First week at home with your newborn baby | BabyCenter (2023)

You're home with your new baby! Now what? In the first week, you and your newborn are getting used to your life together. You'll be feeding your newborn around the clock, dealing with sleep deprivation, changing diapers, and learning how to soothe your crying baby. Your newborn will eat every two to three hours or more, and will probably sleep 16 to 18 hours a day. Caring for a newborn is intense, and often means there's little time or energy for your own needs. If you can, get support from your friends and family or hire help.

You've probably heard that all a newborn baby does is eat, poop, cry, and sleep. Sounds simple, but chances are it won't seem that way at first. Knowing what to expect from your newborn will make your first week home together a little less overwhelming.

Newborn feeding

Because their stomachs are so tiny, newborns need to eat small amounts frequently – about 1 to 3 ounces at a time. Some want to nurse or have a bottle every two to three hours, and others will be hungry even more often.

While some babies announce their hunger with strong cries, others give more subtle hunger cues such as sucking on their hands, smacking their lips, or rooting (when a baby purses their lips and turns their head toward the breast or bottle).

In their first few days, newborns typically lose about 7 percent of their body weight. Although this is normal, you'll want to feed your baby every two hours or so until they're back at their birth weight. Here's how to tell whether your newborn is getting enough breast milk or formula.

Newborns are sleepy, so you may need to wake your baby up to feed and give them gentle encouragement to stay awake while eating. Try undressing your baby down to the diaper, rubbing their head or back, or talking to them. The goal is for your baby to be back to their birth weight at their two-week checkup.

Newborn burps, hiccups, and spit up

Some newborns need to be burped frequently, while others burp on their own and need very little assistance from you. If your baby is fussy or seems uncomfortable during or after a feeding, that's a cue to burp them.

You can also burp your baby when you switch breasts, after every 2 or 3 ounces, every 10 to 15 minutes of feeding, or when your baby's finished eating. After a day or two of feedings, you'll find a pattern that works for your little one.

No need to whack your baby's back – a gentle circular motion or soft pats will bring up the bubbles. There are several burping positions to try, including holding your baby with their head resting on your shoulder, sitting them upright on your lap with the fingers of one hand supporting their chest and chin, or laying your baby tummy-down across your lap.

(Video) Surviving the first week at home with your baby

Don't be alarmed by hiccups or spit up. Hiccups are normal for new babies and don't cause them discomfort. Likewise, spitting up during and after feedings – whether in just small amounts or what may seem like the entire feeding – is normal.

If your baby's spitting up seems excessive, or if they also arch their back or cry, they may have a type of reflux. Read more about the difference between reflux, which is normal and improves with your baby's head control, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which requires treatment. Whatever the cause, keep a burp cloth handy.

Newborn pee and poop

A breastfed newborn will have at least five wet diapers a day. A formula-fed baby may have even more than that – up to 10 per day.

There's also a large range for what's considered a "normal" number of bowel movements. Breastfed babies tend to poop more than formula-fed ones because formula takes a bit longer to digest. But the regularity of breastfed babies can vary widely: Some go as seldom as once every four or more days to as often as once per feeding. Formula-fed babies typically poop a few times a day, but it can range from one poop every other day to several poops per day.

Keep track of your baby's pee and poop schedule because the doctor may ask about their urine and bowel movements at their next doctor visit.

The very first bowel movements – called meconium – usually happen within the first day or two after birth, often while you're still at the hospital. These first poops are black and have an almost tar-like consistency. The ones that follow won't look much like grown-up poop either.

From a breastfed baby, be prepared for seedy poops that are greenish, light brown, or, mustard-yellow. A formula-fed baby's poops tend to be pastier and vary in color. Call the doctor if there's whitish mucus or streaks or flecks of red in your baby's stool because this can indicate a problem. (Red flecks can indicate there's blood in your baby's stool.)

The consistency of normal poop also ranges from very soft to watery, with breastfed babies having looser poop. This can easily be confused with diarrhea. Basically you want to keep an eye out for a change from your baby's usual pattern or consistency – which is admittedly hard when your baby is first creating a pattern. When in doubt, check with your doctor.

See our complete baby poop slideshow for a visual guide to what you might find in your baby's diaper.

Newborn crying

There's no getting around this one: Your newborn will cry. How often, how hard, and how long is entirely variable and will change over time.


For the first few days, many newborns are remarkably quiet and sleepy. But by two weeks old, a typical newborn will cry about two hours a day. (Crying usually increases until about six to eight weeks of age, then starts to taper off.) If your baby has colic, they'll cry for more than three hours in a row, three or more days a week, for at least three weeks running.

Over time, it'll get easier to figure out why your baby's crying. At this point, run through the most likely culprits – soiled diaper, hungry, overtired, uncomfortable – and you'll probably find the source. If not, another reason for early fussiness can be overstimulation. Some infants get fussy when they're amidst too much commotion or activity.

There will be times, however, when your baby cries with no clear cause, and you'll need to figure out what soothes them. Remember: There's no such thing as spoiling a newborn, so respond to their cries with attention and affection.

There may be times when you can't figure out why your baby's upset, and they're inconsolable no matter what you do. It's normal to feel helpless, frustrated, or angry in this situation. Ask your partner, friends, or family to help out so you can take a break. If you're alone with your baby and reaching your limit, take a deep breath and gently place them on their back in the crib or bassinet. Go in the next room to calm down, and call someone you trust or a parent hotline for support.

Newborn sleep

Your newborn's tiny tummy will likely keep them from dozing more than a few hours at a time before waking up to eat. All the short naps will add up, though – newborns sleep about 16 to 18 hours total each day. You may want to track when and where your baby sleeps, to identify patterns and answer any questions from your baby's doctor.

Luckily, newborns have the amazing ability to fall asleep pretty much anywhere – in the car seat, baby carrier, bassinet, or in your arms. No matter when or where your baby sleeps, always put them on their back and remove all loose blankets, as well as bumpers, pillows, quilts, and toys to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Though it can be difficult as a sleep-deprived new parent, be careful not to fall asleep next to your baby when holding them in a chair or lying on the couch – this isn't safe. Also, never leave a snoozing baby unattended on a couch or bed as the risk of rolling or falling is always present, even if your baby can't roll on their own yet.

Many new babies love being swaddled. Being snugly wrapped up mimics the environment your baby is used to and keeps their startle reflex from waking them up.

Once your baby is asleep, don't be surprised if you hear them making strange noises. If it sounds like your baby has a cold, it's probably because babies are natural nose breathers. Since your little one can't clear their nasal passages by themself yet, you can use a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator to clear them. This may make it easier for your baby to breathe and sleep – and even eat.

Newborn breathing

Another newborn habit is periodic breathing. Your baby may breathe quickly, pause for a few seconds, then start breathing again. Although normal, it can be unnerving.

(Video) First Week Home With A Newborn

However, the following signs aren't normal and warrant an immediate call to your baby's doctor:

  • Grunting
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Chest retractions (sucking in the skin above the collarbone, between the ribs, or below the ribs)
  • Breathing that's consistently fast
  • Wheezing from the chest (rather than the nose or throat, which is a sign of garden-variety congestion and stuffiness)
  • Heavy, noisy breathing (audible wheezes, whistling sounds, or crackly sounds during inhalation and exhalation)
  • Pausing more than 10 to 15 seconds between breaths

See more signs you should call the doctor for your newborn.

Newborn bathing

Keeping your baby clean in the first couple of days is pretty basic. For now, you won't need a baby bathtub. While your baby's umbilical cord stump is still hanging on, follow your pediatrician's advice on bathing your baby. Most advise against immersing the stump in water. Sponge baths are enough to keep a newborn clean for the first week or two. In fact, too much bathing could dry out your baby's skin.

Use a warm, damp washcloth or unscented wipes to gently wipe around neck folds and other areas where breast milk, formula, or moisture might accumulate, finishing with the genitals. If you notice any redness or irritation in the diaper area (diaper rash), a swipe of diaper cream or petroleum jelly after every diaper change should squelch it.

Don't be surprised if your newborn's skin doesn't look like the perfect baby skin in the commercials – that will come later. Many newborns have a range of minor skin irritations, such as newborn rash, cradle cap, peeling, or general dryness after emerging from their nine-month bath in amniotic fluid. You may even spot some fine hair on your baby's shoulders and back called "lanugo"– most full-term babies are born with it. Lanugo it usually falls out within a week or two.

Read more about baby body care.

Newborn clothes

Cute outfits will probably take a back seat to ease and comfort at first – after all, you want clothes that are easy to change, and that work well for your baby's many naps. Many parents use some combination of one-piece bodysuits and footed pajamas, plus a swaddle blanket or a sleep sack in cold weather or at night.

If your newborn dislikes having clothes pulled over their head or their umbilical cord stump is sensitive, kimono-style one-piece outfits that snap at the sides can come in handy. For warmth, most hospitals send newborns home with a hat, but unless it's quite chilly, a hat is optional.

Use your common sense as well as your own internal thermostat to gauge how many layers to put on your baby. Many people adhere to the age-old "what you're wearing plus one layer" rule. When in doubt, add a light blanket or hat – you can always remove it if your baby feels warm.

Read more about baby clothes for the first six weeks.


Newborn gear

During your pregnancy, you may have amassed a small mountain of baby gear. For now, you won't use much of it. You need a safe place for your baby to sleep, a properly installed car seat, and perhaps a baby carrier, baby sling, or baby wrap. Extras such as bouncy seats, activity mats, toys, and other baby gear will come in handy eventually, but don't worry about them this week. Your newborn's needs right now are both all-consuming and surprisingly simple.

Check out our handy list of newborn must-haves to see what's most useful in the first weeks home with your baby.

Your transition home

Bringing home a baby is a life-altering change. It may take anywhere from a few days to a few months to get your bearings. While you're navigating this huge adjustment, remember to cut yourself some slack and let go of your ideas about how things "should" be.

Your body is dealing with fluctuating hormone levels and recovering from giving birth. You're seriously sleep-deprived. And your mind is adjusting to this new stage of life. You may laugh, cry, be frustrated, get excited, and feel a myriad of emotions within mere hours – or minutes. And you'll probably find that caring for a newborn – simple as those needs are – takes up an astonishing amount of time, making it hard to fit in even the basics for yourself.

About 70 to 80 percent of new mothers experience the "baby blues" during the hormonal roller coaster that is the first few weeks after delivery. Luckily, the baby blues are short-lived, generally fading within two weeks. All parents should be aware of them, though, and of the signs of postpartum depression (PPD).

Compared to the baby blues, PPD lasts longer and is more severe. PPD affects 1 in 8 new moms in the U.S. – and some new dads as well. Getting treatment is important for both you and your baby, so if you have symptoms of PPD, talk to your partner or someone close to you for support and discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

One way to combat the baby blues is to carve out tiny bits of time to tend to yourself, and enlist family, friends, or hired help to handle chores and errands. Don't be shy about asking your friends and family to help stock the fridge, bring meals, or run a load of laundry.

While your baby sleeps, use the time to take a nap, grab a shower, or just spend a few minutes zoning out. Anything you can do to recharge your batteries between feeding, burping, changing, and cuddling your baby will help.

Learn more:

  • Newborn baby milestones and development
  • 1-month-old baby milestones and development


What happens the first week of home with a newborn? ›

Feeding and sleeping in the first week of life

Your newborn will sleep most of the time, waking up every few hours to feed. Newborns can't 'sleep through the night'. They have tiny tummies, so they need to wake and feed often. Most newborns feed every 2-4 hours, and they have around 8-12 feeds every 24 hours.

How do you play with a newborn in the first week? ›

Smile, stick out your tongue, and make other expressions for your infant to study, learn, and imitate. Use a favorite toy for your newborn to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find. Let your baby spend some awake time lying on the tummy to help strengthen the neck and shoulders.

What do you do the first few days with a newborn? ›

Use these first few days to hold and be close to your new baby. Lots of cuddles and skin to skin contact can help your baby to form a secure attachment and you to form a bond with your baby. This can settle them and support their brain development – and it also boosts your confidence as a parent.

What happens at first night home with newborn? ›

The first night home with your baby is often spent awake holding, soothing and feeding. Your baby was held inside you for your entire pregnancy, and newborns expect nothing less immediately after birth! You and your partner will probably have to take turns holding your baby for comfort during that first night at home.

What are the hardest weeks with a newborn? ›

Most people find the first six to eight weeks to be the hardest with a new baby, and whilst people may not openly discuss many of the challenges in these early weeks of parenthood (if at all), there are a number of common hurdles you may face at this time.

What do I need for the first week of baby? ›

What do you need in those first few weeks after you bring your baby home? Your little one will require a few basics: a safe place to sleep, a car seat, diapers, and key items for eating, getting around, and staying healthy.

Can I take my 1 week old baby for a walk? ›

Most doctors agree that there's no need to wait until your baby is 1 or 2 months old to take them out and about. However, you also shouldn't feel pressure to do it before you're ready.

How long should a 1 week old sleep? ›

Newborns should get 14–17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Some newborns may sleep up to 18–19 hours a day. Newborns wake every couple of hours to eat. Breastfed babies feed often, about every 2–3 hours.

How can I settle my newborn at home first night? ›

When night falls and you're ready for bed, have your baby in the same room as you. It'll be easiest for you to tend to him if he's in a cot or Moses basket next to your bed. If you think you may fall asleep feeding your baby at night, make sure you've taken all the steps to ensure this is safe for your baby.

How often should you hold your newborn? ›

Parents usually start kangaroo care once or twice a day for at least one hour each time or as long as it is tolerated by your baby. The longer you hold your baby, the better. Any amount of time is good, but it is best to try for at least 1 to 2 hours each day.

Should I clean newborn girl discharge? ›

It's important to keep your baby's genitals clean. This will help prevent infections and keep your baby healthy. To clean your baby's genitals, you can use warm water and a cotton ball. If you want to, you could add a small amount of mild cleanser with a built-in moisturiser to the water.

What should baby sleep in first night? ›

Since the Back to Sleep campaign began in 1991, the rate of SIDS has dropped by 80%. For the first 6 months the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot, crib or moses basket in your room beside your bed and in the same room as you, for all sleeps. You'll also be close by if they need a feed or cuddle.

What do you do with a newborn at night? ›

“Keep your infant exposed to sunlight and everyday noises during the day, even while she sleeps; at night, turn the lights low and keep your interactions quiet,” she says. “Nighttime feeds and soothing should be brief and boring.” You could also try keeping a log of your baby's sleep habits.

How do you survive newborn days? ›

12 Tips for Surviving Life with a Newborn
  1. Sleep. I know. ...
  2. Make middle-of-the-night feedings manageable. ...
  3. Accept help from others. ...
  4. Have a sense of humor. ...
  5. Don't stress. ...
  6. Make super easy meals. ...
  7. Write things down. ...
  8. Don't set your expectations too high.
28 Mar 2015

When do newborns get easier? ›

Onces babies start to self-soothe around 3-4 months, you will start to‌ feel more like yourself. With a consistent sleep schedule and environment, your baby will ‌sleep in longer stretches at night and take better naps during the day! This will give you time to nap, perform some self-care, or do some housework.

What do all new moms need? ›

18 Things New Moms Need for Themselves
  • A Postpartum Care Kit. Recovering from childbirth takes a serious toll on a woman; her body goes through a lot during this short time. ...
  • Easy Meals Prepared. ...
  • Extra Sleep. ...
  • Groceries Delivered. ...
  • Restaurant Gift Cards. ...
  • A Good Cup of Coffee. ...
  • A Water Bottle with A Straw. ...
  • Housework Help.

How alert is a 1 week old? ›

1-Week-Old-Baby Sleep

In their first day or two of life, your baby might be alert for about an hour, and then they may crash for 12 to 18 hours (what can I say, being born is an exhausting ordeal!). Soon, they'll become increasingly alert and settle into a pattern.

What age does babies eye color change? ›

Although you can't predict the exact age your baby's eye color will be permanent, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says most babies have the eye color that will last their lifetime by the time they're about 9 months old. However, some can take up to 3 years to settle into a permanent eye color.

Can a week old baby go outside? ›

According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. There's no need to wait until 6 weeks or 2 months of age. Getting out, and in particular, getting outside in nature, is good for parents and babies.

Can I kiss my newborn? ›

But there's no evidence to suggest that you should stop kissing your baby or stop friends and family from kissing her. Put simply, your baby will not be at an increased risk of SIDS from a kiss.

Do newborns know who their mom is? ›

From your smell and voice, your baby will quickly learn to recognise you're the person who comforts and feeds them most, but not that you're their parent. However, even from birth, your baby will start to communicate with signals when they're tired and hungry, or awake and alert.

When can a newborn drink water? ›

If your baby is under 6 months old, they only need to drink breastmilk or infant formula. From 6 months of age, you can give your baby small amounts of water, if needed, in addition to their breastmilk or formula feeds.

Why do newborns smile in their sleep? ›

A baby smiling in their sleep is a completely normal reaction and an expected part of their development. If your child frequently smiles in their sleep, it could mean nothing more than a reflex reaction, or perhaps they are merely replaying a happy memory from earlier in the day.

Are newborn hiccups OK? ›

Hiccups are normal and usually don't hurt your baby. In younger babies, hiccups are usually a sign that they need to be seated upright during or after feeding, that feeding needs to be slower for them, or that they need more time before or after feeding to relax.

How soon after feeding can I put baby down? ›

put your baby down as soon as they've been fed and changed. not change your baby unless they need it. not play with your baby.

How can I settle my newborn at home first night? ›

When night falls and you're ready for bed, have your baby in the same room as you. It'll be easiest for you to tend to him if he's in a cot or Moses basket next to your bed. If you think you may fall asleep feeding your baby at night, make sure you've taken all the steps to ensure this is safe for your baby.

What should I expect from my 4 day old baby? ›

Though only a few days old, your baby already is able to interact in some ways. When alert, your baby will likely focus on your face. Babies are especially drawn to higher-pitched voices, so give into that urge to use "baby talk." You are introducing your baby to language and your baby will enjoy it.

How long should a newborn stay home after birth? ›

According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. There's no need to wait until 6 weeks or 2 months of age. Getting out, and in particular, getting outside in nature, is good for parents and babies.

What is second night syndrome? ›

Second Night Syndrome

Generally occurs about 24 hours after birth for almost every baby. Your baby will want to be on the breast constantly but quickly fall asleep. If you put him down, he will probably wake up. If you put him back to breast, he will feed for a short time and fall asleep.

Do I need to watch my newborn all night? ›

Newborns who sleep for longer stretches should be awakened to feed. Wake your baby every 3–4 hours to eat until he or she shows good weight gain, which usually happens within the first couple of weeks. After that, it's OK to let your baby sleep for longer periods of time at night.

Can you hold a newborn too much? ›

Contrary to popular myth, it's impossible for parents to hold or respond to a baby too much, child development experts say. Infants need constant attention to give them the foundation to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually.

How long do sleepless nights last with newborn? ›

Sleepless nights are common in new parenthood, but they do not last forever. Most babies will begin to sleep for longer periods at night from the age of 6 months old. Newborn babies need to feed every few hours until the age of 3 months. After this, it is normal for infants to feed once or twice during the night.

How often should you bathe a newborn? ›

How often does my newborn need a bath? There's no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby's skin.

At what age can newborns see? ›

When a baby is born, his or her eyes are about 65% of their adult size. One week after birth the baby can see colors and can see about 8-10 inches away. At six weeks of age baby can see about 12 inches away. You can help your infant's vision by holding and feeding him or her on each side, left and right (Picture 1).

Can I bring my 1 week old baby outside? ›

Most doctors agree that there's no need to wait until your baby is 1 or 2 months old to take them out and about. However, you also shouldn't feel pressure to do it before you're ready.

What should you not do after giving birth? ›

Avoid stairs and lifting until your doctor says these activities are OK. Don't take a bath or go swimming until the doctor says it's OK. Don't drive until your doctor says it's OK. Also wait until you can make sudden movements and wear a safety belt properly without discomfort.

Should you wear a mask around newborn? ›

Wear a mask when within 6 feet of your newborn and other people during your entire isolation period. The mask helps prevent you from spreading the virus to others.

What night is hardest with newborn? ›

“Night one is a euphoric night,” said Jennifer Howting, a registered nurse in paediatrics based in Kingston, Ont. “But babies on night two wake up a lot more—they're more alert and are ready to feed. The second night is when the exhaustion really hits [for parents].” Night two can bring a lot of crying.

How do I survive my newborn in night 2? ›

It can feel overwhelming, but there ARE some things you can do to help survive the second night!
  1. Anticipate it. The second night syndrome does not discriminate, and many parents don't know what's happening or why. ...
  2. Re-create the womb. ...
  3. Cuddle your baby. ...
  4. Say no to visitors. ...
  5. Your baby isn't starving!
14 Feb 2021


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