What happens during the first month of your baby’s life? I bet you don’t know. I didn’t know until recently. My baby is turning four months old as I write this post, so I’ll share some of my research and personal experiences from the past few months. My goal is to write one new monthly development post for at least the first year, every month.
Your baby’s vision will gradually improve over the first month. When she is first born, she’ll barely be able to focus her eyes. During the first week, baby starts focusing on objects placed 8-12 inches from the face. Vision continues to develop over the next few weeks, approaching depth perception towards the end. Your baby may frequently go crossed eyed. This really freaked my wife and I out the first few weeks. No one told us that this is completely normal. It is nothing to worry about for the first month or so. It will eventually go away as the baby learns to control her eye movements.
During the first week of life, your baby’s movements will be mostly reflex actions. There will be very little coordination, which is why swaddling is so important at night. My baby used to whack herself in the head when she wasn’t swaddled and wake herself up. Approaching the end of the first month, you’ll notice baby’s movements becoming more coordinated. She won’t be randomly flailing around.
Going along with baby’s new motions will be suckling. Your baby will soon discover that sucking on things is fun and relaxing. It’s a great way for baby to sooth himself. Some parents discourage pacifiers, worrying about future dental work or developing a bad habit. Most babies will stop using the paci when they are ready. Dental work doesn’t become a concern unless paci use continues into the 2’s and 3’s. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends using pacifiers! Pacifiers can help prevent SIDS, so find one the right size for your baby and let them suck away!
You’ll want to pay special attention to your baby’s eating habits. You baby will probably not each much for the first 24 hours. After that, the baby will probably start to suckle on momma when placed by the nipple. Don’t be fooled – breastfeeding is extremely difficult to get started. My wife and struggled for weeks. Make sure your baby is latching properly and is actually swallowing. Many hospitals have a breastfeeding consultant that can help you get started, just ask! Baby will want to eat every 2-4 hours, and it is very important the first month that you feed whenever hungry.
Let’s talk about poop!
Your baby should be pooping 2-4 times per day and peeing about twice that much. During the first week, both will be more frequent. Keep track of your baby’s feeding and bowel movements, this is the most important insight to your baby’s health you have. You can use our tracking record to help you out! We tracked everything for the first month. I’ll post the results later.
During the first week, your baby will be awake and alert for 10-30 minutes every 3-4 hours. This is the best time to interact and play with your baby. Playtime will likely just be talking and smiling at her. She can’t comprehend much beyond that. It is important to maintain eye contact and speak to your baby. It helps her learn the flow of our language and how to interact with other humans.
After the first week or so, baby will be awake and alert 20-60 minutes every 8-12 hours. The rest of the time she’ll be sleeping! That’s as much as a cat sleeps! Your baby is doing a lot of growing and recovery from the birth, so she needs her sleep. Make sure she gets it.
Finally, during this first month your baby will start to form an emotional attachment to you, assuming you are spending time together! Make sure you get as much one-on-one time with your baby as you can. Take as much time off work as you can afford. You’ll never get another chance to bond with your baby like this.