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Your Child’s Development: 3-5 Days

Though only a few days old, your baby already is able to interact in some ways. When alert, your baby will likely focus on your face. Babies are especially drawn to higher-pitched voices, so give into that urge to use "baby talk." You are introducing your baby to language and your baby will enjoy it.

Doctors use these milestones to tell whether a baby is developing as expected. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some babies gain skills earlier or later than others. Babies who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your baby's progress.

Here's what your newborn might do in the first few days after birth:

Communication and Language Skills

  • turns their head toward a parent's voice or other sounds
  • cries to communicate a need (to be held or fed, to have a diaper changed, or to sleep)
  • stops crying when the need is met (your baby is picked up, fed, or changed; or goes to sleep)

Movement and Physical Development

  • moves in response to sights and sounds
  • rooting reflex: turns toward breast or bottle and sucks when a nipple is placed in the mouth
  • Moro reflex (startle response): when startled, throws out their arms and legs, then curls them back in
  • fencer's pose (tonic neck reflex): when their head is turned to one side, straightens the arm on that side while bending the opposite arm
  • grasp reflex: holds a finger placed in their palm; toes curl when touched on the sole of the foot

Social and Emotional Development

  • soothed by a parent's voice and touch
  • self-soothes when upset
  • has periods of alertness

Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)

  • looks at and follows faces when quiet and alert
  • stares briefly at bright objects placed in front of the face

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Every child develops at their own pace. But if something concerns you, tell your doctor. Also tell the doctor if your baby:

  • doesn't suck well at the breast or on a nipple
  • has an arm or leg that seems weaker than the other
  • is very irritable and hard to soothe

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 10, 2021

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