Your baby’s homecoming is so exciting, but it may also be overwhelming. What should you expect in the first 24 hours?

Newborn baby at home

The time has finally come to bring your bundle of joy home! While it is a particularly exciting event, it can also feel overwhelming. Knowing what to expect in those first 24 hours can help ease the anxiety you may be experiencing.

Bringing Your Newborn Home

You have no doubt heard that all babies do it eat, poop, sleep and cry. While it is basically true, and may seem simple enough, chances are it won’t seem that way from the start. So let’s take it one step at a time:

Newborn Eating – A newborn baby eats in small amounts because of the size of their tummy. However, they want and need to eat frequently. The general rule is to nurse or bottle feed your baby 1 to 3 ounces every 2 to 3 hours.

Yet, some babies will want to feed more often. While some will cry when they are hungry, others will smack their lips, suck on their hands or root. You can identify rooting because your baby will turn their head and move their mouth in the direction they think the food source is.

If your baby is extra sleepy, you may need to wake him or her up to feed. This can be challenging as they may not want to rouse or stay awake. Some tips: try undressing your baby down to the diaper, rubbing their little body gently, and talking to your little one.

Newborn Peeing and Pooping – You should expect your baby to have at least 5 wet diapers a day if you are breastfeeding. A baby that is formula fed may have more, as many as 10 per day.

What about poop? Because formula takes longer to digest, a formula fed baby will not poop as much as a breastfed baby will. But each baby is different. A breastfed baby may go a number of times a day or may go as much as 4 days without pooping at all. Formula fed babies will likely poop several times a day, but again every baby is different and may go a couple of days with no bowel movement at all.

It’s a good idea to keep track of when your baby poops and pees, as your doctor will likely ask you about it at your baby’s 2-week checkup.

Now what about the look? Well, the first bowel movements will happen in the hospital and your baby will pass meconium, which will be a black, tar-like substance. This may continue for the first day or two at home but then will change to many other colors – light brown, green, mustard yellow and others.

Because a newborns poop tends to be watery, it can be confused for diarrhea. If you notice white mucus or blood, contact your doctor as this can be an indication of a problem.

Newborn Sleeping Patterns – Unfortunately newborn babies don’t come with an operating manual. If they did, it would be very helpful in understanding their sleeping patterns. A newborn baby sleeps approximately 16.5 hours a day. Remember, this is an average, so your little one may sleep a little more or a little less. But you can expect that in the first 24 hours at home, your baby will be sleeping a lot.

Why Does a Newborn Cry? – That is a very popular question, and for good reason – this is the only way your baby can communicate with you, so what does it mean? “I’m hungry!” is typically the first thing we think of. If this is why your newborn baby is crying, there will probably be other indicators…rooting, smacking their lips, and sucking on their fingers or fists. If you feed your baby and this stops the crying, you’ll know you guessed right.

However, crying can indicate a dirty diaper, a need to sleep, wants to be held, has gas or irritated tummy, is in need of a burp, is either too hot or cold, or needs more or less stimulation. And sometimes a baby will cry for no apparent reason and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to console your little one. So what should you do if this is the case? We will address this in our next article.

Posted by Christiane Grau


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