A newborn is a baby aged 0 to 3 months by definition, but every baby is different. Some will "grow up" faster than others. Here's a newborn starter guide for parents-to-be!
You Are Baby's Only Life Line
There will be no day and night. It'll be 24 hours of moments awake and moments asleep. Moments awake are for feeding, changing diapers and hugs & kisses. You will be completely dedicated to your baby. Don't care for comments like "you're over-protective", "you're doing too much", etc. You are your baby's only life line at the moment, your body and brain are made to switch into "baby only" mode. It's normal and essential for baby's survival. Follow your instinct, and spend as much time as you feel is right observing baby and caring for it. You'll feel a little less of this "baby only" mode around month 3.
Observe, Guess & Try
That will be the game you'll play most of the time. Be a patient observer, take your time. And then, guess what's wrong. And then, try something. Don't be afraid to try and fail. Very quickly (around week 3 or 4), you'll be better at "trying and succeeding".
Be Flexible, Adapt
Here's another reason why it's so important to keep observing, guessing and trying. Baby will evolve really quickly in the beginning and things will change. Some things that work for a time, stop working and vice-versa. So don't hang onto a method or a routine too tight yet.
Be Careful With Overfeeding
If you're breastfeeding on demand, know that a baby will digest milk in an hour or so (1h30 even). If baby is crying 30 minutes after a feed, it's most likely for another reason so try the breast but don't force it on him/her.
Burping & Farting Are Life
Burping and farting truly are life. Burp your baby after each feed and sometimes even well after if it seems uncomfortable (squirmy). Help it release gas with massages, tummy time, bringing the legs to its chest and gently pressing, or carrying it on its belly (see picture). Make it part of the routine when changing diapers so you do it frequently enough.
The Trick Between Sleep Cycles
Sleep cycles last about 45 minutes (could be 20 sometimes, as well as 50). As they grow, babies learn to link them up and sleep for longer. When baby is asleep and it starts to move, make noise, even open its eyes, don't assume it's waking up. Often times, it is only in a lighter sleep, between sleep cycles. So give it a chance to fall back asleep by doing nothing for a while, and then maybe just "sssssssshhh" and a few loving strokes on its belly.
In The Night, Do Almost Nothing
Don't turn on the light, don't change the diaper (unless necessary, aka poop), and don't talk. "Sssssshhhh" first, and if baby doesn't fall back asleep (as mentioned above), put him/her on your breast in the dark. If that doesn't work, it probably needs to burp or fart - yep, glam, I know!
Is It Cold? Is It Hot?
That will be one of your biggest questions the first months of baby's life. Some say, dress light, others say add a layer. I say dress baby up with the same amount of layers as you. If you're pushing the stroller, mind that baby is not moving and may need an extra layer. If baby is on the play mat, moving its legs and arms, chances are you could take a layer off. The key is checking baby's neck and observe his/her behaviour but know that it is better that it is slightly too cold than too hot.
Trust, Trust & Trust
A few things that are good to know:
Baby's breathing is irregular in the beginning, it can accelerate and decelerate from one moment to the next.
Baby's heart beats faster than ours too.
Babies sneeze all the time, to evacuate any leftover fluid and also, because they can't blow their nose yet.
Babies have the hick-ups all the time too!
Babies can sometimes choke a little on spit up, just hold it upright and tap its back.
The key is to think positive, and trust life! Go with the flow, and know that whatever you're thinking, another mom did too!