Your New Baby

by Dr. Laura Markham

Your New Baby's Primary Developmental Tasks

  1. Learning to nurse
  2. Learning to sleep at night
  3. Learning to handle lots of stimulation
  4. Development of trust
  5. Rapid physical and brain development
  6. Settling into his body

Your Challenge

  • Learning everything about your baby when he was delivered without an owner's manual -- and as soon as you figure it out, he changes!
  • Renegotiating your entire life.

Parents' Gameplan

  1. Wear your baby. She'll cry less and you'll develop more sensitivity to what she needs, before she has to express herself loudly. You'll dramatically reduce the amount of time she spends crying and her chances of being colicky. Before you deliver, ask other moms about baby slings and snugglies, and be sure to have both around so you can see what works best for you.

  2. Nurse. He'll be healthier, have a higher IQ, and cry less. You'll be happier in the middle of all that unfolded laundry. (The hormones that get released when you nurse are similar to those released after orgasm.) Nurse on demand, not on schedule. Get whatever advice you need to get nursing established. As soon as your baby can handle it, nurse at night lying down, so you can doze while she nurses; you won't be so exhausted the next day from night feedings.

  3. Sleep whenever and wherever you can. For me, the family bed was the only way to get any sleep at all. It makes some people anxious. There are now great options, like a baby bunk, that connect right up against your bed so you can't roll on the baby accidentally. My advice is to read as much as you can, and then lose the guilt. Do what works for you and your baby.

  4. Plan for the baby to be with Mom or Dad as much as possible for at least the first year. An infant needs to be with an adult who is crazy about her. That's too much to expect from a paid caretaker. Not to mention that if the paid caretaker IS crazy about the baby and leaves your employ -- and the chances of turnover are very high -- your baby will experience it as a tremendous loss. HE doesn't know this isnt a second mother. In fact, if he spends most of his waking hours with her, he doesn't know it isn't his primary mother.

  5. De-prioritize everything else, except eating, sleeping and loving, for yourself and the rest of your family. This isn't just for moms. It's amazing how many dads assume their lives can go on as usual when there's a new baby at home.

  6. If you stay home with a baby, don't let yourself get isolated. Get together with other moms or dads and talk babies. Or politics (For instance, why the U.S. is one of only five countries of 168 studied that doesn't mandate some form of paid maternal leave, putting us on par with Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Swaziland!)

As both a mom and a Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Dr. Laura Markham offers a unique perspective on raising kids. Her relationship-based parenting model has helped thousands of families across the U.S. and Canada find compassionate, common-sense solutions to everything from separation anxiety and sleep problems to sass talk and cell phones. Dr. Markham is the founding editor of and, where she regularly takes on a wide range of challenging questions from parents who struggle with "the toughest, most rewarding job on earth."

On, Dr. Markham fields questions from our community members on her Expert Forum and hosts a regular Online Chat on Wednesdays. Click here to check out her Parenting Tips.

Dr. Markham is the author of the Q&A e-book series, Ask Dr. Markham, with editions for all ages from birth to teens, and of the soon-to-be-released, The Secret Life of Happy Moms, which lays out her relationship-based approach to raising kids who turn out great. Dr. Markham lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, 13 year-old daughter, and 17 year-old son.

Copyright © Laura Markham. Permission to republish granted to, LLC.