The first month of having your little one home is all about settling in, establishing a routine and getting to know each other. Your baby is developing and constantly processing new information, while you’re adapting to parenthood, be it the first time round or caring for multiple children.
In the first month of your newborn’s life, you can expect a lot of the following:
Sleep (lots for baby, less for you)
Newborns can sleep up to 16 hours a day. Night or day doesn’t matter to them – newborns often sleep in bursts of 2-3 hours, wake up needing to be settled and fed, and will want to sleep again not long after.
Feeding during the night means it’s likely your sleep will be heavily interrupted during the first month. Remember to eat well, stay hydrated, and take care of yourself during what can be a challenging time. Aim to sleep whenever your baby does so you can sync up and steal a few hours of shut-eye before they need attention.
Crying (lots for baby, likely some for you too)
Your little one’s crying can mean lots of things: I’m hungry, I’m confused, I’m tired, I’m uncomfortable, I’m in pain, I want attention and so on. It’s their main form of communication at this age!
When crying starts, check they aren’t sick or hurt. If it seems they’re just tired or crying for some reason that can wait for 5 minutes, it could help to lay them down somewhere safe and take a break. You’ll be hearing a lot of crying and it can become overwhelming; taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your family.
At 0 to 1 month old, your baby’s stomach is quite small. This means they can only store so much milk or formula, and wake up hungry more frequently. As their stomach grows, you can feed them more at a time and their sleeps will begin to go for longer. Be ready for smaller, frequent feeds for the first month of your little one’s life – growing is hungry work!
Cuddles are arguably the best part of this month. Cuddles are not only relaxing and comforting for both of you, but they’re crucial to bonding. Receiving affection from their caregiver makes a baby feel safe, which helps develop a stronger emotional foundation and resilience later in life. Affection can be in the form of a smile, gazing into each other’s eyes, skin-to-skin contact, stroking their skin or having a play and a cuddle.
Getting to know each other
A lot of the time, we feel instantly connected to our babies, but this isn’t always easy for some new parents. Don’t worry if you struggle to connect with your baby immediately; remember you’re still getting to know them. If feelings of not connecting with your baby bring you anxiety or stress, or you’re struggling to cope, talk to your GP about your mental health and how you’re managing emotionally.
Pay attention to your baby’s cues in the first month of their life. Verbal cues and body language are their ways of communicating with you. Signs like cooing, crying, or gazing at you can be signs your little one wants some attention. Cues like looking unsettled, pulling away from your touch or crying (yes, crying can mean almost anything) could mean they need a break or a lie-down. The more you understand your baby’s language, and respond to it, the more they are encouraged to communicate their needs.
The first month can be loud and stressful, but it will fly by. Take time to enjoy being with your newborn… they’ll never be this tiny again!