Normal Development: Newborn

Here’s what you might see your baby doing between the ages of 0 and 2 weeks old.

Newborn article

Newborn milestones


  • Reflexive actions: crying, grasping, yawning, swallowing, sucking, blinking, coughing, gagging, sneezing.
  • Grasps whatever is placed in hand.
  • Sucks whatever is placed in mouth.
  • Is startled by sudden noises and movements.


  • Jerky, mostly uncontrolled motions.
  • Waves arms, kicks legs, wiggles and squirms.
  • Cannot turn body or support head without assistance.
  • Cannot sit without support.
  • May turn head from side to side while lying on back.


  • Usually sleeps from 17 to 20 hours per day.
  • Cries and fusses about 1 to 4 hours per day.
  • Is alert and quiet about 2 to 3 hours per day.


  • Cannot focus clearly.
  • Sees best at 8 to 10 inches.

Interactive Behaviors and Senses

  • Smiles spontaneously and unselectively.
  • Discriminates between some smells.
  • Begins to turn in direction of sound.
  • Begins to distinguish the human voice from other sounds.
  • Is more sensitive to high-pitched voices, especially mother’s voice.
  • Is best calmed by a soft, rhythmic voice.
  • Cries a lot.
  • Makes tiny gurgling sounds when content.
  • Shows preference for the human face.

Each child is unique. It is difficult to describe exactly what should be expected at each stage of a child’s development. While certain behaviors and physical milestones tend to occur at certain ages, a wide range of growth and behavior for each age is normal. These guidelines show general progress through the developmental stages rather than fixed requirements for normal development at specific ages. It is perfectly natural for a child to reach some milestones earlier and other milestones later than the general trend.

If you have any concerns about your child’s own pattern of development, check with your healthcare provider.

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH and Robert Brayden, MD.
Pediatric Advisor 2012.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2007-07-20
Last reviewed: 2011-09-20
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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