Your 1-Week-Old Baby’s Milestones & Development

Congrats! You just had a baby! The first week of your baby’s life may be a time of tremendous joy, but also a fair amount of uncertainty. This is normal: you have never been a parent to this little one before, and there are bound to be some growing pains. Keep in mind that just as you are getting to know your baby, your baby is making a huge transition too. They’ve never experienced life outside the womb before, and this adjustment is a big deal for them.

“Babies this age are transitioning to the rhythms of their new environment while eating, sleeping, and being held,” explains Natasha Burgert, MD, pediatrician and Philips Avent Spokesperson.

It’s common to have many questions during the first week of your baby’s life. You’ll have questions about everything from how many hours your baby should sleep, to whether your baby’s poop is the right color. (Yes,  you will spend an embarrassing amount of time scrutinizing your baby’s diapers!)

Read on for more information about your baby’s growth and development, what to expect when it comes to eating and sleeping, and some parent-approved tips for baby care and safety.

At This Age

  • Development: Your baby will be acclimating to the world around them, and concentrating on learning how to feed successfully.
  • Sleep: You can expect your baby to sleep most of the day at this age—enjoy it while you can.
  • Food: Your baby has a lot of feeding to do in this first week, and may take in smaller, more frequent meals.
1 week old baby development and milestones
Illustration by Josh Seong, Verywell

1-Week-Old Baby Development

Your baby’s main job at 1 week is to adjust to life outside the womb, to learn how to suckle at the breast or bottle, and get lots of snuggle time with their loved ones.

At this age, your baby’s movements and reactions are mostly based on involuntary, inborn reflexes. Babies are born with several notable reflexes, including the rooting reflex, the suckling reflex, the grasping reflex, the “stepping” reflex, and the startle reflex.

You can see some of these reflexes at work when you feed your baby. Touch their cheek or mouth and they will automatically root around, looking for the breast or bottle. Place a nipple or finger in their mouth and they will start suckling. Pretty amazing, huh?

Your baby’s vision is still a little blurry, and they can only focus on objects in close range. As such, your baby relies heavily on their keen sense of smell and touch more than anything right now, so try to fit in as much skin-to-skin time with your baby as possible.

In general, your baby will do a whole lot of sleeping. They’ll spend up to 17 hours in sweet slumber. In fact, their life is basically eating and sleeping at this point. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal! You can take advantage of this down time to get some extra snoozing in yourself. Just make sure to place your baby in a safe place, such as a bassinet or crib—and always put your baby to sleep on their back.

You may notice that your baby has some irregular breathing patterns—with quick starts and stops—while they are sleeping. This is normal, but can be concerning when you see it for the first time. Always reach out to your pediatrician if you have any questions about your baby’s breathing or sleep patterns.

During the first week of your baby’s life, your baby is learning to feed and suckle. You should not expect your baby to gain weight at first; in fact, it’s normal for your baby to lose a little bit of weight in the first three to four days after birth.

The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) says that it’s normal for your baby to lose up to 10% of their birth weight. Soon after, though, your baby will start regaining this weight, and should be back to their birth weight by 10-14 days.

1-Week-Old Baby Milestones

Your baby won’t have many notable milestones at 1-week-old. Again, your baby is basically a ball of reflexes at this stage and will spend the majority of their time either eating or sleeping.

That said, when your baby does have those small moments of wakefulness, you may notice a few things. First, you may notice that if you hold your baby a few inches in front of your face, they will look right at you!

As Amy Verlsteffen, APRN, senior director of clinical transformation at TytoCare explains, 1-week-old babies can see light and dark, especially black, white and gray colors. “Their vision is limited to about 8-12 inches away which is achieved by holding the baby in your arms,” Verlsteffen says.

It’s also normal if your baby looks a little cross-eyed at this age, says Verlsteffen. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of an extra fold of skin in the inner corners of the eyes that makes them appear crossed,” she explains. “But, also, the eye muscles are not super strong at birth so the eyes tend to cross until those muscles strengthen and allow them to move appropriately.”

Although your baby will not have their first “real” smile for a little while longer, your baby will have some reflexive smiles at this age, especially when they are sleeping. Many parents feel that these are real enough smiles to “count,” at least to them. Your baby’s first “social smile” (a smile in response to something you are doing, like playing “peek-a-boo” or singing to them) won’t happen till about 1 or 2 months old.

Additional Behaviors

  • You might notice that your baby startles easily when there is a sudden sound; this is normal and is because of the “startle” reflex.
  • Your baby may be able to lift their head very briefly, but babies this age generally have poor head control.
  • Babies respond favorably to touch very favorably at this age, as it reminds them of the warmth and security of the womb…so cuddle away!

1-Week-Old Baby Food

Feeding is a top concern for parents of 1-week-olds, says Dr. Burgert. They have many questions, including whether their babies are getting enough to eat, how many times a day they should be fed, and whether it’s possible to feed a newborn “too much.”

“Many parents have exceedingly high expectations for a 1-week-old baby,” Dr. Burgert says. “It's important to remember that babies are learning how to eat, just as parents are learning how to feed.”

You can expect your newborn to eat very frequently at this age, Dr. Burgert explains, and there won’t really be any semblance of a feeding schedule yet. How frequently your baby eats might depend on whether they are breastfeeding or formula feeding.

Formula-fed babies will typically eat 2-3 ounces every 3-4 hours, whereas breastfed babies will eat smaller meals, more frequently. You can expect your breastfed baby to nurse 8-12 times in a 24 hour period.

How you feed your newborn is a personal choice—whether you choose to breastfeed, formula-feed, or do a combination of the two, you will still be a good parent, and be able to provide a healthy choice for your baby.

Breastfeeding

Many parents find breastfeeding particularly challenging at first, and may have trouble with latching or positioning their baby comfortably at the breast. This may result in sore nipples. This is common: one study found that up to 90% of new parents experience latching difficulty and breast pain when they first start breastfeeding.

Other common breastfeeding concerns include whether or not your baby is getting enough milk. Keep in mind that during the first few days of breastfeeding, you will produce a substance called colostrum, a yellow fluid that is small in volume, but full of good nutrition and immunity for your baby. Your milk should start to transition to mature milk at about 3-5 days after birth. You may experience breast fullness or engorgement at this point.

Typically, you know your baby is getting enough breastmilk by noticing how many wet and poopy diapers they have. By the time your milk comes in, your baby should have about 6 wet diapers a day and 3-4 poopy diapers a day.

Remember that both you and your baby are learning at this point, so be patient. Also know that you are not meant to do this alone. Contact your baby’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant if you are having any breastfeeding concerns, big or small.

Formula Feeding

If you choose to formula feed your baby, you can talk to your pediatrician about the best formula option for your baby. Typically, this will be a milk-based formula that’s fortified with iron. During the first few days of life, you can expect your baby to eat smaller portions of formula, about 1-2 ounces, every 3-4 hours. You can slowly increase to 2-4 ounces per feeding by the end of the first week.

1-Week-Old Baby Sleep

You can expect your baby to sleep a lot at this age, says Verlsteffen. “It's very normal for 1-week-olds to just eat, sleep, pee/poop, cry, and repeat every 1-3 hours,” she describes. Typically, a 1-week-old baby sleeps about 14 to 17 hours in a 24 hour period.

Verlsteffen encourages parents to enjoy these sleepy newborn days while they last, and use the time to catch up on extra sleep. This is especially important for parents who’ve given birth because your body needs time to heal after pregnancy and childbirth.

Practicing safe sleep is very important when you have a newborn. Make sure to follow the sleep guidelines set by the AAP. The AAP recommends putting your baby to sleep on a firm, uncluttered surface, like a crib or bassinet. There should be no pillows, blankets, toys, or loose bedding. Crib bumpers are no longer recommended either.

The AAP doesn’t recommend bed-sharing, but they do recommend that you keep your baby in your room for the first six months of their life. You can place them in a crib, cradle, or bassinet near your baby. This allows you to be aware of their needs while they sleep, and allows for easier nighttime feedings. Wherever your baby sleeps, they should be put to sleep on their back, not their tummy.

1-Week-Old Baby Schedule

If you feel like your baby has absolutely no schedule at this age, you are far from alone, and you can rest assured that your baby is totally normal. One-week-old babies sleep most of the day and still don’t know the difference between day and night. At this age, their circadian rhythms have not developed yet, and they have not started to produce melatonin, which tells them that it’s time to fall asleep when it’s dark outside.

It’s normal if you feel that this general lack of structure is challenging for you. That’s why having help during this time can be so helpful; even just having one more adult around to feed or change the baby while you rest can be a lifesaver.

Additionally, having a safe place to put your baby during the times that your arms need a break is vital. Besides a crib or bassinet, a baby bouncer or baby swing can be really helpful during your long days with your newborn. Other essentials to get you through your day include a baby monitor and a breastfeeding pillow.

1-Week-Old Baby Health and Safety

You will have your baby’s first well visit with their pediatrician during their first week of life, usually about 3 to 5 days after they are born. Your baby will be weighed and examined, and this is a good chance to ask your pediatrician any questions you may have about feeding, sleep, or development.

Your baby will have one scheduled vaccine at this age, their Hepatitis B vaccine, which is usually given at the hospital before discharge. Before you leave the hospital, your hospital will likely ensure that you have a properly installed car seat in your car. This should be a rear-facing car seat, and you should ensure that your baby is properly harnessed in it.

You don’t need to babyproof your home quite yet, but you can prepare your home so it’s as comfortable and safe for your baby by making sure your home is a moderate temperature (not too cold, not too hot), you have up-to-date carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, and your baby’s crib or bassinet has been put together properly, and not next to any unharnessed furniture, windows, cords, or hot furnaces.

It’s of utmost importance that you don’t smoke near your baby, or allow your baby to be near second-hand smoke, as smoking can increase your baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

1-Week-Old Baby Care Basics

Many new parents have lots of questions about caring for their baby. Thankfully, your baby doesn’t need a ton of care right now, beyond eating and sleeping. Here are a few more things to keep in mind.

Umbilical Cord Care

The advice used to be that you clean your baby’s umbilical cord stump with alcohol. However, these days, the AAP doesn’t recommend that. Instead, you can leave it alone, and just let it heal on its own, until it falls off in about a week.

Bathing

While you wait for your baby’s cord to heal, it’s best not to immerse them in water. Sponge baths or spot cleaning is all you need to do right now. Use very mild soaps and warm water.

Diaper Changes

At first, your baby’s poops will be black and tarry. This is a kind of poop called meconium and it can be difficult to clean. Soon after, though, your baby’s poops will become greenish, then will settle into a yellowish or brownish color.

There will be a lot of pooping at this age, so be prepared. It’s not uncommon for babies to poop after almost every feed.

What Else to Know About Your 1-Week-Old Baby

It’s normal if you are feeling a little lost right now as you get to know your baby and learn to care for them. If you are recovering from birth, remember that your hormones are still adjusting, and your body is healing as well. Just as you want to make sure that your baby is happy and well-fed, you need to take some time to do the same for yourself. Make sure to eat when you are hungry and stay hydrated.

It can be easy to look at all the big picture questions like “When am I going to sleep again?” and “When will I find my rhythm with this baby?” but try not to focus on that right now. Those aspects of your life will fall into place soon. Try to take things one day at a time, and try to relish in the sweet newness of your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should a 1-week-old be able to do?

    At this age, your baby won’t be able to do much besides eat and sleep. When they are awake, there may be some moments when they are alert and may try to focus on your face.

  • What can a 1-week-old baby see?

    A 1-week-old can see just a few inches in front of their face—perfect for gazing right at their parent—but not much more. Your baby can mostly see black, white, and gray colors.

  • How much should a 1-week-old sleep?

    Babies this age sleep a whole lot! Typically, they can sleep 14 to 17 hours in a 24 hour period.

  • Can a 1-week-old baby go through the night without feeding?

    Not yet. Babies this age need to eat frequently both during the day and at night to get enough calories. Breastfed babies usually need to eat every 2-3 hours, and formula fed babies eat every 3-4 hours.

  • How often should you bathe a 1-week-old baby?

    You can’t fully immerse your baby in water until their umbilical cord stump has fallen off, which won’t be for the next week or so. You can spot clean your baby now, as frequently as you see fit.

A Word From Verywell

The first week with a newborn can feel like a whirlwind. You may be functioning on very little sleep, you will be recovering from giving birth, and you will likely have a million questions about feeding and caring for your newborn.

It’s okay if you feel overwhelmed right now because everyone who has had a baby has been there! That said, no one is supposed to be doing this alone, and certainly not without guidance and support. Always reach out to your OBGYN or midwife with questions about your own bodily changes in the week after birth, or to your baby’s pediatrician with any unanswered questions or concerns.

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Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.

Originally written by
Chaunie Brusie, RN
Chaunie Brusie, RN
Chaunie Brusie is a registered nurse with experience in long-term, critical care, and obstetrical and pediatric nursing.
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