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Normal Growth And Development Of Newborns


What is the normal growth and development of newborns?

Normal growth and development is how your newborn sleeps, eats, learns, and grows. A newborn is younger than 1 month old.

How quickly will my newborn grow?

You will notice changes in your newborn's size, weight, and appearance. Healthcare providers will record the following changes each time you bring your newborn in for a checkup:

  • Weight. Your newborn will lose up to 10% of his birth weight during the first 3 to 5 days. He will regain this weight by the time he is 2 weeks old. Your newborn will gain about 1½ to 2 pounds during his first month.
  • Length. Your newborn will go through a growth spurt when he is about 2 weeks old. He will grow about 1 inch during his first month.
  • Head shape and size. Your newborn's head should increase by ½ inch in his first month. He has 2 soft spots called fontanels on his head. The soft spot in the back of the head will close when he is about 2 or 3 months old. The front soft spot will close by the end of his first year. Be very careful when you touch your newborn's soft spots.

What should I feed my newborn?

Breast milk is the best food for your newborn. It provides all the nutrients your newborn needs to grow strong and healthy. The first milk your breasts make for your newborn is called colostrum. Colostrum contains antibodies that protect your newborn's immune system. It also contains more fat than the milk your breasts will make later. Your newborn will use the fat and calories as he develops. If you cannot breastfeed, choose a formula with added iron. Your newborn will feed 8 to 12 times every day. He is getting enough breast milk or formula if he is having 6 to 8 wet diapers a day.

How much sleep does my newborn need?

Your newborn will sleep about 16 hours each day. He will have 2 stages of sleep. The first stage is called active sleep. You may see him twitch or smile while he is in active sleep. The second stage is called quiet sleep. His body will relax completely while he is in quiet sleep.

How will my newborn let me know what he needs?

  • Your newborn will cry to let you know that he is hungry, wet, or wants your attention. You will soon be able to hear the differences in your newborn's crying. Set up a routine of sleeping and eating. A regular routine is important to make sure you and your newborn get enough rest and sleep. A routine also makes your newborn feel safe and learn to trust you.
  • Newborns often cry at certain times every day. When the crying does not stop and your newborn cannot be comforted, he may have colic. Colic usually starts when the newborn is about 2 weeks old and can last for up to 6 months. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about colic and how to cope with your newborn's crying. Ask someone to help you with your newborn if the crying causes you to feel nervous or irritable. Never shake your baby. This can cause serious brain injury and death.

When will my newborn develop movement control?

Your newborn will be able to do some actions on purpose by the time he is 1 month old. His movements may be jerky as his nervous system and muscle control develop. Your newborn may be able to lift his head for a second, but he is unable to hold his head up by himself. Support his head when you change his position. This is especially important when you put him into a sitting position. He may be able to turn his head from side to side when lying on his back. Your newborns was also born with the following natural movements called reflexes:

  • Rooting and sucking. Your newborn has a natural ability to suck and swallow when he is born. The rooting and sucking reflexes make your newborn turn his head toward your hand if you stroke his cheeks or mouth. These reflexes help him find the nipple at feeding times. The rooting reflex starts to disappear by 2 months. By this time, your newborn knows how to move his head and mouth to eat.
  • Moro reflex. This reflex causes your newborn to flail his arms out and cry when he is startled. The Moro reflex stops when your newborn is about 2 months old.
  • Grasp reflex. The grasp reflex is when the palm of your newborn's hand closes when you stroke it. The hand grasp turns into grasping on purpose when your newborn is about 5 to 6 months old. Your newborn can bring his hands toward his mouth and suck on his fingers.
  • Crawling reflex. This action happens when your newborn is put on his tummy. He will move his legs like he is crawling. He may also start to push himself up on his arms. The crawling reflex will start near the end of your newborn's first month.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's caregivers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.