Just brought home your new baby? Congratulations, mama! You’ve probably got a gazillion questions coming up as you get to know your bub and adjust to motherhood life. Here are the answers to 11 common questions parents have about their newborns:
1. My baby wants to feed all the time – is my milk supply low?
It’s normal for newborns to want to feed frequently from the breast, and while it can be very tiring for you, the good news is that all the stimulation is great for building up your milk supply. The other thing to remember is that newborns are soothed by sucking, so may want to go to the breast for reasons other than food. Newborns can be unsettled as they transition to the world, and breastfeeding can offer reassurance and safety when they need it.
2. My baby refuses to sleep anywhere else but on me – what’s up?
All newborns go through a period of wanting to be in your arms and nowhere else. You’ll find your baby snoozing away beautifully in your arms only for those little eyes to open the minute you put him down in the bassinet. While this can be frustrating and limit the use of your arms, be reassured that this period is transient. In the meantime, use a baby carrier to give you back the use of your arms, or ask a support person to tag team with you so you can get a break now and then.
Read more about life with a newborn:
- 6 non-negotiable rules for visiting a newborn baby
- 9 life lessons your newborn is secretly teaching you
- How to read the signs your newborn baby is tired
3. People keep telling me I’m picking up my baby too much – is this wrong?
It’s a mother’s natural instinct to go to her baby when he cries, and you don’t need to worry about this being the ‘wrong thing’ to do. Babies cry to communicate a need and by responding, you’re teaching your baby that their world is safe and a caregiver is there for them. This is important for setting up a healthy, secure attachment that will see your baby grow into a confident and resilient human being. Trust your instincts. No one knows your baby like you do.
4. When can I start my baby on a routine?
Life can feel a little out of control when you become a mum and you might be tempted to start a routine just to get some structure back in your life. However, newborns aren’t ready for time schedules and expect their needs to be met right away. Trying a feed and sleep routine can cause more stress for you as newborn behaviour is unpredictable, changing from one day to the next. This is also a time when they need love and patience as they transition from the womb. You can try a routine when your baby is older and more biologically robust.
5. Do I need to worry about overfeeding my baby?
It’s pretty much impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding and worried about how often and how long your baby feeds for, take heart that you’re doing everything right. Breastfed babies know how much milk they want and will stop sucking (or change the way they’re sucking) when they’ve had enough. Bottle fed babies suck differently on a teat and can take in extra milk when they don’t intend to. If your baby brings up milk often after a feed, or is gaining weight excessively, check with your health provider who can help you look at what’s going on.
6. My nipples are sore and damaged. How can I keep breastfeeding?
Your nipples can go through a sensitive period while you’re learning to breastfeed, and damaged nipples make things really tough. The first thing to do is check whether your latch and positioning are making things worse. Ask your health professional to watch you feed your baby and assess whether there’s an issue. To help your nipples heal, squeeze out some colostrum and rub it into the affected areas, then allow to air-dry. You can also consider using a nipple shield to protect your nipples while they heal.
7. My partner feels left out – what can I do?
With newborns needing feeds around the clock, many new dads feel left out of the parenting game in the early days. But there are ways dads can get involved with their new baby and help strengthen an early bond between them, without using food. Skin-on-skin time, using the baby carrier, bathing with the baby and baby massage are all meaningful ways dads can get to know their new baby – which can also give you a little break from all that feeding!
8. OMG, the sleep deprivation is killing me! How can I cope?
Most women are already tired after giving birth, so when you start losing more sleep once the baby’s at home, it can really be hard to take. Unfortunately, there’s no magic cure for getting your baby to sleep more as they need to wake regularly for food and reassurance from you. For some new mums, knowing that their baby’s sleep behaviour is normal makes the lack of sleep easier to manage. Make sure you get some rest whenever possible, and try to get out in the day as the fresh air can help energise you.
9. I like rocking my baby to sleep – am I setting up bad habits?
Your baby was rocked to sleep almost constantly in utero, so he’s primed to be soothed whenever you rock him in your arms. This is a normal and lovely way to help your baby go to sleep, and if you’re both enjoying it, there’s no problem. As your newborn gets a little older, you might like to try putting him in his bassinet to fall asleep, just so he gets used to his sleep environment. However, if he protests and this isn’t something you feel ready for, then wait until you’re both ready.
10. My baby sleeps all day and is wide awake at night! Can I fix this?
Inside your womb, your baby was lulled to sleep as you moved around during the day. But when you lay still at night, you probably noticed your baby kicking and moving like a ninja at play. This same pattern often continues after babies are born – they remain sleepy during the day and wide awake for play at night. You can help your baby switch this by keeping night feeds as low-key as possible. Avoid turning on bright lights and keep your voice hushed and soft to help teach your baby that the night vibe is different to day time.
11. My partner wants to feed our baby. Can we introduce the bottle?
Having your partner feed the baby can give you a welcome break, especially if this happens overnight. However, introducing a bottle too soon can confuse your baby, who may prefer this over the breast because it’s easier to get milk from. Using the bottle can also impact on the demand signals your body needs to produce the right amount of milk for your baby, which means breastfeeding could be negatively impacted. Try waiting until your supply has been established before you introduce a bottle, which is usually around six weeks.