If you are wondering what a day with a newborn looks like, they spend the initial days of their life adapting to their new environment and basically eat, sleep, cry and poop. It’s a shock to any newborn after the warm and quiet environment of the womb and all you can do is give them love, security, warmth, attention, cuddles and gentle talk.
It takes them some time to settle in a routine and their eating and sleeping patterns often change. All babies have different temperaments, likes and dislikes and so it’s important to be flexible and pick up cues from your baby as to what they need and what schedule to follow. Your life as a parent is going to be full of feedings, diaper changes, naps and wondering what’s normal. But however different babies might be, there are a few basics that don’t change.
Newborns sleep between 2 to 3 hours between each feed. Sometimes, they may start stirring after about 40 minutes and may need some help to go back to sleep. In the first few weeks, they may be asleep for 14 to 20 hours a day.
As babies can’t tell the difference between day and night, they are likely to wake for feeding 2 to 3 times during the night. After a month, they may start sleeping for longer stretches at night and from 3 to 6 months they may sleep for 4 to 5 hours at a stretch at night.
It’s nice to adjust your own sleep routine to your baby’s in the first few months. Yawning, fussing, eyes drooping and rubbing their eyes are also signs that they want to sleep. They should be put on their back on a firm surface in their crib with just a fitted sheet.
Whether your baby is breastfed or bottle fed, they will need about 6 to 8 feeds a day which will take up about 2 to 5 hours. As breast milk is easily digested, your baby may even feed up to 12 times a day. At times, your baby may cluster feed which means they feed very frequently, After a cluster feed, they might sleep longer. The time between feeds should be calculated from the beginning of the last feed and not the end. Feeding time is a great way to bond with your newborn and have some cuddle time.
When babies are hungry they make sucking motions, stuff their hands into their mouths or turn towards you with their mouth open when you stroke their cheek. Try to burp your baby during and after the feed and keep a burp cloth handy as they might spit up. If they have had enough they will probably sleep off but if they cry, it means they are still hungry.
Cuddling and playing with your baby is what to do with a newborn during the day when they are awake as it’s very important for your baby’s growth and development. Interact with your newborn by making eye contact, talking, smiling, singing, reading to them, blowing raspberries or making faces at them. Your baby will gradually start recognising your voice, face and touch and you could give them different things to look at and feel while talking to them. Giving your baby a massage or supervised tummy time every day is also enjoyable. It also helps in building stronger head and neck muscles and coordination for rolling over and crawling. Some babies just like cuddling during play time or stretching and kicking on a blanket.
Crying is how babies communicate and at times their cries may be hard to decipher but it’s usually just because they are hungry or sleepy. It could also be because of boredom or overstimulation. If it’s not because of any of these reasons, you could try to comfort them by swaddling them tightly, hold them close to your chest and pat them, go to a quiet place and play something calming like a white noise machine or just walk, rock or bounce them. You could also give them a pacifier or let them suck their fingers/thumb.
Babies usually cry more in the afternoon or early evening and about 1 in 10 babies cry for more than 3 hours a day. In a short while, you will be able to recognise different types of cries and what they mean. Responding when your baby cries is an important part of building trust and bonding.
Newborns at a minimum have 6 or more wet diapers and 4 or more poopy diapers in a day. For the first week to ten days, babies pass meconium where their poop is thick and is black or dark green in colour. After all the meconium is out,their poop becomes runny and soft. Breastfed babies have light yellow, slightly grainy poop. Formula-fed babies have firmer and tan or yellow colour poop.
They start pooping less after a few weeks and breastfed babies may go a whole week with just one bowel movement. On the other hand, formula-fed babies should poop at least once a day.
What They See and Hear
Newborns can hear well, even in the womb. They can’t see too well in the first 2 months as their eye muscles are still weak. They can see some things up close and are attracted by bright colours, light and patterns. They also start to recognise faces they see everyday in the first few months of their life.
Sometimes a newborn baby’s head may be a bit cone shaped or uneven but it should round out during this first week. Any swelling they may have on their face and eyes should also finish within a few days. ruising on the face or head disappears though newborns with bruising are prone to newborn jaundice. Their umbilical cord will gradually dry, turn black and then fall off within the first 10 days. Your baby might have birthmarks, either at birth or later on. Sometimes newborns have enlarged or tender breasts due to high levels of oestrogen or prolactin in their bloodstream which goes away by itself.
Common Health Concerns
- Newborns usually lose weight during the first 5 days after birth but after 1 to 2 weeks, most weigh more than they did at birth.
- It’s common for newborns to develop sticky eyes during the first few weeks of life usually because of blocked tear ducts. It usually gets better by itself, but massage and eye cleansing helps.
- Newborns may have all sorts of rashes like nappy rash, cradle cap, eczema, heat rash and dry skin.
- If something is worrying about your baby, seek medical help. If your baby isn’t feeding and vomits frequently, has yellow skin, has less than 6 to 8 wet nappies per day or seems irritable or lethargic all the time, you must visit the doctor.
Interacting with a newborn can be delightful but at times it can be rather harrowing, especially if it’s all new to you. If you have any questions or doubts, the EuroKids website can give you all the latest updates and information you need.