What to expect as your newborn baby develops

Is your newborn developing as expected? Here’s what to look for.


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Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!

You have had 9 months to prepare for your newborn baby, but you may now have more questions, especially after the big arrival.

What exactly do newborns do? Is this normal? Should I be worried?

Here are some things to look for in your baby.

Physical development

This is a big transition for baby! In the womb, they had a dark, warm environment and were able to hear the swishing sounds of the placenta and mother’s heartbeat. They also felt the swaying movements when their mother walked.

You will notice that just as in the womb, your baby will stay in the fetal position (arms and legs bent close to the body) with his fingers tightly clenched and feet curved inward.

During the first month of life, newborns will learn to live in this bright, new world. They will learn to suck, swallow and breathe while eating and also learn some patterns of sleeping.

“Tummy time” is also important in this part of a baby’s development. Allowing your baby time on their tummies while awake will give them the opportunity to learn to raise their head and chest, further helping their development.

Social Skills

Newborns are able to smell, especially breast milk. They can hear their parents voices and see about 8 to 12 inches in front of them, a perfect distance for when they are being held.

Babies will respond to different types of touch, such as caressing, massaging, holding and rocking. This physical contact helps your baby feel secure and understand he is loved and cared for.


Just as you are learning about your new baby, your baby is learning about you. Newborns communicate through crying and through behaviors such as facial expressions and body movements. Besides crying, you’ll hear grunts, squeaks, sneezes and hiccups.

Cognitive development

Newborns are quite smart! Through their parents and their caregiving routines, they will learn to anticipate and trust their new world. Having a routine will come with time, but, for now, feeding the baby when she/he is hungry is important for growth.

Sleep patterns (or lack thereof) will also become readily apparent and will take time to establish.


American Academy of Pediatrics