This is how your baby develops in the fourth trimester!

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As a new parent, you might have heard the term “fourth trimester” quite a lot. But what is it? The “fourth trimester” is the term used to describe the first few months of your baby’s life. The period when your little bundle of joy is transitioning from the womb to the outside world. As a result, they are more dependent on you for love, comfort, eating, and sleep than at any other moment in their lives. 

Now that you have your baby, you should know all about the fourth trimester, as it is equally important for you and your baby. Here is everything you need to know about the fourth trimester, with lots of tips to make life easier for the both of you.

What is the fourth trimester?

The fourth trimester lasts from birth until three months. As your little one acclimates to life outside the womb, they undergo rapid development. The term “trimester” may seem a bit odd, considering your baby is already born. But over the next few months, your baby still needs to learn how to use all of its senses, control its reflexes, and respond to you and your partner. A baby’s mental and physical growth in the first three months is as crucial as in the womb. Hence the term “trimester”!

Your bundle of joy adjusts to the world’s sights, sounds, scents, and textures throughout the fourth trimester. Your baby must get acclimatized to a noisy, bright, and frequently frigid world after leaving the warm, dark, and silent womb. You can help with this adjustment by loving and supporting your little angel in their first three months of life.

Why is the fourth trimester important for a baby?

Unlike animals that can walk from birth, your baby needs you for care, attention, and affection. The only things a newborn can control are instincts and reflexes.

Newborns have limited senses. Their eyesight is clouded. They can hear, but voices are hard to distinguish. The coziness of your womb has been replaced by a wide, disturbing space. Only your love and support will help your baby adjust to this world in the fourth trimester.

Your baby’s neural pathways and nervous system develop in the fourth trimester. Their brain is like a sponge that absorbs everything. The right stimulation can help your baby develop to their potential. The fourth trimester is, thus, a crucial age. During this period, you may observe the following with your baby:

  • Breathes steadily
  • Startles less
  • Moves smoothly
  • Sleeps despite the noise
  • Has regular sleeping and feeding pattern
  • Self-soothes and pleads for your attention
  • Focuses on family, objects, and music for longer
  • Has improved social abilities

By the fourth trimester, your baby will have made remarkable progress physically, mentally, and socially.

How will your baby develop in the fourth trimester?

  • Crying

Babies cry the most in the fourth trimester. Knowing that this is normal will help you deal with your baby’s fear and distress, which you can’t stop. This crying will peak between five and six weeks and then subside after three months.

A newborn doesn’t need a schedule until three months old. Until then, feed or comfort your crying baby on demand. Contrary to elder relatives’ claims, this won’t spoil your baby. It will make them feel safer and help them calm down.

  • Sleeping

Newborns sleep a lot, especially early on. Sleeping helps your baby’s brain assimilate all the great sensory stimulation from you and other caregivers while they’re awake.

Your baby may need time to establish a sleep routine as they have no notion of day or night because of their stay in your womb. They need weeks or months to acclimate to sleeping more at night. Let your baby sleep during the day as well as night for now.

Putting your infant to sleep in a noisy, bright atmosphere is OK. Most newborns can ignore this stimulus and fall asleep.

  • Feeding

Newborns need eight meals a day due to their tiny stomachs. You’ll learn your baby’s hunger cues as you come to know them. 

Crying doesn’t always mean your baby is hungry. Sucking their fingers, moving their heads, and opening their lips are early hunger cues. These indications help you early on, as a hungry baby may be too agitated to latch on or feed.

Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on demand will calm and comfort your baby. This also helps match your milk production to your baby’s demands if you’re breastfeeding.

Mealtimes aren’t and shouldn’t only be about eating. It is also a good time for cuddling, eye contact, and skin-to-skin contact. These moments will not only delight your baby but will also help them develop.

  • Senses

The fourth trimester improves baby’s senses, which are not  well-developed before birth.

Their sight grows fastest in the first three months. By their second or third month, they’ll be able to distinguish things and see clearly. Their vision will be nearly adult-like by eight to nine weeks.

Babies can smell and taste at birth. Your smell will calm them as soon as they’re born. They tilt their heads and bob for your breast to find their first meal because of your fragrance.

Your infant will recognize your voice from the womb. They may turn when you or your partner talk. They’ll like hearing you converse and feel comfortable with familiar voices. Your three-month-old may be making sounds to catch your attention.

Amniotic fluid “holds” a baby. Being forced to lie down alone may distress them. Regular skin-to-skin contact with your baby can boost their sense of touch, alleviate fussiness and crying, stabilize their heart rate, and promote breastfeeding. Swaddling and babywearing can make your baby feel safe and secure.

  • Physical development

Your baby may turn their head to find your breast. Daily tummy time aids physical development. By three months old, your baby may be able to support themselves on their forearms, raise their head, and hold it for a few seconds. Starting tummy time shortly after birth encourages mobility and strength.

How can you soothe and support your baby through the fourth trimester?

  • Replicating your baby’s nine-month surroundings (your womb) can help comfort and support them in the fourth trimester. 
  • Knowing how much your baby needs to adjust to their new surroundings will help you handle unexpected crying or fussiness.
  • Some newborns adapt better to the outside world than others. Even siblings differ from each other in infancy!
  • Skin-to-skin: Your warmth, fragrance, and heartbeat calms them. It also encourages breastfeeding.
  • Feeding on demand: Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, feeding your baby whenever they need it meets their energy demands and reassures them.
  • Babywearing: A sling recreates your baby’s womb-like movement and snugness. Carrying your cranky baby over your chest may calm them.
  • Swaddling: Safe swaddling feels like a womb. It may calm your crying baby and help them sleep. Always follow safety rules while swaddling.
  • Swaying and Rocking: Walking with your baby may be more comforting than snuggling. Your daily motions soothed them in your womb. If your baby is fussing or irritable, try gentle swaying and rocking motions. Never shake your baby vigorously.
  • All babies differ, some newborns do not like being swaddled or carried. Your baby will let you know what delights them and what they don’t like. Look out for the signs!

In a nutshell

You’ve been waiting to hold your baby for an eternity—and your bundle of joy has arrived. Seize the moment. It may seem overwhelming, but just remember that this is just a phase, and it will pass, sometimes sooner than you would like it to! Your loving arms and your warmth are the only things that will help your baby acclimatize to life outside the womb in those first 12 weeks.

To ensure your baby grows and thrives in the fourth trimester, the BabyVerse app has tons of tips and growth activities for you!

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