Cliff Notes: Newborns

Many of my friends are either pregnant or are planning to be not far in the future, but have not really spent much time with babies, just as I had not prior to the arrival of our son.  This post is for you.  It is a wee primer on what I have learned so far, and truth be told, it would have helped me enormously to know these things before coming home from the hospital with a tiny infant in my care.
  • White noise is not cheating.  It is a necessity, not a crutch.  Apparently it recreates the whooshing noisy atmosphere of the womb, where your new baby surprisingly would prefer to be.  Restaurants are also sometimes good for the white noise effect, although this can backfire.
  • Most babies want to be held most of the time. Enjoy this before they get heavy and squirmy.
  • Motion is essential: rocking, car rides, swings, jiggling, and walking all count.
  • Babies, even if full-term, are not finished developing yet when they are born.  They can't hold anything except your finger and they can only see approximately twelve inches from their faces.
  • Things that are snuggly and close-fitting (and that seem as though they would be terribly uncomfortable) are soothing to the tiny ones.  Hence, swaddles.  They also can't control their arms, and they hit themselves in the face as a result.  The hitting results in them being startled or woken up.  Really, check out swaddling.  
  • Babies, much like my husband, use sleep as a system lockdown if they are overwhelmed.  They are easily and often over-stimulated.  Normal everyday settings, such as Target or a neighborhood park, or even a visit with an overly enthusiastic loved one, are sensory explosions and can provoke either crying or sleeping, or both.  This is why you see sleepy, blissfully unaware babies in their carriers at restaurants.  
  • Tiny children love tiny babies.  They say "baby" or something like it, and point, when you walk by with your baby.
  • When babies "tell you" that they are hungry, there are specific signs.  Even baby amateurs like me can learn the signs.  Newborns are hungry all the time.  I'm not exaggerating.  Their stomachs are the size of a marble when they are born and grow to the size of an egg by their tenth day.  Which explains why they need to eat so often and why they become ornery if you overfeed them-there is no room in there!
  • Toys that appear cheesy and lame seem to make babies (and then as a result even their hipster design-obsessed parents) happy.
  • Babies look longer at things that surprise them and they look away from things that bore them.
  • Babies have to learn to connect their sleep cycles.  They learn to do this by learning how to self-soothe in-between the cycles (which are shorter than adult sleep cycles).  If they fall back asleep on their own even once, that is the beginning of them sleeping through the night.
  • Babies are a great excuse to stay home, take it easy and/or to go to bed early.