There is one important skill that babies don’t have to learn – they are born knowing how to suck. During the first few days they learn to coordinate
their sucking and their breathing. Newborn babies also automatically turn towards a nipple or teat if it is brushed against one cheek, and they will open their mouths if their upper lip is stroked.
They can also grasp things (like your finger) with either hands or feet, and they will make stepping movements if they are held upright on a flat surface. All of these, except sucking will be lost within a few months, when your baby will begin to make controlled movements instead.
Newborn babies can use all their senses. They will look at people and things, especially if they are near, and particularly at people’s faces. They will enjoy gentle touch and the sound of a soothing voice, and they will react to bright light and noise. Very soon they will also know their mother’s special smell.
It can be difficult to encourage a pattern of sleep in the first few weeks. Newborn babies tend to sleep for two to three hours and then wake for a feed. Newborns like to sleep during the day and are often wide-awake at night. This is normal and the baby will eventually sleep more at night. You must be patient and learn to sleep when your baby sleeps.
Background talking, music or children playing generally do not cause any problems for the baby sleeping, but a sudden loud noise will. As each week progresses the baby will stay awake for longer periods and will settle into a routine of sleeping. By three months your baby will usually wake up for a time before they are due a feed and quite a few will sleep for most of the night.
Tips to help settle baby at night:
Immunisation is a safe and very effective way to protect your baby against certain diseases. These diseases can cause serious illness or even death. Immunisation works by causing the baby’s immune system to produce antibodies to fight these diseases.
BCG is a vaccine that protects against tuberculosis (TB). The vaccine contains a weakened form of the bacteria that causes TB; this stimulates the baby’s immune system to protect against the infection. The vaccine is given to the baby in the first few weeks of life and is available through your local health centre. The vaccination is free of charge.
Your baby should have the next immunisations when they are eight weeks old. It is very important that your baby receives the different vaccinations
when they are due. Your GP or public health nurse will give you information on the schedule of vaccinations.
For further information on the childhood immunisation programme, visit the website: www.immunisation.ie
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