Your entire world changes the moment you hold your newborn baby in your arms. It is human nature to find babies cute and helpless, but this helplessness also affects mothers, who may find themselves constantly worrying about their new child and if they are doing this parenting thing right.
However, knowledge is power, and learning more about how babies work can help ease some of the worry when taking care of a newborn.
- Babies have more bones (but they don't have kneecaps)
The adult human has 206 bones, but babies average 300. This is because as we grow older, our bones fuse together to create more parts of our skeletal system. For example, babies do not have kneecaps -- instead, they have a cartilage that protects their knees, but the patella solidifies by the time they are four years old.
- Your baby can hear and smell from the womb
Even while you’re pregnant, your baby can hear your voice and becomes attuned to it. This is why even at a few days old, your baby will turn at the sound of your voice, and it is one of the things that can comfort them when they cry.
Your voice is not the only thing that connects you with your baby. They have lived 9 months in your belly -- your smell is also a comforting and familiar thing than can quiet them so make sure you don’t wear any strong scents that can cover up your natural scent.
- They can’t really cry
Surprisingly, while crying and wailing is a baby’s primary way of communicating, they actually do not shed tears until a couple of weeks in. Their tear ducts are still developing, and most of their cries are expressed with loud wailing.
However, feverish older babies who cry without tears could be suffering from dehydration, so best consult with your doctor right away.
- Your heart rates can coordinate
You know how when you look at your baby, your heart races and is calm at the same time? Turns out that it’s not just you, your baby can feel the same way. According to the Infant Behaviour and Development Journal, moms and babies’ heart rates can beat in sync, even when just locking gazes.
- Hair fall is normal
As adults, we may find that our hair falls off more easily when we’re stressed. You may find that your baby’s hair falls off either gradually or en masse — but this is not a cause for worry. This is the result of your baby’s hormones trying to catch up as they adjust to the world outside of the womb. By 2 years old, your child’s hair will have grown into its thicker mane, and even the texture and colour might change too.
- Poop differs
Opening up a baby’s diaper can be an unpleasant but necessary part of parenthood. But aside from checking if your baby has already relieved themselves, it’s also important to take note of the colour and consistency of the stool to make sure that your baby is healthy.
Black stool in the first few weeks of your infant is normal, and green, yellow and brown poop can be expected, depending on what the baby’s (and yours if you’re breastfeeding) diet is. If it’s red or white though, it can be a cause of concern so check with your pediatrician ASAP if you notice these stool colours in your baby’s diaper.
- Extra fluid means swollen genitals (and mini-periods!)
As your newborn adjusts to the outside world, their bodies slowly let go of the extra fluid that served them well inside the womb. This can mean puffy faces, and swollen genitals. For boys, water and maternal hormones can collect in the scrotum, and girls get it in their labia.
Being outside of the womb also means withdrawal from their mother’s hormones, which can trigger a “mini-period” in female babies as their uterus sheds blood.
- No such thing as normal sleep
According to Babycentre.co.uk, each baby sleeps differently so you don’t need to worry if your child seems to be asleep most of the day, or seemingly more awake than others. In its first few days, babies will likely be only awake to feed, but they feed frequently due to their small stomachs. “Normal” sleep will not be part of the vocabulary for either you or your baby while they are adjusting to a regular feeding (and sleeping!) schedule.
- Small baby stomachs
Newborn stomachs are very tiny, which makes sense considering that everything they’ve consumed before being born were delivered straight through the umbilical cord. At birth, their stomachs are just the size of a hazelnut, which is why they get hungry very often. It won’t be until 2 weeks that their stomachs reach the size of an egg and can store more milk to last several hours.
- Breastfeeding requires practice
While breastfeeding is natural and fosters a deeper connection between mother and child, it’s not completely instinctive. Many mothers fall into the myth that just because you gave birth, your baby will automatically latch and that you will immediately be good at breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a skill that you and your baby need to practice until it feels like second nature.
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