Baby Development: Your 4 Week Old
Although your baby has spent most of the past month sleeping, he or she has been doing a lot of hard work growing and changing. The first few weeks — really, the first few years — of life are marked by incredible development and learning for normally developing babies.
Doctors use developmental milestones to evaluate where babies are in the process of learning the skills they’ll need physically, emotionally, and socially as they get older. But developmental milestones can also be stressful. You might look at the list of things your baby “should” be doing already and thinking, “Is my baby behind? Is something wrong?” It is important to remember as you’re heading into the 1-month checkup not to let the milestones drive you crazy.
It’s also a good idea to do a little preparation for your baby’s checkup, so you make sure you ask any questions you might have. Make a little list in advance, thinking about how your baby is feeding, sleeping, voiding, and behaving to help you remember any concerns. By this time, babies are getting better at making themselves understood. They might gurgle, grunt, smile randomly, or have a whole symphony of different cries that mean different things. Some parents note that their baby even responds to their moods!
Taking care of yourself
At this point in your postpartum recovery, the worst of the symptoms related to the birth should have passed, and you may be finding a new routine with your new baby and family. Still, it’s not uncommon for new moms to have symptoms that last for several weeks after giving birth. These can include feeling very tired, which is often related to lack of sleep and a dramatically altered sleep schedule. You might also continue to experience light bleeding and pains as your uterus shrinks back down to its pre-baby size.
This is also an important time to pay attention to your emotional state. Having a new baby can provoke a whirlwind of emotions, especially when you add in lack of sleep. Many first-time moms also report feeling anxious and overwhelmed because they fear they don’t know how to take care of their babies or they’re worried they aren’t bonded with their babies. Others experience the “baby blues” in the days and weeks after birth and wonder if they are at risk for the more serious postpartum depression.
The good news is that every day is a new opportunity to grow closer to your baby and more confident in your parenting. Just think: at the end of the first month, you’ve changed dozens and maybe even hundreds of diapers. That’s a lot of practice! As for sleep, try to be kind to yourself.
Many new families mistakenly assume that by the end of month one they will be in a reasonable pattern. Often, the second 30 days are the hardest! Babies are still sleeping in a newborn pattern, so you are now entering 30-plus days of sleep deprivation. You must find a way to nap a bit to make it through this stage. Take every chance you get to rest. The laundry, vacuuming, and thank you notes can wait.
Finally, give yourself and your partner plenty of time and space to adjust to this new family dynamic. A new baby is wonderful, but it’s normal for you and your partner to have stress and conflict as you adjust.
According to the vaccine schedule most pediatricians follow, your 1-month-old baby will receive their second hepatitis B vaccine (the first was likely given at birth, often in the hospital). This shot marks the beginning of a series of shots that will immunize your baby against many dreaded childhood diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and others.
As the parent of a 1-month-old, you’ve probably heard a lot about vaccines and may have some questions. If you spend time online or listen to certain celebrities, you may have some doubts about what to do when it comes to shots. You will be reassured to know there is NO controversy among pediatricians. Vaccines offer tremendous benefits to children, in the form of effective ways to prevent devastating, often fatal, diseases of childhood with a very low risk of side effects. Ask your doctor any questions you may have, feel comfortable with immunizations and what they do, and then vaccinate according to the CDC schedule.
Bundoo Pediatrician, Dr. Sara Connolly, gives you the inside scoop on your baby\’s 1-month check-up.
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