Satisfy your newborn’s needs

Worried you're not doing it right? Our baby expert has tips and advice to make mum and baby happy


The need for LOVE

There is no doubt that you love your baby enough, but you may wonder whether your little one is getting all he needs to grow up happy and healthy. The reality is that your baby requires an enormous amount of time – not just snippets of quality time, but large doses of quantity time. That’s just sitting together, being together, and letting the minutes, often hours, go by.


It sounds like bliss, but you’ll find it takes patience to slow down to your baby’s pace and enjoy the sweet nothings of watching the birds, or a simple baby massage. This time is vital, though, and your baby can almost never get enough of it.

Try this…

  • Massage your baby. You can communicate love through the sense of touch. Your baby learns trust while being massaged and that human contact feels good and is healthy.
  • Play with your baby at his pace without distractions. He’ll get attention, fun and pleasure, plus, he’ll release feel-good hormones that are vital for emotional wellbeing and bonding.
  • Read bedtime stories every day, even before you think your baby can understand the words. He’ll love the focused attention and fall asleep feeling secure that you’re part of his sleep time, as well as his waking hours.
  • “I take a bath with Samia and it relaxes us both. The skin-to-skin contact is a fabulous way to feel close to her. I imagine she feels like it’s just us two again, like when she was in the womb,” says Georgina Hayden, 32, from Liverpool, mum to Samia, 10 weeks.
Mums and experts reveal post-birth secrets

The need for STIMULATION

Your little one’s brain is like a sponge and needs a great deal of stimulation to help him make all the connections he needs to make. But what’s the right kind, and how much?

Your baby has six senses which all need to be stimulated to ensure that he reaches his potential. Sensory stimulation creates the connections that determine your baby’s intelligence, language and physical development. It sounds like a lot is going on for someone so young, but there are loads of things you can do to get those little grey cells buzzing.

Try this…

  • Sight stimulate your baby’s visual sense by placing him under a mobile, taking him for a walk and showing him the moving leaves and birds, and reading books to him from day one. The movement sense is essential for physical development and muscle tone.
  • Touch. Wear your baby in a sling, take him for walks and play movement games by swinging him through the air. Touch and massage play a vital part in him forming his own body image and making emotional connections.
  • Sound. Language intelligence is stimulated by hearing language spoken, so always speak to your baby as much as possible.
  • Smell and taste are stimulated while your baby is still in the womb. He smells and tastes the food you do. While breastfeeding, your baby enjoys the wide variety of flavours that you do, too. So try some new foods yourself.

The need for FOOD

Whether you’re breast or bottlefeeding, you’ll have unique concerns about how much milk your newborn needs. Breasts don’t come with calibrations like bottles do and breastfed babies all feed very differently, with some sucking for 40 minutes to get their fill, and others only a few minutes before they’re satisfied. This makes knowing if your baby has had enough a common question.

Your baby is getting enough milk if he is alert, responsive and generally content between feeds, has six or more wet nappies a day with pale urine and if he’s gaining weight (breastfed babies should regain their birth weight by 3 to 4 weeks).

Try this…

  • Be flexible about feeding. It rarely turns out exactly as you plan. Breastfeeding requires time and a lack of strict routines, so be patient.
  • Every baby is different. Don’t focus too heavily on growth charts and weight gain. As long as your baby is gaining weight overall and is content and alert, you can rest assured he’s thriving. Try not to get caught up in the details of how many ounces he might be gaining.
  • Indulge in the moment. Feeding helps you both bond, so find a quiet space, and turn off all distractions – even unplug the phone. Don’t let anything interrupt his feed.
  • “My partner and I sit together for the last feed before we put James to sleep,” says Emma Rhodes, 35, from Richmond, mum to James, 9 weeks. “It’s a way for both of us to feel that we’re giving him the maximum attention and nourishment.”
Don’t panic if your 5 week old baby is towards the bottom of the centile chart – every baby is different, growing and gaining weight at their own pace.

The need for SLEEP

Almost every mum wonders whether her baby is sleeping enough during the day and at night. The question is not how long does your baby sleep during the day, but how long is he awake for during that day. Between each sleep your baby can manage to be happily awake, benefiting from stimulation and interactions. But he can only do it for certain amounts of time. For a newborn that’s around 50 minutes.

Let your baby sleep as long as he needs for a day sleep, and watch how long he’s awake. Look out for his signals to you that he needs a nap, like yawning and certain cries.

Until he’s 6 months old, your baby’s very likely to wake for a feed in the night, and of course, some will wake more than others. Again, you need to monitor how many times, and watch for the cues when he’s awake that he’s tired.

Try this…

  • Swaddle your newborn for day sleeps and at night. Swaddling in a cotton blanket with his hands near his face so he can self-soothe is safe and can enhance sleep.
  • A bedtime routine is possibly the best trigger for sleep time. It becomes a sleep association that you can use to settle your baby in any environment for slumber.
  • Darken your baby’s room for day sleeps as well as night. This prolongs sleep and promotes the release of essential sleep hormones.
  • Many babies sleep more deeply when they can hear white noise. Invest in a CD or device that plays white noise, try The Baby Sense Womb to World CD, £9.95 from
Co-sleeping to napping, your little one’s sleep is hitting the headlines

Did you know…

You can expect your newborn to sleep up to 18 hours in every 24-hour period. He doesn’t know the difference between night and day, though, that’s something he’ll learn in the weeks to come.

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