Mother and Baby

Week 1 with a new baby: “Take it easy whenever you can”

Baby Development Week One

What can you expect in your baby's first week? 

The first week with your new baby is one of the most overwhelming times, but don’t fear, we’ve discovered everything you need to know about that pivotal first week in your new life with your new arrival.


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1) Lifting their head

Wondering what your baby will do this week? It is likely your newborn will lift their head briefly. But make sure to support their head at all times. 
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2) Reflexes kick in

One milestone that mothers notice in the first week after birth is little responses. For example, when their cheek is stroked they will react and turn in that direction. This is the time where their natural reflexes become more noticeable. You could also see your little one responding to noises this week. 
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3) Baby weight loss

It's also common for your little one to lose weight in the first few days after birth. Most newborns will leave the hospital weighing less than they were when first checked in by the midwife. 
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4) Reflexive newborn smile

​Another common thing within the first week may be the newborn smile. This can start to occur from the first week, but if not, you will definitely see this at ten weeks. Your baby will also develop a social smile from one to two months by making them laugh
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5) Equal movements

In the first week, your newborn will be moving their arms and legs an equal amount. If one arm isn't stretching as much as the other, it may be an injury or a weakness. 

How should a one-week-old baby be physically developing?

Don’t worry if your newborn doesn’t look as expected, the babies on TV are never actually one week old. In reality, your baby is likely to be much more wrinkled and squashed after living in a tiny liquid-filled space for 9 months and squeezing through the birth canal!

So, if your baby’s skull looks longer than you thought it would, it’s completely normal. Plus, her legs and arms will remain in the same position as they were in the womb and then straighten out over a few weeks. If she seems uncomfortable or fussy, try swaddling her to recreate the feeling inside the womb.

Newborns are also prone to swollen genitals and breasts, white spots on their face and blue-tinted skin. They can also be covered in vernix, a white/yellow waxy substance more common for babies born prematurely.

How should a one-week-old baby be cognitively developing?

At one week old, your baby will have instinctive brain function, which is to know how to breathe, feed, sleep, and poo. They won’t yet be able to fully perceive everything, think properly, remember things, understand language or have full physical coordination.

What jabs should a one-week-old baby have?

A scary thought for any parent, but luckily childhood vaccinations don’t start until your little one is eight weeks old. That said, why not get prepared for that milestone now, here’s some advice on how to keep your baby calm during routine vaccinations. 

How much should a one-week-old baby be sleeping?

Newborns sleep up to 16 to 17 hours a day, but unfortunately for you, it’s not all at once (or when you want it!) Your newborn will typically sleep for two to four hours at a time through the day and night, making your schedule irregular and tiring. You’re likely to be up a lot during the night to comfort, change or feed them in the first few weeks. Read these top tips on dealing with the night feed, from real mums! 

How much should a one-week-old baby be eating?

The answer to this depends on whether you’ve chosen to breastfeed or not. Breastfed babies usually need less milk than formula fed. However, because babies can’t control their milk intake from the formula, they may vomit if they drink too much.

A good guide for day by day is as follows:

  • Day 1- 7 ml
  • Day 2- 14 ml
  • Day 3- 38 ml
  • Day 4- 58 ml
  • Day 7- 65 ml

How can you tell how much milk your baby is getting when breastfeeding?

Since it’s difficult to know whether your baby is getting enough to eat as you’re getting used to breastfeeding, it’s useful to look out for the following signs:

  • Your breast should soften during feeds
  • They should be softly swallowing
  • They come off your breast on their own
  • They seem settled after a feed
  • Their poo goes from being dark to yellowish and softer
  • They’re wetting their nappy every few hours

Breastfeeding usually lasts about 40 minutes, with your baby switching breasts every 5-30 minutes, depending on how long they want to feed for and how much milk is in each breast. The length of time is nothing to worry too much about, if your baby is latching on and feeding for as long as they need on each breast they will be getting all the nutrients they need.

Don’t fear if you notice some weight loss after your baby is born. By the end of the first week, your baby should start putting on weight again.

How much should a one-week-old baby be pooing?

When it comes to your baby's pooing schedule, you’ll be happy to know one bowel movement a day is no cause for concern. Newborns can poo up to ten times a day, so anything between one and ten and you’re within the norm. One might not sound like enough, but as long as your baby is wetting their nappy five or six times a day, they’re getting enough to eat. That said, if your baby seems uncomfortable or has a swollen abdomen, it's best to book an appointment with your GP. 

What colour should my newborns’ poo be?

At the earliest stage, your one week old’s poo will be thick and dark green due to the meconium that builds up in the intestines during pregnancy. As the days go on, they will expel the meconium and the bowel movements will become more yellow. If you are breastfeeding, the colour also depends on what you're eating or the type, or the formula being fed, plus how hydrated your baby is. Take a look at our baby poo colour chart for more information. 

Milestones of a one-week-old baby

There aren’t too many milestones to hit at one week old, as your baby is just about getting used to being in the real world. They should be able to know your voice, see about 25cm in front of them and recognise your smell.

What should parents of a one-week-old baby be aware of?

  • Breastfeeding: Week one is all about getting to grips with breastfeeding. We've already spoken about making sure they're getting the right amount; as far as latching on goes, you may find it difficult at first. If you are struggling, remember it does get easier and check out these tips on the best positions to get a proper latch on
  • Arriving Home: You’re bound to feel every emotion under the sun after arriving home with your newborn. The baby blues usually set in after about three days when your milk comes in and causes a new stir of hormones, so you may feel tearful, irritable and exhausted despite being elated with your new arrival. Don’t worry too much if you’re feeling unsettled, you’ve just given birth to new life, you’re bound to be out of sorts. Give yourself a break and relax when you can.
  • Postnatal Depression: Four in five women experience the baby blues in the first week after giving birth, but many worry it’s a sign of something more serious like postnatal depression, therefore it's important to understand the differences between baby blues and postnatal depression. Generally speaking, the baby blues tend to dissipate when your hormones calm down. So, if you continue to feel low and overwhelmed for more than a couple of weeks’ post-birth, you may want to seek help. You can also develop depression prenatally, so if you were worried, give your doctor a ring. Don’t let any feeling of guilt get in the way of getting help, postnatal depression affects 1 in 10 women so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

What problems are common with a one-week-old baby?

  • Constipation: You may be overly worried about this as you get used to those first few nappy changes. Look out for a loss of appetite, crying and discomfort before doing a poo, less than three bowel movements a week or a dry hard poo. If you notice these things, contact your GP as they are all signs your baby might be constipated.
  • Reflux: Your newborn is bound to spit up straight after a feed, but if it becomes excessive or constant it may be a sign of reflux. Read all about how to spot and stop reflux here. 
  • Hiccups: Common in newborns and babies up to 12 months, hiccups rarely disturb your baby like they do adults. In fact, babies can even sleep through hiccups. If you do want to help get rid of them, try burping your baby. You only need to seek out a doctor if your baby’s hiccups appear to upset them.
  • Skin peeling: This can start before you even leave the hospital and is completely normal. Your baby has been covered in amniotic fluid, blood, and vernix, so once the vernix has been wiped away by a nurse your baby will begin to shed the outer layer of their skin. The amount varies depending on how much vernix covered them during birth, the more they had the less they peel, which changes according to when you deliver - premature babies tend to have more vernix.
  • Cross-eyed: This is super normal, as your baby is still learning how to work her eyes and is unable to focus properly on anything more than 25cm away. It can also be due to epicanthal folds, skin on the eyelid, which usually disappear within a year.
  • Fussy: Making the huge adjustment from living inside the womb to out in the world, babies are bound to be fussy in the first week. Whether it’s trouble latching on or general discomfort, it’s completely natural for your baby not to settle straight away.
  • Jaundice: Your baby’s skin and eyes may appear yellow in the first few days of being born, this is common and nothing to worry about.
  • Eyes rolling back: This is common in babies that are sleepy, which your one week old will be all the time. As they try to fall asleep or wake, you may notice their eyes rolling back under drooping eyelids. Don’t worry, it’s normal in this state of drowsiness.
  • Eye discharge: Your baby’s eyes may appear sticky because the tear ducts in newborns are usually narrower and allow for accumulated tears to block them, making them look sticky when they dry. If this isn’t excessive, it is a normal issue and you can clean your baby's eyes softly with cotton wool and water that has been sterilised by boiling then allowing to cool. Ensure your hands are clean and you use a new piece of cotton wool for each eye to prevent causing infection. If the discharge is excessive or becomes yellow/green, or your baby’s eyes look red or swollen, contact your GP.

Ask the expert: Surviving week one with your new baby: 

We asked Dr. Ellie Cannon, GP, mum of two and author of Keep Calm: The New Mum's Manual for her top tips when it comes to your baby's first week of life. 

  • Survive the nights: Don't panic, one day your baby WILL sleep through the night. Help your baby differentiate between night and day by keeping nighttime quiet, dim and with minimal interaction. Day means light, noise, and interaction. It's also important to go outdoors in the day as natural light will help regulate your baby's body clock. 
  • Keep an eye on hydration: If you feel like your baby isn't feeding well, it's always a good idea to get him checked by a professional. A baby can become dehydrated in a matter of hours if he's got a fever, is vomiting or has diarrhoea. 
  • Leave the umbilical-cord stump alone: The stump of your baby's umbilical cord should be left to fall off by itself. This normally happens between five and fifteen days after birth, but it will dry out and turn black first. However tempting it might be, don't pick at it! 
  • Green poo is fine: In the first week of your baby’s life, you will see the colour of his poo change. It starts off black and sticky and, as he starts to drink and digest milk, it goes a greenish colour and then turns yellow.
  • Feet at the foot of the cot: The safest way for a baby to sleep is on his back, with his feet at the foot of the cot or Moses basket, so he can’t slip under the covers. 
  • Swaddle: It helps to make the baby feel secure. Ask your midwife to teach you how.
  • Don't fret over the heel-prick test: When your baby is five days old, he'll have the heel-prick test. These four drops of blood are taken to be tested for certain conditions, which are all very rare so don't worry. 

Take me to week 2


Georgia Aspinall is senior features writer at Grazia UK, formerly at The Debrief. She covers news and features across women's health and fitness, sex and relationships, real-life stories, travel and politics.

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