Your baby is finally home, and your life is forever changed. During the first month you’ll find that things are wonderful but also quite hard. Nothing could have prepared you for what you’re now experiencing. Here’s what you can look forward to in your 1 month old baby.
Bringing your newborn baby home from hospital is a magical moment, but the first month can be a steep learning curve. Knowing what to expect in terms of baby development can help to reassure parents and help them to best meet their baby’s needs. Remember, though, that every baby develops at their own pace, and your child may reach developmental milestones earlier or later than average. If you do have any concerns, talk to your doctor.
During those first early weeks, your baby is likely to be sleeping 16-17 hours a day and feeding every 2-4 hours. If you’re breastfeeding, the first month can be the most difficult, so ensure that you’re eating, drinking and resting well.
Experiencing the ‘baby blues’ is normal, with 50-70% of mums feeling tearful in the days after giving birth. But if you still feel the same by the end of month one, your doctor can help.
Let’s take a look at the 1 month old baby development milestones across key areas of physical, motor, mental, sensory and emotional development.
It’s normal for babies to lose 5-10% of their weight in the first week. After this, they should gain around 25-30g a day, and will have grown by around 3-4cm by the end of month one.
During this time, the brain is also rapidly developing, so expect the head circumference of a 1 month old baby to have grown by about 2-3cm. Remember, though, that your 1 month old baby’s weight, length and head circumference measurements can fall within a percentile range without cause for concern.
In month one, baby’s neck muscles will still be developing. Letting your baby spend some ‘tummy time’ lying on his front will help to develop these muscles, leading him to lift his head and turn to the side.
Babies are born with a strong sucking and swallowing reflex, and will root around and try to suck, even if they’re not feeding. Many babies are soothed by the sucking action and enjoy sucking on their hands. However, the British Dental Health Foundation and the UK National Health Service (NHS) advises against using dummies for babies over the age of 12 months, so be aware that this is a habit that can be difficult to break.
You’ll also notice that your baby was born with a natural grasp reflex, and will grip anything put in their palm – including your finger! They’ll also have a reflex called ‘babinski’, which occurs when stroking the bottom of baby’s foot.
The only way a newborn baby can communicate is through crying. Babies cry when wet, hungry, tired or when they want to be comforted. Your baby might also start to make throaty or humming noises, as they explore what sounds they can make.
Toys won’t be much use to your baby yet, although they might enjoy lying or spending tummy time on an activity mat. Your face is what will capture baby’s interest the most – come close enough and you’ll find your baby staring at you in wide-eyed wonder.
Baby’s eyesight develops quickly in the first month, and you can expect them to recognise your face as early as two weeks old. Remember that your baby can only see 20-30cm in front of them, and will have difficulty telling the difference between similar colors. The contrast between black and white, bold colors, and patterns is most stimulating for baby’s vision, so think twice before buying everything in pretty pastel colors.
When it comes to your baby’s hearing, fluid in the ear means that they respond best to loud or high pitched noises at first – although these can cause the startle reflex, where baby flings out his arms and legs at a loud sound or movement.
The tastes that your baby is exposed to are limited at this stage, as they’re getting all the nutrients they need from breast or formula milk. However, babies are born with a preference for sweet flavors, so lactose in breast milk and formula milk encourages them to drink.
Most babies love to be held, and having skin-to-skin contact with your baby from birth has numerous benefits, including encouraging bonding and helping baby to regulate his temperature, breathing and heartbeat. Get close and make eye contact with your baby when you talk, sing, and read to him.
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SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
As well as having lots of cuddles and skin-on-skin contact to encourage bonding and attachment, you might also consider using a sling to carry your baby, or giving him a gentle massage.
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You could even find yourself rewarded for this close contact with a smile. Although most babies give their first smiles between six and eight weeks old, you can encourage them by having lots of face time during month one – they’ll quickly learn to copy the expression!