Newborn baby first month. Growth & development and babycare basics.
After the baby is born and taken home from the hospital, many new moms are facing the same common problem of what to do next. The first month of the newborn’s life is always like a difficult test for young parents that they have to pass, and very often they don’t have any previous babycare experience.
Coming home: The first initial days with your baby
In the first few days at home, it’s very important that the family is calm – as this time should be spent in harmony and peace. It’s also highly recommended to avoid any kind of stress during this period, and to help with that, here’s some hints on how to do it:
- The most important thing now is focusing on baby care and your new family life. Since caring for the newborn baby is the top priority at this stage, any other personal or professional responsibilities need to be put on hold until after these first vital days. It’s completely necessary for the mother and her baby to make sure these first memories are positive together, after everything they went through at the hospital. Giving birth is a rollercoaster of feelings, experiences and emotions so now she needs to get the time she deserves to care, attend and love her new child at home.
- Make sure sleeping and feeding patterns of your baby stay as they were developed at the hospital, if you had a routine, it’s crucial to stick with this after arriving home.
- It’s probably for the best that you not have any visitors in these early days, even if it’s your close friends or neighbours.
The first month for the new-born baby and family is the month of adapting and getting their life on the right track. Adjusting to this new lifestyle and new responsibilities will be a learning curve for the parents, especially if this is your first child. It’s expected that there will be many changes to the routines of the parents, as they discover a new schedule that accommodates to their baby’s daily needs. The top priorities your baby needs now is loving care, which includes a list of essential procedures:
- Awakening and sleeping
- Going for walks outside
- Massage and cold tempering
Newborn baby routine
Each baby’s biological cycle is unique – and may differ greatly to other babies. You must remember that these natural biorhythms are nothing like of an adult’s, so you should avoid making these comparisons. This is because an infant’s daily mode usually consists of only around 2 or 3 hours’ sleep during the day and 30 to 60 minutes of awakening in between.
Sometimes parents think that their baby doesn’t sleep enough, and others might perceive that they sleep for too long. In both of these cases don’t worry; this is all completely natural, as newborns need some time to adjust their own individual patterns.
At this early stage, parents can try to observe and learn more about their baby’s developing needs to maintain their behavior. You will notice how your baby will get into own daily routine by the end of the second month naturally and by this time you will know what to expect in terms of the sleeping, awakened, and feeding cycles.
Bathing your baby for the first time
Most of babies can enjoy having their bath taken from the start, whereas others might find this new experience difficult to adjust to. It’s generally recommended that you wait until after the baby’s umbilical stump has naturally fallen off before you attempt a bathing session.
Newborns don’t need to be bathed every day; normally 2 to 3 times a week is good enough. Depending on the baby’s skin sensitivity you can decide how much soap to use and try to do herbal baths to see how much they enjoy it.
If your baby’s umbilical stump has not yet fallen, you can instead top and tail your baby (daily). For this, you should use a warm sponge, wet wipes and pieces of moistened cotton wool to improve the experience. For extra comfort, you can apply some baby cream and powder.
Necessary daily hygiene procedures:
- Washing face (eyes, nose and ear care)
- Combing hair and removal seborrheic crusts on the head
- Skin check (cutting nails on hands and toes)
- Genital care
- Treatment of the belly button (when needed)
Cold tempering and walks
Keep in mind that up until this point being in the hospital, the baby has had no exposure to fresh or conditioned air, and it’s important to start this exposure early in a safe, healthy and controlled manner.
In their infancy, especially during the first few weeks, it’s important to note that newborn’s thermoregulation is imperfect so be extra careful with taking your baby for a walk (especially if it’s a cold time of the year). Make sure to dress your little one according to the weather and remember that babies need one extra layer of clothes for extra defence against the elements.
You can dress them just like you dress yourself but also cover with a little blanket or put one more jacket on. If it’s too windy or chilly outside, bring your baby to the balcony or open the window for a few minutes to help them adjust and get used to the outside environment. You can also keep the window open while baby is asleep but nearing the expecting waking up time of the child, the room should be warm again.
When your baby reaches his second week of life it’s good to add light massaging and cold tempering to the daily routine. Leave him in his loose jacket for a minute or so while gently massaging his body and watch your baby’s reaction – if it’s pleasant, do it next time again.
Baby symptoms not to worry about
During the first month newborns are still adapting to their new life outside the womb. As a consequence of this, your baby may have some temporary natural symptoms. For example, you may notice that their head has a slightly deformed shape which usually happens while babies are going through birth channels. If this is the case, please don’t worry – it will come back to normal soon. Though turning him from one side to another while asleep could prove helpful.
Another thing that many parents can be disturbed about is that their babies are slightly crossed-eyed their first days. Apart from that – occasionally little spots (red/yellow colour of face or peeling skin) may be noticeable.
Sometimes newborns are crying without any tears, but this is also normal for the first weeks of life. If your baby is crying, it’s not a sign of him not being well- he just wants to get some attention. Many mothers can figure out through crying when their babies are asking for food or simply just willing to go to sleep.
Healthy babies have reflexes that are only occurring to them only during specific periods of life. You can check yourself if your baby has them to be sure they are developing in a healthy manner. Here is a list of those naturally developed newborn reflexes:
Sucking reflex (rooting reflex). If you stroke your baby’s cheek you will see how he turns the head toward your hand looking for a nipple. This is caused by a ‘’sucking” reflex that babies have even before birth.
Grasp reflex. Touching your baby’s hand will instantly make him contract the muscles in his fingers, essentially grasping his hand round your finger
Moro reflex. This reflex is usually a startled reaction to a loud sound. The baby may extend his arms, head and legs then pull his body back inwards.
Babinski reflex. If your newborn’s foot is gently stroked, his toes will stretch back toward the top of the foot, delayed by the other toes echoing the same movement.
Step reflex. The baby will be imitating walking when he is held vertically with his feet on the surface.
Swimming reflex. Babies this young can’t actually swim, but they can demonstrate a “swimming reflex” reflex. If you put your baby on his stomach, he will start making movements alike to swimming.
Skill development in babies
At this stage, it’s not been so long since your baby was born but so many powerful changes are happening in his development. After a very short period of time, newborns can recognize their mom as somebody they can trust. Babies learn voice of their mothers and start reacting to it. Even though growth of the unborn may seem unnoticeable, but it’s happening all the time: during his naps, communicating to parents, feeding, bathing and playing. If you observe your baby’s behavior, you may notice what amazing things he can do already:
- Learning how to focus on the particular object
- Trying to follow movements with the rattles with his eyes
- Beginning to make his first sounds
- Trying to hold his head up while lying on his stomach
- Reacting to loud sounds and shuddering or freezing
- Recognising the voice of his mother and trying to better listen when he hears a familiar voice
There is nothing more exciting for a mother than watching her own child happily growing up. It’s absolutely spectacular how our clever little newborns are and how fast they are learning about the world. At some moments it can be pretty overwhelming for you, while other special moments can leave you impatient as you wish nothing more than to have them grown even sooner – but don’t rush it! These early bonding experiences with your newborn child should be cherished and you should enjoy every step of your baby’s development as it comes.
Just remember that each baby is unique and grows at his own pace. What have your little ones learned so far? Let’s share their little achievements that make us so proud of them!