A Day In the Life Of a Newborn

by Ylonda Gault Caviness

A Day In the Life Of a Newborn

Your dreamy-eyed baby may look like she's doing nothing all day. But crying, eating, wetting, and sleeping are very demanding jobs. Infants are busy even when lying still  — their brains are expanding as they take in their new world. What your baby's up to:

Newborns sleep 17 to 20 hours a day, but rarely for more than 5 hours at a time. Why all the zzz's? Growing makes babies tired, and sleep gives them energy. They spend 50 to 80 percent of their sleeptime in active, or REM, sleep. Experts suspect newborns don't sleep so deeply because they need to eat, and also because their nervous systems are immature.

Expect your baby to whimper and wail for about three hours a day. It's how she tells you, "I'm wet," "I'm hungry," "I'm tired," or "I just don't know what I want." Still, if she cries for more than two hours straight, tell your pediatrician.

Wetting and Pooping
Your diaper bill tells the story: She'll spend about an hour a day having her diaper changed.

A newborn spends over three hours a day feeding; she eats 8 to 12 times over a 24-hour period. It may seem like a lot, but her tiny stomach can take in only about two or three ounces of milk at once. Given her fast growth rate  — she's gaining about an ounce a day  — her metabolism burns the milk off in about three hours, when she's likely ready for more.