Being a first-time parent is challenging to say the least. Not only do you eat, sleep and breath parenting advice books, completely neglecting literally eating, sleeping and breathing yourself, you’re also constantly worried about this new life, adorably resting her little head, before closing her eyes to take her third nap for the day.
Then the worry kicks up a gear: Is she sleeping too much? How many naps are too many naps? How long should these naps be? And why is she lying so still?
Gosh, IS SHE BREATHING?
Google will probably become your best friend in the weeks and months preceding and following the birth of your first born.
You’ll often find yourself worrying about every little thing they and you’re doing, even when those things are completely normal, like a little vomit after a feed or a poop, their first seemingly ominous black poop...
It’s all normal. But just to bring a little calm to the storm, here are your commonly asked and searched questions, from kicking in the womb to hitting those developmental milestones, ANSWERED!
When will my baby start kicking?
You might not be able to identify your baby moving around at first – a flutter and a kick could feel a lot like gas (and it might be) in the beginning of your pregnancy. So most first-time moms only feel a first kick between 18 and 26 weeks.
If you’re not sure what to look out for as far as your baby’s movement is concerned, also read our article Feeling Your Baby Move, and if you’re worried it’s past 26 weeks and you have yet to feel them kick, click here to read why that may be: Can’t feel the kicks yet.
When will my baby drop?
Your baby will drop, that is, descend into your pelvis, from around 37 weeks or 2-4 weeks before delivery.
Your bump will be a lot lower and you’ll probably also find yourself making more trips to the loo as there’s an increased pressure on your bladder and rectum.
Is my baby a boy or girl?
But the only way to really know if you’re having a boy or girl is to actually have an ultrasound done, usually in the second trimester.
Is my baby breech?
A breech baby is a baby that doesn't lie head-down but with their buttocks and/or feet closest to the birth canal, which can lead to a difficult and dangerous birth for both you and your baby.
There is no way to tell for sure if your baby is breech without an ultrasound or an experienced gynae/obstetrician, but you can monitor the kicks and where exactly on your tummy the kicks occur.
So if his feet are up by his ears (frank breach), you may feel kicks around your ribs, and if he’s sitting in a cross-legged position (complete breech), his kicks will probably be lower down and below your belly button.
Your baby will continue to move in your tummy, up until the day you give birth. So many instances she’ll move so as to take herself out of that breech position. You can, however, help your baby along by using the breech-tilting method or simply massaging you tummy.
Many breech babies turn around in time before the birth, otherwise a C-section is often recommended.
When will my baby be born?
We can’t tell you exactly when your baby will be born, but most pregnancies last about 9 months, or around 40 weeks. But you already knew that. Right?
Here’s a link to our due-date calculator though – a useful tool that will give you an estimated day of arrival – and all you need is the first day of your last period and the average amount of days in your menstrual cycle: Due-date calculator. The most accurate marker, of course, is the ultrasound, and even then your baby can decide to come earlier or later.
Is my baby sleeping too much?
Once your baby arrives, every possible fear that you might have had about taking care of this tiny human is heightened. And one of the very first questions you’ll ask Google is, ‘Is my baby sleeping too much?’ Probably not.
While adults need about 8 hours per 24-hour cycle, newborns need 18 to 20 hours.
When will my baby sleep through the night?
Chances are, even when your baby does sleep "through the night", the long stretch will probably be at random hours, say from 6pm to 2am. But they’ll probably be sleeping through (that is for around 8 hours) by about 6 months old. Some parents do, however, get baby into a sleep routine from as early as four weeks.
- How your baby's nutrition can influence their sleep
- Step-by-step method to help your 1-year-old baby sleep through
- How to get my baby into a sleep routine
Is my baby getting enough (breast)milk?
The answer to how often and how much you should feed your baby is simple: as much as she demands and needs. Ideally though, you should feed your baby – or express – for 10-15 minutes per breast every 2-3 hours or 8-12 times in 24 hours, and aim to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months if you can. You shouldn’t wait until your baby cries for a feed though.
Feed her as soon as she’s rooting and it's been at least 2 hours, better still, 3 hours. That gives your breasts enough time to fill up again, otherwise baby keeps drinking the watery front milk but not getting to the thicker milk at the back and she'll get hungry quicker again.
Check out our list of breastfeeding articles here: How to breastfeed: a quick list of key articles
When can my baby drink cow’s milk?
When your baby is 1 year old you can start gradually introducing them to cow’s milk, in their cereal, for example, while still giving them expressed breastmilk or formula. Cow's milk can be quite dangerous before this, because it’s very high in protein and salt which isn’t very good for a tiny human whose digestive system is still developing, and it may just risk your baby developing a milk allergy that will result in diarrhoea, bloating and gas.
At what age will my baby recognise me? When will my baby smile?
Your baby will begin to recognise who you are anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. When this happens she’ll also identify your scent, respond to the sound of your voice and smile back at you when you stare dotingly at her.
When will my baby start laughing?
Your baby’s smile will slowly but surely develop into a giggle and then a full-on laugh around 4 or 5 months. Be sure to communicate with your baby through your own facial expressions while using different tones of voice. This will help your baby along and before you know it she’ll by communicating with you.
- Baby’s first steps and 8 other milestones
- At what age should my baby start to walk? A guide to the magical milestones, from birth to age 3
- Concerned about your baby’s weight? Here’s what you can do
At what age will my baby talk?
Your baby will start communicating with you early on. At around 3 months, she’ll reply to you with her own words – probably her own language too – and practise talking on her own, making new sounds every time. At 6 months she may start saying “ba”, “da” and maybe even “mama” and by 9 months she could start shouting to get your attention and understand basic words like the one you and they will probably end up using most often, “no”. From then on they’ll start stringing words together to eventually form sentences, which can take between 18 months and 2+ years.
Is my baby constipated?
It’s not always easy to tell if your baby is constipated. In fact, even when passing a soft stool your baby may grunt, cry and kick her legs. So it’s important that, before deciding your baby is constipated, you pay close attention to the consistency, as well as the frequency of their bowels. Doctors therefore define constipation as the difficulty or delay in having a bowel movement for two or more weeks.
In breastfed babies, infrequent bowels (one stool every 3 to 7 days) are actually considered normal. When a baby does have a bowel movement after a day or two, there is no need to worry if the stool is soft – only when the stool is hard or difficult to pass is it considered constipation.
Constipation can be a problem for formula-fed babies, so ensure that you follow instructions and never mix the formula too thickly.
For older children constipation could be the result of an incorrect diet, as well as the intake of too much calcium or iron. So be sure they aren’t drinking too much cow’s milk, and at too young an age, and that they aren’t taking in excessive amounts of iron-fortified products.
When your child has chronic constipation, don't be fooled by watery stool – that could be the fluid that passes the faecal mass in the intestines. If worried, take your child to the doctor.
For more on constipation and how to treat it in your little one, also read: Constipation in babies and toddlers
When will my baby roll over?
From around 4 months old your baby will start rocking and rolling from back to side and from side to back, and by around 6 months she’ll probably be able to roll from back to front and from front to back. At about 6 months she may even be able to pivot her whole body when lying on the floor.
When will my baby sit up?
At around 6 months your baby may start sitting up unsupported for a short period of time. Of course, not all children are the same so giving them anywhere between 5 to 8 or even 9 months is normal and okay. To learn to sit by herself, your baby needs to master balance. You can help by propping her up safely, with cushions on the floor, to ease her into strengthening those abdomical muscles.
When will my baby start crawling?
We often worry that if our babies don’t start crawling by a particular age they’ll experience other developmental delays making crawling a hot topic at almost every family-friendly dinner party.
Again, every child is different, however, from about 6 months onwards, your baby may start crawling.
If you’re worried that your baby isn’t and she should be, there are ways you can encourage crawling by making sure she has enough space around her, toys to crawl towards and tons of tummy time.
Read more about crawling and find out how you can help from occupational therapist, Kerry Wallace, here: “My baby hasn’t started crawling yet”
When will my baby walk?
Your baby will first learn how to stand, around 12 months, before pulling herself up and cruising around the house, holding onto furniture for support. From there she’ll stand to hold your hand to walk a few steps at a time and by about 14 months, she could be walking.
Some time later, around 30 months or so, she’ll be able to walk upstairs, jump, kick a ball and maybe even climb a ladder on a simple jungle gym (with your supervision and help, of course).
Is my baby teething?
Your baby can begin teething any time between 3 and 12 months. Your baby will be in a lot of pain – I mean, a tooth is cutting through their tiny little gums – so the signs can range anywhere from drooling, coughing and crying to diarhoea and rashes across their chin and face. Most paediatricians agree that a baby won't get fever from teething, so if you're baby is sick, first take her to the doctor.
From signs and symptoms to tips and tricks, here’s everything you need to know about your baby’s first set of chompers: The teething instruction manual
When can my baby start solids?
Giving your growing baby food early on can be quite dangerous for their fragile little bodies, inceasing their chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the long run and at present risking infection, choking and undernutrition.
So the World Health Organization (WHO) therefore recommends all mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, if possible, which means that no other liquids or foods are given in the first 6 months of their baby’s life.
And if you really, really want to introduce solids, you should wait at least 17 weeks to do so.
Are there any other questions about your baby you'd like answered?
Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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