Your baby is finally here! After nine months of waiting, wondering and anticipating, that sweet-smelling bundle of cuteness is in your arms. 

Perhaps you didn’t expect your newborn to be a little puffy-eyed and wrinkly with a bit of a cone-shaped head, but it makes sense considering her long stay in your snug, fluid-filled uterus and that tight squeeze through the birth canal if you had a vaginal delivery.

Still, your baby is beautiful, and will become even more so as the weeks progress, with the “newborn look” fading after the first few months.

Remember to savor all those first cuddles, feedings and skin-to-skin snuggles. Now’s the time to start the bonding process with the newest member of your family.

Keep in mind that those feelings of love and attachment don’t always happen automatically, but sometimes take time to develop over the weeks and months ahead. 

What can you expect during your newborn’s first week? Here’s a glimpse.

Your newborn and 1-week-old baby's development

At a Glance

Sleeping basics
Sleeping basics
Newborns up to 3 or 4 months old need 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, usually waking every two to four hours to eat.
Feeding basics
Feeding basics
Breastfed babies should eat as much as they want at this age, but a general rule of thumb is roughly 16 to 24 ounces of breast milk or formula in 24 hours.
Did you know?
Did you know?
Baby will lose weight after birth. Nearly all newborns will leave the hospital or birthing center weighing less than when they first checked in.

What will your baby be able to do this week? She’ll be able to lift her head briefly when placed on her tummy. She’ll also be able to focus on objects that are within 8 to 12 inches away — exactly the distance your face will be when you’re gazing at her. And that’s something you’ll likely be doing a lot this week … and in the weeks to come!

But perhaps the most noticeable of her newborn behaviors will be those built-in reflexes that come standard issue to all new babies, including the all-important rooting reflex (when her cheek is stroked she’ll turn in that direction, which helps baby locate the breast or bottle), the startle or Moro reflex, and the sucking reflex (nature’s way of ensuring baby gets those feeds at the breast or bottle).

Don’t be surprised if your baby seems very sleepy at first. A long stretch of pronounced drowsiness the second and even third day of life is to be expected — and possibly designed to give newborns a chance to recover from the exhausting work of being born. And you thought you were the only one who was tired!

She’ll have longer periods of wakefulness as the weeks unfold. For now, take advantage of her sleepiness and try to rest when she’s resting.

Your newborn and 1-week-old baby's growth

The average newborn weighs around 7½ pounds and measures about 20 inches long. Is your baby bigger or smaller than that?

The vast majority of full-term newborns weigh between 5½ and 9½ pounds and clock in between 18 and 22 inches long.

Here’s something you may not have been expecting: Your little one will lose some weight in the first few days after birth. In fact, nearly all newborns will leave the hospital weighing less than they did when they were first born, with an average loss of 5 to 10 percent of their birth weight during their first week.

Wondering when your little one will recoup that weight? Breastfed infants — who typically take in only teaspoons of colostrum during the early days of feeding — won’t return to their birth weight until well into their second week. Formula-fed babies may see their weight gain creep back up earlier than that.

Your newborn and 1-week-old baby's health

What’s up with your newborn baby’s health? Here’s a snapshot.

Baby Apgar tests and scores
Baby Apgar tests and scores
Vitamin K injection
Vitamin K injection
Newborn screening tests
Newborn screening tests
Umbilical cord care
Umbilical cord care
The 1-week well-baby visit
The 1-week well-baby visit

Postpartum & new baby tips

Understanding baby's weight

What makes your baby weigh more or less than the newborn in the next bassinet?

Several factors come into play, including your own diet and weight, both before and during pregnancy.

Other factors that can play a role include your prenatal health, your own birth weight, genetics, whether your baby is a boy or a girl (boys tend to weigh more, though it varies), whether this is your firstborn (they tend to be smaller than subsequent children), whether your baby is a twin or triplet (multiples often weigh less than singletons), and your baby’s race (white babies can sometimes weigh more than Black American, Asian American or Native American infants).

Your first postpartum poop

You've just pushed out some 7 pounds of baby, give or take — and things are going to be tender in that region for a little while. So it’s only natural that you might be stressed about having to push out that first postpartum poop too.

And don’t be surprised if your first stool after delivery is a bit slow in coming. For one thing, your stomach muscles, which help you go, have become stretched and weakened. For another, your bowel itself may be reluctant to get back to work right away — especially if those muscles were traumatized during childbirth (give me a break, will ya?).

Aside from that, but just as powerful, is the fear factor. You're probably worried about splitting your stitches (don't worry, you won't), aggravating your hemorrhoids, experiencing intense pain (again, so soon?!!), or being embarrassed, especially if you're still sharing a room in the hospital.

But the sooner you get your bowels moving again, the better all around.

As always, fiber and liquids are your friends (though don't overdo either), and a little walking can help too (easy does it at first). If necessary, a stool softener and a mild laxative can team up to make that first movement a little less uncomfortable, but ask your practitioner first.

Your newborn's appearance

The fine, downy hair that might be covering your baby's body is called lanugo, and it will fall out within the next few weeks. Slated to go, too, may be the luxurious mane your baby might be sporting.

That first head of hair — if your baby has hair at all — might be replaced by locks that are entirely different in texture and color.

And that swollen scrotum on your baby boy or those swollen labia on your little girl? Perfectly normal (they're due to hormones of yours still circulating in your newborn's body). They’re also temporary, and will be down to baby proportions before you know it.

Puffy eyes postpartum

If you pushed long and hard to get that cute little baby out, you may feel as though you've gone a few rounds in the ring — and you may look that way too.

Black, blue and bloodshot eyes are typical of brand new moms, but this postpartum symptom is harmless and temporary, the result of straining the muscles in your face when pushing.

The good news is that the bruising and redness will disappear and your eyes will return to normal in a matter of weeks or even days.

What might linger a little longer is puffiness around the eyes if you have it. Fatigue (which will soon become your middle name) and extra bodily fluids (still left over from pregnancy) are to thank for that postpartum symptom.

So what to do? Applying a cold compress to your eyes a few times a day can help. Cold tea bags work well too — tea contains tannin, a natural astringent that may help reduce swelling. You can also try an eye gel, which you can keep chilled in the fridge, that contains such depuffing ingredients as arnica, chamomile and cucumber, or try to prevent baggy eyes in the first place by sleeping on a couple of pillows to raise your head and avoiding salty foods and alcohol. And, of course, rest, rest, rest whenever you can, though we know that’s a challenge. The good news? This, too, shall pass!

Newborn jaundice signs

A common condition that turns a baby's skin yellowish, jaundice occurs in 60 percent of all babies, typically showing up two to three days after birth and lasting a week to 10 days (and sometimes longer in preemies and breastfed babies).

In most cases, jaundice goes away either on its own or with minimal treatment.

Although there isn't anything you can do to prevent jaundice, it's important to watch for the telltale signs, especially since the condition may not develop until after you bring your baby home from the hospital. That way, you can check in with the pediatrician about it to see if any treatment is necessary.

Jaundice often appears on the face first, and then spreads to the rest of the baby's body, including the whites of the eyes.

A good way to check a lighter-skinned baby for jaundice is to put your little one in natural sunlight and gently press baby’s forehead and nose with your fingers. In darker-skinned babies, the yellowing may be visible only in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, so do the same test there.

If the skin appears yellowish where you made the impressions, call your pediatrician.

The doctor will probably want to examine your baby and take a blood sample to determine the levels of bilirubin, a pigment that is produced in the blood when the body breaks down old red blood cells.

Gaining parent confidence

Parents aren't born — they're made on the job: one dirty diaper, one marathon feeding session, one bath, one outing (including one outing when you forget to pack wipes and you suddenly need them urgently), one sleepless night at a time.

Luckily, babies are forgiving as you learn. And what might help most — besides the passing of time and the accumulation of experience — is to know that you're in good company.

Every mom, even those seasoned pros you probably eye with envy, feels overwhelmed in those early weeks, especially when postpartum exhaustion teamed with recovery from childbirth are taking their toll.

So cut yourself plenty of slack (and cut yourself a piece of cheese and a slice of bread too — low blood sugar can contribute to that overwhelmed feeling). Give yourself plenty of time to adjust and get with the program of parenting.

Pretty soon, the everyday challenges of baby care won't be so challenging anymore. In fact, they'll come so naturally, you'll be able to do them in your sleep (and will often feel as though you are). You'll be diapering, feeding, burping and soothing with the best of them. You'll be a parent — and parents, in case you haven't heard, can do anything.

Breast engorgement

Around two to five days after delivery, after the colostrum stage when your milk comes in, your breasts will become engorged and astonishingly hard — hard as a rock, or rather two rocks. Two very achy rocks.

If you're not breastfeeding, the engorgement should subside within a few days. In this case, you'll want to wear a snug-fitting bra to minimize engorgement.

You'll also want to avoid any kind of nipple stimulation or milk expression — otherwise, your breasts will continue to produce milk. Ice packs can help with the discomfort.

If you are breastfeeding, you can expect engorgement to diminish within two to three days. But it may take a few weeks for your baby and your breasts to work out a good supply-and-demand relationship.

Until then, there are some steps you can take to minimize the pain and discomfort of engorgement, including feeding your baby every two to three hours, using warm compresses before a feeding session and cold compresses after, expressing a little milk with a pump or by hand, and massaging your breasts.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

  1. What to Expect the First Year, 3rd edition, Heidi Murkoff.
  2., Baby Month 1: Your Newborn Guide, October 2021.
  3., Newborns Screenings: What Tests Will My Baby Get in the Hospital?, February 2022.
  4., Your Baby's Apgar Score, June 2021.
  5., Why Newborns Get Vitamin K Shots, September 2021.
  6., Did You Give Birth to a Conehead Baby?, April 2022.
  7., What Will My Baby Look Like?, October 2020.
  8., When Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord Will Fall Off and What to Do, July 2021.
  9., The First-Week Well-Baby Visit, January 2022.
  10., What to Know About the Moro Reflex, October 2021.
  11., The Sucking Reflex in Babies, October 2021.
  12., The Rooting Reflex in Babies, October 2021.
  13., How to Swaddle a Baby, June 2022.
  14., Jaundice in Newborn Babies, September 2022.
  15., How Much Should My Baby Eat?, February 2022.
  16., Here's How Much Sleep Babies Need, May 2022.
  17., Newborn and Baby Sleep Basics, April 2022.
  18., The Parent-Baby Bond: What if It Doesn't Happen Right Away?, September 2021.
  19. American Academy of Pediatrics, Newborn Reflexes, March 2022.
  20. American Academy of Pediatrics, First Month: Physical Appearance and Growth, August 2009.
  21. American Academy of Pediatrics, Why Your Newborn Needs a Vitamin K Shot, November 2022.
  22. American Optometric Association, Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age.
  23. University of Michigan Health, Michigan Medicine, Physical Growth in Newborns, September 2021.
  24. KidsHealth From Nemours, A Guide for First-Time Parents, January 2018.
  25. Children's Health of Orange County, Newborn Development: 0-1 Month, June 2021.
  26. March of Dimes, Quick Stats: Birthweight, January 2022.
  27. UT Southwestern Medical Center, What Parents Should Know About Newborn Tests and Vaccinations, July 2016.
  28. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Development, What Disorders Are Newborns Screened for in the United States?, September 2017.
  29. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Boys Growth Chart, November 2009.
  30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Girls Growth Chart, November 2009.

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