Congratulations! You’ve survived your first week of parenthood! Your little bundle of joy is slowly adapting to the world around her; the sights and sounds are quickly helping her develop her senses, and although she can’t quite see very well yet, she’s going to quickly become interested in you. At this age, you’re going to be changing a lot of diapers (read our guide on getting cheap diapers!) and dealing with a lot of crying, and your baby will be spending a lot of time asleep. Speaking of sleep, I hope you’re getting enough; I know it can be hard to adjust, especially at first.
Crying: You Better Get Used To It!
Your baby is probably crying a lot. That’s how babies communicate! Long before they can say “I’m tired!” or “I’m hungry”, they’re going to cry to let you know these things. Over time you’re going to probably be able to pick up on which it is: is your baby hungry, do they have a wet diaper, or is it something else? The constant crying can be hard on your nerves, but remember that this is the only way they can communicate their needs to you.
If your baby is constantly crying, and you’re feeding them to stop the crying, then changing their diaper to stop the crying, and simply unable to figure it out, something you might want to try is swaddling.
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The Startle (Moro) Reflex: Don’t Be Alarmed
You might have noticed your baby’s new startle reflex, where they spread and unspread their arms. This is called the Moro reflex, and it’s a natural response to the feeling that he or she is falling, helping them regain their equilibrium. You can expect them to do this for about 4-5 months.
Umbilical Cord & Circumcision Healing
At this point, your baby’s umbilical cord may or may not have fallen off. Either of these are normal. If your son is circumcised, his penis will be just about healed up. If you notice any kind of odd skin conditions going on, such as red blotches or acne, leave it alone; it’ll go away on its own.
Keep Them On Their Tummies
You’ll notice that your baby wants to spend a lot of time on their tummy. This is a good thing, and you should encourage it! It will help them develop their neck muscles, and if you don’t get them doing it early, they might resist it later on.
Remember, however, that they should always sleep on their backs; this is proven to reduce the risk of SI.D.S.
Your Baby’s Eyesight is Still Developing
At this point, their eyesight is still pretty blurry. They can only see clearly at about 8-15 inches away, so if you’re holding them they can only see your face most of the time. Don’t be concerned if your baby doesn’t seem to look you in the eyes. Since their vision is still developing, they’ll be more likely to look at things like your moving mouth, your eyebrows, or your hairline.
As your baby gets older (over the first month or so) they’ll become more interested in having eye-to-eye communication with you.
Give them the opportunity to exercise their eye muscles! Let them look at you from up close, study your features. Move your head from side to side (especially as they eat) and see if they follow you with their eyes. Don’t be worried if they seem cross-eyed; this isn’t uncommon at first, and it won’t be a long-term issue.
You’ll notice that your baby’s eyes are either blue or grey, but they won’t stay this way. You can’t be sure what color their eyes are going to be yet!
All About Poop
Your baby’s first few bowel movements are going to be thick and dark green or black; this is caused by what’s called meconium: a substance that builds up in the intestines while in the womb. Over time, this meconium will clear out, and their stools will start to turn yellow, but will vary in color depending on their diet and how dehydrated they are.
Expect as many as 8-12 bowel movements per day! As long as your baby is having at least one per day, there’s no need to worry.
Week 1 For Mom: Hang in There!
You’ve survived your first week, which means you’re doing a great job! Hopefully you’re getting enough sleep, and hopefully dad is, too. Your body is still recovering from the pregnancy and labor, and will be doing so for the next few weeks.
The biggest issue you’re probably facing now is your sore, swollen breasts. Two things that might help here are a good bra that fits well, and a good nipple cream.
Remember to take care of yourself! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and be sure to take some “me” time. Parenthood is a busy time, and your baby is going to be the most important thing on your mind, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing well, too.