Realistic Expectations and Tips for the First 12 Weeks at Home with Your Newborn

Realistic Expectations and Tips for the First 12 Weeks at Home with Your Newborn

Bringing your newborn home is an exciting milestone, but let's face it - it's also a whirlwind of adjustments. Your family dynamics have shifted, you're recovering from childbirth, and now there's a tiny human demanding your attention 24/7. As you navigate the initial weeks with your newborn, let's ditch the idea of a perfect schedule and focus on meeting both baby's and your own needs. The NAPS nurses are here with some top-notch tips from keeping things simple to prioritizing feeds to ways to maximize sleep.

  1. You’re Not Making or Breaking Any Bad Habits in the First 12 Weeks: Your newborn is in the "4th trimester" - when they cry, we are going into troubleshooting mode. Are they hungry or tired? Sometimes it’s something else, like being overstimulated or they’re gassy. It's okay to hold them, wear them, or let someone else shower them with affection so you can step away from the scene and doing something for yourself, like eat, shower, or lay down for a nap.
  2. Feeds for all: Focus on regular feeds for both you and your baby. Every 2-3 hours, ensure your little one gets the nourishment they need. Once they've hit their birth weight, usually by 2 weeks of age, feel free to let them be the alarm clock overnight. But, during the day, wake that sleeping newborn. The more calories in by day = eventually, more sleep overnight. And don't forget yourself – get those calories in and have a stock of easy-to-grab snacks ready and meals that you can eat and eat.
  3. Avoid an Overtired Baby: Newborns have a short awake window, around 60-90 minutes before they unravel. Swaddle, snuggle, bounce them on that exercise ball you bought for labor – whatever it takes to lull them to sleep. And yes, white noise and pacifiers are your secret weapons. Newborns love to feel like they are back in your womb. All of these things put together help them to feel secure and fall asleep.
  4. Naps need to happen, but don’t get too hung up: Naps will vary for your newborn. You put them down in their bassinet to shower and they’re awake 20 minutes later, or you go for a stroller walk and they sleep for 45 minutes, or you hold them while watching a show on TV and two full episodes go by and they’re still asleep on your chest. It’s okay for naps to vary, the key is to make sure you’re getting a mix of those longer naps in the day, whatever it takes. Get out of the house for that walk or go for that drive to the errand you’ve been wanting to run. When you do put baby down, opt for a swaddle or sleep suit in a crib or bassinet. Make sure there are no bumpers, loose bedding or stuffed animals in their sleep space. Pacifiers aren't just cute; they're linked to reducing the risk of SIDS and can help for soothing and sleep, so feel free to use one if that works for your family.
  5. Be Kind to Yourself: There's no perfect schedule for the first 12 weeks, but focusing on feeds, avoiding overtiredness, and making sleep happen - that is the key to feeling like you’re falling into a routine that is sustainable and realistic during this time.

Embrace the snuggles, venture out of the house early and often, and know that the dream of a perfect routine and sleeping through the night is on the horizon. Just like many things in parenting, this phase is temporary, so for now, during those first 12 weeks, take care of the baby and take care of yourself. You've got this!

For more newborn and parenting support from Registered Nurses, check out the Nurture by NAPS online membership. Enjoy 20% off of membership using the code MERLIN20


About the Author

Emily Silver is a Family Nurse Practitioner and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is also a co-founder of NAPS. NAPS supports women throughout pregnancy and up through early childhood with an in-depth online learning platform, Nurture by NAPS, a wide array of virtual classes and consultations and even in-home lactation and nursing care.



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