As we come into the festive season, let’s take a moment to think about what that means for your newborn. There are Santa hats, and Christmas themed outfits, but there is also loads of noise, bright lights and lots of interaction. This sensory overload at a young age can make for a very unhappy newborn at Christmas.
Your baby has emerged from a dark, calm womb where the only thing to see is the umbilical cord floating past. At birth they are then experiencing the busy world of light, sound, smell, hunger, thirst and separation from the body that they know intimately from the inside.
The first week or two of life for a baby is stunned silence, then they usually start to wake up and get increasingly needy. They can become particularly noisy and unsettled at this time and are often accused of having ‘wind or colic’.
Babies start to cry a lot at two weeks of age and it peaks at six weeks of age. At this time a baby can average about three hours a day of crying. Fifty percent of the babies cry more, fifty percent less. Crying occurs mostly in the early to late evening and a small peak in the morning. Babies will gradually decrease the length of time they cry per day as the week’s progress, until about three months of age when it eases.
So that’s “normal crying”. It is what normal babies do. They are adapting to life outside of your body. Colic has exactly the same time profile. For years it has been called ‘evening colic’ and ‘three-month colic’ to describe this very profile. If you read the standard medical textbooks on the subject they say that, ‘colic occurs in 20% of the baby population, with over 90% of them having no organic disease.’
Often these tense, upset babies try to calm themselves in the only way they know. By FEEDING and sucking and sucking. When they start to feed more (it can lead to vomiting up the excess milk), and can overload the bowels ability to absorb all of the milk (so they get ‘wind’ and explosive poos, misdiagnosed as lactose intolerance).
Or in some cases babies will scream and draw their knees up because they are tense and stressed (misdiagnosed as upset stomach). Unfortunately, as new parents we can respond to this extra noise from our baby, by getting stressed ourselves and over handling the baby.
And why is it worse at Christmas?
Christmas is the time of year where the world is busier, and everyone is more stressed than normal. The shopping centers have a frantic energy and road and car park rage is on the increase. Sensitive babies are already struggling to adjust to the busy world outside of the body without the extra load.
So to our new parents, abandon Christmas for this year, or at the very least leave the cooking and racing around to others. Retreat to a quiet room and relax with your new baby, he or she will thank you for it.