The newborn in its 1st month

In the pages of  this section of the site  we aim to illustrate the changes that your body and mind will gradually undergo during the first weeks of your life.

Obviously we do not intend to give those advice or recommendations that only a doctor could give.

Ours is a purely informative purpose: to give some clarifications and some practical indications on useful or necessary things for you and your child.

So, if you have concerns about your child’s development or other problems, talk to your pediatrician.

In any case, however, it is good that you know that every child has subjective rhythms and timings: therefore, live these first months of his presence on earth in harmony and serenity, without too much anxieties.

The development of the newborn

1st week

You and the baby have only known each other for a few days; but he (or she) already knows who you are, he already knows how to recognize your voice and that of his father. He also knows that he can count on you.

Hearing the familiar voices of his parents helps him feel protected (protected): to feel safe in a world completely unknown to him.

While he may not understand your words yet, he can sense your love. So talk to him!

2nd week

This week your baby can focus on objects that are 20 to 40 centimeters away, almost the distance between him and his mother’s face during feedings.

In these early days, babies are more interested in people’s faces than in other objects.

During feeds watch him because this stimulates him to learn to focus on objects.

When you do, you can try moving your head slowly from side to side to see if his eyes follow you.

This helps him develop eye muscles and coordinate.

3rd week

Even though his movements are still random and jerky, this week the baby can control his body in an extraordinary way.

While you hold him in your arms observe how he adapts to your posture: you will notice that your arms and your perfume produce calming and comforting effects.

There can’t be a more “perfect” and relaxing way to make you feel united.

4th week

Have you noticed that your baby uses his vocal cords in different ways, and not just to cry?.

Especially when he sees his mum or dad, he may make a long, open sound: «ahh».

He loves not only receiving your attention, but also discovering that even his voice has a power: he calls you and you appear!

Children learn by imitating you: try to imitate him a little and stimulate him a little with different sounds.

The weight of the newborn

From the first to the sixth month of age, the baby will grow in height by an average of about 2.5 centimeters, and in weight by 150/200 grams per week.

However, it is normal that in the first days after birth, the baby loses weight (even up to 10% of its body mass) and this because, with the first mother’s milk (colostrum), it is unable to compensate for the quantities of urine and faeces (the meconium) expelled.

After this initial period, however, your weight gain should be almost constant.

Regarding the frequency of its weighing, follow the indications of your doctor and do not get caught up in weighing anxiety.

The choice of infant formula

Babies in these first few weeks should be fed eight to twelve times a day: about every two to three hours.

The baby must consume mother’s milk which is the ideal food, or adapted formulated milk (in the case of “artificial” breastfeeding), while the consumption of whole or partially skimmed cow’s or goat’s milk is not recommended, up to a year of life.

Artificial milk is used, in case of intolerance to “normal” milk, and to feed infants in place of breast milk.

As for the choice of formulated milk for infants (artificial milk), it must be said that all artificial milks must comply with Commission Directive 91/321/EEC of 14 May 1991 on infant formulas and follow-on formulas.

This Directive distinguishes “infants”, i.e. children under twelve months of age, from “children”, which are those between one and three years of age. According to this Directive,

  • “Infant foods” are those “food products intended for the particular diet of infants in the first four to six months of life, capable of satisfying the nutritional needs of this age group by themselves”;
  • while “follow-on foods” are those “food products intended for the particular diet of early childhood after the fourth month of life, constituting the main liquid element in the progressively diversified diet for this age group”.

As far as milk suitable for infants is concerned, we can therefore have two types of milk:  formulated milk adapted  for basic nutrition in the first few months, and  follow-on milk .

This Directive, like all Community directives, is also applicable in Italy.

Having said this, there are also other types of milk on the market that are specially formulated to meet particular needs (even if – to tell the truth – not in all cases it is always milk of animal origin) such as,

  • soy milk,
  • milk in which lactose and sucrose are absent,
  • delactosate for lactose intolerant subjects,
  • hypoallergenic milk, suitable in situations of allergies and overt intolerances;
  • milk for premature babies, normally very caloric and very digestible, is also used for term babies but underweight, whose composition is similar to that of cow’s milk.

Then there are other particular types of milk, such as anti-reflux milks and other types.

Among all these numerous and different products, in agreement with the pediatrician, one should choose the milk that gives us guarantees of quality, but which is also pleasing to the child.

As for timing, the moment of feeding is not programmable or predictable.

Useful things for mom and baby during the first month

Should you decide to buy things that can be useful to your child online to save time and money but without sacrificing quality, here are some shops that we recommend you visit:

  • Sorgente Natura  – products for mothers and children.
  • Envie de Fraise  – clothing for mothers.

Shopping for the newborn / child is exciting, but you could also get discouraged by the multitude of offers in relation to the things actually necessary for you and your baby.

We have therefore prepared a list – a mini guide – for shopping for things useful or necessary for the mother and the baby alongside our observations, of all the things useful for you and for him, so that you can take stock of the situation, and see what to buy and what not to buy with the certainty of not having forgotten anything.

Things useful for children’s sleep

  • The crib  – All  new cribs  must meet EU safety standards. So if you are thinking of buying a second hand cot take a look at eBay and check first if it meets the required standards.
  • The baby monitor –  These are  devices for hearing and “seeing” the baby . To ensure a clear connection, I recommend that you choose one that has enough signal to cover the entire area of ​​your home, and a frequency that is different from those of your other equipment, especially your cordless phone.
  • The crib mattress  – There are several types of crib mattresses to choose from. Whatever your choice, always opt for a new mattress. Old mattresses are full of dirt, mites, and it is also difficult and expensive to buy them.
  • Crib linen  – You should expect to have three sets of linen available: one in use; one in washing; one for any emergencies or in case of minor accidents.
  • The cot  – It’s still early to think about putting the baby to sleep in the cot. Up to about the sixth month, the place where the newborn should sleep is the cradle (or the padded carrycot of the pram, which however we do not recommend for hygienic reasons). However, you could also decide to buy him the cot now.
  • The mattress for the cot – Choose one; whether it is made with a good quality foam or natural fibre; which is at least 10 centimeters thick; that fits comfortably on the cot.
  • Bed linen  – The same applies as for the cot linen.
  • Nightlights – A soft nightlight creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere and makes children feel safer. You might want a rechargeable light that you can take with you when you move at night, and leave it on for hours before needing to recharge.

Useful things for the bathroom

  • Changing Mat – Select one that has raised outsides to prevent baby from rolling over and has a good quality washable surface.
  • The changing table   – If you don’t have much space,  it is good that you choose one  that can be closed between one diaper change and another.
  • Personal hygiene items  – Choose bath products for babies that are odorless and natural: maybe even organic, because their skin could react to certain chemicals.
  • Baby wipes  – These wipes are essential for baby’s skin health. Buy in bulk, and keep them in a pop-top dispenser to keep them from drying out. If possible, choose non-alcoholic wipes that are delicately scented and not too moist.
  • Sunscreen   – You will need to try a couple of sunscreens before you can find the best one for your baby. Generally they are creams that are inexpensive, so it is also worth “investing” to find the one that works best.
  • The moisturizing lotion  – It is a type of cream composed of a mixture of oil (between 40% and 60%) and water. Its high oil content allows the cream to stay longer on the skin’s surface.
  • Cotton wadding  – Cotton wool is useful both for bathing and for quick cleaning of the baby’s face and lower parts.
  • Cotton swabs – To heal, umbilical cords need gentle cleaning, cotton swabs are more delicate. They are also very useful for cleaning around the ears, eyes and nose.
  • Body Wash – It’s not an essential product, but it’s nice to have. Choose one that is specifically for babies.
  • Shampoo  – Do not use adult shampoos on children as they are too strong. Choose one that is natural and lightly scented. Avoid using conditioner altogether.
  • A nail clipper / scissors  – If you are too nervous to cut his little nails, buy a nail clipper: this way you are less likely to cut the baby’s skin. Cut your nails immediately after bathing when they are elastic due to the heat of the water.
  • The hairbrush  – Choose a gentle brush. A harder one will only be needed towards the end of the baby’s first year of life. Right now his hair needs a brush just to look good.
  • Diapers  – Use disposable diapers. If you use cloth diapers, you need to start with 24 baby diapers. If you use disposables, don’t buy too many in the first few months, as your baby grows rapidly, and you could end up with a pile of nappies that don’t fit him anymore.
  • The towel  – Expect to have two towels available: one to be used while the other is being washed.
  • A face washcloth  – Expect to have two face washcloths on hand: one for use and one for washing.
  • Baby bath  – Try to look for one with a stopper, which will save you from carrying a bath that is heavy with water.
  • The bath stand  – It is not an essential accessory, but it allows you to bathe the baby while he is lying on this stand in the bath, without any risk of slipping under the water.
  • The Tub Seat – When you have a toddler who can sit up, having a tub seat on hand can help keep them safe in the water during bath times.

Useful things for moving outside the home

  • The pram  – This is an item that could be one of the most expensive items you will need to buy for the baby. It is therefore very important to find the “right” wheelchair: the one that is most useful to you. Therefore, test a friend’s pram on the road before buying one. Regardless of how it looks, make sure it’s easy to open and close.
  • Rain cover for the pram  – Some prams come with their own rain covers which can also be purchased separately. However, it is also possible to purchase universal raincovers designed to fit various types of wheelchairs.
  • The stroller –  If there’s one thing you won’t have trouble choosing, it’s the stroller. There are really many strollers, models, prices and brands. However, a first distinction can be made between:
    • light strollers ,
    • four wheel strollers ,
    • three-wheeled strollers  and then, of course, there are the
    • twin strollers .

A careful choice of stroller could (if you wish) also avoid you buying a pram.

In particular, if the newborn is less than  3 months old  , you should move towards strollers equipped with a seat that can also be positioned flat, as in the first 90 days of life the baby is unable to keep its little head upright.

  • The car seat –   Make sure that the  seat  you intend to use complies with  current legislation  and, above all,  every time  you travel with the child in the car, remember to always  and only use the seat.
  • Car window sun shades  – Choose one that has a shade that wraps around the entire window, rather than a suction cup awning that could detach from the window in the event of a collision.
  • The travel cot   – Newborns sleep happily in their pram for the first few months. If your baby is often forced to sleep away from home, it might be worth investing in a good quality travel cot that is sturdy and easy to assemble.
  • The travel bag  – Choose a bag that is big enough to hold the essentials, but not so big that you can hold everything you have at home. A good diaper bag should have internal compartments, a ‘wet area’, and a foldable changing mat.

Useful things for breastfeeding

  • Breast pump cups   – If you choose disposable cups, go for those – of a certain brand – that have an adhesive patch on the back to be able to fix them inside your maternity bra, and to stop the movement of the padding.
  • Nursing pillow  – A normal bed pillow may be useful for this purpose, but  nursing pillows  are the most comfortable ones to use.

Useful things using the bottle

  • The sterilizer – Among the accessories for the newborn, a sterilizer  cannot be missing  , an accessory that protects the baby’s health by protecting it from bacteria and viruses: steam or microwaves are still a great thing, because they are quick and easy to use.
  • The bottles  – Try to use bottles with wide necks, which are the easiest to prepare drinks and also to clean.
  • Teats  – You may need to try a few types of nipples before you find the right ones for your baby. Whatever the choice, try to use a teat that is appropriate for his age, and this in order to guarantee the correct flow of milk.

Baby clothing guide

  • The Bodysuit  – Bodysuits are useful in the colder months, when a bare belly – which can be had when clothing items are separated – is not what you want to see. Coveralls that extend over the head and clip together between the legs are the easiest to put on and take off.
  • Tank tops  – On the market there are a lot of solid color cotton tank tops that you can have on hand at all times: this is an essential element of your child’s clothing even during the warmer months.
  • Growsuits   – These are garments that are ideal for growing children and can be worn day or night, so it’s worth stocking up on at least 4 or 5. Go for ones with snaps that go all the way up. at the bottom of the inside of the legs (this for ease of changing diapers).
  • The sun hat – Choose a hat to protect him from the sun, which can be put in the washing machine and which has a large enough brim to provide shade.
  • The cap  – To protect him from the cold, wool caps are useful in winter that adapt to the delicate and often hairless head of the newborn. Choose one that does not have swaddling bands, as these can unexpectedly roll up and cover the baby’s eyes and face, posing a threat.
  • Jackets, sweaters, sweaters with buttons – It is good to select clothing items that are resistant to external wear, but which are comfortable inside to keep the child warm. Do not choose them with bands around the neck which could cause suffocation.
  • Socks   – Buy a pair of socks for every day of the week, possibly all of the same colour. Many will be lost, and being able to pair the odd socks will avoid having to re-buy them.

Guide to useful things in general

  • Furniture for clothes  – A small dresser is the easiest way to keep all of your baby’s clothes and accessories in one place – even for years to come. You can therefore “invest” in a bedside table that is large enough up to the child’s preschool age.
  • Toys   – Children don’t need many toys. This way you can choose good quality toys that can last a long time – for example a rattle, a mirror, a soft toy, a cloth book.
  • A baby gym (baby gym) –  Keeping your baby entertained is much easier with a baby gym close at hand. Choose one that folds up neatly, is easy to handle with one hand, and allows toys to be moved around.
  • Bouncer for babies –  Buy a bouncer  that is not too bulky, and that does not have legs that extend too far: this will not cause you to trip.
  • A first aid kit   – Accidents happen even with small children. Have a home first aid kit and keep it filled at all times.
  • The Thermometer   – A digital thermometer will give you an accurate reading of your baby’s temperature. If your child resists this type of thermometer, try an ear thermometer, which is very quick to use.

Useful medicines

  • Paracetamol  – Evaluate the need to buy “Tachipirina” or other paracetamol-based products in drops for children: often only a couple of drops will be useful.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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