1-month-old baby: Development, milestones and growth

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki is a parenting writer and a mom to three wild boys who keep her on her toes (and occasionally make her question her sanity). With over 15 years of experience in the parenting industry, she has more tips and tricks than Mary Poppins on speed dial. When she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can find her sipping on coffee, hiding in the bathroom for five minutes of...
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Updated on Jul 09, 2024 · 13 mins read
1-month-old baby: Development, milestones and growth

As you cradle your newborn in your arms, you're witnessing the beginning of an incredible journey – one filled with tiny triumphs, heart-melting moments, and a whole lot of love. In these early days of parenthood, every coo, every wriggle, and every sleepy sigh is a precious reminder of the magic of new life.


Welcome to the world of 1-month-old baby development, where each day brings new discoveries and milestones to celebrate. From the adorable chubby cheeks to the first tentative movements, there’s so much to marvel at during this stage of your baby’s growth.

In this guide, we’ll explore not only the fascinating world of your baby’s development but also provide practical tips, milestones to look out for, and essential checklists to help you navigate this exciting time with confidence.

Your baby's development


Their first wide-eyed month this side of the womb is a bit wobbly as they start to adjust. Everything earthside is so cold, dry, and colourful – it’s no wonder they have a bit of culture shock.

Growth and physical development: Chubby cheeks

Those chubby cheeks aren’t just cute – they’re a sign that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. During the first month, babies typically gain weight rapidly, with most putting on around 150 to 200 grams per week. This weight gain is essential for their overall development, providing the energy and nutrients they need to support their rapidly growing bodies.

Breast milk or formula provides the perfect balance of nutrients for your baby’s needs, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. This nourishment helps fuel their growth and development, including filling up those adorable chubby cheeks!

Senses: Eyes on that rattle

Your baby’s vision undergoes significant changes during their first month of life. At birth, their vision is quite blurry, with a limited ability to focus on objects more than 20cm to 30cm away. However, their vision gradually improves over the first few weeks as the muscles around their eyes strengthen and their brain learns to process visual information more effectively.

One of the best ways to support your baby’s visual development is through visual stimulation. High-contrast toys, such as black and white images or brightly coloured rattles, can help to capture your baby’s attention and encourage visual exploration. Their visual accuracy will continue to improve as they track moving objects and focus on new shapes and patterns.

Crying and communication: These are my needs

Crying is your baby’s primary means of communication in month number one. It’s their way of letting you know when they’re hungry, tired, uncomfortable, or need connection. While it can be challenging to decipher your baby’s cries at first, you’ll become more attuned to their different cues and signals.

Crying is a normal part of your baby’s development. This is how they express their needs and seek comfort or reassurance from you. Responding promptly to your baby’s cries helps to build trust and security, laying the foundation for a strong parent-child bond.

Movement: Working on those leg muscles

During their first month, your baby’s movements may seem random and uncoordinated. However, behind the scenes, their little muscles are hard at work. These early movements are essential for building muscle tone and preparing your baby for more coordinated movements in the future.

Tummy time is one of the best ways to support a 1-month-old baby with their physical development. By placing them on their tummy for short periods each day, you encourage them to lift their head and strengthen their neck, shoulders, and arm muscles. This prevents flat spots on the back of the baby’s head whilst laying the foundation for important motor skills like crawling and rolling over. It helps engage the muscles down the spine, stabilises the gluteal muscles and hips, and activates the core muscles.


Responding to newborn cries


As we mentioned, crying is your baby’s primary means of communication during the first few months of life.

Hunger is one of the most common reasons why newborns cry. Babies have small stomachs that empty quickly, so they may need to feed every 2-3 hours, especially in the early weeks, This applies to both breastfed babies and formula-fed babies.

Discomfort, such as a wet diaper, tight clothing, or feeling too hot or cold, can also trigger crying. Checking your baby’s basic needs, such as changing their nappy or clothing, can help alleviate their discomfort.

Tiredness can cause crying, or when your baby’s brain is overstimulated and needs some soothing. Gentle rocking, swaddling, and white noise can create a calming environment that promotes sleep.

Sometimes, babies cry simply because they need to be held and comforted. Skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and gentle rocking can provide the reassurance and security your baby craves.

If your baby’s crying persists despite your efforts to soothe them, it’s essential to rule out any underlying issues, such as illness or discomfort. Trust your instincts as a parent, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from your paediatrician or GP if you have concerns about your baby’s crying.


1-month-old baby milestones


Your baby will reach several important milestones as they begin to adjust to their new environment and interact with the world around them. While every baby develops at their own pace, here are some common milestones you can expect of your child’s development.

Increased alertness

Your baby will become more awake and alert, spending longer periods awake and engaging with their surroundings. They may show interest in faces, objects, and sounds, and even make eye contact with you as your baby’s eyes start to follow movements.

Improved head control

While still limited, your baby’s neck muscles will strengthen, allowing them to briefly lift and turn their head while lying on their tummy or being held upright.

Hand movements

Your baby will begin to explore their hands and fingers, making random movements and occasionally bringing their hands to their face. They may also grasp onto objects placed in their hands, although their grip will still be quite weak. Interestingly, baby’s don’t realise they even own a hand until they’re 3 months old – so they might accidentally scratch their face or pull their hair. 

Social smiles

Around this time, your baby may start to smile in response to seeing familiar faces or hearing comforting voices. These smiles are an early form of social interaction and a sign that your baby is beginning to recognise and bond with you.

Startle reflex

Your baby’s startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex, may still be quite strong during their first month. This reflex causes your baby to suddenly throw out their arms and legs in response to a loud noise or sudden movement. It can often cause babies to wake themselves up if not swaddled. 

Sleeping patterns

Infant sleep patterns may still be quite erratic during their first month, with periods of wakefulness interspersed with short naps throughout the day and night. It’s important to respond to your baby’s cues and provide a calm and soothing environment to promote healthy sleep habits and develop good newborn sleep patterns.

Feeding routines

Whether breastfed babies or bottle-fed, your baby will establish their own feeding routine during their first month. They may feed every 2-3 hours, with each feeding lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. It’s essential to watch for signs of hunger and fullness and respond to your baby’s cues accordingly.

When to be concerned about newborn development


While every baby develops at their own pace, certain signs may indicate a delay or potential issue in your newborn’s development. As a parent, it’s essential to be aware of these signs and know when to seek guidance from your paediatrician or family health nurse. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

Lack of eye contact: By the end of their first month, most babies will begin to make eye contact with caregivers and respond to familiar faces. If your baby consistently avoids eye contact or fails to respond to visual stimuli, it may be a cause for concern.

Weak muscle tone: While newborns naturally have limited muscle tone, they should still exhibit some degree of strength and movement in their limbs. If your baby seems excessively floppy or cannot move their arms and legs, it could indicate an underlying issue with muscle development.

Excessive crying: Some crying is normal in newborns, but excessive and inconsolable crying may show discomfort, illness, or underlying issues such as colic or reflux. If your baby is crying for extended periods without relief, it’s essential to consult with your paediatrician to rule out any underlying issues.

Feeding difficulties: Difficulty with feeding, including poor latch, excessive spitting up, or refusal to feed, can indicate issues with feeding or digestion. Monitor your baby’s feeding habits and weight gain and seek guidance from a lactation consultant or paediatrician if you have concerns.

Lack of movement: While newborns are not yet mobile, they should still exhibit some degree of movement in their arms and legs. If your baby shows little to no movement or seems unusually stiff or rigid, it may be a sign of developmental issues or neurological problems.

Absence of social smiles: Most babies will start to smile socially and with purpose at around 6 weeks. If your baby fails to exhibit social smiles or shows little interest in interacting with caregivers, you might want to look into it

Failure to track objects: Newborns should begin to track moving objects with their eyes by the end of their first month. If your baby shows little interest in visual stimuli or fails to track objects, it may indicate vision problems or delays in visual development.

Feeding your 1-month-old baby


Feeding your one-month-old baby is a primary focus of care and nurturing during this crucial developmental stage. Here’s what you need to know about feeding your newborn.

Breastfeeding: Breast milk is ideal for newborns, providing essential nutrients and antibodies that support their growth and development. Aim to breastfeed your baby on demand, allowing them to nurse whenever they show hunger cues, such as rooting or sucking on their hands.

Formula feeding: If you can’t breastfeed, or choose not to, formula feeding is a nutritious alternative. Opt for a formula specifically designed for newborns, and follow the instructions for preparation and feeding provided by the manufacturer.

Feeding frequency: At one month old, most babies will nurse or take a bottle every two to three hours, including overnight. Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues and feed them whenever they show signs of hunger, rather than adhering to a strict schedule.

Burping: After feeding, you may need to help burp your baby to help prevent gas and discomfort. Hold your baby upright against your chest or over your shoulder and gently pat or rub their back until they burp.

Spit-up: It’s normal for newborns to spit up small amounts of milk during or after feedings. However, if your baby is frequently spitting up large amounts or seems uncomfortable after feedings, it may be a sign of reflux or feeding issues. Consult with your paediatrician if you have concerns.

Weight gain: Monitoring your baby’s weight gain is essential for feeding during the first month. Most newborns will regain their birth weight by two weeks of age and continue to gain weight steadily.

Feeding cues: Learn to recognise your baby’s hunger cues, such as sucking on their hands, rooting, or turning their head toward your breast or a bottle. Responding promptly to these cues helps ensure your baby receives the necessary nourishment for healthy growth and development.

Skin-to-skin contact: Skin-to-skin contact during feedings promotes bonding between you and your baby and can help regulate their body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. Take advantage of this special time to cuddle and connect with your little one.

Development tips for your baby this month


Tummy time: Incorporate tummy time into your baby’s daily routine to help strengthen their neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. Aim for short sessions several times daily, gradually increasing the duration as your baby grows more comfortable.

Visual stimulation: Provide your baby with visually stimulating toys and objects to explore, such as brightly coloured mobiles, rattles, and picture books. Visual stimulation helps promote the development of your baby’s vision and cognitive skills.

Skin-to-skin contact: Spend time engaging in skin-to-skin contact with your baby, as it promotes bonding and regulates their body temperature and breathing. Skin-to-skin contact also provides comfort and security for your newborn.

Gentle massage: Incorporate gentle massage into your baby’s routine to help soothe and relax them. Use gentle, circular motions on their arms, legs, back, and tummy, being mindful of their cues and preferences.

Responsive caregiving: Respond promptly to your baby’s cues and needs, including hunger, discomfort, and fatigue. By providing responsive caregiving, you help build trust and security, laying the foundation for healthy attachment and emotional development.

Quiet time: Create a calm environment for your baby to rest and recharge. Minimise noise and stimulation during naps and bedtime to promote restful sleep and relaxation.

Social interaction: Engage in face-to-face interaction with your baby, talking, singing, and making eye contact. Social interaction helps stimulate your baby’s developing communication skills and strengthens your bond with them.

Monitor developmental milestones: Keep track of your baby’s developmental milestones, such as lifting their head during tummy time, making eye contact, and responding to sounds and voices. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s development.

Items you will need this month


Nappies and wipes: Stock up on nappies and wipes to keep your baby clean, dry, and comfortable throughout the day and night.

Clothing: Ensure your baby has a supply of comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing, including onesies, sleepers, and hats.

Feeding supplies: Whether breastfeeding or formula feeding, make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand, including bottles, teats, breast pumps, and formula.

Baby gear: Invest in essential baby gear, such as a crib, bassinet, stroller, car seat, and baby carrier, to keep your little one safe and comfortable while on the go.

Baby bath essentials: Gather bath essentials, including baby shampoo, soap, towels, and a baby bathtub or sink insert for bathing your newborn.

Healthcare supplies: Stock your medicine cabinet with essential healthcare supplies, such as a thermometer, nasal aspirator, and baby nail clippers.

Swaddles and sleep sacks: Swaddles and sleep sacks help keep your baby snug and secure while sleeping, promoting better sleep and reducing the risk of SIDS.

Nursing supplies: If breastfeeding, ensure you have nursing bras, nursing pads, lanolin cream, and a comfortable nursing pillow if your baby struggles to attach properly (not essential, but can be helpful). 

Checklist for this month


  • Keep track of your baby’s feeding schedule, wet and dirty nappies, and sleep patterns.
  • Take photos and record milestones, such as your baby’s first smile or coo.
  • Create a safe sleep environment for your baby, following the ABCs of safe sleep (Alone, on their Back, and in a Crib).
  • Engage in daily bonding activities, such as skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and talking to your baby.
  • Reach out for support if you’re feeling overwhelmed or need assistance with feeding, caregiving, or emotional support.
  • Stay up to date on your baby’s vaccinations and follow your paediatrician’s recommendations for immunisations.
  • Enjoy the precious moments with your newborn and celebrate the joys of parenthood.

Sources:


Douglas, P. (2014). The discontented little baby book (1st edn). University of Queensland Press.

Dosman, C.F., Andrews, D. and Goulden, K.J. (2012b) ‘Evidence-based milestone ages as a framework for developmental surveillance’, Paediatrics Child Health, 17(10), pp. 561–568. doi:10.1093/pch/17.10.561.

Johnson, S. (2012). A clinical handbook on child development paediatrics. Elsevier Australia.

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