Congratulations on successfully navigating the initial days at home! Now, let’s discuss the anticipated behavior of your two-week-old baby.
During the initial two weeks, it is common to experience a period of recuperation and adaptation. This includes not only dealing with exhaustion from frequent nighttime feeding but also realizing that caring for a single infant can consume the entire day! It is important to prioritize important household chores and avoid attempting to cram too many tasks into a single day.
It is crucial to be gentle with yourself during this time. Becoming a parent comes with a wide range of emotions, and it’s essential to acknowledge and respect them. Don’t feel obligated to maintain your routine from before having a baby. It doesn’t matter if you spend the whole day in your pyjamas; what’s more important is that you eat regularly and rest whenever possible. Minimize your household chores and keep your meals simple. If you have family and friends nearby, “share the load” with them.
Feeding and mealtime routines for newborn babies
In the early stages, feeding may appear inconsistent, but rest assured this is typical. In the upcoming weeks, your goal will be to establish a pattern where your baby is fed every three hours during daytime in the initial months. By feeding your baby every three hours from the first morning awakening (e.g. 6am) until the final evening feed (9-11pm), hopefully, your baby will gradually sleep for longer stretches during the night.
To ensure proper feeding habits, it is important to refrain from offering breast or bottle every time your baby cries outside of feeding times. Crying does not necessarily indicate hunger. Therefore, before making assumptions, it is crucial to go through a process of elimination to determine the possible cause.
How will you diaper your little one?
On the first day of your baby’s life, you should anticipate 1 or 2 wet diapers, which will progressively increase until day five. Once day five arrives, your baby should have approximately 6 (or more) wet diapers daily. It is important to monitor the number of wet diapers as it reflects whether your baby is receiving sufficient milk or formula.
The options for keeping your baby’s bum clean include using disposable diapers, cloth diapers, disposable wipes, cloth wipes or any combination. All options have pros and cons for each family and for the environment. Disposable diapering options are convenient, but do constitute an ongoing expense, and add to landfills. Cloth diapering options require a little more maintenance and are less expensive (because you buy them once, wash and reuse and can reuse them for multiple siblings). Although they don’t add to landfills they do require lots of water and detergent which impacts the environment as well. You may want to consider how accessible washing and drying machines are for your family when deciding which method will work best for you. There are some cloth diapering pick-up and drop-off services, which make cleaning diapers easier, but add an additional expense. Another way some families use to take care of your baby’s diapering needs is to skip the diaper altogether with EC or Elimination Communication. EC is when a caregiver uses timing, signals and cues to potty train their infant, from as early as birth!
Establishing your baby’s bedtime routines
As your newborn baby starts navigating the world, their sleep patterns may initially appear irregular. In this part, we will offer a summary of the steps you can follow to gradually establish your baby’s bedtime routines and how you can comfort and calm them during their learning journey.
At the time of birth, there is no context for a baby, as their only exposure so far has been within the womb, where conditions remain consistent. When they enter the world, their senses are bombarded, and although some babies seem calm during this transition, others feel utterly confused.
How can we provide assistance to them? By setting up specific bedtime routines.
Soothe your baby after feeding
After you have given your newborn baby a feeding and checked for any discomfort caused by gas, take some time to interact with your baby. While their vision may still be a little unclear during the initial few weeks, they will soon be able to recognize the characteristics of your face when you are about 15 – 20cm away. Additionally, their sense of smell is powerful, and they will find comfort in your presence and voice.
Should I cuddle my baby to sleep?
Cuddling your baby to sleep or letting them nap on you is very tempting because it provides familiar and comforting surroundings. This is a common practice in the first two weeks, benefiting both you and your baby and aiding in recovery, adjustment, and learning. However, it’s important to be aware that doing this frequently and for extended periods as your baby leaves the newborn phases may unintentionally create a dependency where your baby can only settle when held, causing distress when placed in a crib.
Signs your newborn baby is ready to sleep
After each nap, your baby will require another period of rest within the range of 60 to 90 minutes. During this time, your baby will display “sleepy cues” to indicate their need for sleep. If you promptly recognize and respond to these signals, there is a higher possibility of your baby calming down. Certain indicators to be mindful of are:
- Disengagement from you (restless turning of eyes or head)
- Restlessness of limbs
Helping your newborn baby to settle in a crib
To set your baby in the crib, it is crucial to keep in mind that they have no knowledge of what a crib is and the fact that they should sleep in it. For this reason, it is essential to establish a sleep routine when settling your baby.
Swaddle your newborn baby
Swaddling is the best way to recreate the cozy, warm, and snug conditions of the womb, as mentioned before. Another benefit of swaddling is that it helps to decrease the ‘moro’ or ‘startle’ reflex, which can make it difficult for the baby to settle. If the baby seems agitated, it is important to soothe them before swaddling, and never attempt to swaddle while the baby is crying.
Use white noise to soothe your baby
Before you lay your baby down in the crib, it is important to recognize that complete silence can be concerning to them, as the womb is never silent. Therefore, to help settle your baby, you may want to consider utilizing ‘white noise’.
For the most effective results, it is recommended to use low-pitched sounds, including ‘nature’ sounds like rain or tides, or a steady mechanical thrum like that of a washing machine. White noise works best when used consistently throughout both day and night sleep periods, and must be continued for the entire duration of sleep.
Rock your newborn baby to sleep
To promote pre-nap relaxation, an effective method involves swiftly and smoothly rocking back and forth while gently patting their bottom in a rhythmic manner. Another technique is to create a rapid ‘shhhh shhhh’ sound near their ear.
Should I give my newborn baby a pacifier?
Even though it may be a debated topic among parents, it should be acknowledged that a significant number of babies suck their thumbs or fingers while in the womb. As a result, it is only natural that they instinctively “root” and seek to suckle right after birth. If alternative calming techniques have been attempted without success, providing a pacifier can be the last resort to help your baby finally calm down. It is important to note that not all babies are interested in pacifiers, and like with most things, moderation is essential.
If you do not want to provide a pacifier, a good alternative is to let your baby suck on your little finger (after washing it thoroughly). Make sure to position your finger with the nail side facing down towards the tongue and avoid having it against their palate.
How long does a newborn baby sleep? Newborn baby sleep cycles
At approximately 30-40 minute intervals, baby sleep cycles transition from active to quiet sleep, during which a baby may seem restless and on the verge of waking up.
When putting your newborn baby to sleep, it is advisable not to let them fall asleep completely before placing them in the crib. Whenever possible, make an effort to place your baby in the crib when they are in a state of deep relaxation but not fully asleep. A few babies may require gentle pressure on their tummy to aid them in falling asleep entirely.
If the baby wakes up agitated, attempt to calm the baby down while they are in the crib. If this doesn’t work, go back to holding and rocking the baby as mentioned earlier. That is why white noise is more successful when it is continuously played throughout the entire sleep time, as waking up to silence can disturb certain infants.
Don’t Forget About Caring For Yourself
After giving birth, it is important to prioritize your recovery, which can take up to a year. During this time, make sure to consume a variety of nutritious foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, leafy greens, protein-rich foods like yogurt, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and beans. Additionally, continue taking your prenatal vitamins or consider taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, as it is known to enhance brain development in breastfeeding infants and can also improve memory. Eating well can also boost your energy levels and aid in the recovery process, which is crucial in the initial weeks after welcoming your baby. It is common for new parents to forget to eat and experience exhaustion, especially due to lack of sleep, so this simple step is essential for your overall well-being. If you would like professional guidance, consider consulting a nutritionist for a personalized nutrition plan. Furthermore, having a “meal train” can be extremely helpful, so consider including it on your baby registry during pregnancy. It is crucial to ensure your basic needs are met during this time and should not be seen as an indulgence.
Gentle Physical Activity and Exercise is Good for Baby and Mom
Exercise and movement are among the best ways for you to practice good self-care after giving birth. By engaging in physical activity, you can effectively reduce stress hormones in your body, such as adrenaline and cortisol, while also stimulating the production of endorphins, which serve as natural painkillers and mood boosters. Taking solo walks, going for a stroll with your partner, or involving the whole family can provide simple means of supporting both your mind and body. Additionally, you have the option to move around within your home, and there are plenty of gentle exercises available online as well. However, it is crucial to give yourself ample time to heal and consult your midwife or doctor before embarking on any physical activities, as engaging prematurely could impede your recovery. Rather than striving to bounce back quickly, consider your recovery as a gradual process of adapting to something new and potentially different. Remember, you have just undergone a tremendous health event by carrying and delivering a baby. It is essential to allow yourself the necessary time for recovery and refrain from fixating on fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans, regardless of societal pressures.
Be Kind and Gentle to Yourself
During the postpartum period, it is important to treat yourself with the same kindness and gentleness as you do with your baby. Family dynamics may be new or changing, which can be difficult. Take some time to create and recite positive affirmations to yourself (or your partner). The words you choose have the power to affect your mindset and overall satisfaction in this new phase of your life. Even if you don’t feel particularly confident, try this exercise to uplift your mood. Some examples of affirmations could be “I am the most suitable parent for my baby,” “My body is capable of incredible things and deserves rest,” and “I am patient with myself as I navigate this new experience.”
Parenting can evoke emotions and recollections that are both lovely and occasionally distressing. If you notice that you are struggling to cope with anxiety, low self-esteem, constant sadness, or depressive feelings, it is imperative to seek assistance without delay. Although it may not be enjoyable, this self-care suggestion is extremely vital in order for you to present the best version of yourself, not only for your own well-being but also for the individuals you care about.
It’s OK to Ask for More Help
Like many new parents, you may find it beneficial to seek the additional support of various professionals such as lactation consultants, physical therapists, pelvic floor therapists, nutritionists, sleep consultants, or experts in other areas that you may require. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, postpartum care should be a continuous process designed to meet the unique needs of each individual, rather than a one-time event. Although your midwife or doctor may not have all the answers to navigate your postpartum journey, if you raise your concerns with them, they should be able to guide you in the right direction. If you need assistance in finding these providers, Boober can help match you with them.
Caring For The Whole Family
If you are a new family, whether it is your first baby or you are adding a sibling, the first weeks after giving birth can be exhausting. If you are seeking support for your entire family, consider hiring a postpartum doula, night nanny, or a newborn care specialist. They can be invaluable if you are feeling overwhelmed with your new responsibilities and need guidance from an experienced professional. When hired for postpartum support, doulas have been proven to reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression and increase breastfeeding success. They also help alleviate the mental burden of caring for your baby, yourself, and your home by providing physical assistance such as overnight care, help with household chores, meal preparation, and often lend a sympathetic ear to listen to your birth experience and any challenges you may be facing as you adjust to your new life and role.
Every family experiences parenting in the first few weeks of life differently, which can be a combination of challenging, perplexing, and emotional, but also filled with beauty and awe. It is important to prioritize both your own needs and those of your baby, and do not hesitate to seek assistance when needed. There are numerous postpartum support options available to assist in your recovery and enable you to be the best parent possible for your baby.