It's just the first hour and 10 minutes of a whole lifetime, but it's action-packed.
Brand-new babies have a lot to figure out, and there are some common themes in how we all begin to take on the world. Although timing varied widely, in a study of 28 brand-spankin'-new infants, most of them indulged in the following orienteering during their first 70 minutes.
Minute 0: Babies wail a robust, angry birth cry that helps wake up the lungs.
Minute 2: After all that wailing, babies spendless than a minute relaxing, holding perfectly still on their mothers’ chests. (The researchers speculate that this silent, still break might have evolved to keepbabies hidden from predators.)
Minute 2.5: As they start to wake up, newbornsopen their eyes for the first time. Babies gradually start moving their headsand mouths.
Minute 8: Babies become even more active,keeping their eyes open for five minutes or longer at a time. During thisactive phase, newborns seem to grow interested in eating, looking at theirmothers’ faces and breasts, making sweet little “hungry” noises and movingtheir hands toward their mouths.
Minute 18: That was exhausting. Time for anotherrest.
Minute 36: Recharged newborns really kick itinto high gear and begin scooting toward their mothers’ breasts, relyingheavily on a sense of smell to navigate.
Minute 62: Babies nurse, most likely gettingsmall amounts of colostrum, a pre-milk substance packed withprotein and immunity molecules. This early suckling stimulates the breasts tomake milk and also helps mom’s uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Minute 70: Phew, mission accomplished. Babies fall asleep for awell-deserved break.
It's a small study, but it's just the kind of careful observation of newborns we need to develop more "baby-friendly" practices that encourage breastfeeding and support newborns as they, literally, start making their own way in the world.