Your baby: 4 weeks old

Sleep solutions, baby acne and what nobody tells you about baby's first year. Learn all about your 4-week-old.

Photography by Nicole Duplantis/Clothing provided by babyGap and Joe Fresh

Somehow—is it possible?—your baby is almost one month old. Hasn’t it been both the longest and shortest month of your life? The two of you are kind of getting the hang of this partnership, just in time for another growth spurt and for baby’s first big leap ahead in development. This comes as your baby discovers their hands and feet, gains some neck control and starts to focus on both vision and hearing—a trifecta of new skills that will have you humble bragging on all your social media.

4 week-old development & milestones

Wiggles and senses

Your baby discovering her limbs may be stretching the description just a bit. But by the end of their first month, all that arm and leg waving becomes a little less brain synapse and a little more “Hey I meant to do that!”—even if it means your baby whacks themselves from time to time while wiggling. It’s still a bit too early for your baby to manage getting fist to mouth on purpose, but it will happen accidentally just often enough for their neurons to begin firing toward the eventual goal of doing that on command in another month or two.

Baby enjoying tummy time activities on the floor with his toys How to do tummy time with your baby: 8 fun activities to tryFour weeks is also the age when your baby’s senses are becoming acute enough to respond with a few new tricks, from turning their head to lifting it a bit during tummy time to cooing their first real happy sounds. With those first milestones, your baby’s personality comes alive! With their vision sharpening, your baby can start to follow an object if you keep it within a foot of her face. But don’t worry if your baby is still cross-eyed sometimes—focus is hard work. Your baby’s hearing is fully developed and, with her nascent muscle control, they may be able to blink, startle or turn their head toward an unexpected sound.

Baby acne

Week four isn’t all coos and wiggles; this may be the peak week for baby acne for many little lampreys. My God, how can one tiny person have so many zits? If your baby’s cheeks are full of angry red bumps or white pustules this week, you’re in good company. While the cause isn’t clear, the timing is pretty standard, showing up two to four weeks after birth. For many, it clears up as quickly as it appeared—your first chance to be amazed at how quickly babies can heal. Keeping your baby’s face clean with water and mild soap is fine, but avoid lotions and over-the-counter acne creams—baby is far too sensitive for them. Also, don’t squeeze the pustules. If you’re worried about baby’s breakouts, talk to your doctor or midwife, but often your best bet is to ignore them—the acne will be gone before you know it.

Finding a rhythm with sleep

Is sleeping going well? Is feeding a dream? Or is it all just one big crapshoot, going smoothly one day and ending up a disaster the next? With the first month behind them, babies typically start to find their own rhythm, but it’s too early to truly have it all worked out. Some babies are stuck in a cluster feeding cycle and still want to nurse every hour or two, while others may be stretching it to four hours during the day and five or six hours at night. Try not to compare—as long as your baby is growing and you’re all getting some sleep, progress can be measured in tiny improvements.

If you’re still nursing your baby to sleep or unable to put them down for fear of ruining a nap, you’re not alone. But if you’re feeling desperate to help your baby fall asleep without you, there are better times to try these first steps at sleep independence. Your baby’s first nap of the morning is the best time to try to put your baby down—drowsy yet awake—to soothe themselves to sleep. Later in the day, you and your baby may feel exhausted or overstimulated, and trying to work on independent sleep may be harder for both of you.

The same goes for letting your baby fall asleep at the breast or bottle—baby steps! While four weeks is too young to really worry about it, good sleep habits can be encouraged at this early stage. Try to put your baby down when they are tired but not asleep—and not during a feed—even just once in a while to convince both of you that it can be done.

Your life after baby

Unwanted baby advice

I had sex 4 weeks after giving birth Baby’s new ability to coo—and, in a few weeks, to legitimately smile—is one of the best milestones for mamas because it adds a response to what may have seemed a one-way conversation at times. And you’re ready for some better conversation at this point, aren’t you? But you don’t want the unwanted advice that comes flooding your way when you have a new baby. Intrusive questions and unsolicited advice from strangers and loved ones alike are one of the hardest things about new motherhood. Somehow the presence of a new baby prompts a lot of opinions about what’s best. And isn’t it amazing how people feel free to share? Pick your battles if you can, smile and ignore whenever possible, and aim a well-timed “How did that work out for you?” to deflect the know-it-all toward their own offspring when absolutely necessary.

Foods to boost breastmilk

Of course, you want the really great advice, especially for the stuff that’s a bit hard to ask, like what to eat to boost breastmilk production? Well, eating barley, oats and fennel (and fenugreek) will help boost breastmilk (while alcohol and peppermint will hurt the cause), and staying hydrated is always important. Here’s our full list.

Baby steps

As for Kegels and physio for your core, we’ll talk more about that on week six, when you’ll probably see your doctor for your first postpartum check-up and start thinking about resuming a normal sex life. Seriously? Too much too soon? Patience, young grasshopper.

Stuff no one tells you

Go easy on yourself

Does week four have you taking stock of all the ways you’ve nailed this (or, more likely, of all the things you’ve utterly failed to do that you thought you would)? Rest easy, mama, you’re now wise enough to know that the good intentions you had before baby are laughably ridiculous four weeks later. Do your unwritten thank-you cards give you nightmares? Have you missed a few (dozen) entries in that baby book? Whatever happened to the daily salad-and-yoga you planned? Here are five things you may have failed to do, and it’s fine.

How baby says “I love you”

Cooing aside, have you discovered little ways that your baby says you’re the best? The snuggle, the look, the focus? The little things are the best reward of all.

What to pack in your diaper bag

Once you get out and about more often, figuring out what you need to bring—and what you pack every time and never use—is half the battle. Here’s a primer on the best way to pack a diaper bag.

Just for fun

Lighten up

As you end your first month with baby, you’re gaining a little perspective of how much you didn’t know, right? No matter how much you read (and asked), there are many things that nobody mentioned, like how much time you’ll spend Googling the weirdest, grossest, most specific things or how much you won’t care who sees your boobs. There are at least 55 things that nobody told us about baby’s first year, from the guilty realization that the excitement can fade a bit (and one-on-one time can get downright boring) to the fact that glow-in-the-dark pacifiers exist.

The diapers

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