WEEK ONE: THE BULLET POINT BABY BASICS.
- SLEEPING: One can typically expect a new baby to sleep an average of seventeen to eighteen hours a day. Babies are born nocturnal. While in the womb, the active movements of mommy (during the day) keep baby rocked to sleep. It is during the night (when mommy goes to sleep herself) baby wakes. Once baby is born, it is up to the parents to transition baby’s nocturnal sleeping habits of the womb into healthy sleep habits in the outside world. The most practical way for parents to do this is to wake baby to eat for set feedings. IT IS OKAY TO WAKE A SLEEPING BABY; you are simply teaching baby when to sleep and eat. And, by helping regulate baby, you are helping regulate baby’s schedule and routine. So, wake baby after no more than three hours to feed so baby gets enough to eat. I recommend waking baby after two hours (during the day) for this first week in particular because if baby sleeps too long, baby may become too sleepy and not have the energy to properly eat. Furthermore, waking baby to eat before baby becomes overly hungry typically sets parents and baby up for a calm and smooth feed.
- FEEDING: A new baby will typically need to eat every two hours (three hours at night) during the first week. This time frame begins from the time you start one feed, to the start of the following feed. So, if you feed baby at 7am (no matter how long the feeding session takes) the next feeding should begin at 9am. In translation, if baby is being pookie and takes an hour to eat, that means there is only an hour break before the next feeding session should begin. However, this may be altered depending on the size of the baby. My baby was premature. At around 5 lbs, she was a tiny little lamb. Because of her size, she needed to be fed about every hour and a half (or more), and she was slow to eat. I would typically only have 20-30 minutes in between feeding sessions during her first several weeks. If one has a larger size baby at birth, baby could probably tolerate two and a half to three hour feeding time frames. An average newborn baby’s tummy is very small but grows quickly over the course of their first week: day one = shooter marble, day three = ping pong ball, day ten = large chicken egg. Because of this, newborn babies have to eat smaller amounts, more frequently.
- BOWEL MOVEMENTS: Baby will pass meconium via their bowel movements, this is a sign of a well functioning bowel system. Meconium is a sticky green/black material made of bile, mucus, and amniotic fluid that builds up in their bodies while in the womb. Baby typically begins to pass this material twelve hours after birth. Once baby passes all the meconium, their bowel movements will change to a brown/green color and continue to increase to a yellow mustard like color and consistency. Supposedly baby’s bowel movements are suppose to become more formed at this point. However, if you are breastfeeding, prepare for loose bowel movements…otherwise known as POOP EXPLOSIONS about 12-16 times a day. At least that was my experience :). If baby doesn’t pass the meconium within 24 hours, contact baby’s pediatrician as soon as possible; this could be a sign of an internal obstruction.
- BIRTH WEIGHT: A new baby typically drops below their birth weight during the first few days (can lose up to 10%). DO NOT FREAK OUT! Remain calm, this is expected. If baby loses more than 10% of their birth weight, consult with a pediatrician. Since my baby was already small from being premature, monitoring this was imperative. I recommend keeping track of baby’s weight, feedings, wet/dirty diapers, sleep, and activities in a baby log. A baby log is a lifesaver to parents who will have sleep deprived mush brains. Since my baby was small at birth and dropped weight before leaving the hospital, I began to triple feed her on her first day of life. Because of this, she regained her birth weight within two weeks. I will discuss triple feeding more in a later post on breastfeeding.
- TEMPERATURE: A newborn is not able to regulate their own body temperature. Because of this, parents have to be extra mindful of baby’s environment. If it is cool, I recommend keeping baby swaddled in something warm and wearing a hat. If it is warm, I recommend keeping baby swaddled in something light with no hat. One of the best ways to regulate baby’s temperature is by soaking in as much skin-to-skin time (kangaroo care) during this first week; plus, new baby snuggles are great for mommy and baby.
- SWADDLING: Babies are born with several reflexes. The Moro reflex causes a baby to startle easily and often. This reflex isn’t caused because baby hears a loud noise, it simply happens by having baby’s arms and legs free. If baby is swaddled, baby is less likely to be startled by his own Moro reflex; allowing him to sleep better. So, I recommend keeping baby swaddled almost around the clock, with the exception of feeding, diapering, and skin-to-skin time. I swaddled with bamboo muslin blankets so much, I mastered the art of the swaddle process half asleep and in the dark. However, a few weeks after my baby was born, I learned of a sleep sack…BEST. INVENTION. EVER! I loved and utilized the Loves To Dream Swaddle UP Original and 50/50, and Zen Swaddle. I look forward to trying the built in swaddle that comes with the SNOO bassinet for a future baby. I will discuss these products more in product reviews. Also note, over swaddling baby may lead to a low grade temperature. So, yes swaddle baby. But try and avoid looking like an idiot (like I did) by making an unnecessary trip to the doctor because you think your baby is sick, when in reality you may just need to switch to a lighter swaddle. #newmommoments #oopps
- BATHING: It is not advisable to submerge a new baby in water until their umbilical cord falls off. Because of this, it is recommended to sponge bath baby during week one.
- INSTINCTIVE REFLEXES: all babies are born with reflexes, it is helpful to be aware of the primary ones.
- Startle reflex: caused by unexpected loud sounds or movements
- Moro reflex: caused by baby startling itself involuntarily (with legs & arms)
- Rooting reflex: baby will turn in direction of stimulus, open mouth, and be ready to suck if one strokes their cheek
- Walking/Stepping reflex: newborn will lift legs and take “steps” when held on hard, flat surface
- Palmar grasp: baby will flex hand and grasp finger if placed in their hand
- Babinski reflex: if baby’s foot is stroked from heel to toe, toes will pop up and foot will turn inward.
- JAUNDICE: When baby has too much bilirubin in their blood, they become jaundice. This is caused by the body making too much bilirubin, or baby’s liver not getting rid of it fast enough. Bilirubin is a pigment made when red blood cells break down in the body; it is usually processed by the liver and eliminated through bowel movements. Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to get rid of jaundice because baby will have more bowel movements and the breast milk will give baby’s liver what it needs to process the bilirubin. Another helpful way to lower the bilirubin in baby’s body is to expose baby’s skin to light, or phototherapy. However, before implementing any set course of phototherapy either at home or in a medical facility, consult with baby’s pediatrician.
Okay, so there ya have it, the bullet point baby basics for week one!! I am sure there are many more points to cover, but these are the main ones. Additionally, I will go into more detail on a number of these points in future posts. Try and enjoy those first few days, they disappear in a flash. Mine seem like a distant dream at this point, and I’d give just about anything to go back and take more pictures to better remember it now. Good luck to all the new parents out there! Hang in there, you will survive 🙂