First 12 Weeks: Week 1 Transcription and Resources

Resources listed at the bottom. 

Hello and welcome. I'm Laura Ellis and this is week one in my First 12 Weeks Series. In this episode, in addition to briefly going over fact-based information about infant feeding, sleep, growth, and development, I will give you some tips and advice for setting up the nursery, safe sleep, and normal newborn sleep patterns. 

So let's start with some statistics this information was gathered from the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). As a disclaimer, I'm not a medical professional, so please take everything I say with a grain of salt, but it's my goal to always provide you with fact-based information. Later on, I will also provide some personal experiences and anecdotes too, but any statistics I give will always be from reputable sources, and I will do my best to make it very clear when I'm speaking about facts and when I'm speaking about personal opinions. 

So here are some facts:

The average newborn will weigh between five and a half and nine and a half pounds, and it's completely normal for babies to lose five to ten percent of their body weight shortly after birth. Their average length is 18 to 22 inches.

Newborns have tiny stomachs. In fact when they're born the average newborn stomach holds about 5 to 7 milliliters, which is about the size of a cherry. By day two, it's about the size of a walnut, and by day seven, it's about the size of an apricot. In your first few days, baby will likely be nursing every one to three hours around the clock. Some babies will want to feed more frequently. Speaking from personal experience, if your baby is not waking to feed every three hours, of course check with your medical professional and follow their advice, but I would strongly encourage waking and feeding them to eat. I find that changing their diapers first helps them be a little more alert during the feeding. This week. I would encourage you to keep feeding on demand. And if you're worried about feeding ask for referrals for a lactation consultant in your area. 

That brings us to sleep. I'm sure a lot of you are still stuck on the fact that baby is eating every one to three hours around the clock and have probably guessed what I'm about to say next: your newborn will be waking up every 30 minutes to 3 hours around the clock and they likely will only have a 30 to 45-minute wake window during that time, which is honestly mostly devoted to changing diapers feeding them and getting them settled back to sleep. The average newborn sleeps 16 to 18 hours a day. They are typically only alert for 15 to 30 percent of the time and the 24-hour period. 

Developmentally, your baby will be very physically weak and will need your help supporting their head and neck. They will have all of their primitive reflexes, which I'll talk a bit more about in week two. They will have a fully developed sense of hearing and sense of smell, but they will be extremely nearsighted and will likely only see about eight inches in front of them. It's also not uncommon for their eyes and tracking to be a little uncoordinated. You might notice one eye going somewhere a little bit faster than the other, and that's also completely normal, and they also might be a little bit cross-eyed. As always if you're concerned about anything, I would encourage you to check with your medical provider. 

So that wraps up our weekly facts. Now, let's talk a bit about nursery set up, safe sleep, and normal newborn sleep. 

Whether baby is sleeping in the parents’ room or a separate Nursery when I'm working with clients. I encourage them to buy true blackout curtains, a white noise machine, 

swaddles that they're comfortable using, a small fan, and a red night light. The more you can recreate the conditions of the womb the more soundly baby is going to sleep. 

Let's talk about safe sleep surfaces. I want to start by acknowledging that different countries and cultures have different guidelines and traditions. I'm not here to tell you what's right or wrong, but I personally follow the AAP guidelines and recommendations  for safe sleep, and that's what I'm going to cover now. Babies should always sleep on their backs on a firm sleep surface. As a rule of thumb, when purchasing products make sure that the words “bassinet,” “play yard,” “crib,” or “portable crib” are in the product name. Those are regulated terms and they are all AAP approved for safe sleep. swings, boppy pillows, car seats, and DockATots are all great tools, but they should never be used as a sleep surface because of the risk of positional asphyxiation. Soft objects such as bumpers and loose bedding should never be in the bed with baby. The AAP recommends that baby have a separate sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet in the parents room for the first six months, but they do not recommend bed sharing. Once breastfeeding has been established, it is encouraged to offer a pacifier as this has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS, and I will talk a bit more about introducing pacifiers in Week 3. As for room temperature and layering babies clothes, the ideal temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. At that range baby should be warm enough to be layered in a onesie, a sleeper, and a sleep Sack or swaddle. In general though, check them at every diaper change and if their chest or neck feels hot or sweaty, then you need to reduce a layer, but if their hands and feet are feeling cold, you may want to add a layer.

So I've had a lot of people ask me about the SNOO and if it's worth it.

Honestly, like I think it's a great tool, but it's also a very expensive tool.

It was developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D., and it leans heavily on the 5 S’s, which are swaddle, side position, shush, sway, and suck. I've seen it work in magical ways, but I've also worked with babies who absolutely hated it. If you're on the fence, there are rental options that might work better for your budget. That said the Sleepea® 

5-Second Baby Swaddle is one of my favorites. It's so easy to use and it stays in place so well. 

So let's talk about sleep. Being completely transparent, I've built a career around getting babies to sleep through the night. If you're wanting to learn more about that, I highly recommend looking at Newborn Care Solutions and some of their trainings. Realistically many babies won't start to sleep through the night until nearly six months old, and that's completely normal. When I'm working with a family, I spend a lot of the night right next to baby teaching them how to self-soothe. Newborns are very noisy sleepers, and they will grunt and grumble all night long, and after doing this job for so long I can usually tell the difference between, “I'm gassy and uncomfortable, but I don't want to wake up,” and “my diaper is wet and now I'm awake and I'm hungry.” I wish I could tell you exactly what those signs are, but I mostly just go by instinct. I would say if your baby calls out in the night, of course go and check on them, but maybe don't rush into pick them up immediately. Pause for a minute and see if they make another noise within 30 seconds or a minute or two, but if not, they might still be asleep, and they might have just had some gas or a little bit of discomfort, but they'll still like go back into another sleep cycle. But if they continue to make noise, of course go in check on them change their diaper, feed them, and troubleshoot what they need.

Finally, I would love to go over some sleep cues. At the first sign of these cues, I recommend getting baby ready for bed by making sure their diaper is dry, going into a dark room, swaddling them, and turning on white noise. Getting a tired baby to sleep is usually pretty easy. However, soothing and overtired baby and getting them to sleep can be a real challenge. The first signs of sleepiness include becoming quiet, not wanting to play or interact, yawning, acting calmer, making sleepy sounds, pulling on their ears or rubbing their eyes, and jerky movements. As soon as you see your baby's sleep cues, start that bed or nap time routine. Signs of being overtired include red eyes, drooping eyelids, being less focused, fussy or crankiness, irritability, and crying. If your baby is overtired and crying you're probably going to have the best luck by leaning heavily on those 5 S’s again, which I will talk more in depth about during week 4. In these situations, I really love having a large exercise ball. A rocking chair is really great for keeping a calm baby calm, but bouncing on an exercise ball with your baby swaddled and very supported in a side football hold can really work magic. 

One last tool I wanted to mention in this episode are baby tracking apps. I personally love Baby Connect, but I've had families who really liked Huckleberry too. I've used both a lot, and I personally think Baby Connect is worth the one-time fee because you have a lot more you can track through the app. During the first couple weeks, I think is super helpful for exhausted parents because you don't have to remember when baby last ate or slept or was changed and so on. You can just double check right on the app. Later when you're ready to start building a consistent schedule, it’s helpful because you already have baby’s data. Lastly when you're ready to have other caregivers, you can give them access to the app as well, and you can still see how baby is doing during the day even when you're not there. I think these apps can be such a great tool.

So that wraps week one. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share with your friends. If you would like to learn more about me, my website is If you have any questions or comments, please reach out through Facebook or Instagram, which is also at 40 Winks Newborn Care. 

In my next episode, we will be talking about developmental milestones during baby's first month.

As always I hope you have a wonderful week and remember to give yourself some Grace because we're all here learning together.

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AAP Safe Sleep

Layering Baby for Sleep

CDC Child Development

WHO Growth Charts

SNOO/Sleepea®/5 S’s

Baby Tracking Apps