Now that Baby is out and about, breathing air instead of amniotic fluid, everything she does is a first. First sponge-bath, first yawn, first you-think-it’s-a-burp-but-really-it’s-spit-up – everything Baby does is a new and exciting adventure. Which is nice, because the actual things she does – eating, sleeping, pooping, crying – wouldn’t be all that exciting on their own. It’s Baby that’s doing them, though, and she is doing it all for the first time.
In a lot of ways, she is still adjusting to being born. For example, her arms and legs are probably still a little curled in on themselves, instead of starfishing out. This is because when Baby was in the womb, she didn’t have the space to stretch out, and she is only just getting used to having the option now. This is part of why many babies this age are so calmed and soothed by swaddling. The swaddle reminds them of the way their movements were restricted in the womb, which makes them feel safe and secure.
She is probably also not quite adjusted to the rhythm of a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle yet. This is partially because Baby didn’t really have any sense of day and night before she was born, and partially because her tummy is so tiny that she can’t make it all the way through the night without waking up hungry a few times. Even with the frequent feeding, Baby still might lose a little weight this week, before starting to gain it back with a vengeance as she enters the marathon of growth spurts that is her first year of life.
And although Baby doesn’t quite know her times tables yet, she does probably have some special skills that you, and other adults, don’t. Newborn reflexes include the startle, rooting, sucking, tonic neck, grasping, Babinski, and stepping reflexes. Infants tend to grow out of these as they grow into bigger babies and toddlers – for instance, you probably don’t turn in the direction of a finger that gently strokes your cheek, or try to take steps when somebody holds you upright against a flat surface. To be fair, it’s unlikely that people hold you upright against a flat surface too often, but hey, the perks of being a newborn.
Baby has quite a journey ahead of her, and you’re going to be there every step of the way.
- First real poop: How impressive! A newborn’s first poop is typically composed of meconium, a tarry substance that accumulated in the intestines during gestation. However, within a few days of birth, most babies produce their first real poop. Get used to it!
- First sponge bath: After all that time in the womb, it makes sense that Baby might want a little bath. The first sponge bath is a big milestone, but it’s important to make sure to avoid disturbing the umbilical stump.
- Can focus on items 8 to 12″ away (20-30.5 cm): When a baby is born, they are only able to clearly see, and focus on, objects very close to their faces. Vision develops quickly however, and pretty soon, Baby will be able to clearly make out faces.