Understanding Newborn Baby Development

You’ve just given birth to your precious bundle of joy and life has changed forever. 

As a parent, whether for the first time or the fifth, it’s normal to feel apprehensive, as well as experiencing a range of emotions every single second of the day. For the mother, you can put it down to those hormones, for a father, it’s simply the overwhelming nature of welcoming a new life into the world. 

Here at London Governess, we completely understand this rather confusing yet wonderful time of life, and if you’re away from home, perhaps overseas, the whole experience can be overwhelming. Even if you’re firmly in your own home, welcoming a new baby into the family means a lot of work, and that means all hours of the day and night. 

As such, we have a range of professional maternity nurses on hand, extremely experienced, who are ready to travel worldwide, or simply be based in the UK. Our maternity nurses are knowledgable, they have years of experience between them, and al possess the necessary qualifications to work with newborn babies and families. 

At this time, as a mother in particular, having someone around to support you can be invaluable, and allow you to recoup some of the energy you lost whilst actually giving birth to your bundle of joy! In addition, the first few weeks after childbirth can be extremely emotional, and having a maternity nurse by your side will be a calming reassurance that all is well. 

However, it’s also useful to know about newborn baby development too. Not only will this allow you to map your baby’s progress and understand if they’re meeting developmental milestones, but it’s interesting to know what’s going on inside your little one’s mind and body. 

Let’s take a closer look at those first two weeks of this precious time.

From Birth to 1 Week Old

There are three main things your newborn baby will do in their first week of life – sleep, eat, and poop. That might seem like all that’s happening, but inside there is a lot going on!

It’ normal for newborn babies, and even right up to the age of 4 months told, to need around 14-17 hours of sleep every single day. Of course, that does mean they’re going to be waking up in the night, so you can expect to be up every 2-4 hours on average, for them to fill their belly and fall back into a deep slumber once more. Babies at this age are often quite sleepy, but this is normal and nothing to worry about – being born is an exhausting job and they need to recover!

You might notice that your baby starts to life their head up just slightly, especially when he or she is placed on their stomach. It’s surprisingly how strong a newborn baby can be; of course, they’re fragile and precious, but they’re growing and developing at a surprising rate underneath it all. The fact that your baby is starting to lift their head just slightly means that their neck muscles are strengthening already.

Newborn babies tend to have several reflexes from the moment they’re born, including the sucking reflex (when they’re trying to feed), the startle reflex and the rooting reflex. This is the reflex which causes your baby to turn their head when you stroke their cheek; if you stroke their left cheek, they will turn their head to that side. This is a vital reflex because it helps them to seek out food!

You’ll also notice that your baby will start to focus on objects over the course of their first week on Earth. If you place an object between 8-15 inches away from them, they’ll start to look at it more intently. This is their vision developing, as well as their general awareness, and of course, their curiosity!

It’s normal for your baby to lose a little weight compared to the weight they were born at. Provided this isn’t a drastic loss, there is nothing to be concerned about. This is also something your maternity nurse can help you to monitor, and reassure you that all is well. The average amount of weight loss during the first week is around 5-10% of their birth weight. You’ll see their weight start to regain and creep back up over the coming weeks. 

In the first few days of life, your baby will also have several health checks to ensure that everything is moving as it should do, and this is also the time when you’re likely to have the most concerns. For the most part, these concerns will come to nothing, but when a brand new baby is placed in your arms, you’re bound to be worried about everything! Again, your maternity nurse will be able to monitor your baby’s health and development and give you a huge dose of peace of mind as a result. 

Having someone around during this time can really make a difference and help to take the pressure off the mother, perhaps even relieving anxiety and helping her to process her emotions. Mothers of newborn babies are likely to be teary and emotional, thanks to those hormones and the entire experience, so having a little extra space and time to handle this can be a huge help. 

Your baby may have several routine screening tests conducted during this time, either in the hospital or in the home setting.

2 Weeks Old 

Your baby is now two weeks old and you can’t remember life without them in the house!

The two weeks’ stage is still very early in your baby’s development so he or she is likely to be still sleeping a lot of the time. What you should notice at this point however is that they may have periods of time when they’re simply observing what is going on. This is referred to as the ‘quiet and alert mode’, when they’re taking in their surroundings and trying to figure things out slowly. You’ll find that they are able to focus on items a tiny bit further away than last week and bright colours will catch their attention. 

You will also notice that he or she is starting to make noises other than crying, perhaps little murmurs or squeaks and they will be a little surprised at the noise that came from them!

You might notice that your baby’s eyes start to very slowly change colour from week two onwards, but it’s still too early to know for sure what colour their eyes are going to be in the end. It’s not normally until around 6-9 months when the established eye colours sets in, so keep watching to look for new changes!

The good news is that by the second week you should start to see your baby starting to regain some of the weight they lost just after birth. At this point, they should be back up to birth weight or possibly even just passed it, depending on whether they’re bottle or breast feeding. If you’re at all worried about your baby’s feeding and the weight they’re gaining or otherwise, you can have a chat with your doctor, or of course, your maternity nurse, who will be able to check things out and reassure you. At this point, you baby should be feeding around every 2-3 hours and the amount depends on which method of feeding you opt for. 

Another big step in your baby’s development during this second week of their newborn phase is more reflexes making themselves known. You’ll probably see that your baby will be able to suck far stronger than they did last week and that’s a great sign because it means they’ve really caught on with this feeding deal!

Your baby’s umbilical cord may also have fallen off by this point, although some babies do take a little longer. Again, your maternity nurse will be able to keep an eye on this for you and ensure that the area remains clean and sterile during the healing process. 

Why Support is Vital During The Newborn Phase

Nobody is an island and that means that support is always needed. When you give birth to a baby, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and perhaps even a little scared. You’re responsible for this new life and everything seems terrifying!

Seeking out support during this time is very important, not only in terms of understanding development and what to do, but also emotionally. Your instincts will guide you, but sometimes you’re bound to be confused or worried, which could cause you to question your own judgement. Having someone by your side, such as one of our experienced maternity nurses, will make the first few weeks after birth far easier and as a result, more enjoyable too. In addition, you will feel more confident that your instincts were right all along. 

Taking the time to be able to appreciate the subtle changes going on within your baby’s life is a beautiful thing, but sometimes mothers are too exhausted to be able to see the small details. When you have support by your side, you won’t miss a thing.

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