As a new parent, you will have many hours of joy while you hold and cuddle your baby. As your baby develops, you will experience the unfolding of a new life and a new person. Your baby is just beginning to learn to adjust to life in the outside world. During this first month, most of your baby’s time will be spent sleeping, crying, or eating. Your baby is totally dependent on you to meet his or her basic needs. Most of your time will be spent figuring out the best ways to do this.
What's it Like to Be a Newborn Baby?
- I may sleep 17 to 19 hours a day.
- My head wobbles if you don't support it.
- I need to be held while being fed.
- I try to suck, even when I'm not feeding.
- I can turn my head from side to side.
- I respond to noises--especially my parents' voices.
- Bright lights, loud noises, and rough handling scare me.
- I often keep my hands in fists. Sometimes I can't let go of things placed in my hands.
- I like looking at faces, shapes, and outlines.
- Sometimes my eyes may not work together.
Feeding Your Newborn/One-Month-Old
Feeding your baby will be one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the world. It isn't a complicated task, but all parents have questions, and sometimes the answers--from many sources--can be confusing! Feeding patterns for infants have changed dramatically through the years, so the advice you receive about feeding may vary, too.
A new baby will lead the way when it comes to sleeping and eating patterns. Your newborn will want to eat often--probably every two or three hours. When should you feed your baby? Watch the clock, but, more importantly, watch your baby! Babies usually cry when they are hungry. Many babies, if fed when they are hungry, will start to develop a regular schedule in about a month. During occasional growth spurts, your baby may need to nurse more often.
Breastfeeding or Bottle-Feeding?
Whichever method you choose, know that your baby benefits from the closeness and comfort of feeding time. There are many reasons why breastfeeding may be the best choice for you.
Breast milk is ideally suited for the health and growth of your baby, but infant formulas are carefully designed to meet your baby's nutritional needs. If you choose to bottle-feed, your doctor will recommend an iron-fortified formula to prevent anemia. Do not use whole cow's milk, skim milk, or 2% milk.
If you feed your baby with a bottle, be sure to hold her so she can see your face as you feed her. Never prop up your baby's bottle. Babies can easily gag and choke if the bottle is left in their mouths. It's best to warm a bottle in a pan of hot water or hold it under hot running water. Heating bottles in a microwave can be dangerous because it may create hot spots inside the milk that can burn a baby's tender mouth.
Your baby knows how much he needs to eat--a newborn's tummy only holds a few ounces! You will know your baby is getting enough to eat if he has six to eight wet diapers a day.
What's it Like to Be a One-Month-Old?
- I like to look at black and white colors and patterns more than other objects.
- I roll part of the way from my back to my side.
- I keep my hands or fingers open most of the time.
- Sometimes I root around and try to suck, even when I'm not feeding.
- I cry when I am hungry, wet, or tired, or when I want to be held.
- Loud noises, bright lights, and rough handling scare me.
- My head wobbles if you don't hold it.
- I need you to put your hand behind my head and neck for support.
Breast milk is the best choice because:
- It is easy to digest.
- It helps babies fight disease.
- It is less likely to cause allergies.
- It helps mom and baby develop a special closeness.
- It helps a baby's jaw to develop.
- It is always ready to go, and it is always at the right temperature.
- It is less expensive than formula.
- It has been found to help reduce infant obesity, respiratory infections, and diarrhea.
Iron-fortified formula is the next best choice because:
- It is made to be as similar to breast milk as possible.
- It helps prevent anemia.
Babies less than one year old should not be fed honey, as it sometimes contains spores that can cause a sickness called "infant botulism." Older children can tolerate these spores, but honey is not safe for babies.
Remember, only breast milk or formula for your one-month-old is required. Your baby is perfectly nourished by breast milk or formula at this age and is physically not ready for solids. You can introduce solid foods later, when your baby is at least four months old. For now, enjoy your new little one!
All children grow, learn, and develop at different rates. The information in this brochure is considered typical for children of this age. If you do all you can to help children grow and develop now, they will have the best chance to do well in school and in life.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012. Nutrition for Infants and Toddlers. Getting Started on Eating Right.
- Aronson, Susan. 2012. Healthy Young Children: A Manual for Programs. National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2002. Healthy Start, Grow Smart.
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Family and Consumer Sciences. 2009. Parent Express: A Guide for You and Your Baby.
Originally prepared by Katherine Cason, associate professor of food science. Updated in 2014 by Jill Cox, MS, RD, program development specialist, Penn State Better Kid Care and Mary Alice Gettings, MS, RD, nutrition consultant with funding from the Penn State Extension Better Kid Care program.