Baby development and milestones: Your 1-month-old baby
The first year of a newborn's life is one of the fastest in human development; it’s no wonder that when you have a baby, you often hear people say ‘they grow so quickly!’ or ‘time goes so fast!’ The best thing you can do is enjoy and marvel at your baby's month-by-month development.
How fragile and beautiful is your tiny 1 month old newborn! While you might think he/she doesn’t do much other than drink milk, sleep and cry, your baby is actually growing and developing rapidly.
Let’s find out what milestones to expect in the first month of your precious 1 month old baby’s life.
1 Month Old Baby Development: How Is Your Baby Getting Ready to Face the World?
When a baby is born, he/she already has some amazing abilities though he/she has a long way to go in terms of development.
A newborn without complications has the instincts to breathe, tightly hold fingers, and can even smell you and know you from any other person. Incredibly, some babies even suck their thumbs when still in the womb!
Despite the fact that a baby is born with all of these incredible skills, for the first month of your baby’s life, it can seem that all he/she does is lots of eating, sleeping, crying, and of course, peeing and pooping.
At this age, babies have very little control of their muscles and instead rely mainly on reflex actions, such as sucking, yawning, sneezing and crying.
As a baby progresses through the first month of life, he/she begins to discover that he/she has control of his/her body. Discovering his/her hands is a big moment. It gets even more exciting when your baby realises he/she can use those hands to squeeze things like your finger, or to suck on for comfort when hungry!
Crawling, walking, running, and even dancing will happen sooner than you think. But the road to these skills starts when your baby discovers his/her own body, and begins to interact with the surrounding world.
Speaking of motor skills, your 1 month old babyshould be able to kick when on his/her back, grasp your finger, follow your movements with his/her eyes, and might even be able to raise his/her head when on his/her tummy.
It may seem that not much is going on in terms of development, however, all of your baby’s senses are getting better.
- Sight: A newborn can open his/her eyes and see almost immediately after being born. Though his/her eyes are not yet able to focus on things that are farther away than one metre, your baby can focus perfectly on your face when you hold him/her in your arms – which is the distance from your breast to your eyes. Don’t be alarmed if your baby appears cross-eyed at times. This is normal in an infant this young.
- Hearing: A newborn can hear from around 28 weeks of pregnancy. From inside your womb, he/she listens to the sounds of your body and voice, and noises from the outside world. Studies have found that newborns react more strongly to the higher pitch of a female voice than to a deeper male voice.
- Smell: A baby’s nose is sensitive. Your 1 month old newborn can tell the difference between your smell, and that of another person.
- Taste: Your baby is a breastmilk connoisseur! His/her well-developed sense of taste (babies have more taste buds than adults) is finely tuned towards the delicious taste of your breastmilk.
- Touch: Everyone needs the human touch to promote feelings of well-being and happiness. Baby massage is a great way to bond with your baby, and he will find the touch of your hands comforting and soothing, just as an adult would! Gentle massage also helps with baby development, specifically your newborn’s muscles.
Another important part of your 1 month old baby’s physical development includes his/her reflexes.
Newborn babies are born with a number of reflexes, which are vital for survival. These include the rooting reflex which enables your baby to find your breast when his/her cheek is placed nearby; the sucking and swallowing reflexes that allow your baby to drink, and the gagging reflex that prevents him/her from taking too much liquid.
There’s also the very cute grasp reflex, which is when your little one tightly holds on to your finger when placed on his palm, and the moro reflex, responsible for making your baby startle at loud noises.
To read about the full range of newborn reflexes, please click here.
At this stage, your child’s median length and weight* should be as follows:
– Length: 54.8 cm (21.6 inches)
– Weight: 4.4 kg (9.8 lb)
– Length: 53.8 cm (21.2 inches)
– Weight: 4.3kg (9.6lb)
And your child’s head circumference* should be:
- Boys: 37.3 cm (14.7 inches)
- Girls: 36.6 cm (14.4 inches
- Work towards helping your 1 month old baby’s sensory development. Activities include talking and singing to your baby so his/her sense of hearing develops, as well as cuddling him/her often to stimulate touch. Breastfeeding on demand, meanwhile, nurtures baby’s sense of taste and makes him/her feel secure and loved. Dads, try to make the pitch of your voice higher when you interact with your baby, as this will help your child bond with you better.
- Don’t go crazy with the colourful toys just yet. When your baby is this young, they prefer looking at images, toys or mobiles in high-contrast colours: black, white and red, for example. These also help to strengthen vision.
- Gently massage your baby’s hands, legs, back, and tummy to strengthen his/her muscles. A gentle tummy massage in a clockwise direction helps your baby to pass wind, releasing any discomfort he/she may have.
- When a baby is put down on his/her tummy, he/she will automatically turn his/her head to help him/her breathe. This is known as the labyrinthine reflex. So tummy time is essential. A few minutes two to three times a day is enough. Always do this when you are around; never leave your baby alone on his/her tummy.
When to See a Doctor:
If your baby:
- Is in visible discomfort if you gently turn his head from side to side.
- Does not respond to loud noises.
- Has persistent trouble moving his/her eyes, or remains cross-eyed.
- Has stiffness or floppiness in his/her body.
Cognitive development is the construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem-solving and decision-making. Too advanced for a one-month-old baby? Not at all!
Beginning immediately, babies soak up information about this new world and the people in it. Your baby is constantly watching you, listening to what you say, and observing his/her surroundings. All this stimulates cognitive development.
- Cognitive development in babies depends on various antenatal and postnatal factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, the gestational age of the baby at delivery (for example, a baby born at 38 weeks may reach milestones slower than a baby born at 40 weeks), complications at the time of birth, illness during early years, as well as genetics and environmental factors.
- At this young age, it is difficult to assess cognitive development, but there are many things you can do to give your little one’s brain a good “head start”.
- Show your 1 month old babypicture books with bright, contrasting colours. Baby will enjoy gazing at the pictures and hearing your voice, both which will stimulate cognition.
- Talk and sing to your little one often. Hearing your voice calms him/her down and tells him/her you are right there.
- Give your baby toys that make gentle sounds to stimulate the brain and sense of hearing.
When to See a Doctor:
If your baby:
- Does not respond to the sound of your voice.
- Does not gaze at you or other objects.
Emotional and Social Development
Newborns don’t cry because they are bored, but because they have a need to be fulfilled (hungry, wet, overtired, too warm or cold, etc). It is very important you do not ignore your newborn’s cries, or leave him/her in distress for long periods of time.
Crying is the way your baby communicates, and he/she needs your help with it. Ignoring your baby can harm emotional development. If you are having trouble calming your baby, seek out tips here. Mums and dads, you should know that your baby is emotionally attuned to you. So, if you’re happy, he/she can sense it and if you’re stressed or anxious, he/she will be upset too.
- Communicate with your 1 month old babyin a slow, gentle voice. This will calm and reassure him/her of your presence and love.
- Never let your 1 month old baby“cry it out”. He/she needs your touch to settle and soothe. Depriving baby of this may harm his/her emotional development, and later, regulation.
When to See a Doctor:
If your baby:
- Rarely settles when you carry, touch or talk to him.
Speech and Language Development
An interesting thing about baby development is that the foundations for speech and language begin when a baby first develops hearing. This can be as early as when he/she is in your womb!
While your 1 month old newborn won’t start to talk words for a few more months yet, his/her first “baby talk” is non-verbal and happens soon after birth. Your baby grimaces, cries, and squirms to express a range of emotions and physical needs, from fear and hunger to frustration and sensory overload. Your baby may even coo, gurgle or laugh when you speak lovingly or sing!
- Even though your baby might not be speaking yet, talk a lot to him/her. This will engage your little one in a “conversation” of sorts. In a few months, he/she might just start responding to you, but the foundation is laid right at the beginning.
- Music is a great way to communicate and bond with your baby, whether it’s singing, or playing soft, gentle music.
When to See a Doctor:
If your child:
- Is not responding to your voice, there might be a need to assess his hearing capabilities.
Health and Nutrition
At this age, all your baby needs to grow and thrive is your breastmilk – nothing else. However, if you cannot breastfeed your baby for some reason, then the only other suitable food is formula milk.
Typically, the amount of breastmilk/formula milk for your baby at this stage is:
- Breastmilk: 19.3-30.4 ounces/day
- Formula: 24 ounces/day
Baby boys of this age need around 466.6 calories per day, while baby girls need slightly less at 457.7.
Your breastmilk contains the perfect mix of vitamins, minerals, fats and other nutrients to boost your little one’s mental and physical growth, and is tailor-made to his/her needs. It even contains antibodies that protect baby against illness. Throwing up a bit, or possetting after a feed is normal at this age.
From the time your baby is born until he/she is around two weeks old, some weight loss is normal. But after that, your little one’s weight will slowly stabilise.
To read more about newborn weight loss and gain, click here.
By now, your baby’s umbilical stump would have dried up and fallen off, leaving a perfectly cute kissable belly button in its place. Did you know that some parents turn their baby’s dried up stump into art?
Your baby’s fontanelle (the soft spot on his head) is still open and vulnerable, so care must be taken when touching baby’s head, or when giving him/her a bath. His/her neck is still not sturdy, so remember to support baby’s head by placing a hand on the neck when carrying him/her.
Mummy, you must be feeling rather sleep-deprived as your little one’s sleep schedule is non-existent. Don’t worry – it does slowly get better. Do try to sleep whenever your baby sleeps, even if it’s just for 30 minutes.
- At 1 month old, your baby’s immunity is still developing. So it’s best to not allow other people to kiss your little one’s face or hands. If carrying him, they should wash their hands well, first.
- It’s best to breastfeed your baby on demand, remembering to empty each breast during a nursing session. You could use a breastfeeding bracelet to remind you of which side baby last fed from.
- Your baby is still too young to understand the difference between day at night. But you can create a semblance of it by drawing the curtains and turning down the lights in the evening if he’s sleeping. This will help him gradually understand that we sleep at night and stay awake during daytime.
- Ensure safe sleep always to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Swaddle your baby and place him on his back to sleep, never on his tummy. His cot or crib should be free of pillows, blankets and stuffed toys. You can control his body temperature with appropriate sleep-clothes and air-conditioning.
Vaccinations and common illnesses
Your newborn should get:
- Hepatitis B – 2nd dose: Immunisation against Hepatitis B
Do speak to your doctor about it, as well as other immunisations to follow. You can check your baby’s immunisation schedule by clicking this link.
Your baby’s immune system is still very immature. This combined with an incomplete vaccination schedule makes him/her very vulnerable to common illnesses like the common cold. While a cold is not a big deal in an older child, in a newborn it could lead to even severe consequences.
This is why it’s crucial you and all others who handle your baby practice strict hygiene, that must include frequent hand-washing. Wear a mask if you have a cold or cough, and any other family members or friends with colds or who are sick should stay far away from baby until they are better.
Nobody should ever kiss your baby on his/her face, mouth, hands or feet as this could potentially transmit the fatal HPV virus to your little one.
Treating Common Illnesses
In the event your little one gets a cold or other common illness, you should bring him/her to the paediatrician immediately. At just 1 month old, your baby is too young for any kind of home remedies.
When to See a Doctor:
If your baby:
- Is rapidly losing weight.
- Seems to be vomiting a lot of liquid after every feed.
- Has a sunken fontanelle.
- Appears listless.
- Still has jaundice.
- Has even a slightly raised temperature.
- Has discharge from his/her genitals.
It is important to remember that while your baby is growing and changing quickly, there are emotional and physical stresses also being felt by you, the parents.
New mothers often feel pressure to look and feel a certain way, and expect parenthood to come naturally. Rest assured that for most people, adjusting to becoming a parent and the changes to your body, emotions, and the course of your life, can take time.
If you have feelings of unhappiness or are having trouble relating to your baby or your partner, you could be suffering from post-natal depression (PND).
You can always reach out to your doctor for advice.
Lastly, remember that baby development is different for every child. Every baby is unique, and reaching a developmental milestone faster or slower than average is not a guarantee of how the baby’s future development will be.
Your baby’s previous week: Baby development and milestones: your 3-week-old
Your baby’s next month: Baby development and milestones: your 2-month-old
*Disclaimer: This is the median length and weight, and head circumference according to WHO standards)
Do you have questions on this 1 month old baby development guide? Share with us in the comments!