Newborn baby behaviour

Right from birth, your newborn baby comes into the world capable of doing many things. Your baby will coo and gurgle, listen to sounds, and try to orient their head towards voices. They will move their arms when excited and may also imitate some of your facial expressions. Newborn babies enjoy looking at faces. Even though your newborn baby’s vision is limited at this point in time, they can detect light, shadows, shapes, contours, and movements.

Conveniently, your face has all of these elements that can capture your baby’s attention and provide a basis for your interactions. Smile, talk, and nod your head while looking at your baby. If your baby is enjoying this kind of interaction, they will look towards you. When they feel that they need a break from too many sights and sounds, they may look away. As they get older, their whole head may turn from you. Do not feel rejected when your baby looks away; this is a normal part of your baby’s development and one way for them to control how aroused or excited they become. When this happens, let them look away and enjoy their company quietly. Your baby will rely on you to read all sorts of signals right from birth that will guide your interactions together.

Some signals, like looking away for a few moments, will be more difficult to detect than others. Be patient with yourself as you learn to read your baby’s signals that tell you how they are feeling and want you to react. Other cues, like crying, are much easier to detect. When your baby cries, it is their way of telling you that something is wrong and that they are uncomfortable or feeling distressed. Comforting your baby when they cry will not spoil your baby; in fact, trying to comfort your baby as best you can when they are distressed is an important part of your interactions with them right from birth. Slowly, as your baby develops in the coming months, they will learn from your comforting that they can depend on you and have confidence that you will be there for them.

Newborn babies do a lot of sleeping. In fact, although you may not get much sleep during this time, your newborn baby spends about 18 hours of each day getting their zzz’s. However, a newborn baby’s sleeping pattern is different from that of adults. Newborn babies spend only 20% of their sleeping time in a deep, sound sleep. The rest of the time they drift in and out of sleep, which means that by the time you put them down and try to take a nap, they will be awake and crying again. This can be very exhausting for you, but as your baby starts to take larger amounts of milk at each feeding session, their naps will stretch out longer.

Newborn babies also spend a considerable amount of time feeding. For the first few weeks, newborn babies are fed "on demand," meaning whenever they are hungry, and they should receive at least eight feedings per day. If each feeding lasts 20 minutes, this translates into over two and a half hours per day. Healthy, well fed newborn babies pass about three to four bowel movements per day in the first couple of weeks, and they wet about five to six diapers per day. That means a lot of diaper changing for you, which can be a fun bonding experience or a messy chore, depending on how you look at it.

The rest of the time, your newborn baby may spend their hours in a quiet or alert state, or they may spend a great deal of time crying. Their little lungs are capable of belting out wails for hours on end. They might simply have this type of temperament, or they may have colic. Keep in mind that crying is the only way that your newborn baby has to communicate with you. As they get older and develop other ways to communicate, their crying will decrease.

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