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How Many Weeks Is The Newborn Stage?

how many weeks in the newborn stage

Congratulations on your new arrival!  Now that you have a baby in your arms many questions may be arising in your mind, especially if you are a first-time parent. One of those questions might be how many weeks is the newborn stage.

In this blog, we will help you learn how long is the newborn stage, what to expect during this time, and some of the common skin conditions experienced by newborns. 

How Many Weeks Is The Newborn Stage?

If you are wondering how long is the baby newborn stage, then the answer to this question is a little complicated. Some researchers consider a baby newborn under 4 weeks old while others may use the name newborn for a baby under 12 weeks old. 

The newborn stage for the first 4 weeks after birth is typically referred to as the neonatal period by pediatricians–the baby can be referred to as a “neonate.” This period starts the day your little one is born whether your little one is premature or full-term. 

Even though during this stage most babies just feed, sleep, and poop most of the time, this stage can be full of first experiences and challenges. Let’s discover a little more about the newborn stage.

What To Expect In Newborn Stages?

The newborn stage is all about the changes and development of the baby. Every baby is different and will achieve these development milestones at a different time. We have listed down some of the common experiences that you and your baby will have during the neonatal period.

Stage 1: Adjusting To The Environment

The first stage of the neonatal period is usually about adjusting. You and your baby both are adjusting to the new changes in your life. The baby will mostly be feeding and sleeping during this time.

  • Most babies sleep 12 to 18 hours a day, so don’t worry if your baby is sleeping a lot. The baby will wake up every 2 to 4 hours for feeding. Their pattern of urinating will help you realize whether they are feeding enough or not. 
  • Feed, sleep, poop, repeat, this will be your baby’s motto during this time period so don’t worry if they are soiling the diaper a lot or their stools are changing colors it’s completely normal. Stools start off as a very dark green (meconium) and then can take on a multitude of colors and textures. 
  • You should visit a healthcare provider on the 4th or 5th day after your baby is born for a complete checkup and discuss if you have any queries or questions related to the health of your baby. A neonatologist in the birth hospital may direct you to be seen even sooner than that especially if there is an early discharge from the hospital or a worry about jaundice (bilirubin levels).
  • Most babies lose their birth weight during the first 7 days after they are born–especially if they are breastfeeding. If they are losing more than 10% of their birth weight it could be considered abnormal. 
  • The first visit to the doctor is also enjoyable to meet your pediatrician and get oriented on what gets done on well child checkups, guidance on newborn screening, RSV vaccine status, discuss when to expect the regular vaccination schedule to start and to see how much weight has been lost or gained.  

Stage 2: Achieving The Birth Weight

Most babies will return back to their birth weight at 14 days after birth. 

  • Their feeding and sleeping patterns may remain the same as it was in the first. However, the baby will start consuming more food, around 16 to 24 ounces, in a 24 hour period. 
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby, there will be more milk production and an improved latch. You will likely notice some changes in the appearance of the stool and they may begin to eat more but slightly less frequently. If there is a drop-off in eating or urine output, it is best to consult your doctor. 
  • Baby’s umbilical cord typically falls off in the first 1 to 4 weeks.

They will be able to rule out if your baby is experiencing any illness or health issues.

Stage 3: A New Milestone

  • Tummy time is good when newborns are awake
  • Make sure that you promote tummy time at this stage because it will help strengthen their muscles and help prevent a flat head.
  • The tummy time can be done for a few minutes several times a day. It should be done on a firm surface without soft fluffy things around–to avoid suffocation.  
  • Most babies will try to lift their heads up while doing tummy time. Yes, a new milestone is achieved. 
  • As your baby is growing they may also start cluster feeding. This means that they will feed much more frequently with shorter gaps than usual. This might happen only for a couple of hours during the day.

Stage 4: End Of Newborn Stage

  • The end of this stage will mark the end of the newborn stage. The baby’s hearing and vision senses will develop more by this time and they will be interacting with you a lot more. They will also start recognizing your voice, especially the mother’s voice.
  • The baby will learn different cries and by this time you may be able to recognize which cry means they want to sleep and which one is for when they are hungry.
  • Your baby will start responding to sounds and toys with bright contrasting colors. 

When Does Newborn Stage End?

The end of the newborn stage may be different for every baby. But some of the common characteristics that mark the end of the newborn stage are:

  • Your baby will start sleeping more through the night.
  • Baby will start smiling more and making cooing voices. 
  • They will be soiling less diapers.
  • They will start communicating by crying differently.
  • They will respond more to the sounds around them.

Difference Between A Baby, Infant, Newborn, And Toddler

It really depends on who you talk to. An infant is considered a little one between the ages of 1 month to 12 months old. A newborn is a baby between the ages of 1 month to 3 months old. A toddler is mostly above the age of 12 months or when the child starts walking and lasts until 3 years old. Baby is a broad word and means different things to different people–it can be any age…Moms may still call their 40 year old children their “baby”.

Skin Conditions Experienced During Neonatal Period

The neonatal period may be full of surprises and joys but it can also bring some challenges, especially for first-time parents who don’t know much about babies and parenting. The baby’s skin is still developing and is prone to skin issues. Some of the common skin conditions experienced during these first few weeks of a baby’s life are:

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap also known as seborrheic dermatitis in adults, is one of the most common skin conditions experienced by newborns and infants. Cradle cap appears as thick, greasy, crusty scales on the baby’s skin. It mostly appears on the scalp and forehead where the cap is placed. 

However, it can also appear on other body parts such as the face, behind the ears, and around the diaper area. It does not cause pain or discomfort to the baby and is not contagious. But it can be bothersome for the parents to look at and they may want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Cradle Cap Treatment

Cradle cap can be easily managed at home with the help of

Cradle Cap Shampoo

  • Wash your baby’s scalp with a cradle cap shampoo regularly to loosen and remove the scales.
  • When the scaling and flaking are severe, use the shampoo on a daily basis.
  • Once the scaling is reduced use the shampoo for cradle cap 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Make sure to thoroughly rinse the scalp after shampooing as the residue left behind can worsen the condition.
  • Choose a cradle cap shampoo that is specially formulated for babies. 

Cradle Cap Brush

  • While shampooing, use a cradle cap brush to gently massage the baby’s scalp.
  • Massage the baby’s scalp in circular motions.
  • You can use the brush on a dry scalp to promote relaxation and blood flow to the scalp.

A cradle cap brush will help remove those loose scales from the scalp that may be sticking to your baby’s hair. 

Eczema

Another common skin issue in babies is eczema also known as atopic dermatitis. It causes itchy, red, dry, scaly rashes to appear on the skin. It is believed to be caused by a combination of factors such as genetics, environmental factors, and skin barrier dysfunction.

During this condition, the natural barrier of the skin does not work properly as a result the skin loses moisture more easily and outside irritants penetrate the skin. This causes dry skin and leads to itching, inflammation, and irritation.

In newborns, it mostly appears on the elbows, knees, and cheeks. The itching associated with eczema can be bothersome for the baby and disrupt their sleep.

Treatment For Eczema

Eczema can be managed at home by taking proper care of your baby’s skin. 

  • The first step should be keeping their skin clean with an eczema shampoo. Use the one that is free from harsh chemicals like paraben, sulfate, fragrance, and artificial dyes. 
  • The next step in a baby’s skincare routine is keeping the skin moisturized. Moisturize the baby’s skin with an eczema cream at least twice daily. If you feel that your baby’s skin is becoming dry more often you can use it more than twice.
  • If the condition does not get better with proper skincare contact a doctor who may prescribe OTC medications.

Milia

Milia is very common in newborn babies. Adults are less likely to experience it. It causes small white bumps on skin. These bumps can appear anywhere on the body but mostly appear on the face, frequently under the eyes. 

These bumps look similar to whiteheads. They are also known as ‘milk spots’. These are caused when a protein in the skin, Keratin, gets trapped beneath the skin. 

Milia Removal

Milia in babies usually disappears on its own within a few months. It does not cause any discomfort to the baby. If you still want to help your baby then make sure to keep their skin clean with a gentle cleanser and keep the skin moisturized with a baby cream. Make sure you never squeeze the milia bumps.

Miliaria

Miliaria is also known as sweat rash, heat rash, or prickly heat. It is caused when the sweat glands in the skin are blocked. Which causes the baby’s sweat to go back into the topmost layer of the skin. This leads to redness, rashes, and blisters.

They usually appear on the cheeks, chest, back, diaper area, and skin folds. Babies are more prone to developing it as their sweat glands are still developing and may not work properly when exposed to extreme heat and sweating.

Miliaria Treatment

Heat rash can be managed at home by

  • Avoid over-wrapping the baby.
  • Make them wear breathable, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Keep their skin dry and moisturized.
  • Protect them from hot temperatures.
  • Bath them in cool water.

Neonatal Acne

Neonatal acne may look somewhat similar to the acne you may have experienced during the teenage years–puberty. It appears as red raised bumps that look similar to whiteheads. It usually appears on the cheeks, chin, forehead, back, and chest. 

It is believed to be caused by the same malassezia yeast that causes cradle cap. 

Treating Neonatal Acne

Neonatal acne usually does not require treatment as it gets better on its own within a few weeks and months. But make sure to keep your baby’s skin clean to prevent any more complications. If it does not get better or starts getting worse consult a doctor who may suggest  OTC medications that are safe to be used on babies.

Diaper Rash

Diaper rash causes redness, irritation, and rashes in the diaper area. It is caused due to wearing tight diapers, leaving wet or soiled diapers on for a long time, and chemicals in baby wipes and diapers. 

These can be very irritating and painful for the baby. 

How To Treat Diaper Rash

Diaper rash can be treated at home by washing the area with water, pat dry, and then applying 100% unscented petroleum jelly. To prevent diaper rash make sure

  • Change the baby’s diaper every few hours
  • Change the diaper immediately after it is soiled.
  • Do not use tight diapers.
  • Use wet wipes and baby diapers that are free from harsh chemicals, especially fragrances. 

Useful Tips For The Newborn Stage

Surviving the newborn stage can be a little hard on new parents but here are a few useful tips that can help you out:

  • Keep the baby’s nails trimmed so they do not scratch themselves.
  • Keep the baby warm by adding 1 or 2 more layers of clothes than the adults, and don’t over-wrap them.
  • Try keeping skin-to-skin contact with your baby as much as possible to create a strong bond.
  • Wash your hands or sanitize them before handling the baby.
  • Avoid using any baby product such as lotion, powder, or shampoo that contains harsh chemicals like fragrances, artificial dyes, parabens, and sulfate.
  • Massage the baby to promote blood flow and help them relax. Consult the doctor on how to massage the baby.
  • Until the umbilical cord falls, only do sponge baths. Afterward, you can move to the sink or tub baths.
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps, this is how you will rest. Because the baby will need to feed every 2 to 3 hours and you will have to wake up.
  • Swadling can help your baby sleep more peacefully. Consult the doctor on how to properly swaddle a baby.
  • Always place the newborn on their back especially when they are sleeping.

Conclusion

The answer to how many weeks the newborn stage is between 4 weeks to 12 weeks. For some experts the newborn stage or neonatal period is the first 4 weeks and for others it may be the first 12 weeks.

The newborn stage is all about the development of the baby. The baby will experience rapid changes during this time. They will sleep most of the time and feed every 2 to 3 hours. 

Newborns are very delicate which is why it is important to take proper care of their health and skin. They are prone to developing common skin conditions like cradle cap, eczema, diaper rash, and neonatal acne.

If your baby is having any health issues or problems then don’t worry and consult the doctor they will be able to provide you with the best advice.

 

If your baby is experiencing cradle cap and you are searching for a cradle cap shampoo try Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo For Children. It is dermatologist-tested and specially formulated for children of all ages. It contains pyrithione zinc which has been known effective in reducing flaking, scaling, redness, and inflammation associated with cradle cap

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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How long will newborn period last?

According to some experts the newborn period lasts at the end of the first 4 weeks after the baby’s birth. While other consider the first 12 weeks as the newborn stage.

What is a 1-year-old called?

A one-year-old is called a toddler. Little ones under the age of 12 months are known as infants. And children under the age of 3 months are called newborns.

How many days is the neonatal period?

Most experts believe the neonatal period is the first 28 days of the baby’s life.

Who is a neonate?

Neonate is another scientific name for a newborn. Babies under the age of 12 weeks and 4 weeks are classified as neonates.

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