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How Long Is a Baby Considered a Newborn?


How Long Is a Baby Considered a Newborn?

Developmental Stages Of Babyhood

Each baby is unique in its own way, developing at his or her own pace, but there are some clear stages of development that mark the progress of babyhood. The first of these stages is the newborn stage. What is considered the newborn stage will depend on just who you ask. Everyone from the World Health Organization to The Merriam-Webster dictionary has a definition for what a newborn is, and if you’re the parent of a newborn, you might want to know whether you have a newborn. Since the definitions differ from source to source, it’s helpful to acknowledge that there is room to compromise in defining a newborn, and your definition may differ from an official source.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a newborn as a recently born baby. This is perhaps the most vague definition of “newborn” and doesn’t tell you a thing about how long a baby is considered a newborn. Scrap that definition if you’re here to discover a more precise definition. A more precise definition was offered by the World Health Organization – known as WHO – and answers more clearly how long a baby is considered a newborn. This well-known organization says that your baby is a newborn from birth to the 28th day of life, but more informal sources and the general population of people commonly refer to a baby who’s 2 months old as a newborn. Clouding this even further is the instance of premature births where the baby is born early. These babies often look like “newborns” by traditional standards even when they’re not quite anymore.

The World Of Your Newborn

The birth of a baby is an experience unlike any other you’ll ever live through in your life. It’s joy, pain, and new life, all in one moment, and you’ll of course never forget that moment your newborn enters the world. No matter how long a baby is considered a newborn, you can be certain that on the day of your baby’s birth, that’s a newborn! Whether they’re a newborn for 28 days, 2 months, or just until they grow enough not to look like a newborn, you’re going to experience that glorious newborn stage and every moment that takes place in it. What takes place in this stage transcends the debate over how long a baby is considered a newborn. Even if you extend your definition of newborn to a couple of months in instead of the WHO’s 28 days, you’re going to see some fascinating things.

Despite sleeping 16-17 hours a day, a newborn’s milestones will be numerous and important to parents. This is a truly new life, unaffected by the external world and completely protected by parental love. It’s life in its purest form, and it’s a pleasure to watch as that newborn makes it way through the first month of life. In that first month, you’re going to see beautiful and entertaining things like:

  • Reflexes like swallowing and sucking that allow them to bottle or breast feed
  • Little jerky arm and leg movements when a loud noise is heard
  • By the end of the first month, your baby can hear very well, so they know you’re there now
  • Grasping your finger if you place it in front of them
  • Make a fist
  • As long as you’re 8-12 inches away from your baby, they can even see you during the newborn stage

As you can see, it’s an eventful first month for your baby, and it’s an even more eventful month for you. Your child will never be as helpless as they are in the newborn stage. No matter how long a baby is considered a newborn, it’s during these first couple of months of life (or 28 days depending on who you ask) that your baby needs you the very most. Newborns are physically helpless, unable to walk, unable to talk, and completely dependent on you for life. It’s a fortunate thing that most parents instinctively realize this before the baby is born and prepare themselves mightily for the day of the birth and beyond.

Newborn Needs

How long a baby is considered a newborn is generally recognized by the general population as those first days of life when everything is so vital and the child is so dependent. This can be 28 days or two months. That child is going to have a host of needs when they arrive, and new parents know it. This might be why you’ve looked up how long a baby is considered a newborn, so that you can prepare for this pivotal stage of life. Physical needs include a baby crib, plenty of bottles (if you plan to breastfeed), a breast pump (if you plan to use one of these and/or breastfeed), clothing, a baby carrier, a car seat, and just so many things it might be difficult to even think of all of them. When baby gets there, they’ll quickly let you know what else they need.

The emotional needs of a newborn are extremely important as well. Your newborn’s emotional needs will often be met at the expense of your own, and that’s okay. Sacrifice is often a part of parenthood. For most parents, though, it’s all worthwhile! What you get back emotionally from your little one is going to be memorable for the rest of your days. The emotional needs of newborns are different from those of adults, and those needs include a lot of nurturing and cuddling. Every newborn is different and will want a different amount of your time, but a few things that almost all newborns universally need for a good emotional start include:

  • Security: This means that the baby feels as if you take care of his or her needs
  • Trust: Babies need to be able to trust you
  • Nurturing: This can include those gentle snuggles and soothing words when baby is crying

How long a baby is considered a newborn will vary, but all of these things are healthy for babies, and it’s less important to measure the newborn phase in time than to look at it as that very beginning period in life when you’re the one who is going to give this child what they need. Parents are often naturals at meeting the needs of their babies, and you’ll get better with this over time.

How Long A Baby Is Considered A Newborn

To review, a baby is usually considered a newborn at least up to the first 28 days, but many parents see babies as newborns into the 2nd month or even a little further on. There’s no one consensus on how long a baby is considered a newborn, but we all agree that newborns are in the most fragile stage of life, and it’s the very first stage of development for that new human being that’s just been born. Your baby will go through many other developmental stages over his or her lifetime, and you’re going to be the one to usher in each of those new phases with love and grace. Okay, you can’t always be loving or graceful, but you can wing it when you have to if it means a happier life for your newborn.


If you’re still wondering how long a baby is considered a newborn, you’re not alone. Scientists, doctors, and parents alike constantly try to define the developmental stages of life so that they can make newborns more secure and safer. Defining the developmental stages of a baby’s life is an important way to mark each different phase and give parents better guidance on how to handle those stages, but that’s a subject for another day. For now, just know that how long a baby is considered a newborn is entirely up to you. Newborn is a word that’s usually used to describe a “recently born” baby, according to Merriam-Webster, and what may be recent to you may not be recent to another person.

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