Cuddling, sleeping, feeding, crying. That’s what newborn behaviour is all about in the first few months.
Although your baby might give you some eye contact, crying is probably the main thing you’ll notice about his behaviour. For example, he’ll cry if he’s hungry, unsettled, wet or uncomfortable.
Crying is a newborn’s main way of communicating, of telling you what she needs. It’s a sound that can spur you into action, even when you’re asleep. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, it can trigger your let-down reflex.
Crying peaks at about six weeks. This period of intense newborn crying will pass.
Babies cry and fuss on average for almost three hours a day. Some cry for a lot longer than this. Most of this crying and fussing seems to happen in the late afternoon and evening, although every day will probably be a bit different.
As your baby gets older, it’ll be easier for you to understand what he’s trying to tell you through crying. His crying is also more likely to be spread throughout the day.
Your newborn baby is working out what the world is like. The way you respond to her behaviour, especially her crying, tells her a lot about her world.
For example, your baby might find out that when he cries, someone comes to give him what he needs. This might be a nappy change, a feed or a cuddle. If that happens, he’ll learn that the world is a pretty OK place.
When you respond quickly to comfort your crying newborn, your baby will cry less often overall. It’s absolutely fine to pick up your baby when she cries. It tells her that she’s safe because you’re a caring, responsive parent who loves her.
You can’t spoil a newborn. If your newborn is crying, it’s because he needs your help. If you respond calmly and consistently, it helps your baby learn that the world is a safe and predictable place.
Some babies cry a lot over a long period of time. Nothing seems to comfort them. This is often called colic.
Colic might just be natural behaviour for some babies, especially at the end of a long day and after too much stimulation. Crying might help a newborn take control of her environment. It’s as if your baby is saying, ‘Enough! I’m just going to cry to shut out the world’.
If your baby cries like this, it can be very hard for you to cope with. These ideas might help you and your baby:
All children have the right to be safe and protected. But parenting can be hard work. Seek help if you feel that you can’t cope or you might hurt your child.
Dealing with crying gets easier as your newborn learns more about the world and gets better at showing you what she needs. Also, you’ll become an expert at ‘reading’ your baby’s behaviour. No-one knows your baby better than you, but if you’re worried about your baby’s crying, talk it through with your GP or child and family health visitor.
Why this is relevant for newborn photography
Newborn photographers will recommend that newborn photoshoots are done when baby is between 7-10 days old and there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, your baby is more likely to be sleepy at this very early stage of their life and this makes it possible to safely pose babies in those gorgeous positions you see in newborn photography. It is vitally important that newborn photographers are trained in how to pose babies safely. I have undertaken training with one of the UK's leading newborn photographers and am a member of BANPAS, who provide ongoing advice and support for baby and family photographers. The second reason for having your newborn photos taken when your baby is so small is that they still have all their newborn features - creases, wrinkles, hair etc - which will go before you know it as babies change so fast.
I believe it's really important to document each stage of your child's journey, through a newborn baby photoshoot, sitter session, cake smash or first birthday portrait and of course photos with siblings and family members. Check out my website for details of these sessions or drop me an email to start a chat.