You’ve probably heard that all a newborn baby does is eat, poop, cry, and sleep. Sounds simple, right? It may become simple, but chances are it won’t seem that way at first. Knowing what to expect from your newborn will make your first days home together a little less overwhelming.
To help map out what’s in store after the big homecoming, we turned to pediatricians and mothers Laura Jana and Jennifer Shu, who literally wrote the book on the topic. The second edition of their book Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality was released in September 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Because their stomachs are so tiny, newborns need to eat small amounts – about 1 to 3 ounces – frequently. Some want to nurse or have a bottle every two to three hours, while others will be hungry even more often.
While some babies announce their hunger with strong cries, others will give more subtle cues such as sucking on their hands, smacking their lips, or rooting, which is when a baby purses her lips and turns her head toward the breast or bottle.
In their first few days, newborns typically lose about 7 percent of their body weight. While this is normal, you’ll want to feed your baby every two hours or so until she’s back at her birth weight.
Newborns are sleepy, so you may need to wake your baby up to feed and give her gentle encouragement to stay awake while eating. Try undressing your baby down to the diaper, rubbing her head or back, or talking to her. The goal is for your baby to be back to her birth weight at her 2-week checkup.
Some newborns need to be burped frequently, others burp on their own and need very little assistance from you. If your baby is fussy or uncomfortable during or after a feeding, that’s a cue to burp her.
You can also try burping your baby when you switch breasts, after every 2 or 3 ounces, every 10 to 15 minutes of feeding, or when your baby’s finished eating. After a day or two of feedings, you’ll find a pattern that works for your little one.
No need to bang your baby’s back like a bongo – a gentle circular motion or soft pats will bring up the bubbles. There are several burping positions to try, including holding your baby with her head resting on your shoulder, sitting her upright on your lap with the fingers of one hand supporting her chest and chin, or laying your baby tummy-down across your lap.
Don’t be alarmed by hiccups or spit-up. Hiccups are normal for new babies and don’t cause them discomfort. Likewise, spitting up during and after feedings – in small amounts or what may seem like the entire feeding – is pretty normal.
If your baby’s spitting-up seems excessive or is accompanied by her arching her back or crying, read more about the difference between reflux, which is normal and improves with your baby’s head control, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which requires treatment. Whatever’s causing it, if your baby’s a spitter-upper, you’ll want to keep a burp cloth handy.
A breastfed newborn will have at least five wet diapers a day. A formula-fed baby may have even more than that – up to ten per day.
There’s a large range for what’s a “normal” number of bowel movements, too. Breastfed babies tend to poop more than formula-fed ones, since formula takes a bit longer to digest. But breastfed babies vary widely, going as seldom as once every four or more days to as often as once per feeding. Formula-fed babies typically poop a few times a day, but it can range from one poop every other day to several poops per day.
You’ll want to keep track of your baby’s pee and poop schedule, as the doctor may ask about her urine and bowel movements at the first checkup.
The very first bowel movements – usually occurring during the first day or two, often when you’re still at the hospital – are called meconium. These first poops have a black, almost tar-like consistency. The ones that follow won’t look much like grown-up poop, either. Be prepared for greenish, light brown, or seedy, mustard-yellow poops from a breastfed baby. A formula-fed baby’s poop tends to be pastier and vary in color. Call the doc if your baby’s stool contains whitish mucus or streaks or flecks of red, which can indicate a problem. (Red is a sign of blood in the stool.)
Normal poop consistency also ranges from very soft to watery, with breastfed babies having looser poop. This can easily be confused with diarrhea. Basically you want to keep an eye out for a change from your baby’s usual pattern or consistency – which is admittedly hard when your baby is first creating a pattern. When in doubt, check with your doctor.
“If you’re confused, just remember this,” says Jennifer Shu. “Whether we’re talking about pooping, eating, sleeping, or crying, every baby is different. Normal is actually a big range. What matters most are sudden changes – and that’s when you should contact your doctor.”
We recently discovered a fantastic article on Designing a Healthy Nursery we’d like to share for all you mothers who are stumped for new ideas on how to design the most attractive, functional and healthy space for their new baby.
Infants and young children are particularly sensitive to environmental toxins. So, it’s essential as you plan your nursery or child’s room to take care to eliminate as many potential hazards as you can. One major concern is “outgassing” or “offgassing,” interchangeable terms for the release of gas that has been dissolved or trapped in a solid. You know the lingering odor of fresh paint, new furniture, or wall-to-wall carpet? That’s offgassing, and you want to avoid it in a baby’s room. Mary Cordaro, Healthy Building and Indoor Environment Consultant, tells how:
As you shop, stay away from the prime offenders. These include wall-to-wall carpet, anything with any vinyl content (including wallpaper and blackout shades or curtains), any manufactured wood product like MDF or plywood (even the ones labeled “green”, with one exception: Purebond Hardwood Veneer Plywood), polyurethane foam, and fabrics with permanent treatments (ant stain, ant wrinkle, antimicrobial), and any product or material that’s been treated with antimicrobial chemicals.
Don’t buy based on any “green” certification alone. Even the Greenseal label isn’t a fail-safe guide, because it doesn’t cover everything; a product that bears the Greenseal label could still contain levels of toxins too high for a baby’s sensitive system. So, start with Greenseal, but then check for potentially hazardous ingredients.
Any remodeling or decorating products you buy for your baby’s room should be 100 percent free from formaldehyde (both phenol and urea), isocyanates (such as in polyurethane), glycols, toxic adhesives, and the odorless chemicals that never go away which include phthalates, flame-retardant chemicals, antimicrobial and pesticide treatments and stain resistant chemicals. Paint should be labeled “Zero-VOC” and contain only the lowest amount of chemicals called biocides (not just “No-VOC” or “Low-VOC”).
Allow enough time for odors to dissipate. Build in a cushion between the time the work in the baby or child’s room is finished and move-in day. How long? A good rule of thumb is that it’s safe to start using the room when someone with a well-attuned sense of smell (pregnant women often have heightened olfactory senses, for example) cannot detect any odor at all in the space. Fresh air exchange, moderate temperatures and low humidity will speed up outgassing.
Provide adequate ventilation. Fresh air exchange is essential in any space, so open windows to allow good circulation. If you live in an area with poor outdoor air quality, you should still crack the window, but run an air filter as well—one with both a HEPA filter and as much as 20 lbs. of carbon for particulate filtration.
Control moisture. Many parents use a humidifier in their child’s room, but it can load the space with mold-producing moisture. If you’ll be using a humidifier, also invest in a hygrometer, a device that measures humidity, so you can make sure the moisture levels stay below 50 percent.
Stay unplugged. Electronics create EMFs (electromagnetic fields), manmade frequencies that interfere with the body’s own electromagnetic properties. Keep EMF levels as low as possible by eliminating all but the most essential electronics from the baby’s room. For example, stick with a basic baby monitor, not one equipped with Wi-Fi.
Here are a few basics you need to know about your new arrival.
His head may be smooshed from his journey through the birth canal, and he might be sporting a “bodysuit” of fine hair called lanugo. He could also be puffy-faced and have eyes that are often shut (and a little gooey). After all, he just spent nine months in the womb. But pretty soon, he’ll resemble that beautiful baby you imagined.
Swaddling has long been used in many cultures as a way to soothe fussy babies and promote sleep. Although swaddling is a great tool to help calm babies, it is important that swaddling is done correctly to avoid complications such as hip dysplasia, overheating and respiratory problems.
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute states that hip dysplasia occurs when the “bones of the hip joint are not aligned properly.” Hips can develop abnormally when an infant is swaddled tightly with the legs extended. Watch this animation to see what happens to the hips when an infant is swaddled with legs extended.
One of my best friends is having her first baby. She’s a woman who has been fiercely independent her whole life. She has traveled to some ridiculous number of countries. She has a graduate degree from another country. She works for one of the top ten universities in America. She’s easily among the top 3 most hilarious humans I’ve ever known, and the smartest. And in a pinch, my kids may choose her over me. There’s that kind of love between us.
She’s expecting her first baby in January.
There are so many things I want to tell her.
There are so many things I want her to know are “okay.” I don’t fucking know what she should “expect.” How would I ever know that? Expect crazy. Expect weird. Expect beauty. Expect misery. But details? Nah those are hers to own. Hers to build.
The other day we were texting and she was expressing the understandable shitstorm of emotions within her – excited, terrified, depressed, in love.
This article, Must-Read Tips for Your First Week with Baby helps give you some ideas on how to get equipped for your first week together.
You already know the obvious things, like the crib, the clothes, the diapers and setting up the nursery.
But there’s a great ocean of things you don’t necessarily thing of right off the bat. Read on to avoid being caught flat-footed the first week home.
Having a new baby is not all peaches and cream. The happiness of having a new little entity in your life is balanced by the feelings you might have of loss of control, loss of other opportunities, the over-whelming sense of responsibility.
Sometimes mommies get the blues. If you do get the blues, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it.
When I was pregnant with my first child, ten years and a million sleepless nights ago, I went about pregnancy the same way I had gone about my college courses: by reading everything I could get my hands on, studying notes, attending classes, and joining message boards. I was always a great student — and definitely an overachiever — and now I intended to get an A-plus in Motherhood 101.
I diligently attended my birthing classes, toured the hospital, and dragged my husband to the breastfeeding prep class. I washed all the bodysuits and the gowns in hypoallergenic, dye- and scent-free detergent. I practiced my kegels.
Then, I had a baby.
And, like postpartum women everywhere, I found myself in my bed, body fluids oozing from far and near, stitches in places I didn’t know I had, my breasts growing at an exponential and alarming rate, my hormones crashing down around me, and all I could think was, “Nobody told me about this. There was no chapter that said anything about this!”
There are a number of essential products, items, salves, creams, potions, poultices and paraphernalia you simply have to have when the new baby arrives.
Enjoy this video which gives you a lot of great tips on exactly what you need.
I didn’t always buy into the clichés about women being emotional roller coasters due to pregnancy or postpartum hormones. After all, I was still myself during my pregnancies, albeit with a shorter temper and a fuzzier memory. Really, I thought the stereotype was one more way for people to joke about a woman’s mental state without exploring the real reason for her hurt feelings or emotional outburst. A pregnant woman’s PMS, if you will.
But after my second child was born, I couldn’t deny that I had become what I previously thought was merely a sitcom-created mothering myth: a postpartum crier.
Of course, it’s hard when you’re getting up several times a night with an infant (plus an early-rising preschooler) but really, did I need to cry about everything? Certainly, there were overwhelming, real reasons I cried. But I’m not talking about the “why is no one sleeping,” “have I ruined my life,” “what is the greater meaning of dedicating myself to a child who is only going to hate me in 10 years and never call me in 20″ kind of existential parenting crises. I’m talking about the silly, unnecessary, definitely hormone-related reasons I’ve cried or gotten teary since having a new baby. Here are just a few of those reasons…