This is the 12 week period that starts immediately after you have had your baby. Not everyone has heard of it, but it is a time when both your baby and you will go through many physical and emotional changes, as they get used to life outside of the womb and you learn how to be a parent.
Your baby has gone from being cosy and snug inside you, in what is actually a very noisy environment with your heartbeat being heard and blood and fluid whooshing around, as well as the external noises and vibrations outside of the womb-like voices etc, to being born and placed in a crib with none of that-silence and a lot of space all around them.
It can be a very scary time for them and they will crave the closeness of being held and cuddled, to help them transition to being in the world. You cannot spoil a newborn baby with too many cuddles. If they are put down to sleep in a crib but don’t like the idea of being alone and cry, then picking them up to give comfort and reassurance is not going to cause you any ‘bad habits’ later down the line.
The first 4-8 weeks, in particular, are important to cuddle as much as you want or need to, in order to help your baby feel safe and secure, while they adjust to being in the world.
White noise is a really good way to help that transition in the early days and weeks if your baby is unsettled and struggling to wind down and settle to sleep. It will be a familiar constant noise that comforts them, in order to relax and fall asleep and stay asleep, with less chance of startling themselves awake.
You can use an app on a phone or tablet that’s placed on a bedside table or floor somewhere close by if you are not in the bedroom overnight, but it’s definitely worth investing in a white noise machine for long term use, which will help develop positive sleep cues and associations.
There are various swaddle blankets and options to use and I find babies make it very clear from an early age if they like to have their arms tucked in and snug, or if they prefer to have them out and are comforted with their hands next to their faces.
As a general rule, I find girls are more likely to be happy to sleep with their arms out and still sleep well. I don’t like to generalise, as every baby is different and there are no hard and fast rules, but boys do tend to sleep better if their hands are swaddled and they are not able to chew them. In my experience, they are much more likely to wake themselves up chewing their hands and then immediately think they need to have more milk, even if it’s only been a short while since the last feed!
Over the first 6-12 weeks your baby's eyesight will improve and they will start to get more used to the noises they hear in the house on a day to day basis, without being startled frequently, as is likely when they are firstborn.
Initially, their clear vision is only from cradle hold position to your face and anything further away from that will be very blurry, but over the first few months it will improve and they will start to recognise your face and respond with smiles when they see you or hear your voice.
Talking to them and singing to them, alongside cuddles, white noise and even using a sling to carry them, will all help the transition to them getting used to being in the world.