Newborns sleep so much because they are busy growing. I was shocked when my newborn took only 20 minute naps and then was up for 2-3 hours at a time. There is a wide range of normal here. Some babies sleep as much as 23 hours a day while others seem to only take tiny naps. You never know when your baby will sleep or wake up. Babies cannot tell time and do not have the same internal clocks as their parents. They generally wake about every two hours but usually have a four to five hour sleep period daily. Some babies can just be placed in a crib and they fall asleep on their own. Others need to be rocked, bounced, or swung. I often say all you really need when you have a baby is breasts, a car seat, and infant swing!
Our advice is to learn to take naps. The first few months are a blur because you are awake when you usually are sleeping, sleeping when usually awake, and eating when you remember! Try to be gentle on yourself if household chores aren’t being done, you need to take care of you too and sleep is essential. Try to accept help. If you are having lots of visitors on a daily basis, ask them to unload a dishwasher to flip flop laundry. So often everyone wants to hold the baby while you do the work – that’s backwards. You need to bond and rest while others care for you. While the mother is sleeping, fathers, grandparents, friends, and hired help can do everything, except breastfeeding, from changing diapers to laundry to cooking.
My rule of thumb is 1-2 wet diapers and 1 stool in the first 24 hours, 2-3 pees and 2 poops the second day, and 3-4 pees and 3 poops the third day is normal. The mother’s milk generally comes the third day and then we see the numbers double to 6-8 wet diapers and 2-3 poopy diapers every 24 hours. That’s 24 not 12. Often I get calls stating my baby only peed once since 8am at 8pm. Well there is still 12 hours to go! Newborns wet their diapers often because they have very tiny bladders. Generally, changing the baby’s diaper at each feeding helps to keep track of urination and avoid rashes. Be sure to change soiled diapers as soon as you notice them. Rather than cringing at the thought of another wet diaper, find satisfaction in the fact that dirty diapers indicate that the baby is getting enough milk.
During the first three days of life, the baby excretes meconium, a black, tar-like substance. If you put olive oil or grapeseed oil on the baby’s bottom with a cotton ball, the meconium will not stick as much to the baby. The meconium is replaced by less solid, yellowish feces when the mother’s milk comes in, approximately 72 hours after the birth. When the baby starts to get protein as your milk coms in, you may notice an orangey-red discharge or color in the diaper. This is uric acid crystals which are a by product of protein- it is a good sign your baby is digesting your milk!
Most often, the baby comes out and teaches the mom how to nurse instead of vice versa. However, sometimes they need a little extra support. If you choose not to breastfeed that is your decision. I just don’t want a mother saying she couldn’t when she wanted to breastfeed. We are here to help so don’t hesitate to call.
We don’t get over concerned if the baby doesn’t eat in the first 24 hours…..we really like that but we know that birth is rough for them too. After the first 24 hours a baby should breastfeed every 1-3 hours. There is a big window though. We know babies often cluster feed. That means it may nurse, 30 minutes later nurse, 2 hours later nurse, then 1 hour later nurse. You may then see a big gap 4-6 hours where the babies sleeps (if you’re really lucky). My rule of thumb is never wake a sleeping baby. If your milk is in, the baby has been nursing great with good pees and poops……let em sleep and you sleep too. Your breasts may wake you and let you know the baby needs to eat but if you can, sleep.
Two great resources online are www.drjacknewman.com and www.kellymom.com. Dr. Jack Newman has great video you can watch and I use his protocol for sore nipples and thrush. Kellymom has every answer known to women…..and man!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least the first year. Medical research clearly indicates that breastfeeding is best. Manufacturers do their best to improve formula to make it as close to breast milk as feasible, but it is impossible to precisely duplicate breast milk. It may seem that the baby nurses nonstop. Mothers should look for signs of hunger, such as sucking motions, rather than waiting for the baby to cry.
Babies communicate in a variety of ways. Crying is definitely one of them. They cry because they are hungry, wet, cold, want to be picked up, want their positions changed, or are uncomfortable. Sometimes, they just want dad or mom. Trying to recognize ques the baby gives before they cry is optimal. When hungry they will suck their hands and stick out their tongue. If they have gas they often pull their legs up towards their abdomen for pressure. Babies want interaction and so they will coo and seek out someone to interface with. Hold them close to your face and stick out your tongue and/or smile. Watch how they mimic your expressions; It’s priceless. It is always best to comfort a crying baby. Erickson’s stages first stage of human development is trust. Trust is quickly established when a newborn learns that her calls are quickly answered. Fruit spoils, not babies. "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp, MD is a great resources for techniques to soothe your baby. "The Dunstan Baby Language" teaches that babies make 5 different sounds and each sound means something different. Some babies are easier to make out than others but definitely worth checking out!
Advice and Inquiries
You will receive parenting advice from families, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Who should you listen to? Parents must decide for themselves what works best for them. Listen politely to advice and thank the giver for the suggestions. Keep in mind that what worked for one family may or may not be right for your family. It’s up to you to decide.
The most common questions asked of new parents are, “Is she a good baby?” and “Does he sleep through the night?” Of course your baby is good! She’s the world’s greatest baby! Does he sleep through the night? Most likely he does not. He is just a tiny person, new to the world. His little stomach needs frequent filling and his diaper needs changing. Many adults get up in the night to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, or just adjust their covers. It’s certainly not unusual to have a baby who wakes during the night.