Coming home

What to expect when bringing baby home

Many first-time – and even experienced – parents may admit that they’re unsure about how to properly care for and ensure the health and wellness of their new baby. I firmly believe that the more you know about what to expect from your newborn, the more comfortable you will be. I hope the following information helps prepare you for what to expect when new baby comes home.

Bringing baby home

Healthy full-term babies are usually sent home from the hospital or birthing centre within 24 to 48 hours of birth, or longer if they were born via c-section. Should there be any problems, if the baby was born prematurely, or if it was a multiple birth, the stay will be longer, depending on the individual situation.

Before taking your newborn home from the hospital, make sure you already have a government-approved infant car seat professionally (properly) installed in your car. The car seat should be placed so that the infant is facing backwards. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until at least the age of two years, or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Infants and children under age 12 should never sit in the front passenger seat of cars equipped with air bags, even if he or she is in a car seat. The explosive impact from a deployed passenger side air bag can seriously injure a child.

Getting used to baby’s routines

The arrival of a new baby certainly changes a family’s routine. Parents very quickly realize that their newborn’s patterns may not fit with their usual family routines prior to baby’s arrival. The good news is that most parents get to know their newborn very quickly and get used to his new routines and needs, many of which change over time. Though these early routines can be challenging for new parents to adapt to, it helps to realize how much your newborn needs you, and that things will soon become a lot more normal. I hope the following information can help you understand some of the new patterns and characteristics a new baby presents.

Feeding patterns

Generally, babies fed mother’s milk will want to feed about 12 times a day, while babies fed with a milk formula usually demand eight feedings per day. In the coming months, baby will eat increasingly larger meals, faster, and a little less often. Although each baby is different, the number of feedings per 24 hours varies with age. Here is a table adapted from the Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics:

              AGE               # OF FEEDINGS/24 HOURS

Birth to 1 week              6 to 10

1 week to 1 month          6 to 8

1 to 3 months                 5 to 6

3 to 7 months                 4 to 5

4 to 9 months                 3 to 4

8 to 18 months                     3

Bowel movements

Bowel movement function varies considerably from baby to baby and can even change in the same baby from day to day. Stool frequency in breastfed babies can vary from as many as 15 per day to just one bowel movement every few days. The passing of only one stool every few days does not necessarily indicate constipation.

Sleep patterns

On average, most newborn infants sleep about 16.5 hours per day, but some may sleep as little as nine hours, and others as much as 22 hours per day. Infants tend to sleep for short periods of about two hours, and then wake for about 30 minutes before falling back to sleep. Others may nap for shorter periods while some may soon sleep for stretches of five or six hours. Here is a table of total hours of sleep and naps by age:


   AGE    |                    TOTAL HOURS OF SLEEP     | DAYTIME HOURS OF SLEEP(NAPS)

1 week                       16.5                                                 8

1 month                     15.5                                                 6

3 months                    15                                                    5

6 months                    14.25                                        3 to 4

9 months                    14                                                    3

12 months                  13.75                                         2 to 3