Newborns are a complex, often incomprehensible species. Especially at 2am. But believe it or not, there is a way to decode their alien signals without resorting to hair-pulling hysteria — and thus make life (slightly) easier for the both of you.
Until that six week sleep regression hits, of course.
Check out this nifty visual guide to recognising your baby’s hunger cues, when they’re simply too upset to feed, and tips on how to calm them. Because, at least for now, the single way to your little Buddha’s heart is through a consistently satisfied belly…
Babies don’t go from slumber to starving instantaneously (although in your sleep-addled state it may very well seem like that); they communicate with a variety of signs to indicate their degrees of hunger, helping mum to know just when to swoop in before lil’ precious becomes ravenous lil’ beastie – or, before what I like to call irate lobster mode happens, complete with finishing move the thrashing pincer pinch.
Feeding consultant Simone Casey says the chart is a great learning tool, both for new parents and expectant ones. If your babs is still in-utero, study this guide as though your life depended on it; don’t wait for the night feed trial-by-fire to suddenly become an expert.
Trust me on this.
Simone also emphasises that feeding on cue is more natural and instinctive than trying to adhere to a schedule, because, obviously, babies are organic beings, not robots.
“If, for example, you’ve fed your baby at midday, and are trying to stick to a three-hour schedule, and baby only sleeps for half an hour after the feed. This will mean bubs may be awake only one and a half hours after the feed started. To expect newborn to wait another one and a half hours for the next feed would mean a lot of crying.
“Other times, baby may have taken a very long time to settle and is finally asleep when the three hours comes around, so to wake a baby who has only been asleep for 20 minutes because its ‘feed time’ would be counterproductive. Babies also don’t feed very well if they’ve been woken as compared to when they wake themselves. As long as babies are alert enough to be waking themselves for feeds and having enough wet and dirty nappies, it is OK to feed on demand.”
And to clarify the reality of just how long you’ll spend filling up your bundle’s milk tank – the average newborn feeds between eight and 12 times in a 24 hour period, and in that time, will usually have one or two cluster feeds when they may feed every hour or so.
So it’s totally expected to be glued to the sofa for a good few weeks. Maybe months.
But there is some sliver of hope for a bathroom break: “In between the cluster feeding, you may find they are sleepier and last longer between feeds. This is normal baby behaviour”.