Your baby may be very sleepy for the first 24 hours after birth and may need to be awakened to feed. By the second or third day, your baby will be more awake and feed often (8 to 12 or more times in 24 hours). As your baby grows, you will get to know their own developing sleep pattern.
For the first few weeks of life your baby may sleep up to 15 out of 24 hours. Most newborns sleep an average of one to three hours at a time and wake up several times during the night.
Let your baby set its own schedule
Let your baby eat and sleep when they need to. Trying to schedule feedings and sleeping times by making your baby wait to eat, or keeping a tired baby awake, will only make your baby hungry and over-tired.
Most babies are not ready to sleep through the night until much older than six weeks (typically between 6-24 months). A hungry, over-tired baby will be fussy and will not sleep better at night. Healthy babies will get the amount of sleep that is right for them, even though their schedule may be different than what you were used to before your baby arrived. When you are tired, take the opportunity to rest when your baby sleeps. Napping can help new parents get the rest they need.
Your baby will cry — all babies do. This is one of the few ways they can communicate. Your baby may be thirsty, hungry, uncomfortable (needing a diaper change or a change of position), sick, upset, lonely or frightened. Whatever the reason, your baby’s cry is telling you they cannot solve the problem and needs your help. Some babies have a fussy time each day when they seem very hungry and sleepy and just cannot settle down. This happens most often in the evening. Crying peaks for most babies between 6-8 weeks, and then decreases as your baby grows older.
Try to stay calm
Sometimes it may be difficult to know why your baby is crying and you may not always be able to stop the crying. Stay calm and keep trying to help your baby settle. Even though your baby may not be able to stop crying, they will know that you care. When you find you are getting frustrated or angry with your baby, take a break and ask for help.
Your baby experiences the world through a full range of senses.
Your baby can tell the difference between light and dark, and shapes and patterns. When quiet and alert, they can look at objects 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 in) away. Your baby will prefer to look at faces and may gaze at objects for long periods of time.
Your baby’s sense of hearing is developed even before birth. They will respond to their own parents’ voices right from birth. Babies also enjoy hearing sounds that change in tone (like voices or soft music). Sudden, loud noises may startle your baby.
Your baby has an excellent sense of smell. It’s one of the main ways that your baby will recognize you.
Most babies love to be touched, cuddled, massaged and comforted. Touch is your baby’s first language. Despite what you may have heard, holding and cuddling your baby will not “spoil” your baby. Your warm hands and loving touch convey the physical comfort that begins before birth.
Infant massage is also relaxing and calming for both you and your baby, gives you a valuable tool to help relieve your baby of gas and digestive problems, and helps you to develop more confidence in your touch skills with your baby. To learn more about massage look for classes in your area e.g. ‘Loving Hands: Calming Your Baby with Touch’ and ‘Infant Massage’ classes through Birth and Babies.