How Long is the Newborn Stage? A Quick Guide for New Parents

Krystal DeVille

Mom with a new baby.

The arrival of a newborn is a transformative journey, marked by wonder, challenges, and countless questions. One of the most pressing questions for new parents is, “How long is the newborn stage?” This article serves as a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this precious, fleeting phase of your baby’s life. We’ll explore the developmental milestones, physical and emotional changes, and the essential tips to help new parents adapt to their new roles.

Understanding the Newborn Stage

Defining the Newborn Period

The newborn stage is a critical time for both parents and their newborn babies. This period is essential as the baby transitions from being in the womb to becoming an active baby in the world outside, developing various skills and abilities. While a baby is generally considered a newborn for the first four weeks of life, this can vary as each baby develops at their own pace.

During this stage, parents must adapt to the needs of their baby no longer a newborn as they grow older. This includes learning and managing basic care tasks such as feeding, diapering, and soothing.

As the weeks old go by, parents often notice a significant change in their baby’s behavior and needs, signaling that their baby is no longer considered a newborn.

What is Postpartum?

Postpartum is the period after childbirth when a mother’s body recovers and adjusts back to its pre-pregnancy condition. As parents transition into a different stage of their child’s life and reach the one-month-old milestone, it’s essential to recognize the extent to which their baby has moved beyond the newborn phase.

Physical and Cognitive Milestones

Age RangePhysical MilestonesCognitive Milestones
Birth – 1 MonthReflexes like rooting and sucking.Reacting to bright lights and loud sounds.
Slight movements of head and limbs.Starting to recognize familiar voices.
1 – 2 MonthsStronger neck control, can lift head briefly.Increased alertness and eye contact.
Beginning to push up when lying on tummy.Beginnings of social smiling.
2 – 3 MonthsBetter head control, can hold up steadily.Coos and gurgles as early forms of talking.
Starting to grasp objects.Recognition of familiar faces.
3 – 4 MonthsRolling over from tummy to back.Responding to affection and smiling.
Reaching for and batting at objects.Babbling and imitating sounds.

Every day brings new milestones for your baby during the newborn stage, a period that, while it doesn’t last long, is crucial for your child’s development.

  • Physical milestones: This is in the first few weeks including learning how to feed and sleep, which can be aided by establishing a regular sleep schedule and using tools like a baby carrier. These milestones also cover developing motor skills and gaining weight. During this time, your baby will sleep a lot, evolving their sleep patterns as they grow.

  • Cognitive milestones: In these early months, especially when your baby is around 2 months old, include recognizing familiar faces and voices, making eye contact, and responding to stimuli like light and sound.

Newborn Reflexes and Motor Skills

Newborns are born with several reflexes that help them survive and thrive. As they develop, babies will also begin to gain control of their motor skills, like lifting their heads and rolling over.

These reflexes include the rooting reflex, which helps them find their mother’s breast for feeding, and the Moro reflex, which helps them respond to sudden movements or noises.

KinVibes Pro-Tip: It’s important to keep in mind that every baby develops at their own pace, and not all babies will reach developmental milestones at the same time.

However, if you have concerns about your baby’s development, don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician. You might also wonder, “When does the newborn stage end?” Typically, this stage is considered to end around the baby’s second month, but what’s next in your child’s journey is equally exciting and rewarding.

Caring for Your Newborn

In the first few days and months of life, you’ll notice different signs that your baby is growing and adapting to the world outside the womb. This period, often full of sleepless nights and hormonal changes for the parents, lasts until your baby is two months of age until around 3.

Feeding and Nutrition

Feeding your tiny baby every 2-3 hours is crucial, whether it’s breast milk or formula.

It is recommended to feed your newborn every 2-3 hours. Breast milk or formula provides all the necessary nutrients for your baby’s growth and development.

For those using formula, follow the instructions carefully and sterilize all feeding equipment. Remember, a newborn may require different baby feeding approaches as each baby gets their own rhythm.

Sleeping Habits and Patterns

Newborns sleep for most of the day, typically 16-17 hours. However, they do not sleep for long stretches and wake up frequently for feeding. To encourage your baby to sleep, create a calm environment, this can include:

  • Dimming the lights
  • Playing soothing music
  • Creating a calm environment

It is also important to place your baby on their back to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Daily Baby Care Routines

Your baby begins a journey of rapid development, and daily routines are key. Change their cloth diaper frequently to avoid rash and infections.

Bathing your baby 2-3 times a week with mild soap is sufficient. When dressing them, choose comfortable clothing and an infant car seat that’s safe and snug for your baby.

Bonding and Emotional Development

Bonding with your baby is essential for their emotional development. Some of the great ways to bond with your newborn involve:

  1. Holding your baby skin-to-skin
  2. Talking to them
  3. Making eye contact

It is also important to provide your baby with tummy time to help with their physical development and prevent flat spots on their head.

KinVibes Pro-Tip: As a parent, it is important to take care of yourself as well to prevent sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Remember to ask for help if needed and enjoy this special time with your little one.

Health and Safety Considerations

baby cries holding a toy in a hand.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Recognizing Signs of Hunger and Discomfort

During the newborn stage, especially when the baby is still very young, recognizing signs of hunger and discomfort is crucial. Babies communicate their needs through crying, fussing, or rooting.

A hungry baby may suck on their fingers or fists, while an uncomfortable baby may squirm or arch their back.

If a baby is not breastfeeding, it is important to feed them on a regular schedule, usually every 2-3 hours. Breastfed babies may need to be fed more frequently. It is also important to burp a baby after feeding to prevent discomfort caused by gas.

Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Surviving the newborn stage also involves ensuring your baby’s safety. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a concern during the newborn stage.

To reduce the risk of SIDS, it is recommended to do the following:

  1. Let babies sleep on their backs, on a firm and flat surface, and without any loose bedding or soft objects.
  2. Avoid smoking around a baby and keep the baby’s sleeping area at a comfortable temperature.

Monitoring Growth and Health Milestones

As your baby grows older, monitoring their growth and health milestones becomes increasingly important. Regular pediatric check-ups will help you track how old your baby is in terms of development and health.

Good To Know: A baby’s weight, length, and head circumference will be measured at regular check-ups with a pediatrician. Breastfed babies may gain weight more slowly than formula-fed babies, but as long as they are gaining weight steadily and meeting other milestones, this is usually not a concern.

Premature Babies

Premature babies may have different growth and health milestones than full-term babies. It is important to follow the guidance of a pediatrician and monitor a premature baby’s development closely. Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help during these early stages.

Developmental Progression and Challenges

Co-Parenting mom and dad with baby.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

The newborn stage, a critical period in a child’s development, typically extends until a baby is around 6 months old, though this can vary. During this time, understanding how long is a baby considered a newborn is essential. Typically, babies are considered newborns until they are 1 year old, but many changes occur before this milestone.

Weeks Old

As your baby grows older, you’ll encounter different challenges. When your baby is two weeks old, they may seem very delicate and vulnerable, but as your baby ages, they’ll start sleeping in longer stretches. This progression signals the approaching of the next stage of development.

1-3 Months Old

It’s important to know your baby well during this time. For instance, understanding why a newborn cries is crucial. Your little one may cry for various reasons, and as they grow, these cries will evolve. When your baby is around 1 month or 3 months old, you’ll start to notice changes in their crying patterns.

4 Months Old

By the time they are 4 months old, many babies begin sleeping through the night. It’s normal for newborns to cry a lot, as this is their way of communicating. As they grow, the reasons behind their crying – whether it’s hunger, discomfort, or the need for attention – become more discernible.

Communication and Social Interaction

During the first few weeks of life, newborns primarily communicate through crying, often crying a lot as this is their main form of expression.

In the first week of life and extending to the first 3 months, babies express their needs and discomforts through facial expressions and body movements. Around 6 to 8 weeks, some babies begin to show more distinct social interactions, like making eye contact and cooing in response to stimuli.

While newborns may sleep for short periods of time, totaling about 17 hours a day, parents should still expect frequent wakefulness as babies adjust to life outside the womb.

As newborns grow, their social interactions evolve. Signaling a leap in their developmental journey, newborns begin to:

  • Smile
  • Coo
  • Laugh

It’s common for babies to start making eye contact and coo as early as 6 weeks, but this can vary greatly. Babbling and uttering simple words might start around 4 months, but again, each baby’s timeline is unique.

Studies have shown that baby girls tend to develop language skills earlier than baby boys. However, it is important to note that every baby develops at their own pace, and there is a wide range of what is considered “normal” development.

Physical Growth and Developmental Patterns

Mom with a new baby.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

During the first year of life, babies grow rapidly and experience many developmental milestones. Most babies double their weight in the first 4 to 6 months.

In terms of physical development, newborns cry a lot. Babies go through a series of developmental patterns, such as lifting their head, rolling over, and crawling. These patterns are important for building strength and coordination.

However, the newborn stage can present challenges.

  1. Newborns returning home from the hospital or another safe place might face feeding difficulties, including issues with latching or swallowing.
  2. Some might encounter vision problems or developmental delays.

It’s essential for parents to closely monitor their baby’s growth and development and to get some much-needed assistance. Primarily, you must seek help if you need more guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age does the initial fussy period typically settle down?

The initial fussy period, also known as the “purple crying” phase, usually begins around 2 weeks of age and can last up to 3-4 months. However, every baby is different, and some may experience this phase for a shorter or longer duration.

What’s the usual duration for the newborn phase?

The newborn phase, also known as the neonatal stage, typically lasts for the first 28 days of a baby’s life. During this time, babies are highly dependent on their caregivers for feeding, diaper changes, and comfort.

How can you differentiate between neonate and infant stages?

The neonatal stage, or newborn phase, lasts for the first 28 days of a baby’s life. The infant stage follows the neonatal stage and lasts until the baby reaches 12 months of age. During the infant stage, babies continue to develop and reach significant milestones such as crawling, walking, and talking.

When do babies typically transition from being infants to toddlers?

Babies typically transition from being infants to toddlers around the age of 12 months. This is when they start to become more independent and explore their surroundings. They also begin to develop their own personalities and preferences.

What’s considered the toughest part of the early baby days?

The toughest part of the early baby days can vary for each parent and baby. However, the initial fussy period, sleep deprivation, and adjusting to a new routine are common challenges that many parents face during this time.

Around what milestones do we stop calling babies newborns?

Babies are typically considered newborns until they reach 28 days of age. After that, they are considered infants until they reach 12 months of age. However, some parents may continue to refer to their babies as newborns for a longer duration.


As new parents, it’s important to be aware of the various milestones and changes your baby will go through. Remember, each baby is unique, and they develop at their own pace. It’s vital to keep an eye on their growth and reach out for professional advice if you have any concerns.

Ultimately, the end of the newborn phase is just the beginning of an exciting journey of discovery and bonding. As you transition from the newborn stage, cherish each moment and embrace the challenges and joys that come with raising a child. The newborn stage might be brief, but the memories and bonds formed during this time will last a lifetime.

About Krystal DeVille

Hello! I’m Krystal DeVille. By day, I wear many hats: a homeschool teacher, wife, and mother. By night, I’m a fervent journalist, pouring my thoughts and experiences onto paper. Parenthood, for me, has been an exhilarating roller-coaster filled with emotions, invaluable lessons, and moments of sheer joy. With three wonderful kids of my own, I’ve journeyed through the highs and lows — from sleepless nights to their very first steps and those unforgettable proud parent moments.

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