13. Some Changes You May See in Baby

Incredible as it may seem, infants often go through a growth spurt very soon after birth. At 7 to 10 days after birth, your baby may grow in length; when you take him to the pediatrician for his next checkup, he may have grown more than you realized.

Your baby’s heart rate is faster than yours; his heart beats between 100 and 150 beats a minute. When he yawns, hiccups or has a bowel movement, his heart rate may decrease. He also breathes quite rapidly—up to 50 breaths a minute. This is normal.

Some babies don’t like to cuddle; it’s normal. If he stiffens and arches his back when you hold him close, hold him with his back against your chest. This may be better for him.

When he cries, you may not see tears. His tear ducts are not yet mature enough to produce tears. Tears normally flow out of tiny openings—tear ducts—located on the inner part of the lower lid. Occasionally, a tear duct is blocked by a thin membrane, which usually opens after birth. Sometimes it doesn’t, so tears don’t drain. They back up in the eye. This causes mucus to form on the eyes, lashes and lids.

Most tear ducts open by the time baby is 9 months old. Until this happens, gently massage the ducts with a clean index finger. Move in a circular motion toward the nose; do this throughout the day. The gentle pressure will help open the duct.

14. Baby and Sleep

Newborns sleep between 17 and 20 hours a day; however, they don’t usually sleep longer than 5 hours at one stretch. You’ll notice your baby sleeps a lot in these first weeks. Sleep gives your baby energy. She’ll slip between waking and sleeping with little regard for day or night and will eat every 2 to 4 hours.

In another 6 to 8 weeks, she’ll sleep longer at night and will be awake more during the day. Exposing her to daylight during the day and putting her in a dark room at night to sleep help establish this pattern. Because a newborn’s nervous system is immature, she won’t sleep as deeply as she will when she gets a bit older.

Your baby may hold her breath for a short time when she sleeps. This is called periodic breathing. It’s OK if she does this occasionally and for less than 10 seconds, then resumes breathing on her own. It happens because the part of the brain that controls her breathing is not yet fully developed. Research shows that periodic breathing is not linked in any way with SIDS.

You may be given the advice by a relative, friend or someone else to put baby on her tummy so she’ll sleep better. Don’t—we know that “back is better.” Put your baby to sleep on her back every time you put her down. Why? Research has shown that with a healthy, full-term baby, sleeping on her back lowers the chance she will have problems, especially with SIDS.

Studies also show that a normal baby doesn’t usually have problems choking or aspirating vomit if she spits up while lying on her back because she has a well-developed gag reflex. Don’t be tempted to put your baby to bed on her tummy.

Exceptions to the rule may be premature babies who have breathing problems, babies with certain upper-airway problems, babies with birth defects of the nose, throat or mouth, and babies with swallowing or vomiting problems. If your baby experiences any of these, discuss the situation with her doctor.

Milestones This First Week

Changes You May See This Week
as Baby Develops Physically

• responds to sudden changes with entire body

• when startled, arches her back, kicks her legs and flails her arms

• can lift head

• moves head from side to side

• controls arm, leg and hand movements by reflex

• when palms are pressed, baby will open her mouth and lift her head up slightly

• sleeps and wakes on a continuum

• head flops forward or backward when in sitting position

• controls swallowing and rooting by reflex

• stroking bottom of baby’s foot from heel to toes causes toes to flare up and out

• sleeps between 17 and 20 hours/day

• moves bowels often and sporadically

• feeds 7 to 8 times or more each day

Changes You May See This Week
in Baby’s Developing Senses and Reflexes

• blinks at bright lights

• focuses between 8 and 12 inches away

• eyes tend to turn outward

• is sensitive to direction of sound

• hands remain fisted much of time

• distinguishes volume and pitch of sounds; prefers high-toned voices

• lifts head when on stomach or at someone’s shoulder

• moves head from side to side

• distinguishes tastes—likes sweet already

• will grasp and grip something if hand accidentally strikes it

Changes You May See This Week
as Baby’s Mind Develops

• quiets when picked up or in response to any firm, steady pressure

• stops sucking to look at something

• shuts out disturbing stimuli by going to sleep

• makes animallike sounds

• learns to expect food at certain times

• looks at person briefly

Changes You May See This Week
in Baby’s Social Development

• shows excitement and distress

• seems to respond positively to soft human voice

• becomes alert to and tries to focus on human face or voice


Every baby is an individual, and your baby may do some of these things more quickly or more slowly than another baby. If you are concerned about your baby’s progress, discuss it with your healthcare provider.

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