common reasons that your newborn baby will cry. The younger your baby is, the more likely it is that hunger is behind the crying.
- Gas. If your baby seems uncomfortable while feeding or continually cries during or after a feeding, is squirmy, or pulls away and starts crying, give burping a try. Some parents take a burping break halfway through a bottle or – for nursing moms – when they switch breasts.
- Wet Diaper. Some babies will let you know that they are wet or have a dirty diaper by crying, so you've tried feeding and it's not working, check the diaper.
- Want to be Held. Babies need lots of physical contact and reassurance, so crying just might mean they want to be held. Baby slings are a great way to keep baby close and still free your hands to do other things. I learned to multi-task incredibly well during the first couple of months I had a newborn because I loved holding my babies as much as possible, and not once did I worry about spoiling them.
- Overtired. Often, babies find it hard to get to sleep, particularly if they are overtired. You will soon become aware of your baby's sleep cues, and will know if your little bundle needs extra rest. If your baby is younger than about 5 months, she may cry in the late afternoon and evenings. This is normal, and doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your baby.
- Colic. Some babies, like my fourth child, have bouts of inconsolable crying that last for several hours at a stretch. This is colic. Our pediatrician explained colic as a combination of baffling behaviors that usually occur in a pattern of threes: Crying typically starts between 3 weeks and 3 months of age; lasts more than 3 hours at a stretch; occurs at least 3 days a week (though usually every night); and persists for at least 3 weeks in a row. Most colicky babies cry at the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or early evening. Worst of all, try as you might — and try you will — it's extremely difficult to calm a colicky baby, which only compounds your frustration and exhaustion. See Mighty Mommy’s Tips on Surviving Colic for more information on getting through this very difficult time.
Nobody knows your baby as well as you do. If you feel that there may be something wrong, call your doctor immediately. Be aware of changes in your baby. If she's unwell, she'll probably cry in a different tone to her usual cry. It may be weaker, more urgent, continuous, or high-pitched.
Tip #4: The Scoop on Poop
For the first few days after birth, your baby's bowel movement will be sticky and greenish-black. This substance, called meconium, is perfectly normal. It's what filled your baby's intestines while she was in the womb, and once her body gets rid of it, her poop will look yellowish-orange, with seed-like particles.
After about a week, and for about the next 6 months, the consistency and frequency of your baby's bowel movements will depend on whether she's breastfed or formula-fed. While it's normal for an infant to have a bowel movement anywhere from 5 or 6 times a day to once every couple of days, breastfed infants tend to poop less often. Breast milk is so readily digested that it leaves little bulk.
The average newborn has 10 diaper changes a day—or 70 per week! So get ready because diaper duty is definitely one of the biggest parts of new parenthood.
Tip #5: Sleeping and Breathing Patterns
The Baby Center Medical Advisory board calculates that newborns sleep 16 - 17 hours a day, but rarely more than 2-4 hours at a time day or night during the first few weeks of life. The reason for needing so much rest is because growing actually makes them tired, and sleep gives them energy, so don’t be concerned that your baby is not awake and interacting with you in the very beginning.
Newborns will also commonly have periods during which they stop breathing for about 5 to 10 seconds and then start up again on their own.
Frequently, new parents become concerned about their newborn's breathing pattern, particularly with the increased attention that sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has received in recent years. But rest assured that it's normal for young infants to breathe somewhat irregularly.
Newborns will also commonly have periods during which they stop breathing for about 5 to 10 seconds and then start up again on their own. I know that happened to each of my 8 kids and no matter how many times I went through this phase, and I knew it was normal, it always left me jumpy. This is known as periodic breathing, which is more likely to occur during sleep and is considered very normal. WWW.CJSIDS.org, one of the largest SIDS organizations in the country, sites that SIDS claims the lives of nearly 2,500 infants per year. Their website offers a risk reduction section with their number one recommendation of laying baby face up when they sleep. Check out House Call Doctor for more information on new guidelines for reducing the risks of SIDS.
Tip #6: Taking Care of Yourself
As much as you've longed for your baby's arrival, all the feeding, diaper changing, and sleepless nights can leave you feeling pretty depleted. Don't forget that you need some TLC too. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids (especially important if you're breastfeeding) and eat healthy, energy-boosting foods. Take advantage of getting any rest when and where you can. Call on your partner, grandparents, and close friends to give you small bits of respite during the first few weeks of your baby’s homecoming. Although it will be trying at times, don’t ever give up on taking care of yourself. If you take the steps to keep yourself healthy and sane, you’ll be better for your baby and the rest of your family.
How did you mange during your baby’s first few months? Share your thoughts in the comment section or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.