The first year of your baby’s life and their behavior will be a rollercoaster ride filled with laughter and tears, joy and frustration, and almost everything in between. As your baby grows, so will you; inevitably, you will come to realize the great blessing and the huge responsibility of a new baby. Your priorities will likely shift, and your focus will change from being centered on yourself to pouring all of your energy, concentration, and love into caring for your little one. Knowing what to expect from your baby can relieve a lot of the anxiety that sometimes accompanies having a newborn in the house. During the first few weeks, don’t be surprised if your baby sleeps for most of the day, waking only to feed. It may take a while for him to get used to the sleep schedule that the rest of us not only prefer, but need! Therefore, you may need to take shifts with your husband or significant other for night-time feedings, changings, and soothing.
It should be no surprise to you that your baby will cry from time to time—after all, that’s the only way he knows how to express his wants and needs at this point. If you find that your baby is particularly fussy during certain times of the day, especially during the early evening hours, he may be suffering from colic—a common and short-lived condition. You may be able to soothe your baby with a gentle rocking motion, swaddling, or the use of a pacifier. This can be a trying time for even the most patient parents, so if you feel overwhelmed, be sure to ask for support from a friend or relative, and remember that it’s only a phase!
If during the first year, your baby begins to suck his thumb to soothe himself—don’t worry! This is also a normal self-soothing technique that babies often develop to calm themselves and help them fall asleep. Although he will probably continue his thumb-sucking for the next couple of years, he will likely stop on his own before he reaches preschool age.
As you watch your baby change and develop during this first year, be sure to record his habits, mood, preferences, and idiosyncrasies. Although these are in the forefront of your mind now and some may even cause you some stress and frustration, you’ll soon forget all about them as the phases come and go. One day, the same behaviors that you disdained will become some of the most precious memories you have of your baby’s first year.
Your baby’s first year will be a crazy, busy, happy time, but being the primary caregiver for a newborn can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Be sure to take some time for yourself whenever you can, and hand over the babysitting duties to someone else for a while. Don’t feel guilty for doing something for yourself; everyone needs a break at some point, and if you care for yourself as well as for your baby, you’ll be a better mom for it!