You're nearing the end of the "fourth trimester"—the first few
months when your baby is adjusting to the outside world. Her nervous system is
becoming more regulated and she's "waking up" to her environment. Little babies
need lots of help from us, so it's important to keep her close by, let her hear
the sound of your voice and respond to her needs. It can feel like an
around-the-clock job, but you're laying great groundwork of trust and security
with your baby.
If you're breastfeeding, continue to feed your baby on
demand. The old-school idea of highly scheduling a baby's feedings is known to
put nursing moms at risk of not producing enough milk. To keep the biological
system of supply and demand going strong, it's smart to feed your baby when she
signals hunger, which is about every 2 to 4 hours.
Bottle-feeding babies will have about 4 ounces per feeding,
but this can vary from one feeding to the next. Instead of getting hung up on
the number of ounces, look for signs of hunger and satiation, says pediatrician
Yael Wapinski. Formula-fed babies are at greater risk for overfeeding, so note
the signals your baby is giving instead of trying to get her to finish off a
bottle. "Pay close
attention to the baby's cues to try to differentiate hunger from tired from
just needing soothing," says Wapinski. "You don't have to respond right away to
fussiness with a bottle, unless it's the appropriate time (based on her
pattern) for her to be fed."
You may notice your baby feeds very frequently in the early
evening. Most babies have a period (often in the late afternoon or early evening)
when they fuss and "cluster feed." We don't know exactly why this is—overstimulation,
tiredness or taking in more calories before bed—but whatever the reason, your
baby may need a lot of extra contact and soothing at the end of the day.
Hang in there. Your baby is probably still waking up
multiple times a night, but hopefully she has one stretch of 4–6 hours of nighttime
sleep. That stretch will grow, and eventually she'll be able to put herself
back to sleep in the middle of the night without you. Little babies still need
to be fed at night, says sleep consultant and author Heather Turgeon, so if a
well-meaning advice-giver tells you to wean or withhold a feeding, remember
nighttime feeds are natural.
If you don't already have one, start doing a bedtime routine.
"Routines are powerful," says Turgeon. "One of the best things parents can do
is go through a simple set of steps before bed—ideally ending with the baby
falling asleep on her own in her regular sleeping place (rather than being
transferred into a crib or bassinet already asleep)." You don't need to get
fancy here, just calm and consistent. For example:
Bath (this doesn't need to be every night)
Pacifiers are recommended for sleep as a SIDS precaution, so
use one if your baby likes it. The advice is use a pacifier at the beginning of
the night or beginning of naps, but not to endlessly insert it throughout the
Your baby is working so hard to coordinate arm and hand
movements. If you put him on a play mat, he might be able to bat at an object
above him—as simple as it looks, that's incredible work involving the interplay
of millions of neurons. Don't worry about fancy toys or gadgets—simple
movements and exercises are important play for your baby. Lie on the floor with
your baby and talk to him. If he's not feeling tummy time, here are some ideas:
· If your baby only lasts for 30 seconds at a time
on her tummy, that's OK.
· Instead of plopping your baby directly onto her
tummy, start her on her back, look at her and tell her you'll roll her to her
tummy, and roll her gently from her hips.
· If your newborn is hopelessly face-planting, use
a small rolled-up blanket under her armpits. A feeding pillow is too much
· Get on the ground with her, and—if you have a
friend's baby handy—put two babies facing each other, or try a tilted mirror.
Your baby may berolling
from side to back. Halfway there!
Those jerky newbornmovements are now smoother, and legs and arms are more extended.