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Baby’s Second Night

The first few days of your newborn’s life can be stressful for everyone. Most newborns cry a lot, and you might struggle to meet their needs. Something that worked “last time” may not quiet them this time. This can be challenging for sleep-deprived parents. Take comfort that this is expected of newborns. 

What makes them so upset?

  • Life outside the womb is big change for babies. A short time ago, they were all warm and snug in the uterus, soothed by the sound of mom’s heartbeat, fed constantly through the umbilical cord and never had to push out a poop. Now everything is new! For the first time, baby experiences bright lights, loud noises, hunger, a variety of people poking at them, etc. They can be over stimulated and overwhelmed.
  • Crying is how your baby communicates. It takes time to identify different cries and to know how to respond. Trial and error are your best strategies. 
  • Crying can be related to hunger and instinct. Newborns feed 8-12 times in 24 hours and some feedings may be bunched closely together. Babies stimulate breastmilk production with small, frequent feedings. Removing milk tells your body to make more.

Are they getting enough milk?

  • At birth, their stomach holds only about one or two teaspoons (5-10mL). 
  • At day three, four to five teaspoons (20 – 25 mL). 
  • Small, frequent feedings satisfy their hunger. 
  • Frequent hunger cues in the first few days may not mean that you don’t have enough milk. Baby is working with you to build your milk supply.
  • Track their wet and dirty diapers to ensure they are getting enough to eat. See https://www.healthunit.com/breastfeeding-resources to find information about numbers of  wet and dirty diapers expected and what they should look like by their day of age.

How to soothe them?

  • Learn about early hunger cues and put them on the breast when you notice them. This can help to avoid intense crying which can build quickly. 
  • Is their diaper wet or poopy? Are they cold or hot? Is the room too loud or too bright? Is clothing too tight or poking them? Do they need to burp? Have they been passed around a room of new people? You will soon develop a mental checklist for your baby that will help you calm them down.
  • Gently talk or sing to your baby, cuddle them, hold them skin-to-skin, walk with or rock them, or have your partner do these so you can eat, shower or nap! 


If you have concerns, trust your instincts (you are the expert about your child) and contact your healthcare provider.


References and Resources

Association of Ontario Midwives. (2015). Normal newborn behaviour. https://www.ontariomidwives.ca/sites/default/files/2017-06/Normal-newborn-behaviour-English.pdf

La Leche League Canada. (2023). Why do babies cry? https://www.lllc.ca/why-do-babies-cry


La Leche League International. (2023). Breastfeeding info: Frequency of feeding. https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/frequency-feeding-frequently-asked-questions-faqs/

Middlesex-London Health Unit. (2023). Breastfeeding resources and topics. https://www.healthunit.com/breastfeeding-resources


Submitted by Natalie Moore, WFNS-4 for the Middlesex-London Health Unit


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