First week with a newborn

Updated 14-Sep-2023

My son was born on 28 October, and the first week has been exciting, eventful, as well as tiring. A few points for others:


In a newborn, emotion is quite simple. It begins and ends in the guts. To be hungry is to be upset, and to use the only faculty at its command, namely the vocal cords. Emotion that lights up the face in various ways are twofold: burping and defecating. Yes, for the newborn, what you think is a smile at you, is really only (but fundamentally and amazingly, not merely) the operation of the intestines. Anticipation and expectation precede burping, the soothing of ingested milk at awkward angles. Satisfaction and recognition accompany excretion. It really is that simple, and for the newborn whose eyesight is extremely limited, and motor control nearly nonexistent, these rather fundamental facial features are amazingly endearing to the caretakers. Something deeply evolutionary at work here.


Around day 4-5 I noticed what appeared to be signs that the boy was experiencing dreams in sleep. The key is to make sure there is no direct internal (digestion) or external (temperature, touch, sound, light) stimulation. Both anxiety and pleasure seemed to be present, though smiling is still pretty much attuned to defecation.

Physical Development

Lanugo is a prenatal or early postnatal hair that can cover the face and upper body. Basically the child looks a bit wolf-like. Cute, but should disappear in a few days or weeks. Newborn fingernails and toenails are are soft and can follow the contour of the finger. Separating fingernail from finger is difficult and the smallest pair of baby scissors helps a lot. For the toenails, my son's are wrapping under the skin, so this is more difficult to deal with (for the big toes). Would like to have looked at this around day 3 or 4 instead of day 7 when his mother assigned me the task. Lots of sleep in his eyes. Wiping this away is a concern for his mother, who frets over whether there is a problem, even though the doctor said no. Apparently, babies lose some amount of weight after they are born and gain it back within 10 days to two weeks. Our boy has done this much faster which surprised the nurse who weighed him. We are not force feeding, but allowing him to feed on demand (and waking him if he sleeps beyond 4 hours). Tummy Time can start early, depending on the baby. It seems obvious to wait until the stump drops off and that area is healed. Having the baby clamber over your stomach to get closer to your face is pretty cool. Allow their feet to leverage off of your hands so they can move up even without much neck and arm strength. Infant Massage is also something to try, especially after bath time (and 45 minutes or more after mealtime). Coconut oil is a great option, as it is nearly odorless, lasts a long time without going rancid, is edible (in case they get it in their mouth), and generally great on skin. A variety of other baby body basics include infant acne, etc.

Technology, Tools and Gear (Kit)

  • An Infrared thermometer is great for very fast temperature testing, such as the Nubee NUB8380
  • Induction stovetop and whistling kettle provides for very fast hot water, used for things like sterilizing bottles, warm water for cleaning baby's bottom, etc.
  • Lots of cotton cloth wipes and cotton diapers (more on this later) as it is the only sane choice, economically as well as environmentally
  • Enough hangers and clothespins to hang up everything
  • Tiny set of baby scissors (for fingernail/toenail clipping - directions on how to trim the newborn's nails)