In the first few weeks, it may seem that your newborn isn't doing much of anything except sleeping and eating. But don't be misled; a lot is going on!
Bonding for beginners
For one thing, your baby is learning to rely on you for comfort when it's needed. Creating this feeling of security and trust now is the most wonderful gift parents can bestow on their new baby.
Sleep, bond, sleep, bond
All new babies do a lot of sleeping, as much as 12 to 16 hours a day, and they usually sleep in two- to five- hour stretches. Even when new babies are awake their eyes may be closed, and they can only be fully alert for six to ten minutes at a time. Take advantage of these interludes of alertness to strengthen the bond between you and your baby by cuddling, singing or holding a one-sided conversation.
On the look out
What do newborns see? Not too much, because they're near-sighted and see best about eight to ten inches in front of them — just about the distance of a mother's face as she cradles her baby in her arms. Peripheral vision isn't yet developed, and a baby's field of view is about one-third that of an adult. Even so, babies do like to look at patterns and bright colors. Bright red seems to intrigue infants most, and shiny red is best of all. Pastels, on the other hand, appear muddy to a baby — a good reason for making the nursery one of the most colorful rooms in your house.
In the crib, your newborn at first will face only to one side or the other. So hang a colorful mobile on the side of the crib where it's in the baby's line of vision.
While a professional may know a lot about babies in general, as you watch, hold, feed, burp and love your baby day after day, you'll become the best expert on your baby in particular. Only by close observation and a little experimentation can you learn just how much sleep, stimulation and activity your own newborn needs and prefers.
Gearing up for more
Newborns are also sensitive to inner stimulation. You may see your baby whimper, grimace and appear to be smiling. What's happening is that your baby's internal systems are busily at work.
Of course, whenever you're in doubt about the proper care for your baby, be sure to consult your doctor.