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First-week newborns – what to expect?

Your baby is finally here! After nine months of waiting, wondering and anticipating, that sweet-smelling bundle of cuteness is in your arms.

The first few days of your baby’s life are very exciting and pretty tiring too. You find your new baby sleeping a few hours, feed and sleep some more. They need to be kept dry and clean, and bathed every day or so. A lot is happening.

New mothers want to give their best when it comes to caring for their first-borns and often questionable actions from your baby will leave you panicking. However, you should not worry as every baby is different. It is better to understand their patterns and behaviours during the first few months to give your baby what it needs.

Here is a glimpse of what can you expect during your newborn’s first week.

Feeding and sleeping patterns

Most babies sleep for less than 4 hours at a time then they wake to feed. Most newborns will sleep for about 16 hours every 24 hours.

Every baby is different so you shouldn’t impose rigid schedules in the first few months. This helps your baby get what they need whenever they want to. It also helps you establish your milk supply and so the ‘feed, play, sleep’ cycle is better for both of you rather than following a rigid schedule.

Make sure you always sleep the baby on their back with their head and face uncovered. The safest place for them to sleep is in a safe cot next to your bed.


Bathing your baby can be a real pleasure, even if it can be nerve-racking at first. Bathing your baby in the evening can help calm your baby and settle them.

But you don’t need to bath your baby every day if you don’t want to. A bath every few days is enough. Just make sure their nappy area is kept clean and dry. You’ll soon find what you and your baby prefer.

Your baby will have part of the umbilical cord still attached. Keep it clean and dry, and allow it to heal naturally.

Medical tests, screening and health check

Your baby will undergo some tests in the first week. You’ll be asked for permission before these tests are done. Your baby will have a non-invasive hearing screening test and a heel prick blood test — the neonatal screening test (NST), which are all part of a normal medical routine.

A full examination to check the shape of their head, their eyes and ears, the roof of their mouth and tongue, their genitals, skin, hands and feet, spine and hips is perfectly normal.

Weighing and measuring

Soon after birth, your baby will be examined and weighed by maternity staff as well as a few days later. This is to make sure that your baby is healthy and has not lost too much weight. Normally babies lose some weight during the first few days, then start to regain weight. They should be back to their birth weight within about 2 weeks.

If your baby loses too much weight in the first few days, you may be offered extra help.

Baby’s poo

Your baby’s poo changes quite a bit in the first week. Monitoring these changes is one way to see whether your baby is healthy and well nourished. Baby’s poo gradually changes from black and sticky on the day of birth, to mustard yellow by the time your breast milk comes in on day 3 to 5.

Your midwife will check to see if your baby has weed and pooed at least once on day 1. After that you can expect an increase in diaper changing as frequent poos are common in the first week.

You can aim to change your baby’s nappy every time you feed them unless you notice that the nappy is very wet or dirty in between feeds.

What to prepare to take your baby home

You will usually need some diapers, a set of clothes (a singlet, a grow-suit and perhaps a warm hat), a warm wrap and an infant restraint for the car.

Check out the swaddle blankets of Bellochi!

Young babies do not need very many belongings. Mainly, they just want to be fed, kept warm, have their nappy changed and to spend lots of time with you. A simple cot or bassinet that is set up safely, diapers, 6 changes of clothes and some wraps is a great start.

Once you have grasped the behaviors of your baby within the first few weeks, the rest should come naturally. Just remember to savor all those first cuddles, first feedings and first skin-to-skin snuggles and most importantly, enjoy the bonding process with the newest member of your family.