Baby development milestones: Up to 1 month old
In the first few weeks after the birth of your baby, your newborn will be developing in leaps and bounds.
Not only do babies grow in weight and length, but their motor skills and senses will also be developing.
All babies develop at their own individual pace. Parents of premature babies should use a 'corrected' age based on their baby's due date. In general, your baby has the potential to grow and gain a number of new skills by 1 month old or shortly afterwards.
My newborn seems to be losing weight – should we be worried?
There is usually no reason to be alarmed. Newborns usually lose some weight (up to 7%) in excess body fluids during the first week after birth. However, by 14 days after birth, a baby's weight usually returns to its birth weight again.
Your baby will be weighed at birth and again about a week later, and your health visitor will carry out a new baby review 10–14 days after your baby is born. If there are any concerns about weight loss or gain, the health care provider will raise them and give you advice on feeding your baby.
Is my baby feeding enough?
Newborns need to feed often, at least 4 times in the first 24 hours and then 8 times a day, whether you feed on demand or by a schedule. After the first week, you shouldn't need to give feeds as often. A baby who is hungry will be fussy and start to root (a natural reflex) by moving her head backwards and forwards in search of mum's breast. A baby who has enough to eat will seem satisfied, enough so that sleep takes over. A baby that is producing 4–6 wet nappies a day is getting enough milk, as is a baby who is steadily gaining weight (except in the first week).
Why doesn't my newborn have a sleeping routine?
In the first few weeks, babies need sleep – and lots of it. Newborns normally sleep 15–16 hours a day, but not in a particular cycle. This is because they need time to adjust to daytime and night-time routine, and their sleep cycles are not the same as an adult's. Newborns spend much more time in lighter REM sleep, so they wake up more easily. You can help your baby establish a night-time sleeping routine by keeping as many activities as possible limited to the daytime and making night-time quiet, dark and boring.
Will my baby be grasping and reaching for things?
You may think what a strong grip your newborn has as your baby's tiny fingers curl around your own finger, but rather than being an intentional movement this is one of several natural reflexes that babies are born with. Learning how to handle things takes time. First, a newborn's nervous system has to fully develop and muscles and bones need to build up strength. Meanwhile, newborns come equipped with a set of primitive reflexes for the first days of life outside the womb. These include:
- Rooting reflex: Touching your baby's face will cause her to turn towards the touch as she opens her mouth in search of something to suck.
- Sucking reflex: When something enters your baby's mouth, her tongue will lower to form a vacuum and then she'll suck.
- Swallowing reflex: Swallowing when something enters her mouth. Your baby will learn to coordinate it with breathing – until then she may splutter and cough.
- Stepping reflex: Walking with a high step when held upright with her feet touching a firm surface.
- Crawling reflex: Bringing knees up under her body when placed on her front.
- Startle (Moro) reflex: Spreading out her arms, legs and fingers while arching her back when startled, then bringing her arms and legs into a foetal position as she clenches her fingers and toes.