Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital can be a bit intimidating, especially for first-time parents. Safely transporting your little one home in their car seat is the least of your worries. Once you have your tiny bundle of joy at home, you must attend to their every need. Many first-time parents wonder if they are caring for their babies the right way. It is perfectly normal to have some fears about feeding too much (or not enough) and keeping your baby in fresh, clean diapers.
While it can be unnerving to hear, sometimes babies fuss and there is not much you can do about it. Staying calm is important since babies respond to our emotions. If we become upset, chances are that baby will mimic our behavior. Even when you do everything right, babies sometimes become fussy. Since they cannot tell us what is wrong, it is up to us to decipher their cries and meet their needs. Here are some of the most common reasons why babies cry and what you can do in each situation to soothe them.
Newborn babies have three primary jobs: eat, sleep, and poop. For their first four to six weeks of life, babies eat every two to three hours. Breastfed babies may eat more frequently than their formula-fed counterparts. When babies are having a growth spurt, they may engage in cluster feeding, which means they can eat every hour on the hour.
Babies give tell-tale signs that their bellies are empty. Bringing their hands close to their mouths, rooting around looking for mom’s breast, and lip smacking are all the ways in which your little one lets you know they need to eat something and soon. Your baby eventually will get on a regular schedule, so predicting feeding times is easier.
Babies gulp a lot when they are eating. With each gasp, they suck in air that builds up in their tummies. Before you know it, your baby has a tummy ache from gas buildup. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a hungry baby and a gassy baby. When seeking comfort from a gas-filled belly, some breastfed babies will root around for mom’s breast to self-soothe. Eating will only make their tummy pains worse. The best way to prevent a gassy baby is to burp your baby after every feeding. Hold your baby in an upright position with their head above your shoulder, then use gentle pats on the back to help them relieve themselves of trapped air bubbles in their tummies. If chronic gas becomes an issue, talk to your pediatrician about using Mylicon drops to give your baby relief.
Diapers are a staple for your baby until he or she is old enough to potty train. Most newborns need a diaper change every two to three hours. Babies can urinate every hour or two and have between two and five bowel movements each day. Never leave your baby in a poopy diaper. Doing so can cause skin irritation that makes your baby uncomfortable. When your baby’s bottom is sore, it can make them inconsolable. Be sure to use fragrance-free baby wipes and apply rash cream after every diaper change to prevent problems before they start.
Babies can become overstimulated quickly. Lights, sounds, and constant activity around them can overwhelm newborns. If you sense your baby is becoming overstimulated, take him or her to a quiet place to cuddle quietly. Swaddling your baby snugly and allowing them to self-soothe with a pacifier or their thumb can help them calm down sooner.
Until they are about three months old, babies will sleep between 14 and 17 hours a day. They usually break down their daily sleep schedules into naps of two to four hours each. Like feeding, you eventually will be able to predict when your baby is ready for a rest. Overtired babies cry. A lot. Try to spare yourself and your baby from a tired meltdown by watching for signs of sleepiness that include rubbing their eyes, pulling at their ears, and closing their fists. If you miss the warning signs and end up with an overtired baby who is fussing, swaddle them and play some calming sounds from a white noise machine to help them de-escalate and fall asleep.
If your newborn engages in frequent, prolonged crying fits, he or she may be suffering from colic. Parents can become quickly frustrated with a colicky baby because no amount of soothing helps. Colic peaks around six weeks of age and start to decrease in frequency around four months of age. It happens most frequently during the overnight hours. If you suspect your baby suffers from colic, talk with your pediatrician for steps you can take to help lessen the severity and duration of your baby’s colicky episodes.
Raising a child is one of the most challenging things you will ever do. Care Net is here to help by giving you the resources you need to feel confident in your parenting abilities. We offer pregnancy and parenting education classes that help expectant mothers and their partners know what to expect during pregnancy and after birth. Taking one of our classes can help empower new parents. Contact us today to explore our parenting class options or to sign up.
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