You and your baby are still in the process of getting to know each other. Understanding your baby’s cries can be difficult, but there are some cues that may help you figure out what they want or how they’re feeling.
- Sleepy cues include: being less alert…even a bit glassy-eyed and blinking. By the time babies are fussing and yawning, they’re already overtired.
- Hunger/thirst cues include: sucking on the lower lip or hands, opening/closing the mouth, and getting more vocal. Later cues are turning the head and opening the mouth when you touch the cheek or lips (rooting reflex), sucking energetically on a pacifier— and getting fussier if you take it away— and, of course, crying.
Other than hunger, there are other things that can make a baby cry such as being uncomfortable from things like gas or a dirty diaper. For a lot of babies, the world is too overwhelming with too much light, noise, and color. There are too many new smells and changes happening too suddenly. Being in a Las Vegas casino can be overwhelming after a few hours. Surprisingly, an even bigger reason for fussing is under-stimulation! They need the movement and the sound of other people to reassure them that they are not alone Many babies in our world need the movement and sound of others to feel reassured they are not alone in such a still and quiet place.
Your baby is used to being constantly held, rocked, and shushed and will feel most comfortable with these activities. Babies who are constantly surrounded by soothing sounds, motions, and cuddles tend to have an easier time calming down.
While it may seem like a lot to hold your baby for 12 hours a day, it is a major decrease from the constant comforting they experienced while inside you. Creating a similar environment to the womb with rhythmic sensations can often be very successful in soothing a baby.
Baby Development Milestones: First 2 Weeks
In the first few weeks after your baby’s birth, they are getting used to life outside of the womb. You might be shocked by how much growth and change you’re seeing! Here are some highlights:
Growth and Physical Development: It’s Normal for a Newborn to Look a Little “Odd”
After a baby is born, they may lose a small amount of weight due to dehydration from excess body fluid. The weight of most babies usually goes back to what it was at birth within 10 days. At each of your baby’s checkups, your healthcare provider will take careful measurements of your baby’s length, weight, and head circumference. Your physician will use these data to monitor your baby’s growth progression over time.
Although you will love every inch of your new baby, you might find that he looks a little “funny” at first. He has just been born, and his body is still adjusting to the world. These are some of the unusual physical features you might notice in the first few weeks:
- Fine hair called lanugo may cover his body for a few days or weeks before it is shed.
- His skin may peel a little.
- Reddened areas of skin called salmon patches or “stork bites” may appear on his face or neck; these will likely disappear within a few months.
- Your baby’s genitals may be swollen but will return to normal soon.
- Two soft spots, called the fontanelles, can be felt at the top of your baby’s head. Although a thick membrane protects the brain, this is where the skull bones are still fusing.
- If your baby was born vaginally, he may have an elongated skull. This happens because the plates of the skull adjust to allow an easier passage through the birth canal. Your baby’s head will return to a more normal shape soon enough.
- Your baby may spend a fair bit of time curled up in a tight little bundle — just as he was in the womb. Toward the end of this first month, he’ll start to stretch and unfold from this preferred fetal position.
Senses: Your Baby Loves to Be Held by You
One of the most important senses for newborns is touch. They can tell what mood you are in by the way you are touching them. I feel safe and comforted when you hold me and carry me. It is important to support your baby’s head and neck at all times to avoid injury. Gently rocking your little one may help quiet and calm him, and massaging your little one may help you bond.
Your baby can see your face from about 8 to 12 inches away. He will also be interested in his own hands as they pass by in front of him. He can see light and dark, but not colors.
Newborn babies typically prefer high-pitched sounds and “baby talk.” As you talk to the baby, he or she will probably turn his or her head to face you.
Movement: Your Baby’s Instincts Are as Strong as His Grip
In the first few weeks after your baby is born, their movements may seem very jerky and out of control. However, over the next few months their movements will gradually become more controlled and less random. Here are some of the common reflexes newborns have at birth:
- Rooting. Your baby will turn his head toward your finger in response to his cheek or mouth being stroked.
- Sucking. Your baby can instinctively suck, but coordinating sucking, breathing, and swallowing requires quite a bit of skill, so it may take a short while for your baby to get the hang of it when nursing.
- Moro reflex. If your baby is startled by a noise, or his head shifts position suddenly, he may react by extending his arms and legs suddenly and then bringing them close together.
- Strong grip. If you touch your baby’s palm, he will grip your finger. Don’t support him using this hold, as your baby has no control over this grip and may let go suddenly.
- Stepping. When holding your baby in a standing position with the soles of his feet touching a surface, you may notice him do a stepping motion.
Personality: Is that a real smile?
At the beginning of this month, you may see your baby smile while he is sleeping. The reason for reflexive smiles is not fully understood, but it is speculated that they occur in response to an internal stimulus. At the end of this month or the beginning of next month, you will see the real results. This is him smiling in response to something that pleases him, like your smile or the sound of your voice. He will learn that smiling is a form of communication over time.
Newborns cry in order to communicate their needs, whether it be hunger, discomfort, or to simply release tension. If your baby is crying, it may be because they just need attention, rather than needing to be fed, burped, or have their diaper changed. If your child is upset, try comforting him with physical affection or calming him down with your voice. If your baby is crying persistently, it could indicate a problem, so consult your baby’s healthcare provider to make sure everything is okay.
You may be able to get an idea of his personality from the way he acts in the first few days and weeks. If he’s wet his diaper, does he cry or seem content? Does he startle easily or does he take things in his stride? One difference you may start to notice at this early stage is that your baby has a different temperament than his older siblings.
There is a lot of information available on sleep, but for now, let’s start with a couple of basic concepts.
First, it is strange for babies to have to spend 12 to 14 hours per day in a flat bed without making any noise. Your baby was always calmed by the rocking motion and sounds of the womb, as well as the soft, velvety walls. Why would you remove all the things that help your baby sleep peacefully?
Wouldn’t it be better to just use a bed? Would you like it if someone said that you don’t need your pillow, blanket, and mattress and that it would be better to just use a bed? You could technically sleep on the floor, but it would be much more comfortable to sleep in a bed. Same with babies. While they are able to fall asleep in environments with little to no stimulation, they tend to wake up more often.
Lastly, what about swaddling? The first S is for swaddling, which is key for helping new babies sleep better. Parents today often find it easier to swaddle their infants using a sleeper or large receiving blanket. The DUDU technique (down-up-down-up) is often used when swaddling with a large blanket.
While some babies may resist being swaddled, the majority of them sleep better with their arms snug and down and their hips lose. Swaddling with the arms at their sides reduces the amount of times your baby wakes up from startling or accidentally hitting their nose. If your baby fights it at first, don’t worry. You can turn on your baby’s calming reflex by adding some of the other ‘S’ Sounds after wrapping, such as shushing, swinging, or sucking.
What your 2-week old baby hears
Did you hear that? Most babies hear very well at birth. Your baby was already eavesdropping while they were in the womb. During your baby’s development, they were most fond of hearing your voice and the sound of blood moving through your arteries. Every culture around the world shushes babies to imitate the whooshing of blood and help turn on the calming reflex.
Once your baby is born, they will be able to hear even better, so keep talking to them! Incredibly, research indicates that conversation, reading, and singing improve a infant’s intellectual growth…and future success in school!
By the way, your child should have a hearing test before leaving the hospital. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1-2% of babies fail the initial screening test. This is typically due to a minor issue, like some fluid in the baby’s middle ear that should disappear within a week or two. Babies who fail the hearing test need to have it repeated just in case there is a hearing problem.
To check if your baby can hear, try holding them while you look up. Gently turn your head to the side so that you are out of their vision and then softly speak or make a shushing noise. When your baby is attentive and still, they may stop moving and open their eyes wide when they hear your voice…or even turn their head in the direction of where you are speaking. You can check if your ears are symmetrical by folding your hair back and then trying that again on the other side.
How Much Does a 2-Week-Old Baby Eat?
Feeding is a full-time job! At this point in your pregnancy, your baby’s stomach is approximately the size of a golf ball. The pump can hold up to 2 ounces of milk per feeding. You will be feeding your baby every few hours is part of life these days. By breastfeeding your baby every single second before they are born, they understand that they are doing you a big favor by only feeding every hour or two after they are born. Bottle-fed babies can go a bit longer in between meals because they weren’t given the same consistency of feedings before they were born.
One way to tell if your baby is getting enough to drink is by checking their diaper. If their diaper is heavy and wet, then they are most likely getting enough to drink. If you’re wondering whether your baby is getting enough milk, there are a few simple things you can look for: slippery, slobbery insides of the mouth, wet diapers (6-8 per day, some of which should feel heavy), gulping noises during feedings, and a fussiness before feeding that’s replaced by a relaxed, sleepy mood afterward. These are all good signs.
In the first few days, most babies lose between 6 and 12 ounces from their birth weight. After two weeks, your baby should have regained any weight that was lost and then some. If babies are not drinking enough, they may have small pink spots in their diapers. This is caused by concentrated urine. If you see these symptoms, you should call your medical provider.
If you’re worried about your baby’s eating habits or weight, talk to their pediatrician. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about caring for your baby, because there is no such thing as a silly question!