The first one hundred days of your baby’s life are known to be the most important of your child’s first developmental milestones.
We spoke about how to prepare for a baby’s arrival in InHealth 38 and in this second instalment of our family series, we look into what happens in the first 100 days of a baby’s life. These three or so months are known to be the most important of your child’s first development milestones. On the surface, it may seem that your baby isn’t doing much outside of sleeping, feeding and crying, but there’s actually a lot happening. Several research studies show that by engaging your baby’s brain through talking, reading and singing to them in the first 100 days, you positively contribute to their cognitive, social and behavioural development.
What to expect
These first 100 days are important not only for the baby but for the mother as well. This will be the time that you get used to your new reality and get to learn about your baby.
Feeding – this can be a source of lots of stress for new parents. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding the baby, it helps to know that feeding will be central to your days. According to mamamagic.co.za, a bottle-fed baby will feed every three to four hours on average, whereas a breastfed baby will feed every two to three hours. This is because breastmilk digests more easily, making babies hungrier more frequently.
Sleep – The average newborn will sleep for about 16 hours a day, though this will vary. Sleep is an essential part of the 100 days. New parents often struggle with exhaustion because of the demands of the baby. To help with exhaustion, you can try sleeping when the baby sleeps or co-sleeping with your baby, which helps the baby feel safe and therefore more likely to sleep for longer.
The need to soothe – newborn babies will cry for a variety of reasons, including being hungry or needing a nappy change. A lot of the time, however, the baby will cry because they want to be held. Cuddling, swaddling or gentle swaying can help a baby to settle. Skin-to-skin contact has also proven not just to help baby settle, but to feed and sleep better too. Many moms and babies suffer unnecessarily because they don’t find out until it’s too late. It can negatively affect the relationship between them due to the stress.
Tummy time – medical experts say that babies should start getting tummy time from about a week old. According to mamamagic.co.za, it is recommended that a baby spend a few times a day, lasting a few minutes, on their tummies either on a blanket (always supervised) or on mom or dad’s chest. Your baby won’t always enjoy this, but it’s essential for their development.
For more information on what you need to do in baby’s first 100 days, consult your paediatrician and do research by reading trustworthy baby websites and books.