So you’ve had your baby and spent your two blissful days in the hospital. Nurses and doctors have been in and out of your room to help you feed and change your newborn. You’ve had people waiting on you hand and foot. Now, it is time for you to go home. Time for you to figure it all out. Do it on your own. Of course your doctor might send you with recommendations for how often your baby should eat, sleep, pee, and poop. If not, you’ve probably looked it up online and you are probably obsessing over it.
I know as a new mom I followed these schedules to a T. I made sure to feed my baby every 2 hours, pumping right after. I put the baby down for a nap every 3 hours. I did tummy time for at least 20 minutes each day. If it had been a certain amount of time and my baby hadn’t napped, I would put her down anyways. All because I thought that is what I was “supposed to do!”
What did this do for me? STRESS ME OUT!
I was constantly planning our schedules around the baby’s feeding and nap times. Going out in public or having visitors gave me such anxiety because I couldn’t plan around our schedule. Even when my baby showed no signs of being hungry or tired, I would freak out internally if something interrupted our precious schedule.
The second time around I did something that changed everything for me. I threw out the schedules and listened to my baby. You can trust that if your baby is tired or hungry, he or she will let you know.
Here are some signals that your baby is tired:
2. Rubbing eyes
5. Pulling hair or ears
Here are some signals that your baby is hungry:
1. Rooting or turning head to find source of food
2. Sucking on everything
3. Laying down to nurse
5. Repetitive hitting on mother’s chest
It is important to watch for these cues and act the first time you notice them. If your child’s hunger or tired cues go unnoticed, they will quickly become agitated. At this point, it can be hard to calm the baby to feed or sleep.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, during your baby’s first few weeks of life you should wake them to feed every 3-4 hours. After that point, it is okay to let your baby sleep until he or she wakes on their own.
Am I saying you shouldn’t try to prepare or predict the next step if your baby tends to follow a schedule? No. What I am saying is, if your child is showing absolutely no signs of being tired and is then fussy when you try to put him or her down, don’t stress yourself out over the “rules” and “guidelines” set by someone who has never even met your baby.
My stress levels went down drastically just by following the signals my baby was giving me. I was no longer stressed that it had been 3 hours and I hadn’t fed my baby. My expectations for naps and sleeping were much lower which left me and my baby much happier!
Do you have any tips for a less stressful beginning with your newborn? Leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page.