Congratulations! You have finally welcomed your beautiful little bundle. The first week of its life might be overwhelming, especially if this is your first child. But, it will certainly be a special period of your life. You may feel amazed at how everything has changed overnight.
Also, you may feel confused because the change is so drastic. Although your little one has just arrived, there is a lot to learn about the development of a 1-week old baby. A lot will be happening during this time, even if it comes to 3-day old babies. That is why it is important to know what you can expect during this slightly crazy period.
What You Must Know
- Take everything one step at a time. You do not have to learn everything about parenting in the first few days. You have your whole lifetime!
- Focus on the most important things. The most important thing at this stage is recovery and rest for both you and your little one.
- Take care of your body. Your body has been through a lot, no matter if you gave birth through C-section or vaginally. It requires time to recover through rest, and it is also crucial to nourish it in the best possible way.
- Soak everything in. Nothing else can compare to the first week with your little bundle, so enjoy every moment, such as those newborn smells and snuggles.
New parents will have to adjust a lot during the first week, so remember to nourish your body and take care of yourself. It is recommended to sleep whenever you have the chance so you can recover as soon as possible.
Focus on carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins and drink plenty of water to help your body heal. Sleep deprivation is a big issue for new parents, so it is crucial to provide your body with nourishment.
Your Baby is Growing
Newborns are classified in the following ways: small for gestational age or SGA, the average for expected age, and lastly large for gestational age or LGA. The weight and height of your little one vary depending on whether it was born premature or full-term. Your baby will be evaluated by the medical staff based on the average measurements.
Most babies born full-term will weigh between 5 lbs. 11 oz. and 8 lbs. 5 oz., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Any measurements in that range are considered healthy. A full-term baby (one born between week 39 and week 40 and 6 days) is considered to be of low birth weight if it weighs less than 5 lb. 8 oz. Anything more than 8 lb. 8 oz. is considered a high birth weight. Remember that your little one’s size after delivery might not reflect its weight as an adult.
Your little one will lose some weight during the first days of its life (the excess fluid from delivery and pregnancy). Most babies are lighter by the time they are discharged from the hospital. There is no need to be alarmed because this is a completely normal part of your baby’s development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 3-day old babies lose around 10% of their initial weight. However, they tend to regain it within the first week. After that, they will start gaining weight quickly – around 4 to 7 oz. per week during the first several months.
Your 1-week old baby will have its first doctor’s appointment as well (usually just a few days after arriving home). The doctor will measure your little one’s head circumference. It is very important to follow these measurements to see what is going on with its brain development.
Your 1-week old baby girl will have a head circumference of around 13.75 inches (35 cm). The number is a bit larger for baby boys (0.5 inches or 1 cm).
Milestones in the Development
During the first week, your little one might:
- Smile spontaneously or almost reflexively. Even 3-day old babes will have this kind of smile. It should be present until your baby is 10 weeks old.
- Lift its head briefly when it is on its tummy. Remember, newborns do not have great head control so you need to provide head support all the time.
- Move its arms and legs equally on both sides. Your baby shouldn’t move one leg or one arm more than the other because this could be a sign of weakness or injury.
- Focus on the objects that are near their faces. Your baby will be able to briefly focus on things about 12 to 15 inches away. Though its vision will not be the best, it will develop over the next few months.
When You Should be Concerned
1-week old babies will not be very active, spending most of the day sleeping (14-17 hours a day). However, if they do not wake up for feeding sessions or they seem more lethargic than usual, you should consult your baby’s doctor.
Also, you should seek medical attention if your baby has the symptoms of a fever or yellowing skin. It is important to consult a doctor in such cases because fevers at this stage can be a sign of serious infections.
Basics of Baby Care
There are some things you should know when it comes to taking care of your 1-week old baby. It is very important to take good care of your little one, especially during the first week of its development.
Umbilical Cord Care
Forget about the old umbilical cord care instructions. Putting alcohol on your baby’s umbilical cord is something that is no longer recommended. Instead, the AAP suggests doing nothing at all. Your little one’s umbilical cord is going to fall off without any special treatment in about one week.
It is recommended to give your baby sponge baths during this period so you avoid getting the umbilical cord too wet. Simply use a baby bath which does not soak the belly button, or lay a towel and wash your little one with a warm rag. Firstly wash your baby’s skin with soapy water, followed by warm water.
Do not be alarmed if you notice cheesy white substance on your baby’s skin. It is called vernix and it used to protect your little one’s skin in the womb. It will absorb into its skin, so no need to wipe it off. Your baby’s skin might seem cracked and dry as well, but you should not worry because it is normal.
Your baby will be still passing meconium (a mixture of mucus, skin cells, and other substances ingested at the delivery), so its bowel movements will look sticky, dark, and almost tar-like. Apart from being difficult to clean, they are completely normal.
By the time your little is 5-7 days old, it should be having at least six wet diapers and about three to four yellow stools a day. Your baby’s stool will vary in color, anywhere from bright yellow to greenish, in case you only feed it breast milk.
During the first week, its stools will change. Firstly, they will be green, thick, and tar-like (meconium). Then, they will change to yellow/green transitional stools before becoming more regular as your baby becomes older.
You should burp your 1-week old baby after each feeding session to prevent fussiness and gas. Breastfed babies do not have to be burped as often as formula-fed babies because they do not swallow a lot of air during feedings. However, every baby is different so pay attention to how your little one is acting after eating. If it appears fussy or uncomfortable, it might need to be burped.
It is important to trim your baby’s fingernails once they become long. This can prevent accidental scratches of the face or the eyes. You can do it by using baby nail clippers or a nail file. If no one can help you, do it while your little one is eating or sleeping to avoid movement.
Nutrition and Feeding
Your feeding technique may change as your little one grows and develops. You can feed it breast milk from your breasts, expressed breast milk using a bottle, a formula using a bottle, or a mixture of formula and breast milk.
You might notice your baby seems especially uninterested in eating during the first 24 hours after the delivery. This is normal since babies need to recover after birth as well. Just check whether your little one is eating enough by counting how many dirty and wet diapers it has daily.
Breast milk provides enough nutrients for 3-day old babies as well as 1-week old babies. However, not every mother can provide its little one with breast milk. Remember, formula-fed babies, do not lack any nutrients if fed correctly.
There are many options for providing your baby with breast milk – feeding it breast milk full-time, feeding it breast milk part-time, feeding it pumped breast milk as well as formula, or using the breast milk of a donor.
It is important to get your milk supply established during the first week after birth. You can get your breast milk supply by nursing on demand, getting plenty of rest and drinking enough fluids, as well as putting your little one to the breast often. Consult your doctor, lactation consultant, or a nurse in case you are having any troubles. Also, if you have a fever or notice any hardened or reddened spots in your breast, seek immediate medical attention because that might be a sign of infection.
There are some tips which may help you with breastfeeding:
- If you are not sure how to breastfeed your little one, 8-12 times per day during the first weeks would be optimal. For example, 3-day old babies will need around 1.3 fl. oz. of milk per feed, which is just over two tablespoons. On day 7, your baby will need a bit over 3.5 tablespoons of milk per feed.
- Make sure your baby nurses from both breasts during each feeding, completely emptying the breasts.
- Consult your doctor in case you experience sore nipples, engorgement, or a poor latch.
- Try to avoid formula supplements once you have established your supply unless your doctor says otherwise.
- Most experts do not recommend introducing pacifiers or bottles until the breastfeeding pattern is well established.
In case you are not breastfeeding your baby, it will most likely be fed iron-fortified baby formula. During the first few days, your little one will drink around one to two ounces per feeding session, every two to three hours. By the end of its first week, the amount will increase to two to four ounces.
It is best to feed your 1-week old baby on demand, every 1.5 to 3 hours without any strict schedule. However, it is helpful to:
- Learn your little one’s hunger cues. Crying is a late sign your baby is hungry, so you should not wait until then.
- Make sure you are nursing at least 8-12 times a day.
- Wake your baby up to feed after 3 hours if it does not do it on its own.
- Help your little one wake up by stripping it down to a diaper. This will ensure it is sucking properly and it stays awake during feedings.
Baby Planet Overview
The first week of your newborn’s life might be a bit challenging, especially if you are dealing with your first child. Most parents are sleep deprived during this stage, and nurturing may be a bit confusing at first. However, this period is very special for both you and your child, so you should soak in all the wonderful moments.
It is important to take proper care of your little one, especially during the earliest stage of its development. Also, you should pay attention to your own body because it needs to recover. In case you notice any strange behavior, such as a lack of interest in feeding, you should contact your doctor.
- Your Newborn’s First Week: What to Expect. raisingchildren.net.au