Now that Baby is out and about, breathing air instead of amniotic fluid, everything he 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 he does – eating, sleeping, pooping, crying – wouldn’t be all that exciting on their own. It’s Baby that’s doing them, though, and he is doing it all for the first time.
In a lot of ways, he is still adjusting to being born. For example, his 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, he didn’t have the space to stretch out, and he 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.
He 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 he was born, and partially because his tummy is so tiny that he 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 he enters the marathon of growth spurts that is his first year of life.
And although Baby doesn’t quite know his times tables yet, he 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 him, 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.