Newborn Stage: Bonding and Feeding

newborn sleep parenting Mar 02, 2021

As parents today, I would imagine you are feeling bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information on sleep.  Never fear, I feel like it's my job to quiet the messages and help you focus on your child’s individual needs.


During the newborn stage bonding and feeding are the primary goals,  everything else can wait.

I thought it would be helpful to start with the number one question I receive from moms of newborns...

"Am I creating bad habits by doing _____?" 

NO!   (as long as the habit or position is safe)

Why?  Newborns need your help adjusting to this new world by providing the sensory input they need to calm and organize their bodies.  Balancing all.the.things coming at you in this stage + getting the SLEEP that baby (and let’s not forget) you need can take time and grace.  I want mothers to use their energy on these things and not have that worry every step of the way that they are doing something wrong or “bad.”  

I just talked to a mom of a newborn this afternoon.  She broke down in tears when she shared that any time her newborn slept on her she told herself she was doing a bad thing and she was not helping her newborn prepare for naps with her caregiver after mom returned to work.  It broke my heart that she was doing such a great job adjusting to her new role yet, thought that she was doing something wrong and feeling so guilty.

So let’s repeat... “There are no bad habits/sleep associations in the newborn stage, as long as they are safe.”  

As you bond and work to establish feeding you are also reading your newborn’s cues.  Learning your baby’s “hunger” cue, “getting tired” cue, and “I am almost overtired” cue can be life-changing in the development of future daily rhythms.

Why?  Babies are born with the ability to communicate their needs to survive.  Babies can manipulate their voice to communicate as well as their body language to tell you they are uncomfortable, sleepy, hungry, overstimulated, bored, need a snuggle, gassy, and more.  If babies do not feel like their communication is being heard, they can begin to communicate less.  

While this sounds simple, deciphering newborn communication can be tricky, frustrating, and it can take time.  As moms, we all have those really hard days where we just wish our little one had the words to tell us what they need. 

However, it can be done if you know what to look for!  Knowing what your baby is telling you is such a confidence boost.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because this is how you and your baby get to know each other.

How do I go about learning what my baby is communicating?  Here is what I encourage parents in my practice to do:

  1. Pause:  Remember crying is your baby’s language.
  2. Listen:  What do you think the cry means?
  3. Observe:  What is your baby doing?  What else is going on?
  4. Respond:  Based on what you hear and see, evaluate and respond.

Create a dedicated notebook to make notes on your baby’s cues so you and other caregivers can begin to see the pattern of your baby’s own communication.  With my oldest child, I sat with the cue list and a pen on the table by the couch so that I could make notes.  

Tag @sleephappy on Instagram and show me your notes on reading cues.  So we can learn from each other.  



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