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 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 his or her 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 arms and legs, then curls them back in
  • fencer's pose (tonic neck reflex): when head is turned to one side, straightens the arm on that side while bending the opposite arm
  • grasp reflex: holds a finger placed in the palm; toes curl when touched on the sole of the foot

Social and Emotional Development

  • soothed by a parent's voice and touch
  • calms self 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 to Talk to Your Doctor

Every child develops at his or her own pace, but if there's something that 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 extremely irritable and difficult to soothe
Back to Articles


Related Articles

Your Child's Checkup: 3 to 5 Days

Find out what this doctor's checkup will involve a few days after your baby is born.

Read More

Your Newborn's Growth

A newborn's growth and development is measured from the moment of birth. Find out if your baby's size is normal, and what to expect as your baby grows.

Read More

Learning, Play, and Your Newborn

Play is the primary way that infants learn how to move, communicate, socialize, and understand their surroundings. And during the first month of life, your baby will learn by interacting with you.

Read More

Communication and Your Newborn

From birth, your newborn has been communicating with you. Crying may seem like a foreign language, but soon you'll know what your baby needs - a diaper change, a feeding, or your touch.

Read More

Movement, Coordination, and Your Newborn

It may seem like all babies do is sleep, eat, and cry, but their little bodies are making many movements, some of which are reflexes.

Read More

Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding

Making a decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. There are some points to consider to help you decide which option is best for you and your baby.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.