Get to Know Your Baby’s Feeding Signals

Babies are incredibly in tune with their hunger cues, far more so than most grown ups. Over time, we have learned to over eat, and to ignore the signs from our bodies that we are full. Babies are still able to listen to their bodies effectively, but often overeager parents have difficulty trusting those cues. Step back and put down the spoon; your baby will tell you when it’s time to eat, and when he is done.

Your Baby Won’t Starve.

Remember all those night wakings when your baby wailed for food until you came running to provide it? They might be (at least mostly) a thing of the past, but it doesn’t mean your baby is any less able to tell you when he is hungry. When your baby wants to eat, he will make absolutely sure you know about it.

Many parents become frustrated with a baby who refuses baby food time and time again, shutting his mouth firmly and turning away from the spoon. You might feel certain that your baby must be hungry, but your baby feels even more certain that he is not. If your baby refuses food, he probably isn’t just being stubborn, although it can feel that way. He really just doesn’t want the food. Try again in a little while, and you might get better results.

No matter how sure you are that you know better than your baby what he needs to eat, you should never force feed a child. Forcing a baby to eat when he is not hungry will cause him to lose touch with those important hunger cues that will prevent over eating and thus obesity and other health problems. Even if he only eats two bites and then clams up, let it go. You have to trust your baby to know what he needs.

Picking Up on Hunger Cues

Your baby’s most obvious hunger cues are already easy for you to notice. Young babies might root around, chew on a fist, or of course cry. As your baby gets older and is eating solids, however, some of these instinctive hunger cues will start to fade, leaving the crying as the clear signal that baby is hungry. Most of the time, you won’t want to wait until your baby cries to get some food in her.

A feeding schedule is very helpful in older infants to prevent them from becoming so hungry they resort to tears. However, there may be other signs baby is trying to tell you she is hungry, even if you think it isn’t time to eat. If your baby becomes distracted from a task, or watches you eating intently, it might mean she is looking for a snack as well. Soon, your baby will develop the ability to tell you she wants something to eat, but in the meantime, attention to her moods and keeping to a schedule are the best ways to avoid a really hungry, upset baby. Especially at the age just before talking or gesturing really take off, it can be very frustrating to a baby to know what she wants but be unable to express it! Watch your baby carefully for behaviors that might occur right before she eats a good meal. Every baby has a unique way of trying to get your attention.

Tub Time: Baby’s First Real Bath

About two weeks or so after birth, your baby’s umbilical cord stump will fall off, and you will be cleared to begin bathing him in a tub. Giving your baby a bath can be a special time of relaxation and bonding, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t seem to like it at first. Properly preparing for bathing your baby can help to make it pleasant for everyone. Just keep a few things in mind.

Newborns Don’t Like Being Cold!

Many babies will cry due to the cold when they are being undressed, whether for a diaper change or a bath. Try to keep your baby as warm as possible at bath time. Turn up the heat a little in the room where you are bathing him, and don’t remove his clothes until the last possible second. Make sure that his bathwater is comfortably warm – not too hot but not cool either. You should make a habit of checking the temperature every time to avoid burns.

To prevent the risk of drowning, you should always use the minimum amount of water necessary for a bath. Unfortunately this safety precaution means a good portion of baby’s body will be above the water level and at risk of getting cold. When you place your newborn in the tub, soak a washcloth in the warm water, and lay it across his chest and stomach to keep him warm. Bathe him gently but quickly, and have a warm towel standing by.

After moving him to the towel, wrap him up warmly and securely, and hold him for a while before getting him dressed. Waiting until your baby is thoroughly dried before removing the towel will keep cool air off his wet skin.

Keep Bath Time Safe

In addition to carefully monitoring the temperature and level of the bathwater, there are some other safety precautions to keep in mind when preparing for tub bathing. If you are using an infant tub set in a kitchen sink as many new parents do, make certain that the tub is secure and will not slip.

Since bathing items aren’t usually kept in the kitchen, double check that you have everything you need before placing your baby in the tub. Never leave a baby in the tub unattended! Drowning can happen incredibly fast, so keep your baby within arm’s reach. For her first tub bath and those to follow in the early weeks of life, it’s a good idea to keep one hand on her at all times.

Use caution when lifting your baby out of the tub, she will be very slippery and potentially wiggly too! Get her into a towel as quickly as possible.

Getting Baby clean

Newborns don’t really get all that dirty, so bathing won’t be necessary every day. In fact, bathing too frequently can dry out your newborn’s sensitive skin. Use a gentle, tearless baby wash formula, never soap or anything intended for adult use. Pay the most attention to the diaper area, underarms, and under the chin where spit-up may accumulate. A small amount of baby wash on a soft washcloth will do the trick.

Although you may think your baby’s ears need regular cleaning with cotton swabs, it is actually not recommended by otolaryngologists. A gentle cleaning with a wash cloth is all that is required.

From that first tub bathing, you will soon come to treasure the peaceful time of gently cleansing your newborn’s soft skin. By keeping baby as warm as possible and taking the right precautions, you can ensure it is a happy and safe time every time your baby has a bath.

Your Baby: The Third Month

In the third month, you will start to see your baby’s personality emerging. Along with this new insight into who this little person is, you will also watch her strength and interaction with the world around her grow by leaps and bounds. As routines become established, the early sense of chaos a new baby brings will subside, and life with baby will become a little smoother.

Growth and Feeding

Rapid growth continues into the third month of life, but you may find that your baby isn’t waking as often at night wanting to eat. As your baby gains weight, she is able to sustain herself for longer periods of time without needing food. Night feedings will continue however, as she isn’t ready to go all night without eating yet.

Sleep Patterns

Your little one should have her days and nights straight by this point, and is starting to understand that night is for sleeping. Daytime sleep will settle into a routine in the third month as well, and you will be able to predict more accurately when your baby will need to take a nap, and when it’s safe to head out of the house. Encourage the sleep routine by sticking to the schedule as much as possible. You might find that disruptions to the routine will result in a very cranky baby.

Physical and Cognitive Development

In the third month your baby will gain muscle strength swiftly. He may be able to support his weight on his feet with your assistance, and will also be able to sit up with support. Neck control becomes much better; although when upright you will probably notice his head wobbling and when tired he may lose control and drop his head down on your chest or shoulder.

Your baby will discover a new favorite plaything sometime this month: his hands! You may see him waving them around before his eyes and putting them in his mouth. He will also use his newfound tools to hold objects and move them about. In the third month your baby will really start to enjoy brightly colored toys, especially if they make noises. Different textures will also fascinate him, and he may hold items and squeeze them, exploring the way they feel. Mirrors are another great toy at this age, as baby will be utterly fascinated by his own reflection.

Because your baby is able to stay more upright, he may show more interest in books at this age. Choose sturdy board or cloth books with contrasting patterns and large, colorful images. As you turn the pages, he may reach for the book or even vocalize in response to certain images. A familiar book will begin to elicit even more response. While the instinct might be to keep the book out of baby’s reach while you read, go ahead and let him touch and explore. You may never reach the end of the book, but he will be learning nonetheless.

Vocalizations will increase this month as baby adds new sounds to his repertoire. He may even try to imitate sounds that you make. At this point you may also be able to differentiate between different types of crying that indicate different needs. Your baby is beginning to understand better how to use his voice to communicate with you.

By the end of the third month, you may feel you don’t even recognize your baby anymore! The tiny newborn has been replaced with an active and interactive infant who is ready and willing to take on the world.

Your Baby: The Second Month

In the second month of your baby’s life, great things will begin to happen. Your baby will begin to interact more with you, move around more, and you will likely even see that first smile.

Growth and Feeding

Throughout the second month, your baby will continue to require around the clock feedings to keep growing. And growth is still going strong this month, as your baby may gain another 1-2 pounds. You will also notice he is getting longer. Although babies gain in length in the first month as well, this will become more evident as the second month passes and he starts to stretch his legs more, allowing you to see him at his full length.

Sleep Patterns

While sleep will likely still be erratic, you can expect some longer stretches of sleep at night in the second month. Developing a bedtime routine and sticking to it will be greatly helpful at this stage, as he starts to learn the difference between day and night. Your baby still needs 15-16 hours of sleep a day, but towards the end of the second month he will start to get more of that sleep during the night hours and be awake more during the day. A simple bedtime routine consisting of a bath, feeding, and a song or story will help him to understand when it’s time to go to sleep.

Physical and Cognitive Development

Your baby is making great strides in the second month! She will be able to hold her head up at a 45 degree angle when placed on her stomach. Regular ‘tummy time” throughout the day will help her to develop the neck strength necessary to do this, as well as for future endeavors such as pulling up and crawling. She will start to wiggle around a lot, kicking her arms and legs. If you hold a toy out to her, she might reach for it or bat at it, and may even hold it and shake it around a bit.

As eyesight improves, your baby is starting to take in the world around her. She will follow an object with her eyes, and will also start to respond to your facial expressions. When something tickles her just the right way, you will be rewarded with a smile. While you may have seen baby smile in her sleep previously, you will now be seeing responsive smiles. Your baby is truly starting to interact with you!

This interaction will also start to extend to baby’s vocalizations. During the second month, you will hear her make some new sounds to get your attention. While crying is still the main way of telling you she needs something, she will now start offering coos and vowel sounds as well. Responding to these sounds will encourage your baby to continue vocalizing and develop these early language skills.

While all this new interaction is very exciting, remember that your baby is still very young and can become over-stimulated easily. Watch for signs that baby is tiring, such as breaking eye contact, becoming fussy or crying, and pulling away. When you see any of these signs, it’s time to switch to a quieter activity.

Now that your baby is stronger and more alert, you will probably want to start taking her out to explore the world. At this age baby will enjoy riding in a stroller or front carrier and being able to take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors. Be sure to dress her for the weather to keep her warm but not overheated.

The second month is filled with exciting milestones and a new type of connection with your baby, and you will start to see the world in a new way as you see it through your baby’s eyes.

Your Baby: The First Month

The first month of your baby’s life is a special time of bonding, cuddling, and adjustment to the major changes that have come into your home along with this new little person. While mom and dad learn to function on a lot less sleep, baby is doing more than it might appear.

Growth and Feeding

Shortly after birth, your newborn will lose up to 10% of her body weight. This is perfectly normal, and soon after she will get started on a newborn’s main task: gaining weight and growing. It’s not unusual for a baby to gain up to two pounds in the first month of life. In order to accomplish this task, your baby will eat frequently, and need to feed around the clock. Her small body requires regular nourishment, and that includes feedings in the middle of the night!

Sleep Patterns

In the first month of life, your newborn has not yet developed circadian rhythms. Simply put, she just doesn’t know day from night. Your baby will sleep and wake at what might seem to you to be strange and in some cases downright unpleasant hours. Some babies are often fast asleep much of the day and wide awake come nightfall. Most newborns sleep a total average of 15-16 hours per day, but this is usually broken up into 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, with wakeful periods in between. As your baby grows, her stretches of sleep will become longer.

Physical and Cognitive Development

Some babies are able to briefly lift their heads from birth, but most will slowly develop the necessary strength. Over the first month of life you will notice your baby’s increase in strength as he starts to lift his head for longer periods, especially when placed on his stomach. Newborns have limited eyesight, and see best from a distance of about 8-10 inches. Hearing is well developed and your baby will respond readily to the sound of voices, especially those that are the most familiar to him. He is already able to tell the difference between voices, and knows the sounds of mom and dad. He will start to respond to the sound of your voice by turning his head towards you and seeking for your face.

Much of your baby’s behavior at this point is instinctive. Hands will generally stay in a clenched fist, but he will grasp at a finger or object placed in his palm. The fetal position remains the most comfortable to a newborn, used to the confinement of the womb. This is why newborns often find swaddling to be comforting. Newborns startle easily, and your baby may jump at sudden noises or even in his sleep. This is called the Moro reflex, and he will grow out of it in time.

Newborns cry reflexively to communicate their needs, and your baby will probably cry fairly frequently in the first month. Soon, he will come to understand that crying elicits a response from mom and dad, and will begin to do it with more awareness. Towards the end of the first month, your baby will begin to understand that you will be there to fill his every need, and he has only to cry to get your attention. This is the beginning of trust and security.

The first month is a time to settle into life with your newborn, and to begin the bonding process. Enjoy this special time of cuddling and getting to know your little miracle, who wants nothing more than to be in your arms.