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What's Next? - Weeks 5-8

What you can expect during your baby's 5th through 8th weeks of life.


Baby wearing a beanie
Your little one will become more responsive as each week goes by

1. Engaging with caregiver


Many say parenting is a thankless job. And for a few months, it may seem that your newborn doesn’t really notice you. During this time, the new necessities of life can be a lot for newborns. Especially when they don’t even understand what they need, just that things aren’t right. Caregivers act as a stable source of support while newborns learn about the world. After your baby’s first four weeks of life, they may begin to engage more with caregivers. Babies might adjust their body language or react to familiar voices. Have you also noticed them responding to your constant narration with playful coos and gurgles? Don’t worry, they’re just keeping the conversation going.


2. Most reflexes are still strong


Reflexes are crucial for newborns, allowing them to respond on auto-pilot while they figure out what they’re actually doing. As babies grow, some of these reflexes go away or integrate, while new ones emerge. One of the first to integrate is the stepping reflex. [1] With this one you might think they’re dancing; when held upright with their feet touching a flat surface, you’ll see your baby put one foot in front of the other. Don’t freak out, your baby didn’t just take their first steps so put the camera down. While similar to walking, they won’t pick that skill up for some time. However, this groovy reflex is thought to prepare muscles for the job. Watch for signs of the response integrating after two months.


3. More body movement and coordination


Another thing you might see your baby do a little more is move. They’ll stretch out to work new muscles. You might see your newborn subtly adjusting body position and wriggling around. Babies like to open and shut their hands, also moving them towards their mouth occasionally. The time your newborn has been spending on their tummy has helped to strengthen their neck. While your baby won’t be able to fully hold their own head up for some time, they’re working on it. [2] You would be struggling to stay upright if you were as top-heavy as your baby.


Crying baby
Hours of inconsolable crying is very stressful for both baby and caregivers

4. Crying peaks


Get ready for the waterworks. Around this time you may notice your newborn crying more often. Don’t worry, this behavior is typical, “[Crying] usually peaks around 6-8 weeks and starts to settle at around 12-16 weeks.” [3] As your newborn will learn, crying is their most valuable tool. Newborns use these cries when they could be hungry, uncomfortable, or in need of attention. There are also times when much like after a tough breakup, your newborn will cry inconsolably.


The peak of crying can be a stressful time. Crying is instinctually unpleasant to hear, which makes this phase difficult for caregivers. A useful acronym refers to this stage as the period of PURPLE crying. [4]



 

Work Cited:


  1. “Newborn reflexes.” Stanford Children's Health - Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=newborn-reflexes-90-P02630

  2. Nborchard. “1-3 Months Old Baby Development.” Children's Health Orange County, 23 June 2021, https://www.choc.org/primary-care/ages-stages/1-to-3-months/

  3. “1-2 Months: Newborn Development.” Raising Children Network, 15 Mar. 2022, https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/development/development-tracker/1-2-months

  4. “PURPLE Crying.” National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, https://dontshake.org/

 

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