Early Days

Time for you and baby

Your first few days and weeks of parenting will be a big learning rollercoaster.

Not only are you getting used to having a new baby in the home, you are having to learn and adjust to your baby’s changing needs and routine which takes time for you and your baby to develop. These early days and weeks can be hard going as caring for a newborn is full time 24 hours and you’re likely to be low on sleep.

Raising Children is a website with useful information about what to expect and how to look after yourself so you can look after your baby.
 

First steps for you and your baby’s relationship

Look at You - Aroha Atu, Aroha Mai is the first in a series of video clips made by Counties Manukau DHB with Auckland University of Technology that uses film to show babies are social and able to communicate with us from birth. The film helps parents, whaanau and professionals to understand a baby’s signals and to learn to respond in ways that support baby’s development.

It focuses on the first three months and the care you provide that supports your baby’s brain development. It emphasises how all babies are different and it takes lots of time to build a warm, secure relationship.

The video clip helps you know when it’s the best time for holding your baby so they can look at you – your face is what your baby wants to look at in these early weeks.

As your baby gets a little older they will start to vocalise and have a conversation with you. Talk to your baby and if you speak more than one language use those languages with your baby.

 

Extra for Dads

The Look At You – Aroha Atu, Aroha Mai video clip support the developing relationship a baby has with their father, grandparents and siblings.

Great Fathers is a website for fathers but with information for all parents about what babies need, what nurturing care is and why it’s important. Check out their video “In Your Hands – What’s it like to be a Father!?!” which features musicians Tiki Taane, Warren Maxwell and SJD.

The Father and Child Trust offer support and information to all fathers on any dad-related issue. They help over the phone, have drop-in offices in Auckland and Christchurch plus they produce the Father & Child magazine quarterly, including a New Baby issue.

 

Crying

Looking after a crying baby can be very stressful, upsetting and frustrating.

In the early days and weeks, it’s not always easy to work out what crying is signalling - there are different cries. A baby’s crying increases in the first few weeks reaching a peak around 3 to 6 weeks and then reducing. At the peak time a baby may cry and fret for around two hours a day.

Most of this is in the late afternoon or evening - when a little baby is not ready for sleep but is fussy and may feed on and off.  About twenty per cent of babies will fuss and cry for longer periods, especially in the evenings. It’s stressful caring for a baby who cries more intensely, and more often the reasons are not well understood but there is no evidence that it is parents doing something wrong nor is it deliberate behaviour by baby.

Crying may mean your baby is hungry, but if baby has been fed recently, then check for other needs such as a nappy change, pain (sore tummy, ear ache or teething) or that baby is over stimulated or tired.

The Look At You-Aroha Atu, Aroha Mai video clip includes information on reading the cues that your baby gives you when they are getting tired or over-stimulated and how you can settle your baby.

The following pamphlet and website has helpful information about how to care for your crying baby and keep yourself settled.

It is never ok to shake your baby to stop them crying.

 

Getting Help

Lastly, it is important to know that some days in these early weeks of parenting may be very hard. If you have more of these days it’s important to have someone to talk to such as a family member or friend and that you know where to ask for help. We all need help and support during these times so don’t be afraid or shy to ask.

For more information and a list of people who may be able to help click here.

If you are having more days when you feel down or worried, talk to your Doctor or Well Child provider or you might like to check out the Mothers Matter website.

Content provided by Dr Denise Guy

Dr Denise Guy is a Child Psychiatrist who has worked in Infant Mental Health [IMH] in Australia and New Zealand for almost three decades and has recently become the President of the New Zealand Affiliate of the World Association of IMH [WAIMH].  Denise has been very fortunate to have worked with Counties Manukau DHB as Clinical Advisor to the “Look at You, Aroha Atu, Aroha Mai” DVD project for parents, whanau and professionals. It has been a privilege for her to work with the families and professionals involved in this project.

Based in Wellington, she is a Trustee of the Incredible Families Charitable Trust which focuses on the early years with the delivery of evidence based interventions and training.