Observing your baby transition from a newborn to an infant isn’t confined to a specific moment or age, and every parent's understanding of the newborn stage can vary. You might notice the change when your baby smiles for the first time or when she starts holding her head up independently.
But you might be wondering, how long is the newborn stage? Typically, this stage lasts until your baby reaches somewhere between one and three months old. There are several indicators that your baby is in the newborn stage, with the primary ones being that your newborn feeds every two to three hours and sleeps between 12 and 18 hours each day.
So, when does the newborn stage end? What are some signs that show your baby is no longer a newborn?
Continue reading to gain more insight into the newborn stage and signs to recognize when your baby moves past it.
Understanding the Newborn Stage
The newborn stage is essentially a period when your baby begins adjusting to the world beyond the confines of your womb. Rapid growth and interaction with the world are prominent characteristics of this stage.
During the newborn stage, your baby is in a constant state of evolution and adaptation to their surroundings. The more attention you pay to these minute changes, the better you'll be able to gauge their progression and adapt accordingly.
Being in the newborn stage is one of the most thrilling times in a family's life. It's marked by a high degree of dependence; newborns require lots of attention and care as they navigate their world. Every day brings something new for them to learn, some discoveries more exciting than others.
The newborn stage is full of fresh sights, sounds, smells, and experiences. It's also a time when parents confront new challenges, such as feeding schedules and getting the baby to sleep.
Another part of this stage is tracking your baby's growth. Most newborns will regain their birth weight by their 10th to 14th day of life. A steady increase in weight indicates your baby is growing and developing as expected. Many parents and healthcare providers consider this an important milestone in the newborn stage.
The first few weeks can be quite challenging, as the baby adjusts to being outside the womb and in the world.
How Long Does the Newborn Stage Last?
The newborn stage starts at birth and lasts until a baby is somewhere between4 weeks and 12 weeks old, during which a newborn must adjust to the basic changes that have occurred in his or her life.
During this stage, most babies will sleep a lot and won't be particularly active. Their feeding times and schedules are incredibly important as they may not experience hunger in the same way older children or adults do.
Most babies will sleep a lot during this time and not be very active. They may not feel hunger pains like older children or adults do, so feeding times and schedules really matter at this stage.
The newborn stage is not just about figuring out how to diaper, bathe, and care for your new baby. It's also time for you and your family to adjust to your new roles. You'll have to adjust to being responsible for everything this little one needs: diaper changes, the feeding schedule, doctor appointments, clothing choices, sleep schedules…the list goes on.
And with all these adjustments comes a change in priorities: You will no longer have as much time or energy for things that used to matter so much before (for example, housework). Welcome to parenthood!
When Does The Newborn Stage End?
It's hard to determine exactly when the newborn stage ends, but these are some signs that it’s coming to a close:
1. Your Baby is Sleeping More at Night
While your newborn might have slept as much as 16 hours a day, those days are now behind you. Newborns tend to take naps in 90-minute increments, wake briefly, then go back to sleep. But by 3 months old, their sleep patterns change significantly—they'll have 1-2 hour blocks of sleep with longer periods of wakefulness in between. And by 4 months old they may even be sleeping through the night, or at least for 5 hours or more at once.
2. They Smile And Coo
They're smiling and cooing! Newborn babies don't smile or coo as adults do, but as a parent, you'll know when their sounds are more than just random noises.
3. They Cry Differently
Newborns cry a lot, and that is because they have no other way of getting your attention to tell you that they need something.
For the first 3 months of their lives, your baby will learn to communicate by crying. It is an important way for them to show you when they are not feeling well or to express when they want something. As they grow, they'll begin to develop different cries and this will let you know exactly what they need.
4. Fewer Diapers Changes
The task of diaper changing often feels overwhelming to new parents. They will change them multiple times each hour for the first few days. When the baby becomes more stable, diaper changes will slow down.
Diaper changing often feels overwhelming to new parents, but this task will slow down as your baby grows.
As staunch advocates of cloth diapers for newborns, we highly recommend something as straightforward as a good newborn prefold paired with a newborn diaper cover. These do an excellent job of keeping your baby's skin dry and comfortable through all the diaper changes!
Obviously, we’re big fans ofcloth diapers for newborns, even if it’s as simple as a goodnewborn prefold paired with anewborn diaper cover. These do a great job of keeping baby’s skin dry and comfortable through all those diaper changes!
While you may start by changing diapers constantly, that will slow down over time. As they pass the newborn stage, they're able to hold in larger amounts of waste from one diaper change to another and may only need a new diaper every two or three hours.
5. React To Different Sounds
You'll notice your baby is more aware of noises around them, particularly loud ones like the vacuum cleaner or barking dogs. If they're suddenly startled by one, they might react with some crying.
Newborns often don't need pacifiers to stay asleep (or even fall asleep), but once your baby gets a little older, you'll see that they'll fall asleep faster if they have something in their mouth.
7. Newborn Clothes Don't Fit
In my experience as a mom of two kids under the age of two years old, I noticed that the newborn clothes no longer fit as the baby transitioned from the newborn stage to the infant stage.
When your child is born and you go through those first few weeks where nothing seems to fit quite right, remember that newborn babies grow really fast in everything but height (that comes later). Their legs grow quickly, so their first pair of socks will only fit for a week or two.
What to Expect During the Newborn Stage
Newborns are a joy to behold, but they can be a lot of work. As proud new parents of our precious little bundle of joy, when my husband and I experienced the newborn stage for the first time, we were surprised about what to expect:
- The first few weeks after birth will be exhausting
- Baby cries a lot
- You'll want to sleep when the baby sleeps; you'll need extra sleep to keep up with baby–even if this means some household tasks don’t get done.
- Baby will feed every few hours, so you'll have to get up in the night
When babies are born, they're really unable to do much except cry and sleep. They can't move around very well at all; they can't even hold their heads up without some help from you or anyone who helps take care of them.
This means that when you're holding your baby, they need to be positioned to be supported by something soft (like a blanket wrapped around them) while they're upright against you. This is because their muscles simply won't have developed enough to support them in any other position.
In time, they'll gain the strength and muscle mass needed to sit up on their own and lean forward against their legs—but in those first few months of life, even the tiniest movement can be too much for them, so they need extra support in order to sit with you and enjoy being snuggled close to your chest.
Surviving the Newborn Stage: Handy Tips
The first few months with a newborn are a complete whirlwind, and all new parents probably have more questions than they have answers. Here are some tips for the newborn stage:
- Consider usingcloth diapers for newborns if you are worried about your baby's sensitive skin.
- Keep their nails trimmed so they don't scratch themselves or get caught in their clothes.
- Some parents findswaddling to be very helpful. Swaddling makes it easier for babies to sleep soundly, and cuts down on how often they wake up from hiccups or sudden movements that may occur in their sleep.
- Make lists of tasks you want to accomplish during the day and work on achieving them one at a time.
- If a baby is sick or colicky, then feedings may need to occur more frequently, but if a baby is just fussy because they’re tired, changing their diaper or clothing them in something new might help them relax.
- Make a list of necessities and essentials that you'll need for the next week, two weeks, and two months. This will help you stay organized, know what you need to get, and make shopping much easier.
- Be prepared for anything by having an emergency kit packed full of everything, from diapers to extra blankets and clothes in case you are traveling or have an unexpected accident happen in your home.
Try to enjoy this stage—it doesn’t last long! It’s certainly tiring and can be tough to keep a positive outlook, but take joy in the small things, like the adorable newborn outfits or those specialnewborn Christmas gifts your loved ones shower you with!
- With the advent of technology, a lot of parents have found baby monitoring apps to be highly beneficial during the newborn stage. These apps help you log your baby's sleep schedule, feeding times, and diaper changes. They also provide insights and patterns over time, which can be helpful in understanding your baby's needs and habits. There’s even an app to make sure they’re breathing overnight!
The End of Newborn Stage: Key Takeaway
The "newborn" stage is quite nebulous, as most babies at this stage do nothing more than eat, sleep, and cry. You'll likely notice changes as your baby grows older, such as gaining control over their head and neck when lying on their stomach or side.
Each baby develops at their own pace, and you'll typically notice the signs of a baby no longer being a newborn in their behavior, rather than their appearance, but the timeframe is a bit different for every baby.
Rest assured, the sleepless nights willend. Enjoy as many midnight snuggles as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. The days (and nights!) are long, but the newborn phase is so very short. Soak in those naps in your arms, that milky breath, and that soft, kissable head while you can!