Having a Newborn is a Whole New Experience
The newborn phase is a special time–it’s a time for you to learn about your new baby, connect together, and watch them grow and change every day! But, it’s also an adjustment period for everyone–whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, it seems that there’s always something new to learn!
I have been lucky enough to experience the newborn phase twice–once with my son, and again with my twin daughters! I have to say that each newborn experience was unique and a learning opportunity for all of us!
Before we had our son, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. When I was pregnant, I imagined what my days with a newborn would look like, spending hours cuddling and going for long walks but I soon learned our days didn’t exactly go this way and there was a lot that I didn’t know
Here are three things I wish I knew before having a newborn…
1) Newborns can’t handle much awake time before they’re ready to sleep again!
As a new mom, I prepared for feeds around the clock, diaper changes, and cuddle time, but I really didn’t realize how sleepy my newborns would be! When our son was little, I remember changing his diaper, feeding him, giving him a few minutes of tummy time, and suddenly he’d be ready to sleep again!
I was shocked when his awake time was only 45 minutes. This was the same for our twin girls when they were newborns! When I completed my training to be a certified pediatric sleep consultant, I learned that this is very common in the newborn stage. Newborns are sleepy and often spend much of the day drifting in and out of sleep–especially during those first few weeks when their awake windows are only about an hour (or less!).
With time, our children’s awake windows got longer, and we were able to add in more activities, which you’ll be able to do too! But don’t be surprised when your little one is ready for a nap after a diaper change and a feed!
2) Each Day Might Look Different
Before I had a newborn, I had no idea how different each day could look! I quickly learned that naps and feeds would vary from day to day. Sometimes a nap could be twenty minutes and another nap could be 3 hours. I didn’t always know what I would get. Would I have time to go to the bathroom and make something to eat? Or would they be up shortly after, ready for a feed again?
It wasn’t until they got a little bit older that their sleep and routine became more predictable, (which I now know is a common theme with newborns while their circadian rhythms are still developing). You will start noticing more predictable patterns as your baby gets older, but inconsistencies are the norm for the newborn phase!
3) Swaddling Made a World of a Difference
When we first brought our son home, we thought we would just lay him down and he would sleep. Fast forward to our first night home from the hospital. We’d get him to sleep, place him in his bassinet, and shortly after his arms would flail and he had woken himself up! I didn’t know a lot about baby sleep, so I didn’t think much of it until it started happening with naps as well.
He would fall sound asleep in my arms, I would lay him down in his bassinet and POOF his arms would flail and he’d be awake! That’s when I learned about Moro Reflex–often called the startle reflex. It’s when babies get startled by a sound or movement and their head moves back and arms and legs extend, waking them up. Fortunately, swaddling helps significantly.
We ended up getting him a Velcro swaddle that he used for night sleep and for naps, and it made a world of difference! When we had our twin girls, I knew how important swaddling was for our son, so we started swaddling them right from the start.
Swaddling can be a great tool in helping everyone get some rest! It prevents the Moro reflex from waking the baby, while also offering comfort by replicating the womb experience for them! Unfortunately, not all babies love to be swaddled, so if you have found this is the case there are other options that can help such as sleep sacks or alternative swaddle options. For babies who prefer to have their arms out, the zipadeezip or the love to dream swaddles could work for your baby which allows their arms to be free. You also want to ensure that you are not trying to swaddle your baby when they are already overtired which could also cause them to reject the swaddle.
The newborn phase really is a special time for families. While it can bring so much joy and excitement, it may also be a bit overwhelming. I hope this article has given you some ideas of what you can expect during this stage and has provided some ideas to help prepare you for the newborn experience!