If you are a first-time parent, you will likely be more cautious and more on guard for your baby’s growth process. You may feel that something is wrong if your baby is not developing according to a milestone checklist. Reading lists of what your baby should be doing during their first month may or may not cause concern if the baby does not reach certain milestones. A milestone checklist helps you understand what to expect in the first month of a baby’s life. Remember that:
- No two babies are the same.
- All babies react differently.
- All babies grow and develop at their specific pace.
Every baby may reach a milestone a bit later or a bit earlier than anticipated as average. Remember that lists such as this one are given as a universal guide to help parents watch for these milestones. If you have concerns about your baby’s development, please contact your pediatrician.
The Need for Tummy Time
During the first month of life, this tiny baby’s growth is rapid. Babies usually like to lay on their back, but you should also gently put your baby on their tummy a few times during the day for the first month. They may fuss a bit, and this is all right. Tummy time helps them to begin to turn over on their own. When the baby lies on their tummy, they attempt to raise their head a bit more each time you do tummy time to the point of raising the head at least 45 degrees. Tummy time helps to strengthen the neck and back muscles.
Vision and Reflexes
Reflexes begin to take shape during the first month of life, such as eye movement and the ability to focus on a face. Babies learn early on to identify their mother. You may smile and make faces at your baby, and they may not respond right away, but give them time, and soon you will notice them smile when you look at them. They may even try to mimic your face as they are great copy-cats. Babies love faces, and you will soon see that they are following faces with their eyes.
- Point out things around them.
- Ask questions.
- Your baby finds that your voice’s tone is comforting and reassuring, and they begin to trust you as someone who protects and keeps them safe and secure.
Toys should be bright-colored because, at one-month, bright colors are what the baby sees the best. They may even try to search for that bright-colored toy. Keep a few brightly colored toys within their reach during tummy time.
During this time, you may notice your baby starting to make noises other than crying, such as cooing or jabbering. These noises are signs of contentment and satisfaction. Babies only cry if they are hungry, have a wet diaper, or are in pain, such as a case of colic. Babies are typically able to learn quickly.
During the first month, they will become more sensitive to abnormal noises such as a loud bang, and you will see their body jerk in response to these noises.
Coordination of Hands and Fingers
Your baby will also start to bring their hands to their face and discover their fingers. You may catch them playing with their fingers and begin to suck them.
Weight and Size
A newborn’s average weight is about seven pounds six ounces. This weight fits into the 50th percentile of all newborn babies. Your baby may weigh below or above this percentile, which is all right. During the first few days, they will lose some weight, but babies, on average, gain as much as over two pounds by the end of the first month of life.
Babies typically grow between one and a half to two inches by the end of the first month. Your baby may grow less or more during this time. The doctor monitors the size of your baby’s head as it reflects brain growth. On average, head circumference is about 13 inches, and by the end of the first month, 15 inches.
The Five Senses
Newborns are born with all five senses intact, such as touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. At birth, a baby can see eight to ten inches away. They can track movement by week two. Researchers have found that babies can distinguish between light, dark, and some but not all colors. As the days pass, vision improves quickly.
Newborns have fully developed hearing. Babies soon recognize their mother or father’s voice. When the noise starts, babies tend to quiet down. Newborns tend to be attracted to higher-pitched sounds instead of lower-pitched sounds. Before discharged home, the hospital screens their hearing.
Newborn babies have a strong sense of smell and can pick up on their mother’s scent.
Babies must develop a taste for sweets, and of course, they show a preference towards sweet foods and drinks. It is best to avoid sweet foods and beverages until later. Research shows that babies prefer breastfeeding and human milk to formulas or a bottle.
Gently touching a baby creates feelings of security. Wrapping up your baby in a soft, warm blanket is the same as a safe cocoon. Cocooning your baby is not appropriate after two months due to their increased movements, such as rolling over. Never swaddle a baby in a blanket so tight that they cannot freely move their arms or legs. Never swaddle a baby if the weather is hot, as this can cause them to overheat.
Newborns have at least one to five bowel movements per day for the first month. These bowel movements decrease to one to two per day after the first month. If they are breastfed, their stools will be seedy and loose and represent a mustard color. The color changes as the child grows.
Nasal congestion is common in newborn infants—newborns breathe through their noses. You may think that they have chest congestion, but this congestion is more often in the nose in most cases.
The cough in a newborn is a reflex action caused by air expulsion from the lungs. Coughing is not always related to an upper or lower respiratory infection. Babies do react to irritants like dust and smoke. They can also swallow food or water incorrectly, creating a cough. Infants can have a postnasal drip that can also cause them to cough. However, if they have an increased temperature, is fussy, does not want to eat or drink, speak with your pediatrician as soon as possible.
Until a baby reaches two months, their sleep schedule may be sporadic. Babies usually sleep at least 15-hours per day, taking three to five naps per day. Babies will be awake for a few hours per day and may sleep from two to four hours between feedings. A baby’s overall sleep time can be upwards of 18-hours per day, decreasing as they continue to age.
Schedule an Appointment for Your Baby’s Health Check
If you have questions, concerns, or need an appointment for your baby, North Texas Medical Center is here for you. We are a level four trauma center, serving the community of Gainesville and surrounding areas. We have over nine specialty departments, and an award-winning pediatric center.