Your Newborn's First Days

The First Days

Your baby will sleep 10 to 21 hours a day.

Most babies lose about one-tenth of their birthweight during the first five days because they often flush out excess body fluid that was present at birth.

A baby's activity in the first week is mostly reflexive.

It's impossible to spoil a newborn, so give your baby plenty of love and attention.

Babies are born with peripheral vision (can see to the sides), but they won't be able to focus on a single object until around 1 month of age.

For starters, we’re guessing that your newborn, unlike you, has been getting plenty of sleep. Newborns doze between 10 and 21 hours a day—partly because they cannot tell the difference between day and night, and partly because their stomachs hold only enough to satisfy them for three to four hours. What this means for you is round-the-clock feedings and infrequent visits from Mr. Sandman, who, at least temporarily, has cancelled your nightly dream-delivery service.

Regarding your baby's sleeping habits, there’s good news and not-so-good news. First the good news: Your baby will eventually sleep through the night. And the not-so-good news: Round-the-clock feedings will persist until your newborn is at least three or four weeks old. Until then, start teaching your baby that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for playing. Here’s how:

  • Avoid turning up the lights or prolonging nighttime diaper changes.
  • Be sure to put your baby right back down after feeding and changing at night.
  • Wake your newborn and play with her if she naps for more than three or four hours during the day.

Safety Tip Always place your baby on her back when laying her down to sleep, urges the American Academy of Pediatrics. By doing this, you significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Be sure to position your baby on a firm, flat mattress. Do not place soft, fluffy objects—pillows, stuffed animals, comforters, quilts—under your newborn while she sleeps. Though seemingly harmless, these plush products can increase the risk of suffocation. Click here for more on SIDS prevention.

Further Reading

Baby Care 101: Five Essential Tips for First-Time Parents

Books to Help Ease the Transition into Motherhood