Newborns accomplish a variety of developmental milestones throughout their first year of life. Cooing, babbling, imitating speech, and saying the first words are just a few of the numerous developmental milestones that newborns achieve throughout their first year. They start to grin, laugh, and connect with you. However, the first week of your baby’s life may be filled with both immense joy and considerable uncertainty. They’re about to adjust to the new noises, lights, darkness, and sounds around them. Baby milestones are something the parents should be aware of.
Important Development Milestones For Newborn Baby
Babies tend to hit certain developmental milestones around the same ages, but it’s important to keep in mind that every child is different and will progress through these stages at their own pace. Also, keep in mind that a premature baby may be behind schedule in reaching some baby milestones, which may affect how you interpret the information you are about to read.
In the first week after leaving the safety and comfort of their mother’s womb, newborns begin training their bodies to adapt to the new, exciting world they have entered. However, a newborn acquires some abilities in the first week of life. This is likely to be the most noticeable thing your baby does in the first few weeks.
Most of what a newborn does in the first week after birth is due to reflexes1. This means, your newborn does not purposefully perform these tasks. Still, it can be counted as baby milestones as it’s a positive sign that the baby’s development is proceeding normally. Some infant reflexes persist for several months, while others fade relatively quickly.
Some important newborn reflexes are:
- Rooting reflex: When you stroke a baby’s cheek or mouth, he turns his head toward your hand because of an instinct called the rooting reflex. This aids his search for the nipple during nursing
- Sucking reflex: Another survival instinct that develops even before birth is sucking. You could have seen your baby sucking their thumb in the womb during a prenatal ultrasound. Your baby will start sucking on anything if you touch the roof of their mouth with it, such as your breast, pinky finger, or pacifier
- Babinski reflex: The Babinski reflex occurs naturally when you touch your infant’s foot from heel to toe. When the bottom of the foot is touched, the baby’s big toe will bend upward and the remaining toes will spread out. This is known as the Babinski reflex. The presence of this reflex indicates healthy communication between the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system)
- Startle reflex: When your newborn is scared, like when they hear a loud noise, their arms and legs automatically stretch out. This is a startle reflex
- Moro reflex: When a baby is shocked or has the sensation of falling, a natural reaction occurs called the Moro reflex. A surprised expression will cross the baby’s face, and his or her arms will flail out to the sides, palms up, thumbs flexed
Note: One difference between the startle reflex and the Moro reflex is that the former is triggered by sound while the latter is not.
Development Milestones For Newborn Baby
Keep an eye out for the following developmental milestones in your newborn baby:
- Hearing is developed completely by the time a baby is born2. Babies who have developed normal hearing should flinch when they hear loud noises. Babies’ hearing will be checked while they’re still in the hospital
- If you put your baby on her stomach, she may lift her head for a few seconds
- The newborn focal range includes distances as close as 8–10 inches3, which is about the same as the distance between the baby and your face when you gaze at her.
- Your infant’s visual acuity is limited to three colors at this age: black, white, and gray4
- All of a baby’s senses are present at birth, but their acuity varies. Their sense of smell is among the most acute5
- The region of the brain responsible for smelling develops in the first few weeks of gestation. They’ll start to favor the scent of their mom and her breast milk within the first few days6
Related Reading: New-Born Care After Delivery At Home: 9 Practical Tips
Feeding Milestones For A Newborn Baby
At this age, breastfed infants can consume as much breast milk or formula as they need; however, the recommended amount is between 16 and 24 ounces (400 to 700 ml) per 24-hour period. Sometimes feeds might last up to an hour, especially if your baby is breastfeeding.
Babies need frequent feedings throughout the day and night to ensure they gain enough weight.
- Typically, breastfed infants need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours7
- Infants who are fed formula need it every 3 to 4 hours8
Related Reading: 12 Foods To Increase Breastmilk Supply In New Moms
If your newborn seems sleepy all the time, you shouldn’t worry. It is common for newborns to experience a prolonged period of profound drowsiness on the second and possibly even third day of life. This may be nature’s way of allowing babies to recover from the exhausting work of birth.
- Babies of one week of age still don’t recognize the difference between day and night, and they spend most of the day sleeping
- Their circadian rhythms have not fully formed yet, and they have not begun producing melatonin, the hormone that signals the onset of sleepiness in response to the onset of darkness as per this source
- Newborns sleep for roughly 70%, or 16–17 hours, per day says this source
Related Reading: 8 Indian Home Remedies For Baby Sleep
At this point, there are no speech milestones to achieve. Nonetheless, during the first week, you will also begin to understand how your baby communicates with you through baby signs and body language. For instance:
- Baby-sucking sounds may indicate hunger
- Your infant may whine if they’re feeling ill
- Yawns are a sign of fatigue or sleepiness
Related Reading: 12 Fun And Learning (Activities For Babies 0-6 Months)
In the days and weeks immediately following birth, there are not many physical milestones to be reached.
- Your infant may clench his or her fists in response to loud noises and appear startled.
- In addition, they frequently exhibit jerky, involuntary movements in their sleep. These jerky motions are common in newborns
How To Keep A Newborn Baby Busy (List 4-5 Activities)
Your baby will gain a wealth of knowledge from you in the first month of their life. Newborn baby activities help with their physical and cognitive development. The best part is that you can start playing with your baby right away. Incorporating stimulating activities is the best way to introduce the play to your newborn. There is no need for extensive preparation, expensive materials, or expert knowledge to come up with simple ideas to occupy a newborn. Are you wondering what to do with a newborn baby all day? Even though there are no things to do with a newborn outside, there are things to do with a newborn inside the comfort of home.
- There is no need to worry about a set schedule for newborn activities. Instead, make it a point to constantly engage your baby in conversation and interactions
- Simple things like oil massage are great for keeping a newborn entertained while they are awake
- Try to imitate their noises and facial expressions. Your newborn will enjoy it
- They’re stimulated by your lullabies and gentle touch
- Tummy time is another way to keep a newborn busy. Tummy time is crucial for newborns to strengthen their neck muscles and hold their heads up. It strengthens their arms, hands, and fingers for fine motor skills, provides sensory stimulation, and prepares them to roll. As early as day 1, you can start tummy time9
Related Reading: How To Make A Baby Laugh? 12 Ways To Make Her Giggle!
When To See A Doctor
A mother’s intuition is never wrong. If you suspect something is wrong with your newborn, do not hesitate to consult a doctor.
Reflexes are an indication of a functional nervous system and should be present and strong.
- Any missing or abnormal reflexes should be reported to your pediatrician
- For instance, an abnormal Babinski reflex could mean a baby’s brain is having trouble sending signals to the spinal cord
- If you notice that your newborn does not show any signs of startling when exposed to loud noises, you should consult your pediatrician
- A lack of the Moro reflex in newborns is concerning because it could point to an illness or injury10
- If your infant isn’t waking for feedings or is inconsolable, it may be time to seek medical attention
While understanding how babies develop in general is beneficial, don’t feel obligated to obsessively track your child’s progress against the baby milestone chart. Seek medical attention, though, if you have any reason to believe your newborn is not touching or is significantly behind schedule in meeting the milestones outlined in this piece. If you’re worried about whether or not your baby is developing normally, talk to your doctor. He is the most qualified person to investigate it further.