Mom holding her newborn.

What You Need to Know About Newborns

While the newborn stage can be a difficult adjustment period, it’s also one that’s fleeting. Your baby will start to grow quickly, and you’ll be looking back, wishing you could cradle them in your arms one more time. To help you make the most of your newborn phase, there are a few important things you should understand. Here is what you need to know about newborns to make your transition into parenthood as easy and stress-free as possible.

Smiles and Coos Aren’t Immediate

Many new mothers expect their newborn to immediately look into their eyes and smile. While we wish that this heartwarming moment happened immediately, babies don’t tend to develop their “social” smile until about six weeks after delivery. Don’t worry though, your efforts aren’t wasted. Pretty soon you’ll have an expressive baby who loves to interact with you.

Their Face Might Look Smushed

Immediately after deliver, your newborn might look a little smushed or have a puffy face. This is completely normal—they’ve just journeyed through a very small birth canal, which exerts a lot of pressure on their body. Your newborn’s features should normalize quickly. He or she might also be covered in fine hairs called lanugo. Lanugo covers babies in the womb to help regulate their body temperature. While most newborns shed this hair towards the end of pregnancy, it’s not uncommon for it to stick around for a few weeks or even months after delivery. Just leave it be and it will come off on its own.

Keep the Umbilical Cord Dry

During the first few weeks of your newborn’s life, it’s important to take a few extra precautions so that the umbilical cord stays dry. The main way to do this is to give your baby a sponge bath. This is the safest way to bathe your newborn until the umbilical cord falls off on its own. By keeping the umbilical cord dry, you promote a healthy healing and a natural break off. Just dip a clean cloth or sponge in warm water and gently wash your baby’s head, body, and diaper area making sure to avoid the belly button region.

If the cord does get wet, gently pat it dry using a clean cloth or Q-tip but avoid aggressive movements or rubbing. Too much pressure can pull the cord off before it’s properly healed, which can be painful and cause scarring. Make sure that your newborn’s diaper is away from the umbilical cord area until it naturally falls off as friction can lead to problems.

While it’s important to give your newborn a sponge bath when they’re dirty, don’t feel like you have to constantly bathe them. Newborns don’t do much and therefore, don’t get that dirty. Unless they have an occurrence of explosive diarrhea, nightly baths aren’t all that necessary. We don’t recommend skipping bath time all together, but don’t over exhaust yourself with worry if you put them to bed as they are. If you want to learn more about baby skin care and grooming, click here.

They Don’t Have Schedules

During pregnancy, a lot of expecting mothers try to put together some sort of schedule that they plan to follow when their newborn arrives. After delivery, you’ll quickly learn that newborns have no schedules. They transition between eating, pooping, sleeping, and crying—sometimes all at once. While there are plenty of adorable newborn outfits that you can dress them up in, be realistic when you’re at home. Pajamas are the perfect loungewear for newborns that allow you to easily, and quickly, transition them from sleeping to eating to changing diapers. Save the pretty outfits for special occasions.

Weight Gain is an Indication of Adequate Feeding

As we mentioned, newborns don’t have schedules. This includes feedings. Don’t try to create a strict feeding schedule and get your newborn to adapt to it, it’s only going to cause problems. Instead, be observant and work on learning your newborn’s feeding cues. When you notice any cues, feed him or her. At your visits with your pediatrician, they will be able to tell you whether or not your newborn is getting enough food. However, as a rule of thumb, weight gain is an indication of adequate feeding. Using responsive feeding is a great technique and has measurable health benefits for your newborn. To make sure that your newborn is fed properly while you’re away, make sure that you find a good breast pump and understand how to use it.

Newborn Poo is Intimidating

During the first few days of your newborn’s life, they’re going to pass a substance called meconium. This is a natural process, but it’s appearance can cause worry in first-time parents. Meconiumappears black and tarlike with a sticky texture. Don’t worry. Around their third or fourth day this should subside, and stools should become more normal. If you have any questions about your newborn’s bowel movements, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. Different textures and colors of poops can indicate underlying problems.

Their Sleeping Patterns are Unpredictable

Say goodbye to the transitions between day and night. Life with a newborn means that your day runs on a continuous 24-hour loop. While it’s important to set healthy sleeping schedules for toddlers, newborns need a lot of sleep. If you find your newborn sleeping, never wake them up. Just because they sleep during the day doesn’t mean they won’t sleep at night. Newborns tend to sleep about 16 hours out of a 24-hour day and unfortunately, this will not be consecutively spent when it’s most convenient for you. As a general rule of thumb for new moms, try to sleep whenever your newborn is sleeping. This will give you a chance to avoid complete sleep deprivation. It’s okay to have a messy house and focus on self-care. The laundry can be done when you’re rested.

Another important thing to remember is that all newborns are different. Some babies start sleeping through the night at only 4 months old while others take longer. If you’re concerned about your newborn’s sleeping habits, talk to your pediatrician.

They Don’t Need Fancy Classes

There are thousands of advertisements online for stimulating newborn classes that can help enhance development—you don’t need them. While they’re a great way to boost your baby’s activity, you can achieve the same results at home. There are toys on the market that cover all aspects of development and simple interactions are the perfect way for them to begin understanding their environment. We don’t recommend sitting them in front of a television 24/7, but you don’t need an expensive class. The trick is finding a happy medium. Just make sure you spend plenty of time bonding with your newborn and practicing tummy time to ensure a healthy physical and emotional development. If you want to get a head start on boosting brain developing, check out these 7 tips.


Newborn Development Week by Week

To help you track your newborn’s development over the first few weeks, here’s a quick overview of what you can expect.

  • Week 1 – your newborn will look a little puffy and wrinkled. They may or may not have a misshapen head due to delivery, but these features will begin to normalize, and your baby will become increasingly photogenic. Make sure you spend a lot of time bonding through skin-to-skin contact.
  • Week 2 – you’ll likely still be struggling to find some sort of normalcy to your routine, but you’ll start to notice patterns in your newborn’s behaviors. It will essentially alternate between feeding, changing, cuddling, and sleeping.
  • Week 3 – your baby is starting to grow and you’re learning more about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to breastfeeding. If you’re struggling to find a good latch, try changing up your positioning or working with a professional lactation consultant to get the most out of feedings.
  • Week 4 – by this time, you’ll start to feel like you’re getting the hang of taking care of your newborn and you’ll feel more confidence. You’ll likely find yourself getting into a predictable rhythm that works for both you and your baby.


As your newborn continues to grow into a more interactive infant, you’ll start noticing a developing personality. This is one of the most exciting times as you get to watch your newborn develop in new and exciting ways. Make sure that during this time you continue to play and interact so that your baby’s physical, emotional, and social development is strengthened. To help get the most out of your newborn weeks, make sure you’ve received your insurance-covered breast pump and fully understand how to work it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact a representative from Byram Healthcare.