Transitioning Your Newborn into the World
- by Gregory Gapp, M.D., FACOG
- Caring for a Newborn
The world is a big, bright, loud place, and bringing your newborn into it can take a lot of transition time. Your newborn baby is used to the quieter sounds, dim lighting and warm swaddle of the womb, so it can be quite jarring for them to suddenly be thrust into a loud, vivid world where they can no longer feel completely comfortable. For this reason, the first three months after birth, commonly called the "fourth trimester," are extremely important to ensure your baby continues developing and begins to feel safe and secure in the outside world. Following a few easy steps can help your newborn transition into the world with as few crying fits as possible.
Holding and cuddling your newborn baby may feel like second nature as soon as you see them, but this instinctual need to hold your baby close actually stems from the extensive health benefits that skin-to-skin contact provides for both you and your child. After being "held" close for nine months, your newborn may dislike being without a comforting embrace. New mothers should make a point to hold their baby as soon as possible after delivery to ease the child’s stress from being thrown head-first into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable new world.
During the first three months of the infant’s life, it’s imperative you make a point of having plenty of skin-to-skin contact with your baby to promote their temperature and breathing regulation and the release of the hormone oxytocin to help you two bond.
If you’re a busy parent with no time to sit down for real holding, front slings are a great option that leaves your hands free and offers plenty of cuddle time. Remember to follow all safety instructions with slings to ensure your baby can breathe. Additionally, you should never share your bed with your baby. Though you may do this with the best intentions, your tossing and turning during a nap could prove fatal for an infant.
Feeding on Demand
Newborns enter the world knowing how to do very little for themselves, save, of course, for suckling. Many infants will be smacking their lips, stick their tongue out or begin rooting as soon as they leave the womb, ready to be fed. While in the womb, babies will have received nutrients several times a day whenever they needed it. During the transition period, it’s important to continue feeding your child whenever they show signs of hunger. Not only does feeding keep them from crying; it also promotes bonding and body development. In time, you’ll need to transition your little one to a feeding schedule, but, for now, allow them to feed as much as they’d like.
Movement and Swaddling
While your bun was in the oven, they experienced all the warmth and movement you did while you went about your daily life. During their first months of life, you may be inclined to set them down for a nap in a quiet room with a crib, only to notice they won’t stop crying. Unlike adults, babies are most comfortable with muffled noise and movement, allowing them to fall asleep faster. Swaddle your infant snugly to simulate the tight quarters of the womb and pace, dance, sing softly or go for a drive until they fall asleep. This everyday movement feels normal to them and allows them to feel relaxed and secure until they are too old for swaddling and can get used to a quiet and still sleeping environment.
Start Your Baby off Right with Jennie Stuart Medical Center
Your baby is your everything, so it’s important to transition them from the womb to the world as smoothly as possible. Learn how to keep your baby happy and healthy during the fourth trimester with help from Jennie Stuart Medical Center. To learn more about the dos and don’ts of new parenting, contact us online or call 800-887-JSMC.