what to expect in the first 0–6 weeks
Congratulations! Your first days as a new mum or dad can be daunting. You’re probably wondering what to expect for your baby’s first days — especially in the first six weeks.
Here is a timeline of some events that may occur.
Baby’s first days
Yay! Your baby is here! After much anticipation and expectations, your little one is now all bundled up next to you.
The plastic clap for the umbilical cord is usually removed after 24 to 48 hours, and the remaining stump usually comes away after a week or two.
The shape of your baby’s head might be a bit funny. Don’t worry too much since baby’s skull is still quite soft and malleable (to help them through the birth canal).
Baby’s head may become flattened from sleeping on their back with their head in the same position. To prevent this, change it up slightly every time you put them down.
Your baby’s first poo will be black, thick, sticky and tar-like. This is normal. During this first-ever week, your baby will still be pooing out meconium — which is a mixture of skin cells, mucus and whatever else your baby ingested during delivery.
Over the next few poos, it will change to a greenish-yellow tone. Breastfeed poo may look a bit ‘seedy’ and formula fed baby’s poo is often firmer and lighter in colour.
Newborns tend to sleep most of the time. They can eat anywhere between 8 to 12 times a day, or every couple of hours.
During this first week, your baby is figuring out how to survive outside the womb. This means your baby will be learning how to suckle and sleeping.
They are also, technically, almost blind because, after 9 months in darkness, the concept of light is quite a dramatic change. So they rely mostly on their sense of smell. That’s how they also know when mum is holding them.
Baby can also have a spontaneous or almost reflexive smile. This is different from a social smile, which is based on emotions and enjoyment of things.
By the time your baby is a week old, you’ll be having about half a dozen wet nappies with three or four yellow-ish poos each day. You can start using reusable nappies during this week, with the help of the adjustable snaps to readjust the sizing.
By week 2, your baby may have settled into a rhythm. You may have picked up on their signs of hunger and what the different kinds of cries mean.
During this time, you may find your baby unfurling. Clothes that fitted perfectly fine one day suddenly become too small. This is because during this week, your baby goes through their first growth spurt.
Your 2-week old baby will tend to cry when they are uncomfortable or hungry. Sometimes, when you pick them up or put them down, they may have a startle reflex. Around this time, your baby may briefly lift their head up and look at your face from a short distance.
Your baby’s eyesight will have developed to a vision range that’s equivalent to your face and your nursing position.
Most of the time, your two-week old baby will be asleep. For mums and dads, take this time to nap and recoup while you can.
It’s not quite a month yet but you’ll find that at week 3, your baby’s alertness increases. You can start putting your baby down for tummy time to help build strength.
During this time, they love to watch and listen to people talk. It may feel strange at first but if you haven’t already been doing so, it’s a good time to start conversing with your baby.
You may find your baby having issues with gas. A good remedy is to do gentle bicycle kicks with your baby’s legs to help move the gas through their digestive tract. As their digestion matures, their ability to pass gas will also get better.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s also good to note that what you’re eating may also impact on your baby’s discomfort. Some foods like chocolate, caffeine or seeded fruit can lead to gas issues for baby.
By this time, a four week old baby can turn their head from side to side to listen. They may also start cooing or make gentle baby noises.
They also start to get around to the idea of staying awake a little bit longer during the day time and sleep in 1 or 2 ‘stretches’ at night. Don’t worry too much if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet.
Their bellies are only so big and can only hold a certain amount of food. Most of the time, they wake up because they’re hungry or in need of a nappy change.
Your baby may start making jerky arm movements and lift their hands to their face or mouth. They can hold their head up for a few more minutes as strength in their muscles build.
Your baby is no longer considered, on a technicality, a newborn. By this time, your baby is now a full-fledged infant with regular bowel movements.
By this time, you can predict when they’re going to poo or do a bit of a wee.
Their alertness also lasts for longer during the day and can hold small objects when placed in their hands.
At this stage, your baby knows who you are and may wiggle when you come near. If they’re upset, the sound of your voice can also help and soothe them. During this time, rapid brain development means that they may start to gurgle and mimic your words through mouth movements.
Fussiness in the evening hours is normal and some infants will experience “evening irritability” up to 16 weeks as their central nervous system is still developing rapidly. Irritability often occurs when your baby feels overwhelmed from the day’s events, so it’s good to have some chill time and wind down through soft lighting and minimal noise to reduce the stress.
It may seem like your baby is attempting to talk at this time. They also start to smile for real, and not just reacting to gas.
Wakefulness increases even more and your baby now sleeps for about 16 hours throughout the day. They can begin to self soothe and figure out how to hold their head up.
Taking baby out for a walk can be a good opportunity for fresh air and good for brain development as it acts as a natural brain stimulus. You can also introduce new toys that encourage motor skills such as toys that they can hold, brightly coloured and easy to reach mobiles are great for babies starting from six weeks old.
Your baby is constantly growing. Their appetite is also mostly likely accelerating to match. When it comes to nappies and nappy changing, using reusable nappies can be cost-effective and easy once you’ve got a routine down.
As each week passes, you may find that your baby’s personality starts to develop, along with preferences for people, places and things.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the advice that’s given to you, it’s alright to step back from it all. Sometimes, all you need is the chance to enjoy being alone with your child.
Trust your instincts. You and your baby are both learning about each other, so take it easy and enjoy each day as they are.