If you have a sweet little bundle of joy on the way, then you are likely doing a ton of research and prepping as much as you can so you will be totally ready once they arrive. Books, podcasts, talking to fellow parents, classes, the works. That’s exactly what I did, long before I was even pregnant!
I thought I was completely prepared, but there was still so much to learn once my baby boy was born. Sometimes, the books and classes can only go so far. Here’s some things that I learned along the way that hopefully will leave you a bit more prepared than I was!
- They are sleepy little things
You probably knew that newborns are quite sleepy, but you might not know just how much. I certainly didn’t!
They basically sleep non-stop in the first few weeks. They wake to eat, maybe interact for a little bit, and then off to sleep again. At our son’s 1 month pediatrician appointment I ended up asking the doctor “so…when will he wake up??” because it seemed like all he did was sleep! I was reassured it was totally normal, and that baby boy would wake up soon.
He was right, of course. Eventually they do wake up more and start to have longer periods of awake time, and it’s so fun when that happens!
In the meantime, enjoy those sleepy snuggles and know it’s perfectly normal for your newborn to be snoozing away.
- They grunta lot
It takes a few months for their little digestive systems to work out the kinks and get fully moving. What this means for them is that they can have painful gas they can’t quite get out, and can spend a lot of time grunting and trying to figure out how to get the right muscles moving to keep things flowing.
Very normal to be doing this all day and, unfortunately for mom and dad, all night. It doesn’t always bother the babies, they’re just trying to piece it all together and get their little bodies to work. However, it can bother them. Time typically is what helps most, but we used gas drops, approved by our pediatrician, and they seemed to help!
Speaking of digestive systems, their poops don’t look anything like adult poops. Size, color, smell - it’s all different!
Their first poop is called meconium. It’s a sticky, tar, dark poop. They should pass it after 24-48 hours or so. Be warned - it’s tough to clean up! Very sticky. I’ve heard it can be helpful to apply aquaphor to baby early on so the meconium is easier to clean up.
Once they have formula or breastmilk, their poop changes again. It can be a range of colors! But most often yellow-ish. It’s typically liquidy and seedy. Breast milk poops can actually smell sweet!
Throughout those early weeks and months the frequency will change as well. It can go from every single diaper, to daily, to once a week! All within the range of normal, but of course always good to double check things with your doctor if you’re concerned.
- They can have their days and nights mixed up
It’s very normal for newborns to have their days and nights mixed up when it comes to sleep, which can be tough on parents. It’s recommended to keep nights dark and quiet, and days bright and noisier to help get that sorted out.
- They have periods of active sleep
Their sleep patterns have lots of development to do as well, so in the early newborn weeks they do what’s called active sleep. It can be quite funny to watch! You might see your baby smile, laugh, open their eyes, flutter their eyes, make all kinds of noises, and more. They might even cry, but not to worry, they’re perfectly okay.
Pro-tip: pause a moment before tending to them if they’re making noise to see if they truly are awake and need you, or are just in their active phase of sleep.
- They are born with poor eyesight
When they’re first both they can only see 8-12 inches in front of them, everything else is blurry. Luckily you’ll be holding them most of the time, so that’s the perfect distance to look up at mom or dad! They also can’t see colors in the beginning, but they can see black and white. They love looking at anything with stark contrast!
- They have preferences
Newborns don’t care if you purchased the most popular bottle, pacifier, swaddles, etc, they like what they like. We tried a bunch of pacifiers before finally finding one our baby will take! Same for bottles. Something to keep in mind as you make your registry!
- Newborns have teeny tiny tummies
Newborns are born with stomachs the size of a hazelnut roughly. That is tiny! What that means is it doesn’t take much to fill them up, so it’s okay if you don’t produce a ton of milk right away. It also means they’ll eat very frequently in the early weeks. Their tummies quickly grow, but they will still likely eat often for the first few months.
- They lose weight after birth
Most babies will lose 5-10% of their birth weight following being born. They’ll weigh your baby multiple times in the hospital to track it. Perfectly normal! Doesn’t mean ANYTHING in regards to your milk production. It’s usually just them losing some fluids. They should regain that weight in the following weeks. Your pediatrician will be tracking that for you and let you know if at any point it is cause for concern.
- They are constantly changing
I think this is what shocked me the most, but they are just constantly changing, evolving, learning, and growing. It’s truly incredible to watch! They’ll go from barely being able to lift their head for tummy time, to having it fully lifted for a half hour straight. From taking forever to get through a feed, to being champion eaters chugging away.
You’ll notice constant changes in just about every aspect there is. Just when you think you’ve figured something out with them, they go and change again. It’s bittersweet how fast they grow! It’s also reassuring when you’re in a more challenging phase, because you know it will only last for so long.
Enjoy the ride! Embrace the lessons along the way. Know that there truly is no being 100% prepared, but there is so much beauty and fun in the journey. There will be hard moments you won’t know how you’ll get through, but each time you’ll emerge the other side that much more confident as a parent. It’s the most fun rollercoaster you’ll ever be on!