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Having a new baby is a very special but very tiring time. It also brings big changes to your life.

Having a new baby is a very special but very tiring time. It also brings big changes to your life.

Having a new baby is an intense time and you may have a range of emotions. It is one of the best things that can happen to someone but it can be daunting too. You may feel a rush of love for your baby or it may take a little time to feel that bond develop. This is perfectly normal.

Even from the first few minutes your baby is learning. Within the first few weeks, your baby will start to take more notice of your voice, your smile, and will recognise their Mum and Dad or carer. Your baby needs cuddles, talking and attention to help their brain develop. This loving attention also helps your baby understand they are important and can rely on you.

It will take time to get used to having a baby and working out what they want. There is no need to rush into having a routine straight away. Take time to get to know your new baby and enjoy time together. This special time will help the bond between you to grow.

Your baby will:

  • be able to see from birth;
  • hear and may turn towards familiar sounds, like your voice;
  • cry when they are hungry, wet, tired, in pain or want to be held;
  • stare at things – especially things that have a contrast between light and dark;
  • enjoy looking at your face;
  • watch and follow objects; and
  • smile – within two to eight weeks after birth.

There is more detailed information about your baby’s development in the ‘Bump, Baby & Beyond’ book (External link). This also provides information about feeding your baby, teething, vaccinations, your baby’s health and making your home safe. If you are worried about your child’s development – ask your GP or health visitor.

Play and talk

Although your new-born can't hold toys yet they will still enjoy lots of playful interaction with you. Make faces, smile, laugh and stick out your tongue. Sing nursery rhymes, chat, tickle, count toes or blow raspberries.  You can also read to your baby, but hold the book close as new-borns can only see close up. There are more ideas for talking and playing with your baby from the National Literary Trust (External link).

You can speak some words in Welsh too (External link). Even if you only know a little Welsh, speaking some words to your baby gives them the best start to a bilingual life. You and your child could also sing along to a range of Welsh nursery rhymes on Mudiad Meithrin’s website (External link). These songs include many simple words making it easy for young children to learn the Welsh language.

When your baby cries they are trying to tell you something

Your baby may cry when they are:

  • Hungry - your baby may need to feed more often than you thought. If it has been an hour since the last feed your baby may be hungry.
  • Lonely - your baby needs lots of cuddles and touch. They feel safe when they can see your face, hear your voice, smell you and feel your touch. Crying is their way of asking to be held.
  • Wet or dirty - check to see if their nappy is wet or dirty
  • Tired - your baby may be tired but having trouble nodding off. Try gentle rocking in a dimly lit room.
  • Too hot or too cold - Newborn babies like to be kept warm, but not too warm. Generally you can dress your baby with one more layer than you have on.
  • Uncomfortable - your baby may feel uncomfortable because of something scratchy like clothing tags or a zip.
  • Overstimulated - your baby may have got too excited, especially if there have been lots of visitors or things going on. Try rocking your baby gently in a dimly lit room.
  • Unwell or have a fever - If they have a high temperature, they may have an illness. If you think there's something wrong ring NHS Direct Wales (External link) for advice. You can call them on 0845 46 47.

Tips to soothe your baby

Babies communicate in lots of ways - you don’t have to wait for them to cry to give them a cuddle or play with them. You won’t spoil your baby if you give them lots of cuddles and attention. They will learn that the world is safe, and will feel secure.

Never shake your baby. This can damage their brain. Always support your baby’s neck and head whenever you lift them or lay them down. NSPCC (External link) have a booklet showing safe ways to hold your baby.

It can be hard work and upsetting caring for a crying baby. If it is getting too much for you, put your baby in a safe place and leave the room for a bit until you feel calmer. Or ask a friend or family member to care for your baby for a while so you can have time to yourself. You may also find it helpful to contact the Cry-sis (External link) helpline on 08451 228 669 (lines are open 9am to 10pm, 7 days a week).

Postnatal depression is a type of depression, which some mothers experience after they have a baby. It can start in the first six weeks after birth, but may not be noticeable until around six months.

Changes in mood, being bad tempered and being tearful are common after giving birth. Sometimes this is known as the "baby blues" and it usually clears up after a few weeks. However, if your symptoms last longer, it could be postnatal depression. There is more information on Mind’s website (External link).

It’s OK to ask for help. If you are worried about feeling stressed, low or depressed talk to your health visitor or GP.  

Dad’s are very important too. As a Dad you might feel a bit left out, especially if your partner is the primary care giver. But it’s important to remember that Dads really matter too. Research has shown that Dads have a positive impact on their child’s life right from birth. You can strengthen your relationship with your baby by cuddling, talking, singing, smiling and eye contact.

Your relationship after having a baby

Sleepless nights and a crying baby can put a strain on your relationship with your partner. Try to support each other and stay calm as you learn what your baby needs. Take turns to have a nap. Sleep when your baby sleeps. For more information on relationships when you first become parents, go to Couple Connection (External link) or Relate (External link).

Some babies cry more than others. Over time your baby will become more settled. If you are worried about your baby’s crying, ask your health visitor for advice.

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