Infant Development: Your Baby's First Month

The development milestones of a baby in its first month.

From that first day your bring your new baby home, you and your spouse will be in awe of the new little person living in your home with you, especially if this is your first child. You will hear horror stories about sleepless nights and endless diaper changes, but that first month with your newborn is one of the most exciting times in your life. You will find it hard to take your eyes off your precious new baby, and she will be having a hard time taking her eyes off you, too. What are some things you should expect during your baby's first month of life?

First and foremost, you may be amazed at how much newborns sleep. They are almost like cats, in this sense! At the back of your mind, you might be wondering how new parents don't get enough sleep, especially with a baby who sleeps anywhere from sixteen to eighteen hours of the day. Unfortunately, unlike adults, this sleep time is sporadic. Babies will often sleep for anywhere from one to three hours at a time and then wake up, expecting to be fed and changed. The understanding that day is awake time and night is asleep time has no bearing on a newborn. When they're ready to eat, they're ready to eat and nothing better stand in their way!

Your baby will also still have a remnant of her clamped umbilical cord attached to her belly button for the first few weeks. New parents often worry needlessly about the umbilical cord, wondering if they are hurting their baby when they pick her up. Simply be sure to clean the umbilical cord every single time your baby needs her diaper changed. To do this, wipe the area around the cord with a q-tip that has been soaked with rubbing alcohol. To prevent the diaper from rubbing and irritating the umbilical cord, you can either buy special diapers that have a hole where the cord can stick out or you can simply fold regular diapers down so they sit under the cord. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if the cord begins to bleed or get irritated.

Don't worry if your baby's head is a little bumpy. These are just battle scars from the delivery and should decrease as the weeks go by. You may notice swelling in her eyelids, which is also very common. If you see her eyes cross a little bit when she is looking at you, do not panic. Your baby can only clearly see things that are about one foot from her, so she may be trying to focus. If her skin seems to be extra dry during these first few weeks, this is also quite normal.

Your baby's neck is not at its strongest during the first few months, so always be sure to support her neck when you are lifting her up. Try to keep the noises around her to a minimum, since newborns rarely like loud noises and will startle easily. Many newborns also seem to have a continuous case of the hiccups.

Be sure to talk to your baby continuously during these first weeks and months. She loves to hear the inflections in your voice. You may find that your baby will stare at you and try to mimic the faces you make and the lip movements you make as you talk. These vocal interactions are very crucial in the development of your baby, so, even if you feel silly talking to her in public, just do it.

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