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Newborn Development
How You Can Best Support Your Baby

Your newborn s development is affected by the huge change the birth represents. Equipped with some basic instincts, reflexes (like the rooting reflex and the moro reflex) and a full set of senses (Sense s of taste, smell, hearing, touch and sight) he starts settling into and learning about the world.

sleeping newborn babyAs long as your baby was in the womb, everything he needed was provided for. He got his nutrition and oxygen via the umbilical cord's blood from you. You body kept him warm and well cushioned. He could float effortlessly in the amniotic fluid.

Now, outside, he needs to breathe all by himself just as he needs to adjust his body temperature. Getting food became hard work for your newborn. Even though he's got the rooting reflex, he needs to learn how to suck effectively. Then the milk needs to be digested and wastes eliminated.

There are so many new sensations that go along with that. Like the feelings of hunger or fullness and the movement of food and air through his bowels. Your newborn also suddenly feels air and clothing on his skin instead of water. He feels different temperatures, everything is so much brighter and even the sounds he knows from the womb are so different in the outside world.

Understanding Your Babys Needs

All the new sensations can be a bit too much to take and overstimulation is a frequent cause for a newborns crying. For you it can be hard to understand the crying,  find the reason for it and meet your infant s needs as good as possible.

In the beginning his cries are based on reflexes. By patiently and consistently trying to understand and answer them, he'll learn to comminicate his needs more and more distinguishable. You on the other hand will learn to "read" his cries or even those little noises he makes long before he starts crying better and better.

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Building Your Relationship

That's what this stage is all about. Your newborn s development is actually just as much the development of the relationship between him and his caregivers, that helps him so much to find himself. 

For some it takes only a week, for others three to four weeks. By listening to your child, following mainly his lead and learning to understand him, individually (instead of following tables and carts and clocks to the dot) you'll get there eventually. This time is about getting to know your baby and bonding with him.

A few things you should be aware of: 

Just as random as his cries seem in the beginning, as random is your newborn s sleep and feeding pattern. In fact, there is no pattern at first. 

He might be feeding every hour for five or six hours or so and then sleep the next 6 hours without feeding. And while frequent sucking stimulates your milk flow if you're breastfeeding, it can also lead to trouble if he gets too much foremilk. 

Having a passionate, knowledgeable and sensitive midwife is of immense value in those first days. 

Support Your Newborn's Settling

The best things you can do to support your newborn s development in those first days and help him settle into this world are:

  • Relax and give both yourselves time and
  • Make his life outside the womb as similar to life in the womb as possible with soft noises and light, the warmth, familiar smell and movement of your body instead of being placed far away in a pram or crib.

If some of your babies crying is obviously related to his digestion, you might want to try baby massage or elimination communication to ease his pain and strengthen your bond.

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