It can feel like your whole life revolves around feeding
your baby and, well, that's just about accurate. We know the cycle: It takes 30
minutes to feed, an hour goes by and there your baby goes rooting and signaling
for food again. This feels like a lot of work and like it just can't be right,
but it's the natural feeding pattern for a newborn. Try to go easy on yourself
during this time: make a feeding station in the living room that has snacks and
a water bottle next to it, a footstool and the right pillows just within reach
for when you need them. And ask for help—your main job is feeding your baby, so
ask others to feed you.
Human babies are built to feed frequently. Breast milk is
digested quickly and can pass through your baby's tummy in 45–90 minutes. Don't
wait for hunger cries to let you know your baby needs to eat. Watch for signs
like rooting, tongue movements, wiggling, stretching and making noises. Your
baby feeds every 2–4 hours, and most babies have at least one fussy period
during the day when they seem to feed continuously (seriously, for hours), also known as cluster feeding. If
you're formula feeding, you can keep to the same "every 2–4 hours" schedule,
and try not to overfeed baby—a few ounces at a time should do the trick.
If you haven't introduced
a bottle yet, go for it! Breastfeeding experts recommend starting with a
bottle of pumped breast milk between 2–4 weeks. It's a good idea to give a
breastfed baby a bottle at least 3–4 times a week; Mom needs to pump during
that bottle feeding or it will eventually lead to a drop in supply. If you stop
offering a bottle, your baby might lose the practice, forget she liked it and
refuse the bottle down the road. Having the bottle allows someone else to take
over a feeding, put baby to bed, or for you to go elsewhere for more than 2–3
hours. All good things.
tip: Don't give up on bottle feeding. If your baby refuses, try different
nipples, feed in a different chair than the normal breastfeeding one, have the
baby face you (instead of the cradle position known for nursing) or walk around
the house while trying. Eventually it will happen, but sometimes breastfed
babies take many weeks to get the hang of it.
Also feel free to try a pacifier and see if your baby likes
it. Research shows that pacifier use does not confuse babies or interfere with
Most babies have one longish stretch of sleep around 4–6
weeks of age (if your baby was born early, you'll want to factor that in).
We're not talking "sleeping through the night" here, but a 3- to 6-hour leg of
sleep. This usually happens early in the night. A one-month-old's internal
clock is still developing, says Heather Turgeon, sleep consultant and co-author
of "The Happy Sleeper," and it's being shaped by things like feeding, social
activity and, most of all, light.
sleep tip from "The Happy Sleeper": Have an eye towards putting your baby down
around 7 p.m. By about 8 weeks old, most babies do well with an early bedtime
because the internal clock is developing rapidly. The best stretches of sleep
will grow from here.
Look for "quiet alert" times—when your baby has just woken
up and isn't starving—to put him on his tummy. If he face-plants, that's fine,
just lie down with him and talk to him on your tummy too. The best place for
your baby when he's not in your arms is on a flat, safe surface like a play mat
(go easy on the bouncers and other devices) where he can move arms and legs.
Baby's vision is still really blurry, so high contrast black
and white (or red and green) patterns will catch attention most.
Turgeon tells us to try this simple
craft: take a small white poster board, cut shapes out of black paper and glue
them on. Put your magnificent artwork about 1–2 feet in front of your baby and
slightly off to the side of his vision (babies see best in their peripheral
vision at this age). He may be captivated.
Like touch, a sense of motion (the vestibular sense)
develops very early, so babies have a natural love for being bounced and
carried. Both physical contact and motion are soothing and "organizing" to a
baby's nervous system, and research shows they're good for other parts of brain
It's no longer a random reflex, it's the real thing. Your
baby issocial smiling.
Put your face one foot in front of your baby's face and make
silly facial expressions. See if he canimitateyou. Endless entertainment.
Baby'shands start to
unfoldand extend from those tightly curled little fists.
Soon, your baby will be able to reach for an object, but for
now he mostlyswipes aimlesslywith
See if you notice your baby turn his head if hehears a familiar noise.