Let’s face it, there aren’t many parents out there that would describe the newborn stage as anything but challenging.
From being woken up multiple times per night to attempting to decipher what each cry means and managing inconsistent feeding schedules, life with a newborn is hard.
If that’s the situation or feeling you currently find yourself in, you’re probably desperate to understand when you can expect some light at the end of the tunnel.
So in this article we’ve take a look at some of the factors that determine just how difficult the first few months are with a new baby, and the milestones that can potentially signal things are about to get less challenging.
Table of Contents
- How Many Weeks Is The Newborn Stage?
- When Do Newborns Get Easier?
- Final Word
How Many Weeks Is The Newborn Stage?
As with many things baby-related, it’s not completely straightforward to definitively answer how long the newborn stage is.
Many experts refer to this as the period from birth all the way to 28 days.
However, others will say newborns are 2 months or under, while others still may still refer to a 3 or 4 month old as a newborn.
Despite these differences, what can be agreed upon is that a newbon is a very young baby, ranging from an infant that has only just been born, to one that’s perhaps 16 or so weeks of age.
During the newborn phase a baby develops very quickly, and things like feeding patterns are established and bonding between parents and baby begin.
When Do Newborns Get Easier?
Answering the question of when will life get easier for you as as parent to a newborn baby isn’t completely straightforward, because all babies and all circumstances are different.
Some things that will determine just how hard the newborn phase is include:
- How well your baby sleeps.
- If they have latched on to your breast easily and feeds well.
- Whether or not your baby has colic.
- Whether you have a support network including your partner, spouse, family, night nurses and babysitters.
- Whether you have any other children.
- The length of your maternity or paternity leave.
While the things in the list above can vary tremendously between different babies and families, what can be even more useful is to know which milestones to look out for.
Here are six key milestones that can make caring for a newborn or infant baby that little bit easier:
1. When Sleep Stretches Get Longer
One of the biggest milestones that gives mom and dad some much needed peace, quiet are rest during the newborn stage is when their baby begins sleeping for longer stretches of time.
Most babies don’t start sleeping through the night (defined as 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep) until they are about 3 months old, or until they weigh 12 to 13 pounds.
If you are currently having to get up once or twice in the middle of the night to feed and change your newborn, and you are struggling to function properly thanks to this disruption, then knowing things should get easier in several weeks can make a big difference to your mentality right now.
There’s no doubt about it, caring for a newborn gets a lot easier when you get your full quota of sleep each night.
2. When You’re Not In A Development Leap
A newborn is not easy at the best of times, but add in extra crying, clinginess and sleep regression and you have a recipe for a challenging for days or weeks each time they go through a leap.
So keep in mind that a baby will often be even more challenging to look after during the 8 first-year leaps below.
If you think your little one is going through one of these leaps now, take comfort from the extra fussiness they may be exhibiting now is only temporary.
- Leap 1 – From 4 Weeks – New Sensations
- Leap 2 – From 7 Weeks – Patterns
- Leap 3 – From 11 Weeks – Smooth Transitions
- Leap 4 – From 14 Weeks – Events
- Leap 5 – From 22 Weeks – Relationships
- Leap 6 – From 33 Weeks – Categories
- Leap 7 – From 41 Weeks – Sequences
- Leap 8 – From 50 Weeks – Programs
3. When You Stop Breastfeeding Or Pumping
Breast milk is the liquid gold of infant nutrition, and according to the WHO and other medical experts, your milk contains healthy nutrients that are ideal for your baby’s brain growth and nervous system development.
If you currently breastfeed your baby you are probably more than aware of the incredible properties of breastmilk and how good it is for your child’s short and long term development.
Breastfeeding and / or pumping comes with its own set of challenges however, which include a low milk supply, sore nipples, plugged ducts, infections and the feeling that you can’t leave your baby for any period of time.
All these things mean that breastfeeding is mentally and physically demanding for new moms, and a key contributor in shaping how difficult it is to raise a newborn baby.
The decision as to whether to start and when to stop breastfeeding is down to personal choice and outside the scope of this article.
But if you are nursing your baby, and are finding things particularly difficult at the moment, then keep in mind your life (and schedule) will get easier once you stop breastfeeding.
4. When You Learn To Look After Your Own Needs
Ask any mom and they will tell you one of the most natural things about parenting is to put your baby first when it comes to everything you do.
While this is of course necessary most of the time, it unfortunately leaves no time for you.
Making time for some self-care may feel indulgent or selfish, but the opposite is true, because a mom who is exhausted, burnout, depressed or stressed won’t be able to look after their baby to the best of their abilities.
Acknowledging the need for some me-time and taking some time out, away from your baby, is therefore one of the best things you can do to make caring for a newborn a little bit easier.
5. When You’ve Adjusted To Being A Parent
No matter how many books you’ve read, podcasts you’ve listened to or friends with young kids you’ve spoken to, nothing can truly prepare you for what it’s like to have a newborn until you’re in that position yourself.
If this is your first child you’ve recently gone from being independent and largely doing what you want, when you want, to suddenly living with a tiny person that relies on you for absolutely everything in order to survive.
From the hormones and sleep deprivation to the demands of breastfeeding and everything in between, nothing throws life upside down like life with a newborn.
As with anything new, and particularly a change of this magnitude, getting comfortable with the sudden adjustment will take some time, but once you have adjusted things will undoubtedly get easier.
6. Once Your Baby Moves Out Of Your Room
According to experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children should sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first 6 months.
This is because studies show that co-sharing a room with your child can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Once you decide to transition your baby out of your room and into their own space you should experience several benefits, including not having to tiptoe around in silence and in the dark while your baby is asleep in your room, better quality sleep, and the ability to be more intimate with your partner.
Think of those as things, which you’ve taken for granted until recently, as something you’ll get back when your baby moves out of your room, making life a little easier for mom and dad as a result.
Some days are better than others when looking after a newborn, but remember babies grow and change rapidly.
A lot of parents will tell you the newborn phase gets easier once your baby sleeps through the night, which is typically at around the 3 month mark.
Keep in mind however that every baby is different, and that however difficult things are right now, it won’t be long before your baby’s schedule changes, adjustments are made and parenting gets that little bit easier all round.
Must Read: Navigating Your Child’s Early Development