The first few months after birth are crucial for your little one. This is when most of his muscles, cognitive, motor and other skills begin to develop. If you would like to stay on track with your baby’s development during these stages, it is best to understand the important signs that indicate that your baby is growing just the way he is supposed to.
Growth Of Baby
During the first month, your newborn will go through quite a few changes that will be a foundation for his physical, cognitive, emotional, language, as well as sensor and motor development. It is important to note that it is normal for your newborn to lose some weight in the first few days as he will be losing excess fluid. Within the next two weeks, he will regain this weight. You may even notice that he gains around 113 g to 227 g every week during the first month.
Along with this, his brain is also going through rapid development and he will be soon reaching several development milestones.
Newborn’s Development – First Week
You may notice that your baby sleeps a lot during the first week. This is completely normal. His arms and feet may even look curled in. This is due to the position that he was in inside your uterus. He will stretch out gradually over the next few months. You can try swaddling your baby to comfort him.
He may also get easily startled by loud noises and cry. This is called the Moro reflex which can make him arch his back and extend his arms and legs as well. This reflex subsides after a few months.
1 Week Old Baby Development
At 1 week, your baby can only see 8 to 10 inches ahead of him. This means that he will only be able to see your face when it is very close to him. He may even be able to recognize your face. Babies are born with nearsightedness and their vision develops after birth gradually. If you notice that your newborn looks at you with cross eyes, there is no reason to worry. This is common during the first few months as their eyes wander a lot.
During the first few days, you may find that your baby’s stool has a greenish tinge to it. This is due to the meconium – foetal faeces. Once it gets cleared, you will see that your baby’s stool turns yellow in colour.
2 Week Old Baby Development
Your newborn communicates primarily by crying. Even during this time, it is important that you speak to him to get him acquainted with your voice. He may even start to recognize your voice as his hearing develops and seek it out.
This is also the time when colic develops in a lot of babies. A colicky baby tends to cry for no reason for over three hours, 3 days a week and at least for 3 weeks. While it is no cause for alarm and usually subsides after about three months, you can consult a doctor for suggestions on how to tend to your colicky baby.
Your baby’s umbilical cord may also dry and fall off around the second week, leaving him with an adorable belly button. It is best to give your baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off in order to keep the area dry.
3 Week Old Baby Development
By the third week, you may notice that your baby tries to lift his head up for a few moments while he’s lying on his tummy. It is important that you give your baby enough time on his tummy while he is awake in order to help develop the muscles in his neck. Ensure that you are always close to your baby when he is on his tummy. Never let your baby go to sleep while he is on his tummy as it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Babies get comforted by sucking, so a pacifier can be a great tool to help your baby self-soothe during this time. His vision and focus are also improving and he may be able to look at your face keenly. This is when you can expect him to flash a smile as well. This is more an imitation of your smile rather than a social response.
4 Week Old Baby Development
Your 4-week old infant’s development includes an improved hearing. This means that he will be able to hear songs and discern sounds much better. With slightly developed neck muscles, he may even be able to lift his head up for longer and even turn it side to side. You can further help him do this by standing in front of him and slowly moving from one side to another as you encourage him to follow.
He will also slowly come to discover his hands and feet and begin to coo or babble, apart from crying to communicate. Talk to your baby, interact as much as you can during this time; this will encourage him to respond with more distinct sounds.
Newborn Baby Milestones
Your baby’s developmental milestones are foundations that will help him learn a new skill that will aid his overall growth. However, it is important to remember that not all babies achieve these milestones at the same time. Premature babies will attain these milestones in accordance with their gestational age.
Here are some of the milestones that a baby achieves in the first month.
- When your baby’s feet are on a flat surface, he will mimic walking by pushing his feet against the surface.
- He will be able to focus eight to ten inches ahead of him.
- Your baby’s hearing is fully developed and he will respond to loud noises with a startle reflex of crying.
- His sense of smell is developing and he will have an affinity for sweet and pleasant smells.
Your baby’s jerky limb movements will gradually smoothen.
- He may be able to recognize certain sounds, like your voice.
- He will begin to discover his hands and legs and try to bring his hands near his mouth and eyes.
- With the development of neck muscles, he may be able to turn his head from side to side.
Your newborn has just begun trying to figure out how the world works. All he knows is to cry to communicate when he needs something. If your baby cries, it can be due to various reasons like the hunger, needs a diaper change, needs to be comforted, etc. If you find your baby crying, pick him up and comfort him. This gives him an assurance that you will be available to tend to him. The sooner you provide him this comfort, the sooner he will subside his crying.
Since crying is the only way your baby can communicate during this point of time, it is important that you respond to it and interact with him. You will not spoil your baby by comforting him every time he cries.
However, if your baby cries for long hours for no specific reason, he may be colicky. You can try several methods to calm down a colicky baby. These include ensuring that he has a comfortable place without distractions to sleep in, rock him gently, play soothing music, etc.
How To Take Care Of Newborn Baby
Your little one depends on you to keep him protected. Here are some things that are a part of a newborn baby’s care in the 1st month
- Most of your baby’s development happens while he sleeps. Hence, help your baby get enough rest.
- Consider breastfeeding. Breast milk contains essential nutrients that are important for your baby’s physical and cognitive development.
- Use soft and comfortable diapers on your baby. Change the diaper after each bowel movement.
- Until the umbilical cord falls off, carefully give your baby a sponge bath. Clean the umbilical cord with warm water and wipe it dry with a soft paper towel. Once the cord falls off, you can give him tub bath with moderately warm water. Only use mild soaps to bathe your baby and follow all necessary precautions.
- Always wash your hands before handling your baby to avoid the risk of any infection.
While holding your baby, support his neck and head. His are not developed yet and lack of support on the neck and the head can cause strain on his neck muscles.
- Hold your baby. Babies are comforted by their mother’s touch; cuddling and holding them is a great way to soothe them.
- Interact with them. Even though your baby may not understand you or be able to respond, interacting and talking to your baby is a great way to bond with him. This can also help him recognize sounds and voice better.
Activities To Do With Your Newborn
You newborn is counting on you to learn new things and keep himself entertained. Here are a few newborn baby activities that can be a great way to introduce him to the world and bond with him.
- Go for a walk: Once your baby is a few weeks old, you can start taking him out on a stroller for short walks in the park or the garden. It can be a change of environment and perk him up.
- Play music: Music is known to soothe babies universally. Play some soft melodies that can help him relax and sleep.
- Interact: Playing with your baby using different animated expressions can help him identify them and be a foundation for language development.
- Play hide and seek: Cover your face with a towel and speak to your baby. He will try to figure out where your voice is coming from as you reveal yourself. This is a great bonding activity for kids.
- Dance with him: Hold your baby and sway to some music with him for a fun time with your little one.
- Read him stories: It’s never too early to read to your baby. Each time you read, interact with your baby by tickling his belly, touching his toes, etc and notice how he reacts.
The general rule is to feed your baby whenever he is hungry. Try to accommodate your baby’s demands and feed him accordingly. A breastfed baby should feed at least 8 to 12 times in 24 hours and produce about six to eight wet diapers. If you are formula feeding your baby, it is still recommended that you follow your baby’s hunger patterns and feed him every two or three hours.
Newborns spend most of their time sleeping. It is common for them to sleep for up to 17 to 18 hours each day. However, this is scattered throughout the day. Newborns also have a different sleeping pattern when compared to that of adults. Only 20% of their sleep is deep and sound sleep. Other times, they are usually drifting in and out of sleep.
Newborn Routine Check-Ups
Some of the few routine check-ups that are performed on the newborn are,
- Apgar scores – Checks the physical traits of the baby immediately after birth to determine if any special interventions are required. Temperature and vital signs are also monitored carefully for the following 6 hours.
- Physical exam – Within the first 24 hours of birth, your baby’s breathing, heartbeat and his ability to pass stool and urine are checked.
- Measurements – Your newborn’s weight, length and, head circumference are measured.
Antibiotic eyedrops – He may be given antibiotic eyedrops to prevent any eye infections due to the birth canal bacteria.
- Screening tests – Tests for hearing and phenylketonuria (a condition that affects metabolism and harms the baby’s brain) are conducted.
- Injections – Certain immunizations, like that for Hepatitis B, along with Vitamin K injections may be given.
In the following weeks, your doctor may ask you to visit take your baby’s measurement of weight, length and head circumference and compare it with his previous measurements. This will determine if he is growing properly.
Tips For Parents
Taking care of your newborn is your responsibility and it is important that you prepare well to tend to your little one diligently. Here are a few tips that you can keep in mind.
- Take your baby for regular check-ups with to the doctor.
- Provide a stress-free environment for your baby. Ensure that your baby’s room has good lighting and hygiene.
- Keep your baby away from harmful exposures like pollution and bacteria.
- Take help from your family to avoid over-stressing yourself.
- Get good sleep. Sleep deprivation can be a big hindrance in taking care of both you and your baby. New moms will need to try and find some time to sleep in order to stay well-rested.
Taking care of your newborn can be as daunting as it is fulfilling. If your baby is feeding regularly, sleeping fine and his bowel movements are on track, there is little that you need to worry about with respect to your baby’s development and growth. However, if you find any reason for concern, do not hesitate to call your doctor and seek help.