During your newborn baby’s first week of life, he or she will undergo some incredible changes. Some you may notice as you gaze lovingly into your little one’s eyes. But others may be happening behind the scenes entirely as your baby sleeps, eats, and coos through his or her days. Here are just some of the things you can expect from your new baby during that first week at home:
During the first week of life, your little one is bound to be exhausted. Expect your new son or daughter to clock 19-20 hours of sleep each day. Sleep is important for brain development – and for giving you time to adjust to the demands of your new family member. As an important reminder, always put your little one to sleep on his or her back.
While every baby is different, most will nurse very frequently this week, feeding every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Rest assured, your newborn is working to build up your milk supply. If you have concerns about the frequency of your baby’s feedings, read our guide on newborn nursing: Nursing 101: Is your newborn getting enough milk? and don’t be afraid to consult with your pediatrician – that’s what he or she is there for.
Supporting your newborn’s head is critical for the first weeks of life. You’ll find your little one’s head flops forward or backward slightly, but a gentle hand from mom or dad can keep baby comfortable and safe. At this point, your baby may be able to turn his or her head from side to side – and even hold it up for a short period during tummy time.
Much of what baby does at this stage will be by reflex. You will find his or her hands are almost always gripped into tiny fists. If you flatten out a baby hand with your finger, your little one will instinctively grip you. Likewise, if you hold your finger against your baby’s knuckles, he or she will most likely latch onto you. In several weeks, by week 5-6, your baby will learn to clasp hands and pry one open with the other.
During this first week, you may find your little one is already beginning to interact with his or her surroundings. Your baby will show signs of excitement or discomfort – and may even respond more positively to a softer tone from mom or dad. Your little one may even seem to prefer a higher-pitched voice, which explains all that baby talk your older relatives do.
Lay your hand on baby’s chest and you’ll notice your newborn has a pretty fast heart rate. In fact, a new baby’s heart rate can reach as high as 150 beats per minute – and that’s not cause for concern. You may even discover that your little one’s heart beats slower during a bowel movement or particularly dramatic yawn.
By the third or fourth day, your little one may find his or her voice and begin to cry more often. This is the way babies communicate their needs, after all. For now, until baby’s tear ducts mature several months in, your little one will not produce tears.
It should be noted that every child is unique and that each newborn baby may develop at his or her own pace. If ever you have concerns about your baby reaching milestones typical to his or her age, we encourage you to consult your pediatrician.
Read more: 5 common mistakes new parents make