Advice for new parents

Me and my child

Baby Steps | Νεογέννητο έως 3 μηνών

Baby Steps | newborn to 3 months

Totally dependent, fragile, vulnerable and completely reliant on caring adults for their every need. The newborn has little control over body movements but by 3 months old the baby is really starting to engage with (significant) adults, most probably parents, with smiles and coos.


What babies can do 

•A newborn baby needs the security of loving parenting to help him or her settle down after the sometimes traumatic process of being born and for the process of bonding and attachment to begin.
• Bonding is a vital part of baby’s development and starts from the moment the parent or parents meet their baby for the very first time and will continue to develop every day and throughout baby’s early life. It is by establishing a secure and loving relationship with the parents that the baby can go on and form satisfying and secure relationships later.
• There could be serious consequences if a child does not secure attachments in early life. He or she may fail to thrive both emotionally and physically.
• Physically a newborn baby has no head control and needs to be supported when being carried, dressed and bathed.
• A young baby when content is observant and watchful of adults’ faces and in particular will enjoy looking at a parent whilst feeding.
• Adult faces are of great interest to all newborn babies.
• Baby’s sight can focus well at around 8 to 10 inches (perfect of course for feeding).
• A newborn baby cries loudly and in great distress when hungry. Most crying is related to hunger within the first 6 weeks.

• Newborn infants spend most of their time sleeping, around 16 hours out of 24 although, some may sleep less than others!
• Newborns will easily become very upset and startled by loud noises.
• The first smile occurs at approximately 4 to 8 weeks and this is generally in response to hearing the voice of a known adult.
• At around 4 to 6 weeks a baby can be placed on his or her tummy to play. This is very good for young babies’ overall development (they spend most of their time sleeping on their backs) as it helps to strengthen their neck and back muscles to help them get ready for sitting and crawling.
• A rattle may be placed in a young baby’s hand at 6 to 8 weeks but the baby has very little control of movement. At around 16-18 weeks this improves and the baby starts to have more control over his or her hands.
• At around 2 months old the baby starts to coo and show pleasure in recognising parents or very familiar adults.
• At the end of this stage the baby watches his or her own hands and engages in early finger play and becomes much more alert and observant.
• Physically, babies gradually develop in a head to toe sequence starting from the head/brain and slowly moving down the spinal cord. It starts with the baby controlling the head, then neck, followed by the area that controls the arms and hands, then trunk, and finally the part that controls the movement of the legs.

Routine and parenting
First-time parents may feel exhausted at this stage; it can all feel such an overwhelming responsibility, and lack of sleep or established routine can affect parents’ self-belief about how they are doing. This is entirely normal and some friendly reassurance can go a long way. 

Around 20 to 30% of new mums may feel depressed at some stage after the birth of their baby. The excited expectation of a new baby and the reality can be a great shock for many new mothers and fathers. However, by the end of this period it usually starts to get a little more settled and babies adapt to and enjoy their daily routine of bathing, changing and dressing.
First immunisations start at 8 weeks. Some families may receive help from grandparents, which can be great, but occasionally the advice they give new parents can be out of date e.g. sleeping position. In the grandparents’ day this may have been on the front but now it is known that the safest position is on the back. Parents (and grandparents) need to understand why this is now advised. Families may have very little support and can come to Mothercare for the help and advice that they cannot get from their own parents or friends.


What items are required at this stage?
All major baby products and clothing are required; from nursery, feeding, bathing, and clothing to toys and travel. Plus new mums require maternity brasbreast pads, nightwear for easy breastfeeding, maternity towels, briefs and breastfeeding support pillow etc. Parents need to think ahead when buying their pushchair and other major baby products. It’s very important so that they can consider the different options for their lifestyle and budget. Also, encourage parents to consider the benefits of travel systems, which allow the baby and child to face towards the parent or carer. This is one way to encourage language development and improve communication and bonding.
Early toys and play equipment – from textured play mats to musical mobiles, bouncing cradles to baby bean bags, these items can all be very useful to new parents. Many toys come as gift purchases (as do other products and equipment for a new baby). With toys, keep colours very simple and not too many or too fussy. Black and white can be interesting for newborns but so can other bold primary colours. One very important point is that all the early toys for newborn babies are intended to be used by an adult with the  baby – not just given to babies to explore on their own.
At this stage babies are completely reliant on adults to help them learn about the world e.g. babies cannot hold a rattle and control it until around 3 to 4 months. Even when young babies are placed on a play mat with baby gym, this is still for using together with an adult to show baby what to do with the toys and most importantly for playing and communicating together.
Clothing – easy dressing items are very helpful for first time parents and make dressing that little bit easier and less nerve-racking e.g. wrap-over vests. These vests also help with early care of the umbilical cord by allowing more air to circulate around the cord and tummy area to encourage healing. Premature baby clothes may be required for some families when babies are born before 37 weeks or arrive at term (40 weeks) but at a low birth weight.