Despite how much you may know about newborns in general,
you know almost nothing about your little tot. You
would probably do a lot of guesswork until your baby
gets accustomed to the world outside the womb, and
you have somewhat understood a little about her behavior.
Behaviors that may puzzle
There are little, little things
about your baby that's going to confuse first time
parents or even seasoned parents. They are still
adapting to the change and new surroundings. Something
so natural and second nature to you like breathing
is something totally novel to the little baby. Here
are but some of those things:
Newborn Senses & Your
With small lungs breathing may seem shallow, irregular
with occasional snuffling sounds. Breathing in neonatal
is through the nose. Their nasal passages are lined
with mucus that causes them to cough and sneeze
frequently but this does not mean they have a cold.
Sneezing is also a reaction to bright lights caused
by nerve stimulation found in the nose and eyes.
Irregular contractions of the diaphragm known, as
hiccup is common. You don't need to do anything;
they normally go away by themselves. Hiccups reduce
significantly after a few weeks.
This is a common occurrence for babies to bring
up some milk when being burped. The texture is lumpy
rather than liquidy because it is curdled. Usually
it happens due to overfeeding.
It may take weeks for baby to settle into a predictable
routine. She may be hungry every 30mins, every 2hrs,
every 3hrs; or after half an hour now, then again
2hrs later and then 4hrs after that. If she takes
a while to build a feeding schedule, there is no
need for concern. Everything takes time. It is normal
for your tot to lose weight for the first few days
after birth, only to gain it back. Any concerns
on nutrition contact your baby's pediatrician.
The sudden, unexpected little movements (reflexes)
your baby makes may surprise you. Reflexes develop
in the initial periods to help baby fend for himself.
When a newborn is startled, which is often, he responds
by arching his back, kicking his legs and flailing
out his arms. This is known as the Moro Reflex.
It resembles a baby attempting to grab something
with both hands and legs. Rooting reflex is when
your baby is searching for food. She will open her
mouth and turn her head toward that side if you
stroke her cheek. When your baby is drowsy or sleeping,
you may notice her smiling. She is in a dreamy state;
this is termed Reflexive smiling. Soon enough she
will be smiling back in response to your smile.
It is difficult to keep baby awake and equally difficult
to wake her up from her nap. In the initial weeks
she won't be able to distinguish night and day and
will spend most of the day sleeping, feeding, pooping.
Her alert moments are just a few minutes at a time,
often before eating or during baths. But all babies
are different. They cannot be typecasted in any
regard. Some sleep 15hrs out of 24 from the start
and have several waking minutes in the day; others
sleep almost 22hrs and are groggy when awake. There
is little to do this month except to go along with
their self-imposed behaviors. Sleep apnea is a condition
fairly uncommon but it is good to be aware anyway.
It is a temporary cessation of breathing that occurs
during sleep. Babies hold their breath for 10-15
seconds; with gentle nudging they grunt or snort
and breathing resumes. This problem is more prevalent
in premature or low birth weight infants. They usually
outgrow this condition. Make notes of the frequency
and duration of apnea episodes and discuss with
A baby's brain grows most rapidly from the last
trimester of pregnancy through the first 3 months
of life. Stimulation from you helps make his nerves
stronger. Interacting with his environment with
your help develops connections in his brain. Avoid
over-stimulation as it results in fussy, cranky
Although your baby's middle ear
is still somewhat immature at birth, as are the
sound processing centers of his brain, your newborn
can hear you and will prefer human speech over any
other sounds, especially if the voice is yours.
Hearing sounds are very important to baby. They
can recognize mum's voice over other female voices.
Speak in low tones, hum and sing when baby is restless.
Get baby accustomed to white sounds from the vacuum
cleaner, dishwasher or washing machine, running
water as these sounds can soothe babies too. Use
baby's name often, in parentese or regular speech
and he will soon recognize it. Introduce baby to
the music world through CDs, radio, and musical
At birth, a baby's vision is
very poor — about 40 times worse than an adult
with good vision. Even so, the baby can still see
a lot. Although her eyes are capable of excellent
vision, her brain is still too immature to distinguish
between different shades of color. She'll prefer
bright colors to duller ones and sharp contrasting
images, and her favorite thing to look at will be
a human face, especially one with expressions. She
is near-sighted and will stare at objects placed
in the 8-12 inches range of her vision. Very soon
she will be able to see objects that are 18 inches
away. She is able to recognize mum's face from the
rest. To help build eye muscles, move your head
from side to side which would encourage baby's eyes
to follow you. Although they prefer black and white
patterns, introduce baby to bold colored shapes.
In the womb, your baby gets a
sampling of flavors as he swallows amniotic fluid.
Studies have shown that fetal swallowing increases
with sweet tastes and decreases with bitter or sour
tastes. That explains the liking for milk, both
breast and formula milk, since they are sweet.
Your newborn's skin is his largest
and most highly developed sensory organ. At birth,
your baby can respond to variations in temperature,
texture, pressure, and pain. Your newborn's lips
and hands have the largest number of touch receptors,
which may account for why newborns enjoy sucking
on their fingers. Touch your baby's skin often;
massage baby, hold baby close to you. The more love
and affection you display by touching, the more
self-assured and happy your baby will be.
Top 5 soothers
Your baby's mouth muscles stimulates
the release of endorphins during sucking - the body's
natural feel-good chemicals. This helps her relax;
as well as blocks the pain. Sucking also offers
a distraction from the pain.
Cradling your baby helps control her limbs and the
feeling of containment helps her feel less distressed.
Cuddling is particularly effective when you hold your
baby with her hands together on her chest and her
fingers near her mouth. Try swaddling your baby by
wrapping her up firmly in a blanket.
Rocking motion stimulates cells
in your baby's inner ear, which have a calming effect.
However this may backfire when baby is ill or in
pain as any stimulation may distress her further.
So if she does not respond to your rocking quite
soon then stop.
Gently, but firmly rub your warm
hands over her bare skin. The contact with you,
as well as the gentle motion of deep touch, may
be just the thing to get your baby completely calm
and even ready for a sleep.
Many babies love water as it
reminds them of the cozy, watery world of the womb.
Without too much fuss, run a lukewarm bath.
If you have
tried everything you know to calm your baby, and
nothing seems to be working, take a break before
you become stressed and frantic. If possible, call
in someone else to take over for a while. If that's
not an option, then leave your baby safely in her
cot, close the door and go to another room. If you
are lucky, your baby may just cry herself to sleep.
His grasp reflex is developing. He may briefly hold
onto something before letting it go
e.g. your finger. Play this game with your baby to
strengthen hands and fingers:
• Hold your infant in your lap.
• Put your index finger in your baby's hand.
• She probably will grasp your finger, as this
is a natural reflex with newborns.
• Each time she grasps your finger, say positive
words or praise your baby.
• Just reaching for an object helps the brain
develop hand-eye coordination.
Turns his head from side to side
to follow object with his eyes, called tracking.
May be able to hold up his head for brief seconds
when placed on his stomach. According to research,
developing strength and balance lays the groundwork
for crawling. This is a game that strengthens the
back and neck:
Starting to move:
• Lie on your back and put your baby on your
• With your hands firmly around his chest,
raise him in the air and up to your face.
• Say the following and do the actions:
Where's my baby?
There he is. (lift him up to your face)
Where's my baby? (bring him back down to your tummy)
There he is. (bring him back up to your face)
Where's my baby? (bring him back down to your tummy)
Up high, high, high. (bring your baby up high over
When your baby kicks legs in
the air, he is starting to move. He will move more
as he grows older. Leaving him unattended even for
a minute on any high level surfaces such as the
changing table is not advisable as he can risk a
Toys and Play
Choosing appropriate toys:
Think about your baby's capabilities
when choosing toys. The smart move is to select
toys that he can play with in many different ways
as he matures. However avoid toys that are too intricate
for him to enjoy. If you have not bought her a hanging
mobile yet, now is the right time for one. She will
enjoy the music and the moving colorful figures.
Music box or CDs of soft lullabies
Make funny faces:
Babies love to watch faces with
expressions. You can play with him by holding your
face about 12 inches away from his and making funny
faces. Stick out your tongue. Blow gently on his
neck. Hold his hands near your eyelashes so he feels
the movement. Open and close your eyes and mouth
in an exaggerated manner. Babies at four weeks are
able to use their facial expressions to engage your
attention. It becomes a duo game.
Put baby in the middle of things:
It is beneficial and fun for
baby to be part of the everyday family interaction.
Carry her in sling as you go about your daily chores.
Seat her in her bassinet during family meals.
Talk to your baby:
When you play with baby, vary
your tone of voice (switching pitches) between parentese
and low tones. Talking in high-pitched, singsong
tone of voice (parentese) causes her heart rate
to increase, an indication of a cheerful and secure
baby. Alternate this with regular speech, which
will soothe and comfort baby. Babies not only enjoy
this but also stand to gain as it helps them to
recognize connections between objects and words.
Babies will also start to understand that communication
is a means of expression. Sing nursery rhymes and
clap your hands while you sing. Read him books,
a magazine, anything; baby is more interested in
your voice than the material at this point.
Your baby's first check-up:
Most babies have their first medical checkup within
the first few weeks after birth.
Most well baby checkups begin
with measurements of your baby's length, weight
and head circumference. Keep a blanket handy to
undress your baby. The measurements will be produced
on a growth chart. The doctor will use these measurements
to make sure your baby's growth is on mark from
one visit to the next.
Head-to-toe physical exam
The doctor will check the size and softness of the
fontanels, the soft spots on your baby's head. These
gaps between the skull's bones give your baby's
brain plenty of room to grow. They're safe to touch
and typically disappear within 12 to 18 months,
when the skull bones combine together. Your doctor
will also measure baby's head and make a record
The doctor will check for fluid or infection in
your baby's ears with an instrument called an otoscope.
The doctor may check the shape of your baby's ears
as well. If there is any wax buildup, your doctor
will note it, as well as fluid behind the eardrum.
The doctor will look for blocked tear ducts and
discharge, may examine the inside of your baby's
eyes with an instrument called an ophthalmoscope.
The doctor will look for crossing of the eyes (strabismus)
and ask if you've ever noticed your baby's eyes
crossing at home. Baby's eyes are examined to see
how the pupils dilate; vision and eye movement will
be assessed with a moving light in baby's visual
The doctor may check your baby's sucking reflex
by placing a fingertip or pacifier in your baby's
mouth. A look inside your baby's mouth may reveal
signs of oral thrush, an easily treated yeast infection
common in babies this age.
Doctor will examine the nostrils to check on infections.
Nasal passages are checked for signs of abnormal
development that could interfere with breathing.
The doctor will look for various skin conditions,
including birthmarks, rashes and jaundice - a yellowish
discoloration of the skin and eyes. Mild jaundice
that develops soon after birth often vanishes on
its own within a week or two, but more severe cases
may need simple therapy or other treatments. The
doctor will also make sure the area around your
baby's bellybutton is beginning to heal.
Heart and lungs:
The doctor will listen to your baby's heart and
lungs with a stethoscope to detect any abnormal
heart rhythms, sounds or breathing difficulties.
Heart murmurs are common in infants and are rarely
By gently pressing your baby's abdomen, the doctor
can detect softness, enlarged organs or an umbilical
hernia. Feeding routine and bowel habits will be
addressed and discussed.
Hips and legs:
The doctor will move your baby's legs to check the
hip ligaments and joints and overall muscle tone
as well. Legs and feet are examined for proper growth
The doctor will inspect your baby's genitalia for
tenderness, lumps or other signs of infection. He
or she will also check for an inguinal hernia, which
results from a weakness in the abdominal wall. For
boys, the doctor will look for descended testicles
and a hydrocele, a fluid-filled sac around the testes
in the scrotum. If your son was circumcised, the
doctor will make sure the area is beginning to heal.
Even with limited head, arm and leg movements the
doctor is able to assess muscle strength and tone
of baby. Your baby's reflexes and overall responsiveness
will be checked during this visit.
Discuss with your Doctor during the appointment
on any issues or doubts you have. Your doctor will
ask a series of questions on your baby's well being,
feeding and sleep patterns and on how well you are
coping with your new baby as well as your well-being
in general. Be ready to describe a typical day with
your baby. Be sure to bring up whatever's on your
mind. Nothing is too trivial when it comes to caring
for your baby. Your well being is important, too.
If you're feeling depressed, stressed out or exhausted,
explain what's happening. Your baby's doctor can
offer suggestions to help you get through this challenging
Many babies are given a hepatitis B vaccine in the
hospital nursery shortly after birth. If your baby's
had this vaccine, he or she is off the hook for
this visit. If not, the hepatitis B vaccine may
be given now.
Temperature readings and what they mean
Sometimes you will be required
to take your baby's temperature and that can be
quite a task, especially when the little one is
unwell. You can take baby's temperature rectally,
axillary or with an ear thermometer.
When you take temperature under
his arm, use a rectal thermometer. Make sure your
baby's underarm is clean and dry before placing
thermometer in the armpit. Press baby's arm tightly
against his side or hold it across his chest to
keep the thermometer in position. After 4-5 minutes
remove and read.
This is fairly new in the market
but the preferred choice over others for older babies.
Lay baby on his back on a safe surface and turn
his head away from you. Gently pull back on his
ear to straighten the ear canal and point the thermometer
into the ear canal. Activate the thermometer. Wait
for the beep, and repeat the procedure in the other
ear. Use the highest number. Because of the difficulty
with correct placement in young babies accuracy
might be affected.
A list of what a normal reading should read:
Axillary temperature: 95 to 99F (35 to 37.2C)
Ear temperature: 97.8 to 99.7F (36.6 to 37.7C)
Rectal temperature: 98.2 to 100.4F (36.8 to38C)