Congratulations! Oh the joy of bringing your baby home! The journey ahead brings in new queries on taking care of her — pooping, peeing, diaper change, feeding and crying. With all the challenges coming ahead, learn about typical growth and development of a newborn as you adapt to parenthood.
Remember, all babies are unique and have different timelines to reach their milestones. The developmental guidelines are just to let you know that if not now, your baby will sooner or later show these signs. For example, a premature offspring may need a bit more time than a baby born full term.
Your Baby’s Growth Week-By-Week – First Week
The APGAR Scale
The Apgar scale, the very first test given to a newborn, occurs in the delivery room right after the birth. It was designed to quickly evaluate a newborn's physical condition and to determine an immediate need for extra medical care.
An acronym for: Appearance (skin color), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflexes), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration (breathing rate and effort), the Apgar test is usually given twice: once at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes.
These five factors are scored separately to obtain a total which will be between 0-10 and 10 is the highest score possible, but it's rarely obtained.
Your baby still seems to be curled, with her arms and legs not properly stretched as it’s not been long since she has come out of the womb.
A week old baby can only focus on objects that are 10-15 centimeters away and only for a few seconds at a time. Notice when your new born is quiet and alert, how she focuses on your face when in your arms.
Sleeping schedules may vary from infant to infant, but on an average your baby will sleep for around 16-18 hours daily, usually broken up into small naps.
Food and nutrition is the most important thing new parents should be concerned about. Most newborns will ask for a feed every two hours around the clock.
Initially, the baby will be peeing often and her stools will be thick and green due to meconium (a substance that was building up in her intestines as a foetus). As she starts to feed making the meconium gradually clear up, the stools will turn yellowish in colour.
Sensory, Social and Emotional Development
Grasp reflex: Stroke your baby’s palm with your finger. She’ll immediately grab your finger and hold on so tight you might have to pry her little fingers off. It’s her way of trying to get as much skin-to-skin contact as possible.
Tonic neck (or fencing) reflex: When your baby is lying on her back, gently turn her head to the right. Her right arm will shoot out in the front and she’ll raise her other arm above the head.
Rooting Reflex: Touch your baby's cheeks, lips or mouth and see how she turns her head and opens her mouth. This is one of the reflexes your baby is born with which helps her learn how to look for your breast and suckle, known as the Rooting Reflex.
At this stage your baby doesn’t know who is holding, feeding or caring for her, which is quite a heartbreaker! She is too young to recognize mama and dada yet!
Remember, crying is the only mode of communication for your little angel to tell you "I am hungry!”, “I am uncomfortable” or “I've peed and I'm wet”. The first few weeks take a toll on your sleep pattern and result in fatigue — a hectic routine is to be expected. She might wake up and start crying in the wee hours so as a preemptive measure, check on her every hour or so. Keep her wrapped in a light cloth/blanket that could create an environment of warmth and comfort of your womb.
Contact your Pediatrician If/When you Notice:
Dehydration: Signs that your newborn is not getting enough fluids include fewer than three wet diapers per day, acting excessively sleepy or lethargic or dry mouth and lips. Poop problems: No bowel movement in the first 48 hours at home, or whitish mucus in the stool or streaks or flecks of red, which indicate blood in the stool.
Respiratory distress include: Grunting, flaring of the nostrils, or chest retractions (sucking in the skin above the collarbone, between the ribs, or below the ribs). Consistently fast breathing is also a sign.
One arm or leg is obviously different in muscle tone or power to the other.
She has an unusually stiff or floppy body.
Umbilical cord stump problems: Any odor, pus, or persistent bleeding from the umbilical cord stump or redness or swelling around the navel, which could be a sign of an infection.
Vaccination Schedule for Week 1:
Vaccination injections may cause slight swelling on the injected area which is normal, do not apply medicines to the swollen area.
BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) prevents tuberculosis, but should not be administered to newborns if a case of TB is suspected or confirmed in a family member who lives in close vicinity.
IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine) as a better, safer alternative to OPV, available in India since 2006.
Hepatitis B: It helps prevent liver infection and should be given within 12 hours of birth.
With your first baby, everything that happens from her first cries to her first diaper change can be new, unexpected, exciting, and sometimes overwhelming. Keep in mind that babies are much more hardy than they appear and are endowed with strong survival mechanisms by Mother Nature. Have faith in your judgement and never shy away from asking your doctor any questions you may have!