The Differences Between Neonate Vs Infant, Newborn & Toddler

Last Updated on May 22, 2023

Are you a new lovable parent and confuse the term between neonate and infant? There is a lot of confusion surrounding the words “neonate” and “infant.” Many people use them interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings.

A neonate is a newborn infant, especially one that is less than four weeks old. The neonatal period is the first four weeks of a child’s life. It is a time when significant changes occur rapidly.

And the term ‘infant’ is a formal way of saying ‘baby’, meaning a very young human child. Children are classified as infants from birth to 1-year-old. 

Some of us are also confused with the term “newborn.” A newborn is typically a baby from birth until around 2 months old.

In this blog article, we’ll go through the differences between neonates and infants in detail, as well as provide insight into what challenges parents face during this crucial stage.

neonate vs infant

Is neonate the same as infant?

A neonate is an infant baby who is under 28 days old. During this time, they are most at risk of dying. Most newborn deaths occur in developing countries where access to healthcare is limited.

Neonates are at risk for various problems, including birth defects, jaundice, low birth weight, and infection. Proper prenatal care and medical treatment can prevent many of these problems.

Neonates that survive the first 28 days of life often go on to lead healthy lives. However, those that do not receive proper care during the neonatal period are at risk for lifelong health problems or even death.

So, while all infants are neonates, not all neonates are infants. An infant is a child between birth and 12 months old, while a neonate is a newborn baby, specifically one who is 28 days of age or younger.

Also read: When do babies crawl

What’s another word for neonate?

You can call your neonate:

  • Baby 
  • Kid
  • Child 
  • Tot
  • Newborn
  • Bairn
  • Toddler
  • Infant
  • Bambino
  • Neonatal
  • Intrapartum
  • Buttercup
  • Youngster

Neonate vs infant

There are many similarities between neonates and infants, but there are also some important differences. Both need love, care, and attention, but neonates require a little bit more due to their fragile state. It is important to be aware of the differences between the two so that you can provide the best possible care for your child.

Here are the differences:

  • A neonate is an infant who is only hours, days, or up to one month old. Medical professionals use the term neonate when referring to infants in the first 28 days after birth- this could be premature babies, those born at full term, or postmature infants. On the other hand, Infants are babies aged between 4 weeks and 12 months.
  • Neonates are at a very vulnerable stage in their lives and need special care and attention. Infants also need special care and attention but not to the same extent as neonates.
  • Neonates are more prone to illnesses and diseases due to their underdeveloped immune systems. Infants have a slightly better chance of fighting off infections due to their somewhat developed immune systems.
  • Neonates are also more likely to suffer from birth defects due to their immature organs and systems. This is why it is so important for them to receive the best possible care during this crucial period in their lives.

While infants are not as vulnerable as neonates, they still suffer from health problems and diseases. This is why parents need to take their infant to the doctor for regular checkups.

– It is important to note that both neonates and infants are susceptible to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This is a condition where an infant dies suddenly and without explanation.

It is most common in babies aged between 2 and 4 months old, but it can occur in babies of any age.

SIDS is one of the leading causes of infant death, so all parents should be aware of the risks and take steps to reduce the chances of their baby suffering from it.


  • Neonate: A neonate is an infant who has recently been born. The first four weeks of a child’s life are known as the neonatal period.
  • Infant: Infants usually refer to babies from birth to one year old, especially over 28 days.

Also read: Baby trying to crawl at 2 months

What are the special features of a neonate?

The neonatal period usually refers to the first 4 weeks of an infant’s life, which are generally characterized by very rapid changes.

Some of the special features of a neonate include. They have:

  • a small stomach, so they need to eat often.
  • a high metabolism and need more calories per pound than an adult.
  • poor circulation and lose body heat quickly.
  • weak immune systems and are at risk for infections.
  • a high breathing rate and heart rate.
  • undeveloped kidneys and cannot concentrate urine well.
  • immature brains and are easily stimulated.

It is generally advised that parents should be extra careful when handling and caring for their neonates, as they are still developing and are thus more vulnerable to injury or illness.

Additionally, parents should make sure to keep a close eye on their neonates’ health and development so that they can catch any potential problems early and address them accordingly.

Also read: How to teach baby to stand up without support

What are the 5 stages of infant development?

What are the 5 stages of infant development

According to the center for disease control and prevention (CDC), children develop in stages; there are five primary stages: newborn, infant, toddler, preschool, and school-age.


The newborn stage lasts from birth to about two months old. At this time, babies learn to adjust to life outside the womb. Newborns can move their heads from side to side, focus on close objects, turn towards sounds and cry to express a need. This is a time of rapid change, and babies develop quickly during this period.


Babies learn to sit up, crawl, and some walk in this stage, which lasts when a baby turns into one year. They also begin to develop stranger anxiety and separation anxiety during this time.

Infants gradually develop a lot of new capabilities. Infants can recognize familiar faces, babble, control their head motions, and join their hands at 3-6 months of age.

Babies as young as six to nine months old can sit on their own and bounce when held in a standing position, responding to people calling their names.

Infants start making gestures to communicate. Children can point at things, pick up objects, crawl and even stand with assistance between the ages of 9 and 12 months. Children imitate sounds and motions.


This stage lasts from 1-3 years old, and is a time of exploration as toddlers begin to assert their independence. They learn how to communicate their needs and wants and begin testing their limits. They start to say words, can stand and walk without any help, and can hold a pencil.


It lasts from 3-5 years old and is a time of continued exploration as children begin to develop their imaginations. They also begin to develop their social skills during this time. They can speak a complete sentence. They begin to do many things on their own, following their parent’s instructions.


It lasts from 6-12 years old and is a time when children learn more about the world around them. They begin to develop their own interests and hobbies and start attending school during this time.

School-age children are capable of developing strong relationships, both with friends and peers. They may also begin to show signs of ADHD, such as difficulty staying focused or being easily distracted.

This is the stage when children remain mentally most sensitive. Extra care is needed in this stage. 

Growth and Development

The growth of a person’s weight, age, size, and habits is referred to as development. On the other hand, development refers to the process by which physical, environmental, and social influences witness a person’s growth.

In the case of a baby’s growth and development, the first few weeks and months of life are critical. This is when the foundation for future health, development, and well-being is laid down. 

In one year, babies develop a lot of new abilities. For example, they learn how to control their body, coordinate their eyes and hands, communicate with other people, and understand the world around them.

In order to support this development, babies need a lot of proper nutrition, love and care.

The first two years of life are very important for a baby’s growth and development. During this time, the baby’s brain is growing very fast. Babies will learn more during these first two years than at any other time in their life.

During the second year of life, babies become more and more independent. They learn how to walk, talk, and explore their surroundings. This is a time of great growth and development.

As they get older, they learn to do more things on their own. The rate of growth and development varies from child to child.

Some children reach milestones earlier than others. And some children have special needs that require extra support. But all children grow and develop at their own pace.

However, It is important for babies to have a lot of opportunities to explore and play. This will help them learn about the world around them. It is also important for babies to have loving adults around them who can provide them with support and love.

Developmental Milestones

Developmental Milestones

Your baby’s first year is a period of significant developmental milestones. Rolling over, sitting up, and taking steps are skills that babies master during this stage.

It also includes things such as smiling, cooing, and waving goodbye. Each of these accomplishments usually happens by a specific age.

However, keep in mind that each youngster is unique.

The following are some common milestones for babies:

2 to 3 months: move their heads, hold their heads and necks, and grab an object.

4 to 6 months: rolls over, sits up with support, begins to babble.

6 to 9 months: crawls, pulls up to stand, starts using simple words like “mama” or “dada.”

9 to 12 months: walks holding on to furniture, says several words, points at things they want.

12 to 18 months: walks alone, stacks blocks, say several sentences.

18 to 24 months: runs well, climbs stairs, kicks a ball.

2 years: rides a tricycle, copies simple shapes.

Every baby is different and will reach these milestones at his or her own pace. If you’re ever concerned about your child’s development, talk to your child’s doctor.

Positive Parenting Tips

Knowing how to best support your baby’s development can be difficult. However, there are some key things that you can do to help encourage their growth and learning as caring parents.

The following are some positive parenting tips for infants:

1. Talk to your baby often. Babies learn best through hearing the human voice. So, take every opportunity to talk, sing, and read to your baby. This will help them develop their language skills and bond with you.

2. Give your baby plenty of physical affection. Babies thrive on human touch, so don’t be afraid to cuddle, hug, and kiss your baby often. This will help them feel safe and loved.

3. Read aloud to your baby regularly. Reading is a great way to stimulate your baby’s mind and help them learn new words. Choose books with bright pictures and interesting stories to hold their attention.

4. Play music for your baby. Listening to music is soothing for babies and can help them calm down when they’re feeling fussy. It can also be fun to interact and bond with your little one.

5. Respond when your baby makes sounds. When your baby babbles or coos, take the time to respond back. This helps them feel loved and encourages them to keep communicating.

6. Provide a safe and stimulating environment for your baby to explore.

And, the important thing is- don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your mental and physical health is important at this time. Take care of your every emotion! 


Wrapping up:

Thanks for reading this post. We hope it has helped you to understand the differences between neonates and infants. Remember, both need love, care, and attention, but neonates require a little bit more due to their fragile state.

With the proper care, both neonates and infants can go on to lead healthy and happy lives.

If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences with caring for a neonate or infant, please leave a comment below.


Sharing is caring!
Dr. Leah Alexander

Dr. Leah Alexander is a board-certified general pediatrician and has been practicing pediatrics at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey since 2000. Since 2005, she has been working as an independently contracted pediatrician with Medical Doctors Associates at Pediatricare Associates of New Jersey. She also enjoys cooking outside of the medical profession. Read more

2 thoughts on “The Differences Between Neonate Vs Infant, Newborn & Toddler”

Leave a Comment