There will be hundreds of months and dozens of years in this human being’s life, but the FIRST month is four weeks of special responsibility and care from the parents, it is thirty days of new sensations and getting to know this world for the baby, and new extraordinary impressions and experiences for the new mom and dad. A 1-month-old baby is called a newborn. So what should you know about your newborn?
This is the month when a new life joins your home in the proper sense of the word. Like a shot of a starter’s gun, the cry of the new citizen of our planet rings out in the maternity hospital. It is a start, and a life-long marathon distance is ahead.
Being just born, after the first not so easy breath of air and stunning postpartum catharsis the organs and systems of the baby start to actively adapt to the outside world. According to the rules in the maternity hospital during the first 12 hours after delivery, the baby is given its first acute viral hepatitis vaccination. The next vaccination will be the second vaccination against hepatitis B at the age of 1 month.
The circulatory system reforms itself considerably: red blood cells with a fetal type of hemoglobin are swiftly collapsing because now they are useless for the organism; the immune system becomes more intense; the kidneys, digestive and endocrine systems solve their first problems; and the skin, respiratory tract, and intestines of the baby meet with new bacteria for the first time.
It is possible that in the first week after delivery the baby will lose about 10 percent of his birth bodyweight. This is the consequence of the adaptation of the organism to the new environment. The parents shouldn’t panic and worry due to this fact. The baby will restore his weight and gain more. During the first week, the whole organism of the newborn is working really hard; and a more stable and peaceful condition comes only at the beginning of the second week.
1-Month-Old Baby: Basic Indicators
Height – 19.5-19.9 inches – Weight – 7.4-7.8 pounds
Head circumference – 13.4-13.8 inches – Chest girth – 13-13.4 inches
The 1-month-old baby spends a considerable amount of time (up to 20 hours a day) in sleep. As a rule, the newborn sleeps in a “frog” position, that is on his back, with his arms bent at the elbows and turned up, and with his legs parted and bent at the knees.
The Five States of Sleep and Activity:
- Deep sleep, when the baby is completely relaxed and breathing evenly and slowly, his eyes closed and face relaxed;
- Shallow sleep, when the baby has more quickened, not completely even breathing, possible twitching of arms and legs; you can see how the eyeballs are shifting under the eyelids – later it would be a “REM” sleep (rapid eyelid movements) – the state, when we dream;
- Drowsiness that takes place while breastfeeding or before falling asleep, it is recognized by half-closed eyes;
- Wake, when the baby is active, makes movements with his whole body, arms, and legs;
- Crying that is a sign that the baby feels discomfort, for example, it is hungry, afraid or wet.
In the first month, the baby has the following motoric characteristics – it is trying to raise his head while lying on his stomach, and sometimes it manages to hold the head in this position for a few seconds. By the end of the first 30 days, the newborn will gain about 1.3 pounds to his initial weight and will show a growth of approximately 1.2 inches, the circumference of his head will increase by 0.6-0.8 inches.
Arranging Right Feeding of the Baby
It is obvious that the best food for the baby is the mother’s breast milk. During the first days of the baby’s life, the amount of breast milk of the woman is gradually increasing, but some women (especially if they gave birth for the first time) don’t have enough of it. Due to this fact, the recommendations about stimulation of lactation given by the doctors are especially relevant. One of the main ways to stimulate lactation is to apply the baby to the breast more often, whenever it shows the first signs of anxiety. This means is called “unconfined breastfeeding schedule” or “breastfeeding on request”. Thus, some mothers reach for 10-12 feedings per day.
The correct latch-on is very important – the baby should take the whole area around the nipple. It is been determined that the baby sucks in the main amount of breast milk during the first 5-10 minutes of breastfeeding. But there are babies that quickly get tired, fall asleep with a breast in the mouth – they should be stimulated to suction by caressing or touching the cheeks, taking the nipple away, and putting it into the baby’s mouth again. During breastfeeding the baby swallows not the milk only – the air also comes with the nutritious liquid, and the baby needs to get rid of that. That’s why the process of belching when the piled-up air comes out is very important.
During breastfeeding the optimal belching period is after every 5 minutes (or when you switch breasts), or after every 50 grams if the baby is bottle-fed. There are usually three ways to do it: holding the baby upright on your shoulder, face down in your lap, or in a sitting position – and it is better to try all three means to find out which of them is the best for you and your baby.
Stomach swelling, intestinal spasms, “colics” often become the companions of even almost completely healthy babies during the first months after delivery. The ways to help the baby at home, in this case, are: clockwise massage of the stomach; the upright position in your arms or the so-called “skin to skin” contact – the baby is put face down on his mother’s bare breast (the mother half-lying in an armchair) and is covered with a blanket, the mother strokes his back gently. And the good old flatus tube our grannies used is still salvation for some parents.
Tummy time is a preventive measure against colic: 3-5 minutes twice a day is enough. You may also give the baby those gas drops for infants or the dill water. All these means help to prevent “colic pains” by assisting the gas to come out of the intestines.
A very important moment in the first weeks after delivery is the healing of the umbilical wound of the baby. When you are discharged from the maternity hospital, the wound would not heal completely yet. So take care of it.
The navel is usually cleansed with an antiseptic. And it should be done every day until the wound will become completely dry in the morning during the baby’s dressing and in the evening after daily bathing. Until the crust peels off, it is recommended to add chamomile or hypericum extract into the bathing water.
The temperature of the bathing water should be 98.6-100°F; the duration of bathing – not more than 5-7 minutes. If the baby has any excreta from the umbilical wound or the navel becomes red and swollen you need to consult a doctor. You should also go to a doctor if the crust has not peeled off the umbilical wound in the course of 14-15 days.
Inborn reflexes help the adaptation of the baby to the outside world. Some of them vanish during the first months after delivery, while others turn into acquired reflexes, getting on to the consciousness level. Such inborn reflexes as the reflex of sneezing, flinching, blinking, yawning; knee reflexes remain with the baby for the rest of his life. During the first month of life the baby has seven main reflexes:
- Grasp reflex becomes apparent when you stroke or lightly touch the baby’s palm. The baby reflexively grasps and holds everything that touches his palm.
- Searching reflex – the baby turns his head if you touch or gently stroke his cheek. This reflex is a vital component of the instinct of searching for food.
- Sucking reflex – the baby makes sucking movements with his lips if you trace your finger or a dummy around his mouth. This reflex, as well as searching, is tightly bound up with feeding instinct.
- Plantar reflex (Babinski response) is elicited when you touch outer edge of the baby’s foot with your finger: the baby’s toes spread in contrary directions along with turning of the foot.
- Moro reflex – the newborn parts and brings together his arms and legs in response to the loud and sudden noise.
- Babkin reflex – when you press on the baby’s palm he turns his head and opens his mouth.
- Swimming reflex – the baby makes the movements as if his is swimming if you put him on his stomach.
- Walking, or stepping reflex – the newborn makes the movements, imitating walking if he is held by his hands the way that he touches any surface with his legs.
Sensory Organs Development
By the end of the second week after delivery, many newborns can track a moving object within their field of vision, for example, a bright rattle about 4 inches in diameter. If you place a bright toy in the distance of 16-20 inches from the lying on his back baby and begin to move it from the right to the left and backward, the baby will keep an eye on it for a few seconds.
A three-week-old baby is usually already able to fix his gaze on more or less large and still objects, for example, his mother’s or father’s face. If you come close to the lying on his back baby within the distance of 16-20 inches and draw his attention with talking, and then suddenly fall silent while standing still, the baby will also be motionless and look intently at your face. By the fourth week, the movements of the eyeballs of the baby are more smooth and coordinated.
A Few Words about the Organs of Hearing
By the middle of the second week after delivery, the baby will respond to the sudden loud noise, which source is away from his vision, with flinching and blinking. By the third week, the newborn pays more attention to the sounds of the outside world. The sound irritants are intensively teaching his brain to make his first decisions.
By the end of the fourth week, the babies are usually making their mothers and fathers happy not only by progress in the work of the visual and hearing organs. It is really nice to find out about the first positive emotional reactions of the baby to the presence of his parents. The four-week-old newborn baby is able to smile! It is most likely that the first smile of the baby will be a response to the numerous gentle words directed to him. However, don’t be upset, if the baby doesn’t smile – the true social reactions are yet to be formed.
The more you will smile at the baby the sooner he will do the same in reply. In general, it is important for the parents to maintain positive emotional background in the family: not to have any arguments in front of the child, not to sort out their relationship. The newborn soaks up everything around him like a sponge and can sense the very nuances of the psychological atmosphere in the family. Now your baby requires especially gentle handling and attentive care. You shouldn’t underestimate the sensory abilities of the newborn baby.
1-Month-Old Baby Pictures
Check out how a 1-month-old baby looks like.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.