All babies grow at different rates, but as a rough guide, here are the development milestones to expect when your baby is one month old.
In the very beginning, it may seem that your baby does nothing but eat, sleep, cry, and fill his diapers.
By the end of the first month, he’ll be much more alert and responsive. Gradually he’ll begin moving his body more smoothly and with much greater coordination—especially in getting his hand to his mouth.
You’ll realise that he listens when you speak, watches you as you hold him, and occasionally moves his own body to respond to you or attract your attention.
Those first few weeks with your new baby can be magical, but they can also be challenging.
Learning how to feed your baby, help her sleep and understand her constant needs can keep you on your toes — or asleep on your feet.
But if something is troubling you today, don’t worry too much. You might be surprised how different some parts of your baby’s life can be from one week to the next at this stage.
Baby Development Milestones
Your baby is unique (you knew that, of course!), and it’s normal for her to grow at her own pace.
Don’t be surprised if your baby’s development in one area seems to lag for a few weeks, only for her to catch up soon after.
Here are some of the baby milestones to look forward to now that your baby is one month old.
How Does Baby Look?
Despite what movies might have you believe, newborns don’t emerge from the womb picture-perfect — it often takes a few weeks or months for your baby to turn into the angelic-looking cherub you might have been expecting.
From a flattened nose (you try squeezing through a birth canal and see if your nose comes out cute as a button!) to a cone-shaped head (especially prominent if you were pushing for a long time), your child is beautiful as she is. But, of course, your newborn baby’s appearance will change quickly over the following weeks.
You can ask your doctor about any features that might concern you.
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Right from the first day, your baby has a set of reflexes designed to protect her and ensure she gets the care she needs (even if your parenting instincts haven’t kicked in yet).
Some of these early reflexes include the rooting reflex (which helps her locate the breast or bottle for feeding), the sucking reflex (to help her eat), the Palmar reflex (this is the one that makes her grip your finger when you put it in her palm), and the Moro reflex (the jumpy reaction she has when startled).
You can try checking your baby for these and other first-year reflexes, but keep in mind that your results may vary and will probably be less reliable than those of the doctor.
How Will Your 1-Month-Old Baby Sleep?
At this age, you’ll find that your little one still sleeps most of the time, when you’re not feeding, changing or bathing them, that is!
On average, a 1-month-old baby needs about 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day, usually split roughly equally between day and night; there isn’t a regular sleep pattern, but it’s pretty standard for babies to be awake in the evenings.
However, every baby is different, and some need more or less sleep than others.
Your 1-Month-Old Baby and Food
All your baby needs is milk for the first six months, and ideally, that should be breastmilk. After that, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, your little one should have a daily vitamin D supplement (8.5 to 10 micrograms).
The average 1-month-old baby drinks about 660ml to 840ml of milk a day spread over seven to 10 feeds.
How Much Milk Baby Needs
Babies eat a lot during those first few weeks — at least eight to 12 times (or more) in 24 hours.
Chalk it up to her tiny tummy size and the incredible physical and mental growth that she’s undergoing these first weeks and months.
Since your breasts and baby don’t come with a built-in meter, it can be challenging to gauge if and when your baby’s had enough to eat.
But there are a few clues: If your baby seems happy, her weight gain is appropriate for her age, and she’s making enough dirty diapers (eight to 12 on any given day), she’s probably getting enough.
That said, breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally — and there are plenty of feeding tricks to master and issues to solve in these first few weeks, from the breastfeeding latch to mastitis and other common breastfeeding problems.
Physical Developments for Your 1-Month-Old Baby
- Makes jerky, quivering arm thrusts
- Brings hands within range of eyes and mouth
- Moves head from side to side while lying on stomach
- Head flops backward if unsupported
- Keeps hands in tight fists
- Strong reflex movements
Movement and Head Control
Your little one cannot sit up alone, move around, or rollover at this young age.
When lying on their back for a nappy change, you might notice that they keep their head to one side.
If you place them on their tummy, they might try to lift their head at first, but they’ll soon allow their head to turn to one side and bend their arms (elbows outwards) and legs with their bottom slightly sticking upwards.
Their arm and leg movements are uncoordinated and jerky.
Your 1-month-old still has the basic reflex movements they had as newborns (called ‘primitive reflexes).
For example, if you touch their cheek near their mouth, they’ll turn to try to suck your finger (‘rooting reflex’); when held ‘standing’ on a hard surface, they’ll press their feet down in a kind of walking pattern (‘stepping reflex’).
Right now, your little one has very little head control, so it is essential always to support your baby’s head and neck when carrying them and while feeding.
All of your baby’s senses are at work from the moment she’s born, including:
Her puffy eyes may match yours. But unlike yours, your brand new baby’s eyes are swollen from delivery, and perhaps the protective antibiotic eye ointment administered right after birth.
Her vision is a little blurry — but she’s able to see your face and other close-up objects. Just be sure to hold them 8 to 12 inches in front of her, which is her range of vision.
You may also notice that her eyes sometimes cross. That’s because the muscles that control eye movement aren’t yet fully developed and are nothing to worry about.
While her hearing isn’t thoroughly developed, your child is already familiar with your voice and other sounds she often heard in the womb.
Her sense of taste is highly developed, and she can differentiate between sweet and bitter — with a preference towards the sweet stuff (breast milk and formula fit the bill perfectly).
Soon after her arrival, she’ll recognise your scent.
This sense is the most developed at birth. Through touch, your baby learns the softness of your face, that nothing is more rewarding than a cuddle, and that she’s loved by those who care for her.
Visual and Hearing Milestones
- Focuses 8 to 12 inches (20.3 to 30.4 cm) away
- Eyes wander and occasionally cross
- Prefers black-and-white or high-contrast patterns
- Prefers the human face to all other patterns
- Hearing is fully mature
- Recognises some sounds
- May turn toward familiar sounds and voices
Your baby is attracted to light and will stare at a sunny window or lamp, for example.
If you hold your face or a bright toy about 20cm in front of their face, they’ll focus on that and can follow slow movements in and out and side to side with their eyes.
At this age, your little one finds it easiest to see high-contrast black-and-white toys.
In the last few months of pregnancy, your baby could hear some background sounds while still in your wombs, such as music, your voice or a vacuum cleaner.
Now that your little one is born, they might find these familiar sounds soothing, sometimes turning their head towards the source of the sound; they’ll also notice the gentle jingling of a small bell but wouldn’t be able to home in on where the bell is.
However, your baby will instinctively react to sudden noises with a ‘startle reflex’ by stiffening their body, blinking, reaching out with their arms and legs with fingers and toes splayed and sometimes crying.
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Smell and Touch Milestones
- Prefers sweet smells
- Avoids bitter or acidic smells
- Recognises the scent of his own mother’s breastmilk
- It prefers soft to coarse sensations
- Dislikes rough or abrupt handling
Being squished in your uterus and then pushed through the narrow birth canal means your baby’s body will be kind of scrunched up for some time. Her hands are in tiny fists, and her arms and legs are tucked close to her body.
No worries. Her muscles will relax during the next few weeks.
Swollen Sex Organs
Are you worried about that swollen scrotum on your baby boy or those swollen labia on your little girl? It’s perfectly normal and temporary.
They’re due to hormones of yours still circulating in your newborn’s body. They’ll be down to baby proportions before you know it.
Those same hormones are also responsible for any milky discharge leaking from the nipples (a possibility for both boy and girl babies) and vaginal discharge (which can sometimes be tinged with blood).
As with the swelling, the discharge should go away within a week or two.
Though your baby may have weighed in at 7 pounds at birth, don’t be surprised if she drops some weight (about 5 to 10 per cent).
The reason for the decrease: average post-delivery fluid loss. Your newborn’s weight should stop dropping by the time she’s five days old. She’ll regain and surpass her birth weight by around 10 to 14 days (and sometimes sooner).
Check-in with your doctor if you’re breastfeeding and can’t tell if your baby is getting enough milk.
Crying and Communication
This month your baby can probably start communicating more clearly. For example, if she’s bored, she may let you know by crying out until she’s shown something new.
If she’s amused, she may respond by smiling. Around this time, you might also start being able to tell the difference between her hungry cries, tired cries, and irritated cries.
If you haven’t experienced it yet, this month, you might see her first genuine smile, sometimes called the social smile.
She’ll flash that little grin when she’s awake, in response to something like the sound of your voice — and your heart will melt.
There’s no doubt that newborns cry — it’s how they communicate! So whether you have a calm baby or a fussy one, you’ll start to get used to all the variations of those little whimpers and wails this first month. Crying can be a sign a baby is healthy.
If your little one doesn’t cry much, especially when you know she may need something, see your doctor right away.
But what if she seems to cry all the time? Some babies cry more than others. Studies show that 80 to 90 per cent of babies have daily calling sessions from 15 minutes to an hour that are not easily explained.
Sometimes, these sessions are predictable — in the evening or after a busy day out of the house. But, sometimes, they just pop up like an unexpected summer storm.
Ensure she isn’t hungry, doesn’t need a diaper change, and hasn’t had something uncomfortable happen, like a thread wrapped around a toe or a scratchy tag bothering her neck.
If all that is in check, help her through it the best you can: Rock her, walk her, sing to her or cuddle her.
It may take several tries to help her calm down. But if you feel yourself losing patience or are just plain worn out, it’s okay to put her down somewhere safe like her crib for a few minutes. She may even surprise you and drift off to sleep by herself.
Some parents wonder if their baby has colic. A colicky baby will often have symptoms beyond simply crying: Balled-up fists, tightly closed or wide-open eyes, knees pulled up to her chest, flailing limbs, gas, and short bouts of held breath are all familiar.
Doctors usually diagnose colic using “the rule of threes”: three hours of crying, three days a week, lasting at least three weeks.
About 1 in 5 newborns has crying spells that are severe enough to be called colic.
Though there are strategies for soothing baby’s cries, including those of colicky infants, sometimes nothing seems to work.
A few things the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests: swaddling baby, changing your diet if you’re nursing in case there’s a food sensitivity or gas, offering a pacifier, holding baby, running a fan or other white noise-maker that might remind her of sounds in the womb, etc.
The best thing you can do to get through colic is to stay calm and take turns with a partner or caregiver to give your baby attention.
While colic usually starts around week 2 or 3 of a baby’s life, it most often peaks in severity around week 6. By month 3 or 4, your baby likely won’t be crying any more than any other baby. So remember, when you think you can’t take much more crying: It’s just a stage!
Tracking Dirty Diapers
Speaking of dirty diapers, you can expect a whole lot from your newborn’s bowel movements in the first few weeks.
First, poops are usually black and sticky — that’s the meconium that filled your baby’s intestines while in utero.
After a day or two, that will transition to greenish-yellow stools and a few days later to “regular” baby poops.
Prolific poop — at least five diapers a day for breastfed babies, sometimes more — is expected during the first month.
Your baby’s poop should look mustard yellow, green or brown, and it’ll be pasty or seedy.
By about week 6, the number of poopy diapers may level off, and your baby might even skip a day or two between BMs.
How to Support Your Baby’s Development
Here are some things you could try this month:
Cuddle your baby as much as possible — it’s an excellent way for you and your baby to bond!
Experts say the more quickly and consistently you comfort your baby when she’s upset in the first six months, the less demanding she may be when she’s older.
At this stage, your baby might prefer to look at objects that have straight lines on them, such as stripes or checkerboard patterns.
Choose a mobile or toys with bright, contrasting colours and patterns – she won’t be able to take her eyes off this visual feast!
Your baby is getting to know the world through touch, too. Give her toys with different textures, shapes, and sizes.
Talking With Your Baby.
Have a conversation with your baby by letting her “talk” using her coos, gurgles, and smiles, and talk back to her using words, sounds, and facial expressions. Your baby will learn to imitate you in time, so these early “conversations” are great for her development.
Gently stretch your baby’s arms in front of her to form a “clap”; move your baby’s legs as if she were cycling; and continue to practice tummy time. All of this help develop her muscles and movement.
Establishing security and trust with your baby allows her to reach her full potential. Find out more about bonding with your newborn in those everyday moments.
However, keep in mind that there’s only so much new information young babies can take in. So watch for signs that your baby has had enough — she might look away or cry — and give her a chance to rest.
Things to Do With Your 1-Month Old Baby
You may think your itty-bitty baby can’t do much of anything, let alone play…but you’re in for a happy surprise.
Even the newest newbie can bond with the most special person in their world — you.
While you’re enjoying this one-on-one time, she’ll learn how to identify you by sight and sound simultaneously; you’re helping her develop motor and cognitive skills.
All of the following activities cater to your one-month-old baby’s blurry vision (newborns are only able to see as far as their own arm’s length) and stimulate her social, visual and emotional development as well as listening skills.
Choose a time when your baby isn’t hungry, tired or sporting a wet diaper, and stop if she keeps turning her head away (newborns can quickly get overstimulated).
Infants are hard-wired to be fascinated by human faces since it ensures they can quickly zero in on and bond with those who care for them — so and make a few silly expressions at her (sticking your tongue out is a perennial favourite).
Here’s the best part: She may even try to copy you — even tiny infants can imitate facial expressions!
Hold your baby close to your face, supporting that wobbly head and neck, and tell her a story, ask questions, or sing.
The gentle back-and-forth of your “conversation” is what cements the baby’s trust since it conveys that you’re interested in her and can be counted on to respond to her. Mimicking her sounds encourages her to coo and gurgle all the more.
Shake a bright-coloured (not pastel; babies this young see high-contrast patterns and colours better) ball or rattle next to her, and she’ll turn her head to find it.
This earliest version of “hide and seek” strengthens neck muscles — plus, it’s adorable!
Take a Walk.
Strap your baby into a carrier or stroller and head outside together. Describe the sights you see along the way — people, cars, dogs, houses.
The fresh air and movement will benefit you both, plus the activity helps raise your energy levels.
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