Milestones that make parenting your newborn easier

As your newborn passes through the milestones of learning to self-soothe, outgrowing colic, and sleeping through the night, parenting your newborn will get easier.
As your newborn passes through the milestones of learning to self-soothe, outgrowing colic, and sleeping through the night, parenting your newborn will get easier.

Caring for a newborn isn't easy, but this challenging stage will not last long. Take a deep breath and look for these milestones in your newborn's near future. With each milestone, parenting your newborn will become easier.

Every baby is unique, but there are certain milestones you can look forward to that will make parenting your newborn easier.

Sleeping through the night. One of the reasons caring for a newborn is so challenging is that you, as a caregiver, are likely to be very tired. You're getting up several times in the night to soothe your crying baby. Fortunately, most babies start sleeping through the night by about 2-3 months of age.

Sleeping through the night means sleeping about 6 hours without waking. Some babies take longer to reach this milestone, but rest assured they too will eventually sleep through the night. Caring for a newborn gets much easier once you can get several hours of uninterrupted sleep.

You learn what works for your baby. There is no universal parenting trick for soothing a newborn. Some babies are soothed when a parent sings to them, while other babies are very sensitive to sounds and might require complete silence to calm down. As you learn what works well for your baby, caring for your newborn will get easier.

Self-regulation and self-soothing skills develop. Self-regulation is the ability to control your own behavior and emotions. This is an important skill for your baby to learn. As it develops, it'll make your job as a parent a little easier. When you comfort your baby, such as by rocking or swaddling, your baby is learning how to comfort themselves as well.

Your patience and hard work will pay off. After the three-month mark, your baby will be better able to self-regulate and self-soothe.

Colic resolves. As many as one in four newborns have colic. Colic is when a baby cries for a long time without any clear reason. Many newborns experience colic in the first 6 weeks of life, and this can be very stressful for parents. The good news is that colic usually resolves itself by 3-4 months of age. If your baby's doctor confirms colic is the reason behind your newborn's endless crying, hang in there and know it'll get better in a matter of weeks.

Breastfeeding gets easier. Most new mothers who choose to breastfeed face challenges getting started. Struggling with breastfeeding can be very stressful for mothers and newborns alike. Don't give up. Contact a lactation consultant if you need extra help or support. Breastfeeding gets easier with practice and experience, and the benefits are well worth the effort.

When will it get easier to care for my newborn?

As your baby passes through the milestones of learning to self-soothe, outgrowing colic, and sleeping through the night, parenting your newborn will get easier. While it'll get easier with each passing day, you can expect caring for your newborn will be much easier by the time they're about 3 months old.

As you're waiting with anticipation for when caring for your newborn gets easier, it's important to make sure you're taking good care of yourself.

Self-care tips for a new parent

The following are some helpful tips to remind you of how to care for yourself so you can better care for your baby.

Say "yes" to help. This is a good time to start saying "yes" when friends and family offer to help. If your budget allows, consider hiring a postpartum doula to help with the first weeks of parenthood. Another option is to ask a trustworthy neighborhood teenager to watch your newborn while you rest or catch up on laundry.

Rest when you can. The dishes can wait. No one expects you to have a perfectly clean house when you have a newborn. If you have the chance to take a nap when your baby is napping, go ahead and take it. Getting rest whenever you can is a very high priority when you have a newborn.

Remember that "this too shall pass." The days and nights might seem long, but the window of time when your child is newborn is short. Their needs will soon change.

Do a mental health check-in regularly. Taking good care of yourself means you'll be able to take good care of your newborn. If you've recently had a delivery, be aware that postpartum depression is common. If feelings of depression or anxiety are troubling you, speak to your doctor right away. Help is available.

You'll have good days and more challenging days, but remember that parenting your newborn will get easier with time. Be patient with yourself as you are learning to navigate parenthood, and don't be afraid to reach out for help when you need it.

QUESTION

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Medically Reviewed on 5/12/2022
References
Japan Journal of Nursing Science: "Effect of soothing techniques on infants' self-regulation behaviors (sleeping, crying, feeding): A randomized controlled study."

John Hopkins Medicine: "Colic."

Journal of Perinatal Medicine: "Breastfeeding is natural but not always easy: intervention for common medical problems of breastfeeding mothers -– a review of the scientific evidence."

KidsHealth: "Sleep and Your Newborn." "A Guide for First Time Parents."

Michigan State University Extension Early Childhood Development: "Self-Regulation for Infants and Toddlers."