Baby’s First Milestones: First Month
The first few weeks of your baby’s life can be challenging - there’s not much sleep for new parents - but these first weeks are also packed full of exciting firsts. After nine months of counting down to their arrival, your baby is here, you're getting to know one another, you’re learning how to feed them, care for them, and help them get some sleep. Knowing what milestones you can expect in your baby’s first month of life will help reassure you that you’re getting it right with your brand new arrival. Here’s what you will see and experience in the first four weeks of your baby’s life.
Your Newborn’s Growth
Your baby probably weighed somewhere around 7 pounds at birth - but don’t expect her to put on weight right away once she’s home. It’s typical for babies to lose 5-10% of their body weight in the first week of life due to post-delivery fluid loss. By day 10 to 14, she should have regained and will start surpassing her birth weight.
Very young babies grow in spurts, so you might notice a pattern of increased hunger (called cluster feeding) followed by a growth spurt that lasts 2-3 days. You don’t need to worry about comparing your baby’s growth to others of the same age (though it can be hard not to): babies all grow at their own speed at this age.
Health Milestones in the First Month
Babies in their first month of life won’t stick to a strict feeding schedule - they will eat when they want to (which is a lot!). You’ll likely feed your baby at least 8 times in a 24-hour period at this age, throughout both the day and the night as well. Your baby will tell you he’s hungry by rooting, sucking on his fist, or smacking his lips.
Newborns don’t need much other than milk at this stage, though your pediatrician may recommend daily vitamin D drops if your baby isn’t getting supplements through formula. Be sure to keep visitors limited to those who are healthy, since your baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed and he hasn’t had a chance to receive any vaccinations quite yet.
Bathing your baby in the first month of life should only happen about three times per week. Begin with sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off (this will happen sometime in the first few weeks). Keep the water warm but not hot, support the head and neck while in the bath, and never leave your baby unattended while bathing.
Diaper changes will also be a frequent part of this first stage of your baby’s life. Your baby’s first bowel movements will be thick and dark green or black - don’t be alarmed, this is normal. After this meconium has passed, your baby will probably produce at least 6 wet diapers and 3 to 4 poops per day. But remember, each baby is different, so the most important thing is to pay attention to what’s normal for your baby.
First Month Development Milestones
Your baby will go through several development milestones in the first four weeks of life.
Movement. While in the womb, your baby spent all her time curled in the fetal position. She’ll spend a lot of time in this position until the end of her first month of life as well. Learning how to suck, breathe, and swallow as babies do when they’re nursing should happen within the first week. And even newborn babies can grip your finger if you touch their palm, but don’t support her using this hold as she doesn’t have control over this grip. She’ll also turn her head when you’re speaking to her, especially if you use a higher-pitched “baby voice.” Movements overall in this first month can seem jerky and reflexive, but they’ll smooth out over the coming months.
Sight. Newborn babies can see, but their vision is limited. In fact, they can only see about 8-12 inches away and they can’t see a full range of colors. But they can see your face when you hold them close, and they can see (and are often fascinated with) their own hands as well.
Touch. This is your baby’s most important sense at this stage of growth. Newborn babies love to be held, as it gives them a sense of security. You can do skin-to-skin contact often during this first month, and remember to always support the head and neck when you hold your baby.
Newborn Baby Tips
Your baby’s needs at this stage are pretty simple - frequent feedings, lots of diaper changes, plenty of sleep, and lots of cuddles. Babies can change quite a bit in the first month of life as they recover from the birthing process and begin to experience and explore the world. While these milestones can be a helpful guide, your baby is unique and will change and grow at his or her own pace. Enjoy this time together!