Newborn Developmental Milestones
From the moment babies are born, they respond to the world around them. Their reactions — being calmed by a parent’s embrace or startled by a loud sound — are examples of normal infant development.
Doctors use milestones to tell if a baby is developing as expected. Thereis a wide range of whatis considered normal, so some babies may gain skills earlier or later than others. Babies who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your baby’s progress.
Newborn Development Areas
How Much Will My Newborn Grow?
In the first month of life, babies usually catch up and surpass their birthweight, then steadily continue to gain weight. A weight loss up to about 10 percent of birthweight is normal in the first two to three days after birth. However, the baby should have gained this back and be at his or her birthweight by about two weeks. While all babies may grow at a different rate, the following indicates the average for boys and girls up to 1 month of age:
- Weight: after the first two weeks, should gain about 1 ounce each day
- Average length at birth: 20 inches for boys, 19 3/4 inches for girls
- Average length at one month: 21 1/2 inches for boys, 21 inches for girls
- Head size: increases to slightly less than 1 inch more than birth measurement by the end of the first month
What Factors Determine My Newborn’s Physical Growth?
Different things can affect a baby’s size at birth. The length of the pregnancy is important. Babies born around their due date or later tend to be larger than those born earlier. Other factors include:
- Size of parents. Big and tall parents may have larger-than-average newborns; short and petite parents may have smaller-than-average newborns.
- Multiple births. With twins, triplets or other multiples, parents can assume their babies may be a bit small. Multipleshave toshare their growing space in the uterus, and they’re often born early, which leads to smallersize at birth.
- Birth order. First babies are sometimes smaller than brothers or sisters born later.
- Gender. Girls tend to be smaller,andboys larger, but the differences are slight at birth.
- Mom’s health during pregnancy. Babies may have a lower birth weight if the mother has high blood pressure or heart problems; or has used cigarettes,alcoholor illegal drugs during the pregnancy. If the mother has diabetes or is obese, the baby may have a higher birth weight.
- Nutrition during pregnancy. Good nutrition is vital for a baby’s growth — before and after birth. A poor diet during pregnancy can affect how much anewborn weighsand how the infant grows. Gaining a lot of weight can make a baby more likely to be born bigger than average.
- Baby’s health. Medical problems, including some birth defects and some infections during the pregnancy, can affect a newborn’s birth weight and later growth.
What can my baby do at this age?
Although a newborn spends about 16 hours a day sleeping, the time a baby is awake can be busy. Much of a newborn’s movements and activity are reflexes or involuntary – the baby does not purposefully make these movements. As the nervous system begins to mature, these reflexes give way to purposeful behaviors.
Reflexes in newborns include the following:
- Root reflex. This reflex occurs when the corner of the baby’s mouth is stroked or touched. The baby will turn his or her head and opens his or her mouth to follow and “root” in the direction of the stroking. The root reflex helps the baby find the breast or bottle.
- Suck reflex. When the roof of the baby’s mouth is touched with the breast or bottle nipple, the baby will begin to suck. This reflex does not begin until about the 32nd week of pregnancy and is not fully developed until about 36 weeks. Premature babies may have a weak or immature sucking ability, because they are born prior to the development of this reflex. Babies also have a hand-to-mouth reflex that accompanies rooting and sucking and may suck on their fingers or hands.
- Moro reflex. The Moro reflex is often called a startle reflex because it usually occurs when a baby is startled by a loud sound or movement. In response to the sound, the baby throws back his or her head, throws out his or her arms and legs, cries, then pulls his or her arms and legs back in. Sometimes, a baby’s own cries can startle him or her, initiating this reflex. The Moro reflex lasts until the baby is about 5 to 6 months old.
- Tonic neck reflex. When a baby’s head is turned to one side, the arm on that side stretches out and the opposite arm bends up at the elbow. This is often called the “fencing” position. The tonic neck reflex lasts until the baby is about 6 to 7 months old.
- Grasp reflex. With the grasp reflex, stroking the palm of a baby’s hand causes the baby to close his or her fingers in a grasp. The grasp reflex lasts only a couple of months and is stronger in premature babies.
- Babinski reflex. With the Babinski reflex, when the sole of the foot is firmly stroked, the big toe bends back toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out. This is a normal reflex until the child is about 2 years old.
- Step reflex. This reflex is also called the walking or dance reflex because a baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his or her feet touching a solid surface.
Newborn babies not only have unique reflexes, but also have a number of physical characteristics and behaviors that include the following:
- Their head sags whenlifted upandmustbe supportedat all times
- They turn their head from side to side when lying on their stomach
- Their eyes are sometimes uncoordinatedandmay look cross-eyed
- They initially fixtheireyes on a face or light,then begin to follow a moving object
- They beginto lifttheirhead when lying ontheirstomach
- Their movements are jerky and erratic
- They movetheirhands totheirmouth
What can my baby say?
At this early age, crying is a baby’s only form of communication. At first,all ofa baby’s cries sound similar, but parents soon recognize different types of cries for hunger, discomfort, frustration, fatigue and even loneliness. Sometimes, a baby’s cries can easily be answered with a feeding or a diaper change. Other times, the cause of the crying can be a mystery,andthecrying stops as quickly as it begins. Regardless of the cause, responding to your baby’s cries with a comforting touch and words are essential in helping your baby learn to trust you and rely on you for love and security. You may also use warmth and rocking movements to comfort your baby.
What does my baby understand?
You may find that your baby responds in many ways, including the following:
- Startlingat loud noises
- Lookingat faces and pictures with contrasting black and white images
- Givingattention to voices,eventually turningtowardsounds
- Showing hints of a smile, especially during sleep
How Long Should My Newborn Sleep?
Newborns should get 14-17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says theNational Sleep Foundation. Some newborns may sleep up to 18-19 hours a day. Though newborns spendmostof a 24-hour period sleeping, it is best that they do not sleep for longer than 5 hours at a time in the first 5-6 weeksbecause theyneed to wake every couplehoursto eat. Breastfed babies feed often, about every 2-3 hours. Bottle-fed babies tend to feed less often, about every 3-4 hours.
Expect to wake your newbornevery 2-3 hoursto eat untiltheysurpass their birth weight,which usually happens within the first couple of weeks. After that, it’s okay to let your baby sleep for longer periods of time at nightif they are gaining weight appropriately (about 1poundper 2 weeks).
The first months of a baby’s life can be the hardest for parents, who might get up many times at night to tend to their baby. Each baby has a different sleep pattern. Some start to sleep “through the night” (for 5-6 hours at a time) by 2-3 months of age, but some don’t.
Seehealthy sleep for babiesformore information about newborn sleep.
How can I help increase my baby’s development and emotional security?
Young babies need the security of a parent’s arms, and they understand the reassurance and comfort of your voice,toneand emotions. Consider the following as ways to foster the emotional security of your newborn:
- Hold your baby face to face.
- Talk in a soothing tone and let your baby hear your affectionate and friendly voice.
- Sing to your baby.
- Walk with your baby in a sling,carrieror a stroller.
- Swaddle your baby to helpthemfeel secure and prevent startling by the baby’s own movements.
- Rock your baby in a rhythmic, gentle motion.
- Respond quickly to your baby’s cries.
Reviewed byDr.Mary Choi,Seaview Pediatrics, CHOC Primary Care – June 2021
During this stage, babies also are developing bonds of love and trust with their parents and others as part of social and emotional development. The way parents cuddle, hold, and play with their baby will set the basis for how they will interact with them and others.What should a 1 month old baby be doing? ›
At 1 month, most of what babies do is still caused by reflexes. They aren't thinking about their actions. They will be sucking, swallowing, searching for milk and grasping an object if you put it in the palm of their hand (although most of the time they'll keep their hands clenched in tight little fists).What can newborns 0 2 months do physically? ›
Newborn to 2 months: Can lift and turn their head when lying on their back. Hands are fisted, the arms are flexed. Neck is unable to support the head when the infant is pulled to a sitting position.What do you teach newborns? ›
Spend time with your baby: try reading and telling stories, talking and singing. Doing these things every day also helps your baby get familiar with sounds and words. This develops language and communication skills your baby will need when they're older.What are the emotional needs of a newborn? ›
Infants need to know that when they feel afraid, sad, or angry, there is someone trustworthy there for them, who'll consistently provide them with safety, security and comfort. As children grow older, they're unlikely to have verbal memories of whether or not their emotional needs were met as an infant.How long should a 1 month old sleep? ›
Infants up to 3 months old should get 14–17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Many will have settled into a daily sleep routine of 2-3 naps during the day, followed by a longer "sleeping through the night" stretch after a late-night feeding.How often should a 1 month old baby feed? ›
First Weeks and Months
Over the first few weeks and months, the time between feedings will start to get longer. On average, most exclusively breastfed babies will feed about every 2 to 4 hours. Some babies may feed as often as every hour at times, often called cluster feeding.
Q: How much nighttime sleep is appropriate for a 1 month old? A: At this age, it's common for newborns to be in their nighttime sleep space for 9 - 12 hours at night, waking multiple times for feedings and comfort.What are the 3 biggest milestones of newborn? ›
Your baby's first year is one full of developmental milestones. These are skills like rolling over, sitting up and first steps. It's also things like smiling, cooing and waving “bye-bye.” Each of these milestones are things most children do by a certain age.What is the most important stage of baby development? ›
Recent brain research indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child's development. Here are some tips to consider during your child's early years: Be warm, loving, and responsive. Talk, read, and sing to your child.
Though only a few days old, your baby already is able to interact in some ways. When alert, your baby will likely focus on your face. Babies are especially drawn to higher-pitched voices, so give into that urge to use "baby talk." You are introducing your baby to language and your baby will enjoy it.How long do newborns sleep? ›
Newborns should get 14–17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Some newborns may sleep up to 18–19 hours a day. Newborns wake every couple of hours to eat. Breastfed babies feed often, about every 2–3 hours.Can you hold a baby too much? ›
Contrary to popular myth, it's impossible for parents to hold or respond to a baby too much, child development experts say. Infants need constant attention to give them the foundation to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually.What can newborn babies see? ›
Your baby sees things best from 8 to 12 inches away. This is the perfect distance for gazing up into the eyes of mom or dad (a favorite thing to do!). Any farther than that, and newborns see mostly blurry shapes because they're nearsighted. At birth, a newborn's eyesight is between 20/200 and 20/400.When can you touch a newborn? ›
Use Extra Precautions for the First Two Months. In their first two months, newborns are at the highest risk of infection, warns Dr. Hasson. So, it's advisable to avoid letting most people touch your baby and to avoid crowds, says the pediatrician.When can I take my newborn outside? ›
According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. There's no need to wait until 6 weeks or 2 months of age. Getting out, and in particular, getting outside in nature, is good for parents and babies.What can a 3 week old baby see? ›
What can a 3-week-old baby see? Your baby can still only see a few inches in front of them, and can mostly only make out black and white colors. 2 But they love looking at their parents' faces.What week do newborns cry the most? ›
On average, babies cry and fuss for almost 2 hours a day, and around 1 in 10 babies cry for a lot longer than this. Crying usually reaches a peak at about 6 weeks of age and then gradually lessens to approximately an hour a day by 12 weeks of age.What are the 4 basic needs of a newborn? ›
There are six basic needs that all newborn babies require: security, clothing, enough sleep, nutritious food, sensory stimulation, love, and attention.What are the 5 needs of the baby? ›
Kids must feel safe and sound, with their basic survival needs met: shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm.
How often does my newborn need a bath? There's no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby's skin.How much should a newborn weigh at 1 month? ›
What's typical at 1 month of age depends on your baby's birth weight and whether they were born at term or early. For averages, you're looking at about 9.9 pounds (4.5 kilograms) for a boy and 9.2 lbs. (4.2 kg) for a girl .How many ounces should a 1 month old drink? ›
In the first week after birth, babies should be eating no more than about 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 ml) per feed. During the first month, babies gradually eat more until they take 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 ml) per feed, amounting to 32 ounces per day.Can you overfeed a newborn? ›
Overfeeding a baby often causes the baby discomfort because he or she can't digest all of the breast milk or formula properly. When fed too much, a baby may also swallow air. This can produce gas, increase discomfort in the belly, and lead to crying.What colors can babies see at 1 month? ›
At about 1 month, your little one can detect the brightness and intensity of colors, and over the next few months may start to see several basic colors, including red. Your baby's color vision is fully developed by about 4 months, when they'll be able to see lots of colors and even shades of colors.How long should a 1 month old go without feeding? ›
Newborns should not go more than about 4–5 hours without feeding. Signs that babies are hungry include: moving their heads from side to side. opening their mouths.What is a good schedule for a newborn? ›
Most newborns spend most of their time asleep – they sleep 14-17 hours in every 24 hours. It's common for newborns to sleep in short bursts of 2-3 hours between feeds, both night and day. Also, newborns need to feed every 2-4 hours. And they need your attention during the day and night.Can I bathe my baby every night? ›
Bath time might be part of your nightly ritual, but doctors actually don't recommend daily baths for babies. Excess exposure to water can zap their skin of moisture and worsen conditions like eczema. Then again, not bathing your baby often enough can also aggravate eczema, plus lead to other infections.How do you play with a newborn? ›
Smile, stick out your tongue, and make other expressions for your infant to study, learn, and imitate. Use a favorite toy for your newborn to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find. Let your baby spend some awake time lying on the tummy to help strengthen the neck and shoulders.What is the hardest stage of newborn? ›
Most people find the first six to eight weeks to be the hardest with a new baby, and whilst people may not openly discuss many of the challenges in these early weeks of parenthood (if at all), there are a number of common hurdles you may face at this time.
Two-week-old babies can: Be expected to sleep a large portion of the day – about 16 - 20 hours. Raise their heads slightly. When your baby is awake, give him or her supervised time on his or her tummy so he or she can develop upper body muscles.How far can a 1 month old see? ›
Baby's eyes still wander and may sometimes cross, which could make you wonder: How far can a one-month-old see? They can now see and focus on objects that are about 8 to 12 inches away. They like black and white patterns and those in other contrasting colors.When can babies drink water? ›
If your baby is around 6 months old, you can offer small amounts of cooled boiled tap water but you should not replace their breastmilk or formula feeds. Breastmilk or formula should still be their main drink up to 12 months of age. After 12 months, their main drink should be water and cow's milk or breastmilk.When can babies see? ›
When a baby is born, his or her eyes are about 65% of their adult size. One week after birth the baby can see colors and can see about 8-10 inches away. At six weeks of age baby can see about 12 inches away. You can help your infant's vision by holding and feeding him or her on each side, left and right (Picture 1).What is the first development of a baby? ›
During fertilization, the sperm and egg unite in one of the fallopian tubes to form a zygote. Then the zygote travels down the fallopian tube, where it becomes a morula. Once it reaches the uterus, the morula becomes a blastocyst. The blastocyst then burrows into the uterine lining — a process called implantation.What should a baby be doing at 1 week old? ›
1-Week-Old Baby Development
Your baby's main job at 1 week is to adjust to life outside the womb, to learn how to suckle at the breast or bottle, and get lots of snuggle time with their loved ones. You can see some of these reflexes at work when you feed your baby.
At four weeks of age your baby may be able to see more clearly than before. In fact, they will be able to see up to 18 inches in front of them. Now, it takes a lot of effort to focus so you may notice your baby looking a little cross-eyed at times.Do newborns cry all night? ›
But the fact is, especially for babies younger than 6 months, it's very common for babies to cry and wake up during the night. Your baby is unlikely to sleep through the night before they are 4 to 6 months old, so it's better to plan for it to avoid frustration and take naps when you can.How long should I let my newborn cry? ›
Crying it out
It's OK to let your baby cry if the baby doesn't seem sick and you've tried everything to soothe your baby. You can try to leave your baby alone in a safe place, such as a crib, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Many babies need to cry before they can fall asleep.
While bottle-fed babies can sleep with a pacifier from birth, breastfed infants should only sleep with a pacifier once they are at least 3 to 4 weeks old and have settled into a breastfeeding routine with no latching issues.
The Moro reflex is the cause of your newborn baby to sleep with his arms above his head. This reflex, commonly referred to as the “startle reflex”, disappears by 6 months of age. It occurs when light or noise startles your baby, even if the noise is not enough to fully wake the baby.Should I pick up baby every time he cries? ›
New research points to cuddled children growing up to be healthier, less depressed, kinder, more empathetic, and more productive adults.Should I let my newborn sleep on me? ›
Is it safe to let your baby sleep on you? “Having a newborn sleep on you is fine as long as you're awake,” says Dubief.How long after baby falls asleep can I put him down? ›
What to do Wait about 20 minutes or so — until your baby has fallen into a deeper level of sleep — before trying to transfer her to a crib or some other sleeping surface. Why it works When your baby first falls asleep, she's really just dozing. If you try to set her down, she'll wake up quickly.What is social-emotional development in infants? ›
Things like smiling and responding to you, making eye contact or calming down when held by a familiar adult are all social and emotional milestones that most babies express and explore by a certain age.What are social development for 0 2 years? ›
From 0-2, children are engaged in relationships, trying to develop a sense of being nurtured and loved. They seek a relationship that engenders trust, security, and a sense of optimism.What is the emotional development of a 1 year old? ›
start to feel fear, embarrassment, empathy and envy around 1-2 years. begin to be more independent and want to do things without your help. be able to wait their turn and control some emotions at 1-2 years. start to say how they feel – for example, your toddler might say 'ow' for pain or 'I did it!How do infants develop social emotional skills? ›
Through nurturing and trusting relationships, infants and toddlers learn about the world. Their brains mature through interactions, and they learn how to form relationships, communicate, respond to challenges, and how to recognize, experience, and regulate their emotions from their relationships with caregivers.Why do babies smile then look away? ›
At first your baby may seem to smile past you without meeting your gaze, but don't let this disturb you. Looking away from you gives her some control and protects her from being overwhelmed. It's her way of taking in the total picture without being "caught" by your eyes.Which emotion develops first? ›
BABIES, as everyone knows, have intense feelings from the moment of birth. But their early feelings are few, limited to the most primitive such as distress and disgust.
At 1 month of age, infants express their feelings with alert, widened eyes and a rounded mouth. The bond grows between parents and their baby during this stage. Around 2 months of age, your baby will have a "social" smile. That is a smile made with purpose as a way to engage others.What is physical development in infants? ›
Physical development is one domain of infant and toddler development. It relates to changes, growth and skill development with the body, including development of muscles and senses. This lesson will introduce developmental milestones in addition to influences on early physical growth and development.What are some communication milestones for a newborn? ›
Baby will begin making consonant sounds, such as “da, da, da”, at around 4-6 months. They will also begin to imitate sounds around 7-9 months. But they typically don't say meaningful language, such as calling the right people “mama” and “dada”, until around their first birthday.What age do babies start interacting? ›
In the first month or two of life, newborns depend on others to lead interaction. But by the end of the third month, your baby will engage you with facial expressions and vocalizations. You'll begin to see your baby's personality emerge!Do babies cry a lot in the first month? ›
All newborns cry and get fussy sometimes. It's normal for a baby to cry for 2–3 hours a day for the first 6 weeks. During the first 3 months of life, they cry more than at any other time. New parents often are low on sleep and getting used to life with their little one.How do babies show emotion? ›
Babies express their emotions through their posture, voice and facial expressions from birth. These attitudes help their carers adapt their behaviour to the baby's emotional state. A baby's tears, for example, may be an expression of his or her distress and primary needs (to be fed or changed or to lie down).How do I teach my baby about feelings? ›
Read or tell stories about feelings.
Choose books with brightly colored illustrations or pictures and not too much text. Stories help your baby begin to understand emotions like frustration, anger, pride, and joy. As you read, point to the faces in the book and say, “She looks excited.