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Your newborn baby’s first 12 weeks

Your newborn baby's first 12 weeks

From sleep to weight gain, here’s your guide to the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life

Newborn sleep patterns
All babies are different. While some start to sleep through the night at six weeks, others don’t reach this milestone until their first birthday.

In their first week, your baby may sleep a lot because their levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) are still quite high. After seven days, levels plummet – so expect a more alert baby by week two.

By six to 12 weeks, they start to produce their own melatonin, so they may start to sleep more. As a rough guide, a one-month-old will sleep for seven hours during the day and 8.5 hours at night, and a 12-week-old will sleep five hours in the day and 10 hours at night.

However, this tends to be in small chunks rather than long stints, and they’ll wake every few hours around the clock (in the first 12 weeks they have no concept of night and day) for a feed or comfort.

Official advice is that your baby should sleep in their own cot in their parents’ room until they reach six months. When they go into the cot, put them on their back and ‘feet to foot’, so their feet are close to the bottom of their cot. This stops them wriggling down under their covers.

Newborn weight gain
In the early days, your health visitor or midwife will weigh your baby to make sure they’re healthy. It’s normal for babies to lose a little weight after birth, but they should regain it. If they don’t, your midwife will help you figure out why.

By two weeks, most babies are at or above their birth weight. After this time, your baby will be weighed around once a month – more if there are concerns with their weight or if you want them to be weighed more.

Newborn development
By 12 weeks, your baby should be making eye contact with you, and will love being talked to and interacted with. They’ll start to lose those floppy newborn traits and will have better head control as the neck and shoulders muscles get stronger. They may start to kick and try to roll by 12 weeks. They may also start to put things in their mouth as their hand-to-eye coordination improves.

Newborn feeding
Whether you’re breast- or formula feeding, your baby will only take small amounts of milk in the first few days. After that they’ll want to feed little and often (every few hours).

In the first few weeks, your midwife or health visitor will be on hand to check on baby’s feeding. If you’re formula feeding, you can follow the instructions on the packet on how much milk they need. Signs that baby is hungry include sucking on their fists or sucking for milk around the breast and crying.

As the weeks go on, your baby may take up to 40 minutes to feed from the breast or bottle. By the second or third month, they’ll become quicker and better at feeds. Signs they’re feeding well include wet nappies and seeming settled after a feed. Other signs are your breasts softening after a feed (if you’re breastfeeding) and, in the early days, their poo changing from a sticky dark brown to a yellowy brown colour.

By Maria Lally

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