Newborn Development: What Happens to Your Newborn Baby During the First Month of His Life?
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Newborn development is a fantastic process. Consider that human babies are the least developed and most dependent for the longest time of all mammals. Newborn infant development is often subtle in the first weeks of life. Once development is apparent, it progresses steadily and with increasing pace.
The most important thing to remember when looking at your baby’s development is that every baby is different and reaches milestones at their own pace. Below are some simple guidelines to what your baby has the potential to accomplish – but remember not every baby reaches these milestones at the same age.
Also if your baby was born prematurely, you should measure your child against their adjusted age (calculated from their due date), not their chronological age (calculated from their birthday). Most doctors evaluate a premature child’s development from the time they should have been born and assess their skills accordingly. It’s normal for premature babies to take a little longer before they can do the same things as other children at their chronological age. If you are unsure about your baby’s development talk to your doctor.
By the time your baby is 1 month old, he will be…
- Able to lift his head slightly for a few seconds when lying on his stomach.
- Focus his eyes on your face.
- He’ll follow an object with his eyes.
- Make gurgles, coos and grunting sounds
Your baby’s neck muscles will be getting stronger, which means he can hold his head up for short periods. He can also hold it up for a few moments while lying on his tummy and may even be able to turn it from side to side.
Having learned to focus with both eyes, your baby can now track a moving object. Bold shapes and bold black-and-white patterns attract his attention. This is the reason why most of the newborn’s toys are in contrasting colors – for example this one. He’ll be turning his head and eyes to look at you. Your baby’s vision will be fairly nearsighted: he’ll be able to focus best on objects 20 to 40 centimeters away (8 to 15 inches away). If you pass a rattle slowly from side to side and then up and down in front of your baby’s face, he should be able to track it with his eyes. Although it will be closer to 3 months before your baby will be able to follow the vertical movement smoothly.
Your baby will enjoy listening to your voice so be sure to talk or sing to him while feeding, changing, bathing, and playing. He’ll well and genuinely recognize your voice by now and will quiet down to listen or become excited when hearing your voice. He will generally like sounds that change, such as your voice or soft music.
3. Motor Skills
After having no idea that he has arms or legs when first born, by 4 weeks your baby may be starting to take notice of his hands or feet. You can hold his arms up in front of him, making a gentle game of it to encourage his interest.
If you are breastfeeding, your baby will probably be feeding every 2-3 hours. If your baby is on formula, it will probably be more like every 3-4 hours. You’ll know he’s getting enough to eat if he seems satisfied after feeding and if he continues to have wet nappies (diapers). Regular checkups with your doctor will tell you if he is within the normal growth range. Discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding.
As for sleep… your baby will probably sleep for two to three hours, wake up, eat, and go to sleep again. The average newborn has around 15 to 18 hours of sleep per day. Although it would be nice if he started sleeping for longer stretches at night, this won’t happen for a while yet. At about 6 weeks old, his sleep pattern will begin to become established, and by about 16 weeks, he may have settled into a regular schedule. So don’t go expecting any miracles in the sleep department just yet!
Remember this is a general guide only, and every baby is unique and will reach their developmental milestones at different times to others. If you are unsure or concerned about your baby’s development talk to your doctor or pediatrician.