I remember very little about my daughter's newborn months. We have photos that show a mostly peaceful baby, which is vaguely how I remember it, but I really can't recall the daily details of her newborn stage. Instead, I remember getting our first foster baby, a malnourished 6-week-old baby girl, when our daughter was just 4 months old and having an "ah-ha" moment when I realized we had bypassed the newborn phase entirely. Turns out, there are more than a few benefits every mom can enjoy when she's finished with the newborn stage, whether or not you remember the newborn stage in all its sleep-deprived glory. If you ask me, we all might as well rejoice in the little forward progress, especially before hitting another sleep regression (or six).
Our little foster baby who arrived when our daughter was just edging out of her newborn stage. She was 6 weeks old, hadn't regained her birth weight, malnourished, had a herniated belly button from crying so hard, and blocked tear ducts that made her eyes all puffy and swollen. Admittedly, she was in rough shape and wasn't your "typical" newborn. Even so, breaking out the tiny newborn bottles and resuming feedings every two hours, expecting major spit up every time and carrying her around in the wrap all day long, made me realize how good we had it with our daughter at 4 months.
By that point, our daughter was down to only two night feeds, a dream feed. and another around three or four in the morning. We didn't hate her carseat anymore, so would typically sleep if we were out and about, and she napped on a regular schedule at home. All it took was a few nights with another newborn to realize we had cleared the newborn hurdle and were already reaping the rewards of more sleep, more freedom, and more fun.
In theory, when the newborn phase ends you should be getting more sleep. If you aren't, I'm so sorry (and this isn't meant to shame you in any way).
As most babies exit the newborn phase they should start sleeping longer stretches at night and, as a result, so should you. That being said, when my daughter was 4 months old and only waking once a night is when I was hit with really annoying insomnia and a constant feeling that she was just about to start crying. So in theory, more sleep. In reality, it might take a little practice.
More Predictable Routine
As a baby exits the newborn phase, they become more predictable. Their routines are a little more set, eating and sleeping a little more consistently, and even their cries and needs become predictable.
In those first newborn months I remember looking at my daughter a few times and wondering why on earth she was still crying. I just didn't have her figured out yet, honestly. That said, there's so much that happens after the newborn phase ends that still needs figuring out (babies are such an evolving mystery!) but the newborn wonders of, "What does that cry even mean?!" start to fade in the distance.
Longer Stretches Between Feeding
That newborn phase, especially if you're breastfeeding, can mean feeding so often for so long. But a few months in, babies get faster at feeding and they can eat a little more at a time, meaning you have longer stretches between feeding that can allow you to get just a little more done or even play with your baby for a little longer before they have to go back to sleep. #Winning
More Time Out And About
A more reliable schedule and a little more time between feedings means more time out and about when you can maybe predict when your baby will need to eat. Maybe they'll even nap in the stroller or carseat while you're out there enjoying some Vitamin D for a little while! Hallelujah!
Our pediatrician actually told us we probably shouldn't even take our daughter to the grocery store until she was 4 months old, so while I didn't listen to his advice on that one, I did feel guilty every time I brought her to the grocery store. That ended with the newborn phase and I couldn't have been happier.
Aw, those baby smiles that are more and more frequent when the newborn apathy and angst start to wear off. Maybe you'll even get a giggle if you're lucky, which is particularly hard won after four months of waiting for a response that isn't frustrated or hungry or aggravated!
Your Baby Is Less "Breakable"
I think the feeling that you're going to break the baby wears off in just a few weeks, but the feeling that someone else might break the baby takes a little longer to wear off. By the end of the newborn phase, babies are a little more robust and sturdy, meaning you're a little more likely to hand them over to a less-experience baby holder without having to hold your breath the entire time.
By the time our daughter was 3 months old, I practically threw her into the arms of one of my cousins when he commented that he'd never held a baby before. Not anymore, buddy!
Less Unexpected Spit Up or Blowouts
We had a 6-month-old foster baby who would still have blow outs in the most inconvenient places (like in the security line at the airport), so this one doesn't hold true with every baby.
However, by the time most babies are 3 or 4 months old, they're not quite as likely to spit up all over everything you're wearing or get poop over every item of clothing both of you are wearing. Less likely, but not 100 percent reliable. Bring that extra set of clothes with you still, but you'll be less likely to need to whip it out in the mall bathroom.
A Sense Of Accomplishment
The newborn months are really like being in a continuous marathon. There's very little time to rest on your laurels. However, when you start to hit three and four months, some of the newborn haze wears off and you should start to realize what an accomplishment it is that you've kept your little one alive and well for four whole months. High fives all around, team. There are still struggles ahead, but you can take a breath now and then to give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. You'll take your newborn veteran experience with you as you meet the next sleep regression or teething or tantrum that lies ahead.
Or at least that's the pep talk I like to give myself when I think things are feeling pretty rough as my daughter grows!