Expert / 26 October, 2020 / Dr Sophie Niedermaier-PatramanI
Adjusting to an entirely new world as parents of a newborn is an exciting, yet challenging period in our lives. It’s probably because people emphasise so much with new parents that they feel invited to give all kinds of advice. As a paediatrician, I see a lot of new parents who are confused about conflicting advice they receive and, unfortunately, it often makes their lives a lot more difficult, when all they need is a little bit of reassurance, a shoulder to cry (and sleep) on and a warm meal on the table.
These are some of the most common myths I hear in my practice and what the truth is behind them:
Until the age of three months, babies will still have a rather random sleep-wake-cycle. This has to do with the maturity of the brain area which regulates sleep. There will be a rough day-night-pattern but it will be frequently interrupted for feeding and cuddling. After the age of three months, babies will adopt a routine much easier and this is probably the earliest time to start a gentle sleep training.
Every child will be different. There are the ones who sleep for a longer stretch at night and there are the ones who are up most of the night. A baby’s sleep pattern depends on a variety of factors, such as genetics and feeding pattern, so don’t worry too much about it, it will come naturally.
As they have spent the first nine months of their life inside another human being, babies are used to being constantly surrounded by a trusted person, smelling them, hearing their voice and feeling their movements. While they adjust to a world outside this safe haven, they will start to communicate their needs. Crying is one of the few means to do so. During the first three months of your child’s life, they will need to feel a trusted person in their close environment who touches and soothes them whenever they need it. These precious weeks will fly by so fast, so make use of unlimited cuddles and physical closeness to support your child’s development.
Especially in the first three months, your baby won’t necessarily need one every day. Bathing your child too often and for too long might dry their skin and make it susceptible to rashes. If you and your baby enjoy a warm bath, feel free to do it every night, as one of the joys of being a new mummy or daddy. It can be part of a bedtime routine. Just make sure to keep the bath short and consider using an emollient for your little one’s skin when they come out.
There are many more myths around babies’ first three months. The truth is that the evidence about what is right or wrong is most of the time very scarce. When you are given well-meant advice, it often comes from experience. See it as such, not everything will work well for you and your baby. And this is what it really comes down to in the first three months: Winging it until you have found your flow.
Article by paediatrician Sophie Niedermaier Patramani, Little Tummy.