Newborns Healthy

Parents, especially those having their first babies, may want to know what to expect as their newborns develop in a healthy manner. Along with normal baby weight gain, other factors that contribute to healthy development include babies’ eating habits and sleep patterns.

The first important thing to understand is that no two babies will be alike. All babies will have different:

  • developmental schedules
  • eating habits
  • growth rates
  • sleeping habits
  • temperaments.

As a result, it’s impossible to predict the exact behavior and patterns that a newborn will exhibit.

As newborns develop, new parents will, instead, have to adapt to the temperaments and habits of their babies. While this may require some to adjust their sleeping schedules, other parents may need to alter their eating habits to accommodate their babies’ needs.

In this section, we’ll discuss all aspects of what to expect in healthy newborns. We’ll cover eating habits, sleep patterns, diapers, burping and much more.

Newborn Growth

In the first year of a baby’s life, (s)he will most likely triple in weight and increase in length by about 50 percent. Because healthy growth indicates a healthy baby, regular visits to your doctor are essential to monitoring the growth of your newborn.

On average, a newborn baby will weigh anywhere from 6 pounds to 9 pounds and measure from 19 to 21 inches in length. A baby’s size will depend on:

  • baby’s health: Health problems can cause babies to be born smaller.
  • gender: Girls tend to be born smaller than boys.
  • length of term carried: While a premature baby will typically weigh less than normal (because it hasn’t fully developed in the womb), babies born late will usually be larger than average.
  • mother’s health: Healthy pregnancies in which women are consuming the proper nutrition are essential to having healthy newborns.
  • number of births: Twins, triplets and other multiple births tend to produce smaller babies.
  • size of the parents: Larger parents may have larger babies, and smaller or shorter parents may have smaller babies.

If your baby is born smaller or larger than average, this does not mean (s)he is necessarily unhealthy. It will simply require you to more carefully monitor your baby’s growth progress.

Many people don’t realize that babies actually lose about 7 percent to 10 percent of their weight in the first week of life. This is because babies are often born with extra fluid. Healthy babies will re-gain this weight within the first two weeks of life. After this initial weight fluctuation, most babies will gain about 5 ounces per week. Growth spurts are expected at seven to 10 days old and three to six weeks old.

Newborn Feeding and Burping

Newborns need to be fed every few hours. After a few weeks, feedings can occur every three to four hours. New mothers will quickly learn how much milk their babies take in at each feeding. Some babies may need to be burped or rest briefly during feeding to be able to continue.

Babies that are fed with breast milk will need to be fed more often than babies fed with formula. This is due to the fact that breast milk is easier for babies to digest, while formula may take a bit longer to go through a baby’s system.

Diapers and Infants

Cloth or disposable diapers are both acceptable for newborns, though parents should expect about 10 dirty diapers per day (70 each week). Cleaning cloth diapers can become a hassle for new parents, though many still prefer cloth over disposable diapers.

When changing a newborn’s diaper, make sure you have all necessary supplies within reach, as you should never leave a baby unattended. A new diaper, baby wipes, baby powder and some extra cloths are the supplies you will need at hand.

Preventing diaper rash is also a concern for many new parents. This can be done by:

  • changing a baby’s diaper frequently and as immediately as possible after it is soiled
  • letting the baby roam without a diaper for part of the day to allow the skin to breathe
  • making sure to wash cloth diapers in dye-free and fragrance-free detergents
  • using creams or powders to soothe a baby’s skin during diaper changes.

If the above tips do not work and diaper rash does occur, you may need to get a prescription cream from your doctor to get rid of this bacterial infection.

Sleep Patterns of Newborns

Although newborns will sleep for many hours during the day, they will not, at first, usually sleep for long periods of time. Instead, babies may wake every few hours for feeding. During the first few weeks of life, babies cannot distinguish between daytime and nighttime.

Because feeding, not sleep, will be your baby’s first priority, parents will likely have to adjust their sleep patterns. In some cases, feeding babies every few hours before they start crying can be helpful for both parents and newborns.

After a baby is a few months old, (s)he should be able to sleep through the night. However, sleeping through the night can mean sleeping anywhere from five to eight hours at a time, depending on the particular baby.

Resources

Kids’ Health (2008). A Guide for First-Time Parents. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Kids’ Health Web site.

Kids’ Health (2008). Growth and Your Newborn. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Kids’ Health Web site.