Our family is ten days into this parenting journey with our third child, so I thought I'd share three truths about newborns that I am being reminded of this week. I didn't know these truths when I started my parenting journey, and our modern society has mostly forgotten them:
- Newborns need be held constantly (and hate to be put down--even to sleep). In Bali, there's a belief that an infant's feet should not touch the ground for the first three months of life or longer. In a way, I agree--the more snuggles newborns get, the more they thrive. Here in America, this is a bit difficult because parents don't often have the postpartum help they need. Instead, we have chairs and swings and gadgets to try to keep baby content. As an alternative to these things, I am a big believer in babywearing (slings, wraps, Ergo, etc.) and co-sleeping so my little one can feel close and connected. We do have a comfortable baby seat that someone loaned us, and our cat thinks it's wonderful. Décampe, Peanut! Shoo!
- You can't overfeed a newborn--not with breastmilk, anyway. I worried about overfeeding my first baby, but now I know that baby's desire to nurse is perfectly reasonable--even if I just finished feeding him ten minutes ago. Breastmilk is easily and quickly digested, and babies know when they are satisfied. No baby has become obese on breastmilk alone. Ignoring the clock and nursing when baby wants is more rewarding and less stressful than trying to time baby's feedings. Our culture thinks babies should sleep more and eat less, when in reality, babies are meant to sleep less (at night) and nurse more than mamas typically expect.
- Babies can use the potty. Seriously. The developing world knows that babies give cues before they pee or poo, but countries that have come to rely on diapers have lost this knowledge. You know how babies have a tendency to pee when you take off their diaper, right? It's because they don't want to be wet (or dirty). This knowledge is starting to return to the U.S. and parents are starting to help their babies stay clean (and use fewer diapers) by reading babies' and toddlers' cues to eliminate.
My husband and I practiced infant pottying with our first baby and were amazed how she seemed to know exactly what it meant when she was held over the potty. At six months old, she had about one dirty diaper per month--everything else happened in the potty! I changed my daughter's last dirty diaper when she was nine months old, and she was completely toilet trained by 22 months old. I slacked off on giving our son as many "pottytunities"--it was harder to watch for his cues while caring for two children--but he was using the potty consistently for poos by two and half years old. It's great for everyone when kiddos can maintain an awareness of the need to eliminate before they become diaper-trained.
I'll probably write more about this in a future post since it is unfamiliar knowledge for many parents, but if this idea intrigues you, read Diaper Free Baby, Infant Potty Training, or search for information about Elimination Communication (E.C.).
What truths about newborns (or babies) do you think our culture has forgotten? What surprised you about your newborn when you first became a parent?
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