Baby Development: The first month
Learn more about baby development and parenting advice for your child, we start from the first month. Look what your baby can do already! She knows your voice and your smell. She’s ready to communicate and by the end of her first month, she shows a preference for familiar people.
Your newborn will want to eat and sleep whenever she needs it. Some babies will sleep as much as 20 hours a day, waking and sleeping randomly. Others require far less and may spend the time crying instead. None distinguish between night and day – this is something that will take time and sensible handling as you adjust your baby to more civilized hours!
First time for everything
Just after birth, although everything is in place, your baby’s body is trying out many functions for the first time and is physically helpless. Her birthweight drops and is regained at about 10 days. Over the next weeks, your baby makes rapid progress, as her systems mature and her weight increases.
Look at me!
Your baby’s senses are intact but not well developed. Even in the womb, your baby responds to familiar sounds, like the music of a soap opera you watch regularly. Her eye muscles are weak and she finds it difficult to focus beyond 22cms (9″), which is the distance that adults usually adopt, when holding a baby. It is also the distance at which babies are held when breast-fed. Bottle-feeding mothers should adopt this distance, making eye contact with the baby throughout.
I can hear you
Newborns turn towards and track voices from birth. She recognizes your smell and your voice within the first few days and is comforted by familiar voices. She can sleep with a background of general household sounds, so there’s no need to whisper and creep around when she sleeps. Babies differ in terms of how easily they are disturbed and they take different amounts of time to settle afterwards. This is perfectly normal.
Little and often
Your baby received ongoing nourishment in the womb and will take about a month to adjust to a regular feeding schedule. She may initially need feeding every two to three hours. If breast-fed, her stools will be the colour and consistency of mustard, with a mild sour-milk smell. Babies on formula have more formed stools, which are light brown and smell more like mature stools.
All babies swallow air when they feed. If she swallows too much, her bloated stomach and discomfort will alert you to burp her mid-way through feeding. Other babies don’t need burping until after feeding. She is also likely to ‘spit’ after feeding. This is normal and different from projectile vomiting, which needs medical advice.
Support your baby’s head
Although your baby can raise her head a little when lying down, her head will flop when she is upright. Support her with your hand. Within about a week, she will raise her head away momentarily when resting against you. Within a month she will balance her head for a few seconds, but still needs support.