Photography by Nicole Duplantis/Clothing provided by babyGap and Joe Fresh
As your baby passes the seven-day mark, are you starting to gain a bit of confidence? Settling in a bit? Or just wondering when the real parents are going to show up for the adorable little screamer? A sense of disbelief isn’t unusual at this point as you swing between lamenting that your baby is already a week old and being in shock that you were still pregnant eight days ago. Can your entire life have changed so dramatically in just one week? Oh baby, you’d better believe it! And week two promises to be even more wonderful—and exhausting—than week one.
The adrenaline has worn off, your baby’s feedings seem non-stop, you haven’t slept for more than three hours straight since you gave birth (and let’s face it, nine months pregnant was no slumber party either) and the house is a wreck. But the upside outweighs it all: Your baby is gorgeous right now. Those eyelashes! Those tiny toes! Those perfect lips! Plus, your milk has come in (how huge are your boobs now?), diapering has become routine, and your hormones have settled down from high alert to immeasurable love.
Your baby’s umbilical cord will probably fall off this week if it hasn’t already, and the spot may bleed a bit and take a few days to heal. Use water to clean the area, and watch for signs of an infection, such as redness and swelling. Otherwise, this may be your cue that your baby is ready for their first real bath, which can be a hit-or-miss affair. Your baby may love the water or hate it (the cold air is probably the real irritant if they cry), but the combination of slippery baby, logistics and parental nerves means the Insta moment isn’t always as pretty or poignant as you’d hoped. Take heart: You’ve got a million more baths to get it right.
While he’s naked, it’s a good time for a penis primer. Whether your boy is circumcised or not, the most important thing is to keep his business clean and dry during this first year, and soap and water are your first line of defence. If he is uncircumcised, don’t try to retract the foreskin—it will get there on its own eventually (anytime between infancy and puberty). Once the foreskin has retracted, you’ll have to help clean the area by rolling it back, washing away any residue and then thoroughly drying the area before bringing the foreskin back into place. If your baby has been circumcised, soap and water are also needed during bathtime. You’ll have to watch for any problems with healing, but the recovery is typically smooth.
During week two, your baby’s eyesight is still best at eight to 10 inches. When you’re within that distance, your baby will likely stare at you in deep concentration. This is a great time to explore your baby’s brain skills, too! When you’re face to face with your newborn, try sticking out your tongue and waiting for your baby to copy your trick. Tongue thrust is one of your baby’s best skills and the first thing they can copy from a parent. (Fun fact: This newborn reflex, designed to keep foreign objects out of baby’s mouth, gradually goes away around four to six months, just in time to start introducing solids.) So take heed: It might be too early to worry about your baby picking up your bad habits, but it’s an early window into your little mimic’s potential.
Your baby has a few other tricks that will start to fade as the weeks pass. Perhaps the most notable is your baby’s startle reaction, or Moro reflex, which can happen when you are lying your baby down to sleep or lowering him suddenly. The falling sensation triggers the reflex, and your baby may throw out their arms or awaken from sleep. Swaddling can help prevent your baby from startling. The feeding reflexes are also very strong, which will prompt your baby to turn his head, mouth open, and root for a nipple if you brush or tap their cheek. Similarly, your baby will begin to suck if something touches the roof of their mouth—and it’s an amazingly strong suction, which you’ll learn quickly if it’s your finger in your baby’s mouth!
Your own dreams—in those brief stretches of sleep—may be twisted tales of imagined feedings and misplacing baby, but the little one is probably having sweeter dreams. Newborns typically have more REM sleep—the dreaming phase of deep sleep—than adults do. If your baby’s sleep is nothing like the peaceful slumber you imagined, don’t be surprised. The constant gurgles, grunts, whimpers and weird noises that your baby makes during sleep are pretty typical, though many anxious parents have been alarmed by the range of noises that come from their tiny sleeping babies. The phrase “sleeping like a baby” was clearly not based on the newborns we know!
And no, it isn’t time yet to worry about getting your baby into a sleeping or eating routine for a few weeks still—or longer—so go ahead and experiment with what works for you and your baby without worrying that you’re setting up bad habits. Your baby is still sleeping most of the day, eating every two or three hours and going through six to 10 diapers a day. If you’ve stopped using that chart or app on your phone to keep track, rest easy: By week two, diapers, feedings and naps are an impenetrable blur (what day is it?), and as long as your baby is regaining weight, eating ravenously and filling diapers, you can stop pretending that you’re keeping track.
Speaking of tracking, many babies have regained their birth weight by the end of week two, so talk to your doctor or midwife if your baby hasn’t reached this milestone yet. If your baby is starting to cluster feed, a growth spurt won’t be far behind. A growth spurt happens for most babies from seven to 10 days old and then again around three weeks and six weeks. Here are some other telltale signs of a growth spurt.
Did you think week two would mean an end to the maxi-pads, pain upon sitting or standing too suddenly or fear of going to the bathroom? Dream on! But it should be getting a little better each day, and we’ll cheer you on because no one else seems to want to talk about it, right?
Speaking of delicate topics, have your breasts changed or what?! By week two, your milk is in and, woah, baby, take a look at your double Ds (or bigger!). Your milk supply is likely increasing due to those cluster feedings, and if you hope to breastfeed for the long haul, you’ll need to experiment with nursing bras and tops to find ones that work best for you. Even if you’re formula feeding, your breasts will probably have changed during pregnancy and it may be awhile before you’re back to normal in the boob department.
Cluster F is right! If it’s not happening this week, it will happen soon: the back-to-back nursing demands of your little wet vac, often at the end of a long day, when your partner or visitors are there to help but baby only wants you. A cluster feeding is just another way of saying “More, more, more! Sure, it’s only been an hour since I last fed, but just where did you think you were going with my drink?” Get comfy, mama, because cluster feedings and growth spurts often mean hours of non-stop feeding, typically in the evening, when you’re already exhausted. Don’t forget your water bottle, some snacks and the remote before you even think of sitting down to feed your baby—you may be there for the long haul. Here are some tips to survive cluster feedings.
Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone (though you’re bound to run into those who think it should—be strong, bottle-feeding mamas!). New research shows that giving babies some formula early on doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding, so this may be the week that you start trying some. Talk to your doctor or midwife about it. Bottle feeding will require more washing and prep work, and keeping everything clean and refrigerated can be a major chore. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of formula feeding.
Speaking of clean, are you skeeved out when visitors cuddle your perfect baby without washing their hands? It makes sense to keep a newborn away from crowds, particularly during winter and flu season, but most visitors will stay away if they’re sick. Leaving a bottle of hand sanitizer out is a subtle reminder for visitors without awkwardly forcing the issue. If you’re out in public, wearing your baby or holding them close to your chest will keep most people at bay. A dangling foot is a perfect compromise—nothing bad can come from a little toe touching and your baby is unlikely to mind.
Do you have a new appreciation for your body? Amazed that your breasts can produce all the food your baby needs? Are you weirded out by the one little milk duct on your nipple that sprays your baby before he can latch? Here are some incredible facts about breastmilk.