A new parents’ guide to decoding your newborn.
Photo by Felipe Salgado on Unsplash
Some parents might wish their infants came out of the womb talking. Or, at the very least, that there was an instruction manual to explain why their baby cries. This way, new parents would know exactly what their newborn wanted at any given moment.
Unfortunately, babies and parenthood aren’t all that straightforward. Due to this, new parents often have to engage in a fair amount of guesswork to know what is going on with their baby. Well, what if you could skip this uncertainty?
If you are looking for a way to know what your baby wants and needs, then this is the guide for you. Here you will learn how to pay attention to various signs and to identify different cues. So, let’s get started.
Why is your baby crying?
For better or worse, crying is a baby’s way of communicating with you. The downside, though, is that your baby can cry for a number of reasons. This includes:
- Being overfed
- Being tired
- Dirty diapers
- Feeling too hot or too cold
The good news is that you will soon be able to identify hunger cries or noises. This way, you can get ahead of the situation and feed your little one before they get agitated.
The best way to stop your baby from crying is to go through a checklist. For instance, consider how long it was since your baby was last fed. It could be time for another meal. If they have been playing for a while or have been up for some time, they may be feeling overwhelmed and could need a nap.
Check your baby’s diaper when they begin to fuss. If it is wet or soiled, it may feel uncomfortable against their skin. If you place your hand against their stomach, you should be able to determine if your baby is too warm or cold.
It should be noted that some newborns develop colic when they are three to six weeks old. This is periods of crying that can last for around three hours each day. They will often outgrow this stage in a few months. Nevertheless, if you notice these crying periods, make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any other issues.
When does your baby need to sleep?
Newborns need a lot of sleep to grow and develop. In fact, for the first few weeks, they may sleep most of the time. Parents need to know when their little one needs to be put down for a nap. This is because they can then take steps to reduce stimulation and start getting them settled.
Furthermore, taking the right steps means that you won’t have to wait until your little one is overtired and in a bad mood. Most infants find it difficult to go to sleep when they are exhausted. Thus, here are the signs you should be watching out for:
- Pulling at their ears
- Closing their fists
- Difficulty focusing (staring off into space)
- Eyelids fluttering
- Jerky leg and arm movements
- Sucking on fingers
It is a good idea to get into the habit of looking for these signals every 90 minutes or so. Newborns often feel tired after being up for this period. By taking a couple of precautions, you can ensure that your baby settles in for a nap on a positive note.
Is your baby breathing normally?
Many parents pay careful attention to the way their babies breathe. It can be rather worrisome not knowing whether their breathing is normal or not. This is why you should figure out your little one’s breathing patterns.
To begin with, you should know that newborns breathe a lot more quickly than older babies or even adults. Until there are six months old, they will often take around 40 breaths per minute! This slows down to around 20 breaths a minute when they are sleeping.
Now, you should be aware of a condition that can occur in newborns – it is known as periodic breathing. This is when a newborn will stop breathing for 5 to 10 seconds. When they start breathing again, their breathing rate will be faster – around 50 to 60 breaths a minute.
However, babies should never stop breathing for more than 10 seconds. If you notice this happening, make sure to get medical assistance immediately. Once you have familiarized yourself with your baby’s breathing, you will find it easier to know when something is wrong.
Is your baby getting enough nutrition?
Another thing that parents might be worried about is whether or not their babies are getting enough nutrition. Ideally, babies should be breastfed as this is one of the healthiest formulas for them. At the same time, newborns must receive proper nourishment.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to consider your baby’s weight. Shortly after they are born, they will lose some weight. Within a few weeks, though, they should be right back up to their birth weight. Otherwise, they may need more nutrition.
Also, take note of the number of wet diapers. By the time your baby is around five days old, he or she should be wetting around 6 diapers every 24 hours. If the number is less, it could mean that they require more nutrition or excellent supplementation.
In some cases, you may need to switch over your little one over to formula completely. In others, you may be able to feed them with breast milk some of the time and use the formula for other feedings. The exact solution can vary depending on the situation.
Before you make any transitions, always talk to a doctor first. They will be able to make a proper diagnosis and check the overall health of your little one. Medical professionals will also be able to give you advice on how to feed your little one or how to make the change from the breast to the bottle.
These are the top guidelines you can use to decode how your baby is feeling and how you need to react. Don’t worry – after a while, all this will come automatically to you. Until then, there is a bit of a learning curve involved.