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First week with a newborn: What to expect and how to survive

Bringing your baby home is one of the most exciting and overwhelming moments for new parents. Caring for newborn babies in their first week presents a unique experience, filled with opportunities for bonding and learning the nuances of their needs. The first week with a newborn can be filled with joy, challenges, and numerous questions about how to care for your new baby. This guide will help you navigate the early days and ensure that your baby’s first week is as smooth as possible. We’ve got tips and tricks to help; with everything from a baby comforter to umbilical cord care ideas.

This is a collaborative post.

Black and white image of a newborn wrapped in a blanket, headline text about coping with the first week, a website link, and a logo.

Understanding your newborn baby’s needs

During the newborn baby’s first week, you’ll spend a lot of time learning about your baby’s unique needs and cues. Newborns feed frequently, whether they are breastfed or formula fed. Breastfeeding offers numerous benefits for both mother and baby, including vital nutrients and antibodies found in breast milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.

Feeding your newborn with breast milk

Feeding is a primary focus during your newborn’s first week. Breastfed babies typically feed every 2-3 hours, and compared to formula-fed babies, a breastfed baby may have more frequent, shorter feeds, reflecting differences in digestion and nutritional content between breast milk and formula. It’s perfectly normal for newborns to lose a bit of their birth weight in the first few days, but they should regain it by the end of the first few weeks.

Personalised Baby Comforter from PinkandBlueHampers

The role of a baby comforter

In addition to basic care, a baby comforter can play a significant role in soothing and comforting your newborn. A baby comforter, often a soft blanket or a small plush toy, can provide a sense of security and familiarity. Introducing baby comforters during the first week can help your baby feel more at ease, especially during sleep time or moments of fussiness. We can recommend a baby comforter from PinkandBlueHampers as they are made from safe, breathable materials and ensure it is free from small parts that could pose a choking hazard. Many parents find that having a designated comforter can help establish a calming bedtime routine and support the baby’s emotional development during these early days.

Our kids both had comforters similar to these, and secretly kept them well into their later years too, finding great comfort in the sensory calmness they brought. It is important to tend to neurodivergent sensory needs from an early age.

Baby’s sleep patterns

Sleep is another critical aspect of your newborn’s first week. Most newborns sleep for 16-18 hours a day, but it’s usually in short stretches. This can lead to sleep deprivation for parents, especially if the baby sleeps for only a few hours at a time. Establishing a routine early on can help manage sleep patterns. For more information on sleeping for kids, why not check out our bedtime and nap times for kids article. We do also have a reward chart for kids at bedtime as well.

This image is a chart showing a bedtime routine with rewards for completing each step during the week.

Newborn skin and umbilical cord care

Your baby’s skin is delicate and may show signs of peeling or dryness, common conditions that may affect it. This is normal and can be managed with gentle, fragrance-free baby products. To ensure the health of your baby’s umbilical cord, it’s crucial to keep the area around the umbilical cord stump clean and dry, using mild soap and water when necessary, and avoiding immersion in water until it falls off naturally, usually within the first few weeks. The umbilical cord stump will need special care. Keep it clean and dry until it falls off naturally, usually within the first few weeks.

Health checks and midwife visits

Regular health checks are crucial during the first week. A midwife or health visitor will typically visit your home to check on your newborn’s progress. They will monitor the baby’s weight, feeding, and overall health. It’s an excellent time to ask any questions you might have about newborn care.

A person is holding a newborn baby with care and affection above a weighing scale in a bright medical setting, suggesting a moment post-birth.

Common concerns

It’s common for parents to worry about their baby’s bowel movements and jaundice, a condition where the baby’s skin may appear a bit yellow due to the breakdown of old red blood cells. Most cases of newborn jaundice are harmless and resolve without treatment, but it’s essential to monitor and consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns. Additionally, dealing with a crying baby is a common challenge in the first week. Understanding that frequent crying is normal and learning soothing techniques can help manage this phase more effectively.

Coping with the first week with a newborn

The first week can be a whirlwind, but it’s important to remember that many parents feel overwhelmed during this time. Spend time bonding with your baby through skin-to-skin contact, which can help soothe both you and your newborn. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support from family, friends, or professional services if needed.

A person is tenderly holding and kissing a sleeping baby in a monochrome image. They show affection and comfort while sitting closely together.

Is the first week with a newborn the hardest?

The first week with a newborn is often considered the hardest for many parents. This period is filled with significant adjustments as parents learn to meet the needs of their newborn while coping with their own physical and emotional changes. The lack of sleep, constant feeding, and the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a new life can make this week particularly challenging. Additionally, the learning curve of understanding a newborn’s cues and establishing a routine contributes to the difficulty. However, it is also a time of immense bonding and joy, and many parents find that they adapt quickly with support and patience.

How to survive the first week with a newborn?

Surviving the first week with a newborn involves a combination of preparation, support, and self-care. Ensure you have all necessary supplies ready, such as diapers, clothing, and feeding essentials. Accept help from family and friends to ease the burden of household chores. Prioritize sleep by napping when your baby sleeps, and try to establish a feeding and sleep routine. Maintain open communication with your partner and share responsibilities. It’s crucial to take care of your own physical and emotional well-being by eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated, and seeking support from healthcare professionals if needed. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, and reaching out for help is important.

A black and white photo captures a newborn baby swaddled in a blanket, peacefully resting, with delicate features and a slight smile visible.

What should my newborn be doing at 1 week?

At one week old, your newborn baby is still adapting to life outside the womb, focusing on basic survival instincts and beginning their developmental journey. Newborns at this age typically spend most of their time sleeping, often for 16-18 hours a day, though not in long stretches. They should be feeding frequently, about every 2-3 hours for breastfed babies, and slightly less often for formula-fed babies. You’ll notice reflexive behaviors such as grasping, rooting, and sucking. It’s normal for their skin to be sensitive and for them to lose a bit of birth weight, which they should regain within the first few weeks. Regular health checks will monitor their growth and development, ensuring they are on the right track.

Final words

The first week with your newborn is a time of adjustment and learning. By focusing on feeding, sleep, and basic care, you’ll lay a strong foundation for your baby’s health and well-being. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel a mix of emotions, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Embrace these early weeks with patience and love as you embark on this incredible journey of parenthood.

We have a few more articles on babies within our pregnancy and new mum section, so do take a look at some more of them. Here are a few specific ideas for you around printables on the site, which might help within the nursery:

Nursery printables for your baby on KiddyCharts

Here are some more ideas for you and your baby for the nursery - do check them out. There are, after all, completely free!

We have some ideas from other sites too:

Baby related printables and articles from around the web

Whether baby is on their way or already here, we have some great baby related printables to share with you from around the web. Take a look and get inspired!

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The image is a graphic with text "How to survive the first weeks with a newborn" featuring a newborn in an adult's hands, indicating care guidance.

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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