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Newborn Development: What to Expect on Week 1

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Tracey Romero · Updated Nov 12, 2021

Newborn Development: What to Expect on Week 1

Now that the delivery is done, the parenting immediately kicks off with the first week of your baby’s life. Let us walk you through things you need to know for the first week of being a parent. Check out week 1 of newborn development stages. 

How Your Baby is Growing

When your baby is born, their average weight will be around 7.25 pounds. However, the weight range is quite large since any weight between 5.5 pounds and 10 pounds is considered to be normal. In general, males and later siblings are on the heavier side than females and firstborns.

Within the first few days of newborn development stages, it is likely that your baby will lose some weight within 4 to 5 days, but gain it right back within the next week. It is typical for a newborn to gain around 4 ounces to 8 ounces, week after week.

For height and head circumference, the averages are 20 inches and 13.5 inches respectively. The normal range of height is 18 to 22 inches, while the head circumference is expected to reach 15 inches by the end of the first month.

newborn development stages

Developmental Milestones 

Since you will be spending most of your time taking care of your baby especially these first few months, it is important to note the following milestones for your baby’s holistic development.


You should know that the priority within the first week is making sure that your baby can feed and digest, and has a healthy immune and digestive system. 


Spontaneous or reflexive smiling could happen within the first week but should be present by the tenth week at the latest. Rooting reflex, the sucking reflex and the startle reflex also happens in the 1st week. 

Watching for equal limb motion to gauge motor control on both sides of the body is also important since if one of the limbs isn’t moving as much as the rest, there could be an injury or weakness in that limb. 

Head movement

Although newborn babies need to have their heads supported at all times, they may be able to briefly lift their heads within the first week.


As for vision, the baby should be able to focus on things near their faces and about a foot away for a short period of time. This allows them to focus on their mother’s face while breastfeeding.

Feeding & Nutrition

At week 1 of newborn development stages, you can choose to feed your baby breast milk from the breast or after pumping into a bottle, formula milk from a bottle, or a mixture of both.

Breast milk is best for babies, especially during newborn development stages

Breast milk is said to be optimal because it has all the nutrients needed. But since every parent’s situation is different, this may not be a feasible option for everyone. It is also tiring for a new mother to have to breastfeed 8 to 12 times a day for the first few weeks. 

If you do decide to breastfeed make sure that the baby nurses from both breasts for each feeding and empties both to encourage continuous production of milk and assure nutrients. A lot of pediatricians discourage bottle feeding or using formula this early unless absolutely necessary.

In their first day out, your baby’s appetite might not be at its best but this is normal since they use this day to recover after delivery.

Baby Care Tips

Umbilical cord care

In terms of caring for the umbilical cord at week 1 of newborn development stages, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) actually advises against putting alcohol. They recommend letting it dry and fall off on its own, which usually occurs after a week.

To help the umbilical cord dry out, sponge baths are recommended. You can use a bath that does not submerge the belly button area or just use a warm rag to bathe your baby with soapy water and then warm water for rinsing. Cleaning out the white substance with a cheesy consistency is normal. This substance is called the vernix, which coated the baby’s skin inside the womb. It could be wiped off or absorbed back into your baby’s skin.

Bowel movements

In the first week, your baby could be passing a mixture of mucus, skin cells, and other possible ingested substances during their delivery, which makes bowel movements look dark and tar-like. But know that this is normal. Late into their first week, a lot of diaper changes are to be expected and stool should be loose and yellow but could vary depending on diet.

Nail Care

Nail trimming is also necessary for when your baby has long nails. This way, scratching and wounding their eyes or any part of the face is not a possibility. Make sure to use a gentle nail clipper or a nail file when doing this.


For the most part, your baby will sleep for hours. Here are some safety guidelines from the AAP regarding this.

  • First, there should be no co-sleeping at all within the first six months. Room-sharing is alright as long as the baby is in a hazard-free cradle, crib, or bassinet near the bed but not on it.
  • Second, there should not be anything on the crib including pillows, toys, loose beddings, and even breathable bumpers because they may pose a risk.
  • Third, the baby should always be put to sleep on their back on a firm sleep surface like a crib mattress with a sheet.

Baby Health & Safety 

At birth BCG (which protects against tuberculosis) and Hepatitis B vaccine are given. It is included in the Expanded program of Immunization. Hepatitis B vaccine can be given as early as right before you are discharged from the hospital. This is given early because it helps protect the newborn from getting infected from an unknowing family member and is completely safe for newborns.

Newborn Development Stages: What Can I Do to Help my Baby Grow?

A fair amount of skin-to-skin contact will be beneficial for your baby since, within the first week, they will rely heavily on their senses due to their lack of motor skills. This is especially true for their sense of smell and touch since their eyes are still very sensitive.

What to Watch Out For and When to See a Doctor

Although newborns are asleep a lot, excessive sleepiness might be a concern if it gets to a point where they sleep through feedings or suddenly become more lethargic than usual. 

If there are any symptoms like this, accompanied by yellowing skin or even the slightest fever, it is important that you call your doctor or go to the hospital immediately.

The first week is crucial for newborn development stages since this is the point where they cannot do much for themselves at all. Make sure to stay in touch with your doctor and do not hesitate to ask for help if any concern arises.

Learn more about Parenting and newborn development stages, here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Tracey Romero · Updated Nov 12, 2021

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