Baby development and milestones: your 1 week old
All of one week old, what can you expect from your tiny newborn? Let's find out.
Congratulations, mummy! Your 1 week old baby is so beautiful! Nine months in your tummy, one week in your arms. While you might not think much happens in terms of development in this very first week of your newborn’s life, there are actually a few things you can look out for.
Let’s find out what they are.
Your 1 week old baby is yet to develop those layers of fat that will plump him out and give him Michelin Man rolls in a few months. But of course, he is still the most beautiful baby in the world!
His head might look big in comparison to the rest of his body, and his limbs might seem spindly. This is perfectly normal. While you might gaze in wonder at your precious baby all day, don’t fret if he doesn’t gaze right back at you just yet.
His eyesight is still developing and he is nearsighted. So, instead of staring deep into your eyes, you may notice your 1 week old baby looking at your eyebrows, hairline, even your mouth. He might even go cross-eyed. All this is perfectly normal.
Help your baby’s eyesight strengthen by moving your head from side to side, slowly. See if his eyes follow you. By doing this, you’re helping to strengthen his eye muscles.
Also, rather than multicoloured baby toys, select ones that have high-contrast colours, such as black, white and red. Until your baby is about six months old, these are the colours he can see best and so, will help him develop and strengthen his eyesight.
Your baby might have had his umbilical stump clamp taken off 24 hours after his birth. If not, you can ask for it to be removed before you leave the hospital, as it may interfere with diaper changes.
What should your baby’s umbilical stump look like?
Soon after birth, it may look white and shiny. Over the next few weeks. the stump will shrivel up, dry and heal, changing colour to brown, gray or even black.
The stump will usually fall off on its own. Proper stump care is very important to promote its healing and prevent infection from setting in. Please read this comprehensive guide on stump care for more.
Your baby’s genitals and breasts might look a bit swollen. Don’t worry if you notice this, mummy, as it is normal. It is a result of the hormones your baby absorbed while in your womb.
Also, your baby might be covered in a fine down, thicker on his back, shoulders and forehead. This fine hair is known as lanugo, and helped protect baby’s skin in-utero. It should fall off in a few weeks.
When to see a doctor
If your baby:
- Has an oozy umbilical stump that is also smelly
It’s only been one week of life outside your womb for your precious baby, but he already knows you so well. He knows your voice because you sang and talked to him in the womb, and he knows your touch, as you caressed your bump while pregnant and he responded with kicks. Now, he also knows your smell, as he nuzzles into your breasts for milk.
Mums, your touch, love and voice all work together to help your baby feel secure. But did you know that the more you touch, hold and cuddle your baby, the more his brain responds and develops too? So keep talking to and loving your little one, knowing that you’re fuelling both his emotional and cognitive development.
Your baby’s only source of nutrition is your breastmilk at this stage.
Breastmilk contains important and precious nutrients – such as antibodies and a range of minerals and vitamins – that nothing else can match. These components of your breastmilk help protect your 1 week old baby from various illnesses, while helping his immunity develop.
Your little one would have already benefited from your “golden milk”, or the colostrum which you produced at his birth. In fact, you might still be producing it. However, towards day two or three of your baby’s life, the composition of your milk will change to match your baby’s needs.
There are a few things to remember about breastfeeding your 1 week old baby now, and over the next few weeks:
- Feed on demand. Mummy, we know you are tired and sleep-deprived. Hang in there, okay? At the same time, your little one has no control over his feeding or sleeping patterns and should be fed on demand. This means, you need to watch out for the following signs of hunger: rooting, head-bobbing, fist-sucking, mouth-fluttering. These are all signs that your baby is ready for your milk!
- It’s not necessary to supplement your 1 week old baby’s feeds. His tummy is only the size of a marble and anything more than what your breasts provide him may make him spit up.
- Around day three to five your milk will become more abundant. You might also experience your first “let-down” which heralds an increase in milk production.
- You might experience engorgement as your milk comes in. The trick to handling this is to ensure your baby is deeply latched on, and nurses often to empty your breasts.
- If your breasts are so full that your nipples have become flattened, making it hard for baby to latch on, try hand-expressing some milk out.
Remember, if you are having trouble with breastfeeding, speak to your doctor or a lactation consultant for help.
Breastfed babies will lose a bit of weight in the first three days of life. This is quite normal. Five to seven percent is within the normal range.
When it comes to your week old baby’s health, remember that his immune system is still developing and so, very vulnerable. You should not let other people kiss your baby, especially on the face and hands. Also, remind family members to avoid kissing your baby on the face too, and to wash their hands before holding your little one.
At birth, your little one should have received the following vaccinations:
- BCG: Immunisation against Tuberculosis
- Hepatitis B – 1st dose: Immunisation against Hepatitis B
Do note that two to three days after the BCG vaccination, a small red lump usually appears at the injection site. This lump may increase in size and develop into an ulcer with a crust forming over it. A scar remains after the crust falls off. This is a normal reaction and not a side effect.
To know when the next vaccinations are due, please refer to this guide.
When to see a doctor
If your baby:
- Is running even the slightest of fevers (over 37 degrees Celsius)
- You have problems breastfeeding or latching your baby on
- Has a shrunken fontanelle (the soft spot on the head) — this could be a sign of dehydration
- Has any kind of fall
Diaper checks are important during the first few weeks of your baby’s life to ensure he is getting enough to eat.
Soon after your milk comes in, you will notice that your baby’s poo will turn a greeny-brown colour. After that, it turns yellowish, and will have a seedy, almost mustard-like appearance. You will also notice more wet diapers as his intake of milk increases.
A 1 week old, baby will usually have around three to five poopy diapers in 24 hours. However, this varies from baby to baby. Some will poop after every feeding while others will deposit a “mega poop” after a couple of feeds!
When it comes to wet diapers, you’re looking at five to six a day.
Bathing your newborn for the first time might seem daunting. But with our step-by-step guide, you’ll seen be a pro! Read it here.
Mummies, remember, your baby is still quite fragile. Hold his neck when you carry him and also bathe him. Be extra gentle around the soft spot on his head.
To avoid the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), remember to always place baby flat on his back to sleep. Do not clutter his cot with extra bedding, blankets, pillow or soft toys.
The sudden change from being pregnant to actually having your own baby might be overwhelming. Because of this, ensure you have plenty of support especially in these early days of motherhood.
The only thing your partner cannot do at this stage is breastfeed. But he can assist you with that too, by ensuring you are well-hydrated while nursing, and so on. Divide tasks such as bathing baby and changing diapers.
You could also consider traditional post-natal massage that has health and other benefits for new mums.
Remember that there are many emotions and hormones still swirling around in your system, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. However, if you are feeling unusually depressed, have absolutely no bonding with or feelings towards your little one, then, you must see your doctor without delay.
Congratulations, again, mummy! Your journey has only begun.