Your Baby: The First Month

The first month of your baby’s life is a special time of bonding, cuddling, and adjustment to the major changes that have come into your home along with this new little person. While mom and dad learn to function on a lot less sleep, baby is doing more than it might appear.

Growth and Feeding

Shortly after birth, your newborn will lose up to 10% of her body weight. This is perfectly normal, and soon after she will get started on a newborn’s main task: gaining weight and growing. It’s not unusual for a baby to gain up to two pounds in the first month of life. In order to accomplish this task, your baby will eat frequently, and need to feed around the clock. Her small body requires regular nourishment, and that includes feedings in the middle of the night!

Sleep Patterns

In the first month of life, your newborn has not yet developed circadian rhythms. Simply put, she just doesn’t know day from night. Your baby will sleep and wake at what might seem to you to be strange and in some cases downright unpleasant hours. Some babies are often fast asleep much of the day and wide awake come nightfall. Most newborns sleep a total average of 15-16 hours per day, but this is usually broken up into 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, with wakeful periods in between. As your baby grows, her stretches of sleep will become longer.

Physical and Cognitive Development

Some babies are able to briefly lift their heads from birth, but most will slowly develop the necessary strength. Over the first month of life you will notice your baby’s increase in strength as he starts to lift his head for longer periods, especially when placed on his stomach. Newborns have limited eyesight, and see best from a distance of about 8-10 inches. Hearing is well developed and your baby will respond readily to the sound of voices, especially those that are the most familiar to him. He is already able to tell the difference between voices, and knows the sounds of mom and dad. He will start to respond to the sound of your voice by turning his head towards you and seeking for your face.

Much of your baby’s behavior at this point is instinctive. Hands will generally stay in a clenched fist, but he will grasp at a finger or object placed in his palm. The fetal position remains the most comfortable to a newborn, used to the confinement of the womb. This is why newborns often find swaddling to be comforting. Newborns startle easily, and your baby may jump at sudden noises or even in his sleep. This is called the Moro reflex, and he will grow out of it in time.

Newborns cry reflexively to communicate their needs, and your baby will probably cry fairly frequently in the first month. Soon, he will come to understand that crying elicits a response from mom and dad, and will begin to do it with more awareness. Towards the end of the first month, your baby will begin to understand that you will be there to fill his every need, and he has only to cry to get your attention. This is the beginning of trust and security.

The first month is a time to settle into life with your newborn, and to begin the bonding process. Enjoy this special time of cuddling and getting to know your little miracle, who wants nothing more than to be in your arms.

Leave a Reply