Baby's First Week: What You Need to Know About Your Baby's Development
A baby's first week is a wonder, discovery, and excitement. But it can also be a time of uncertainty. New parents are often unsure of what to expect or how to prepare for their new roles.
At Smiling Gaia, we want to help you feel more confident and prepared as you step into this exciting chapter of your life by providing information about babies' development in their first week.
We've gathered the essential information about what you can expect from your baby in those first seven days. We'll talk about things like eating habits, sleeping patterns, and how much they should weigh at birth to better prepare you for what lies ahead.
Your Baby's Sleeping Habits
For many new parents, the first week can be a time of great confusion and anxiety. You're trying to get used to your new role as a parent, and you're constantly bombarded by advice from friends, family members, and even strangers in the grocery store. In addition, it's hard to figure out how to feed your baby, how can you possibly know what schedule works for them?
The good news is that it's not as complicated as it seems. Most babies are pretty predictable when it comes to their sleep patterns. Here's what you need to know about your baby's sleeping habits during their first week:
Your baby will probably take short naps throughout the day and night until they are at least three months old. This is called "catnapping." It may seem like your little one is always awake because they'll wake up every few hours for a quick nap. Don't worry. This is normal.
You should also know that this pattern will change in later months, your little one will start taking longer naps throughout the day, which means they'll probably sleep longer at night too. This means more uninterrupted sleep for you.
Most newborns will sleep for 16-18 hours per day. This includes naps and nighttime sleep.
Most babies will wake up at least once during the night to eat. This is normal and necessary. Your baby's tummy is tiny, so they need to eat often.
Don't worry if your baby seems to be sleeping a lot. This is normal, and they will gradually start to sleep less as they grow older.
Your Baby's Development
At the end of the first week, your new little one has gained about 5 ounces and is about 3 inches long. That's a pretty good growth spurt for just one week. Your baby's eyes are still fused shut, but you can feel her blinking if you gently stroke her eyelids. Her head is still small and round, with lots of soft hair. She/he may have started smiling, even though She/he's not quite ready to laugh.
She/he's probably still sleeping almost all the time, but She/he'll start waking up more often soon (in short bursts at first). She/he's already been waking up every two hours or so at night to eat since She/he was born (and maybe even before then).
Your baby is also making lots of noises now, you might hear her cooing or babbling as She/he starts to practice making sounds. She/he may even be able to recognize some of your voices by now.
Your baby will start kicking and squirming around by this point. She/he may even hold her head up well enough to look around.
They will start sucking on her hands, which is a sign that She/he's starting to get a little more control over her body. This is also an excellent time to introduce a pacifier, so She/he has something else to suck on when She/he starts teething.
She/he'll start being able to make sounds, cry and cooing, and interact with people around her.
Your Baby's Feeding Habits
Your baby's feeding habits will be essential to your bonding experience and your child's health.
If breastfeeding, your baby may need to feed frequently at first.
This is normal, and it is nothing to worry about. However, if you are bottle-feeding, you may need to offer your baby more than one bottle a day.
If you are worried that your baby is not eating enough or overeating, talk to your pediatrician and ask for advice on how to handle this situation.
If your baby seems hungry all the time, try switching from formula to breast milk if possible.
Breast milk contains fewer calories than formula, so it can help reduce overeating and help encourage weight gain in infants born prematurely or underweight.
After three weeks old, most babies are ready for solid foods like cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula; these meals should be spaced about three hours apart from breastfeeding sessions as well as the split between breakfast/lunch/dinner times throughout the day (if you choose not to give solids until 4+ months).
If your doctor recommends starting earlier than this age group for medical reasons, then do so under their supervision only.
Signs of Distress
As your baby gets older, you may notice that they are less happy and satisfied. This is normal for a newborn because they are adjusting to their new environment, but it can be scary as a parent when you see signs of distress in your little one.
Signs of distress include:
- Irritability or colic (when they cry inconsolably for hours at a time)
- Constipation or diarrhea (a change in bowel movements)
- Reflux (spitting up)
- Breathing problems include wheezing, apnea (pauses in breathing), and snoring
It is essential to be on the lookout for signs of distress in your baby.
While your baby can show signs of distress, it is extremely unlikely. If you do see any of these signs, however, seek medical attention immediately:
- Crying or fussing consistently for longer than an hour (your baby may cry when hungry or wet).
- Not eating or sleeping regularly.
- Not pooping at least once per day; if your baby passes meconium (their first stool) within the first 24 hours and hasn't passed any stool since then, they may be constipated and should see their doctor immediately.
Congratulations. You are now at the beginning of what is sure to be an exciting journey.
There is a lot to learn and plenty of time to get used to your new baby. It's important not to feel anxious or stressed out if things don't go according to plan because there will always be another day if things don't work out this time.
Just remember that it takes time for babies' bodies and brains to develop at their own pace, so do your best not to rush them along too quickly.