What you should Know about Newborns

To a certain extent, each of us has an idealistic perspective on having a baby.  While we know we’ll be contending with crying, constant diaper changes and a lot of work ahead of us, there are several aspects of having a newborn that are completely unfamiliar.  The newborn stage is filled with joys and challenges, many of which are unexpected.  Today we’re sharing what you should know about newborns to help prepare you for the arrival of your new baby.

Even full term babies are not fully developed at birth.  Although we try to bake our babies as long as possible, even 9½ months of growth in a mother’s womb doesn’t completely get the job done.  Bones, cognition and many bodily functions are still maturing well into the first year of a baby’s life.  This is why nutrition, healthy sleep habits and nurture are essential to a baby’s physical, mental and emotional survival.

Babies can be fierce and explosive.  Your baby may look tender and delicate but babies are much stronger than you would ever imagine.  A baby’s grasp or tug of the hair may feel like you are wrestling with a body builder at times.  And you may be surprised at the volume, velocity and force of your baby’s spit-up and poop.  For such a small creature, they can really spew despite champion burping and super-duper diapering.

Newborns may look odd but they grow out of it.  When you see beautiful pictures of babies, you’re usually not looking at a newborn, but rather an older infant.  Newborns are often misshaped from their experience in the womb and journey through the birth canal during labor and delivery.  Sometimes the head is shaped like a cone and without muscle tone and facial features are limp.  Additionally, babies often have skin conditions from being submerged in amniotic fluid.  But don’t worry, the newborn aesthetics shed as your baby matures into an adorable infant.

What you should Know about NewbornsBabies are pretty vocal about getting enough to eat.  The most fundamental need of a baby is to be fed.  But if you’ve never fed a newborn before, how on Earth do you know if she’s getting enough to eat, especially if you’re breastfeeding?  The truth is, your baby will tell you in three ways:  1) she’ll root and cry when she’s hungry (and you’ll learn the hunger cry pretty quickly) 2) she will be soiling diapers frequently, and 3) she’ll gain weight when she’s eating well.

Love at first sight is not always the case.  Every parent and baby bonds at their own pace.  For some, they fall in love immediately.  However, sometimes the stress, hormones, life changes and time commitment involved in parenting delays the bonding process.  The connection will develop gradually over time when parents remember to remain calm, nurture their children, meet their basic needs and take “stress free” breaks when necessary.

Babies require basic mammalian social needs that have evolved over 30 million years.  Social mammals have been around for a long time and their needs require “intensive parenting,” according to Psychology Today.   This means that newborns and babies need breastfeeding for holistic health; constant touch, love and affection; responsiveness to their distress; playtime starting at birth; and someone to help them meet their physical needs of food, shelter and protection.

Newborns aren’t facially and verbally responsive for at least six weeks.  The gurgles, coos and smiles that melt your heart usually don’t emerge until your little bundle of joy is six weeks or older.  Getting this brief feedback from your baby is extremely rewarding and more than makes up for many of the stressful moments of new parenthood.  Just don’t hold your breath from the beginning because it takes a little time for these adorable sounds and expressions to arrive.

Your parenting style will differ from what you expect.  It’s great to consider the type of parent you want to be before your baby arrives, but a lot of flexibility is required in your parenting style.  Without having been in a parents’ shoes before, you really don’t know how you will respond and what you will want for your child.  And your baby will also dictate much of what she requires from you as well.  Your personal parenting style will evolve along with your child and you’ll make decisions that are right for you and your family in each new phase of parenthood.

The newborn stage is fleeting so embrace both the joys and the challenges because it will all be over before you know it.