From the first moments after the birth of your child, you know your life will never be the same. Your child will change from week to week-even from day to day-as he begins to notice the world around him, and to interact with it. Get a head start, and know what to expect as your baby matures.
Napping One Minute, In-Love the Next
Who would have thought such a range of emotions could exist?
Your Newborn's appearance
Love at first sight-loving your newborn baby's appearance, big head, bloodshot eyes, rashes and all.
Every baby looks different, and all are beautiful.
But most babies have some physical idiosyncrasies right after birth. Here’s what to expect:
- Your baby's head is most likely large compared to the rest of the body (Baby’s head may also have a bump or two from labor or from help received during birth)
- Baby’s eyes may be bloodshot and eyelids swollen. There may also be some eye crossing in the first weeks
- Baby skin may be dry and flaky with a rash or two
- Baby’s breast tissue may be swollen due to your hormones, which still remain in his body
Your baby's reflexes
Getting a grip-understanding the reflexes that come naturally.
Your baby already has a good grip, and many automatic reactions or reflexes.
His startle reaction to sudden noises is just one of these. Other reflexes include:
- The grasp reflex that lets your baby grip his rattle, only to immediately drop it because he can’t hold on
- The rooting reflex that helps your baby open his mouth and find the nipple for feeding
- Yawning to increase the air in his lungs
- Pulling back if he is hurt and sneezing to clear his nose
- Turning his head to one side if his breathing is blocked
Nurturing your baby's intellectual and social development
Together time: Interaction between you and your baby, even at this young age, will help determine his intellectual, social, and emotional development. How you respond to his cries, satisfy his needs, and show him love will determine how he sees the world later.
Sensory motor development
Sensory overload-from the dark womb to a world full of sights and sounds.
From the moment your baby enters this world he's learning.
Keep in mind that he has lived nine months in a dark, warm, and cozy womb and is now in the bright big world. His senses are being bombarded.
When your baby sees and hears he may:
- Stare at objects, but not reach for them, and see best within 12 inches of his face
- Like bold shapes and high-contrast objects, such as a black and white bull’s eye
- Love looking at faces, and your expressions, and may imitate them
- React negatively to loud voices or music
- Cry, stiffen his body and legs, or thrust his arms outward and pull them back to his chest when startled by a noise
- Like sounds that change, such as a voice or music
- “Keep time" to your voice with arm and hand motions (Babies seem to react more to normal, rhythmic speech than to nonsense vowel sounds, which may be the beginning of language and critical to development)
What your baby loves to touch, taste, and smell:
- Babies love the feel of different textures
- Some babies love the feeling of cuddling with you
- Most babies’ lips seem to be particularly sensitive to touch. They react to a touch on the lips by smacking their lips and sucking
- Babies can also taste and smell from the time of their birth and have turned their heads away from strong odors when tested
Dreaming of sleep
Coping with your 1-month-old's unpredictable sleep patterns can be a challenge.
Newborn babies often seem to have no real sleeping pattern.
Often sleeping 16 to 18 hours a day, your baby will probably sleep for two to three hours, wake up, eat, and go to sleep again.
At about 6 weeks old, his sleep and wake pattern will begin to become established, and by 16 weeks, he may have settled into a regular schedule. So there is a routine in the not-too-distant future.
Laugh Out Loud
It's month four, and your baby may be getting to be a real comedian
Making sense of the babble – helping baby develop language skills
Your baby is making sounds for a reason, even if you don't know what that reason is. One way to help him develop language skills is to imitate his noises, as if the two of you are having an intelligent conversation that only you can understand.
Other ways to help your baby develop language skills and understanding.
- Talking to your baby often as you dress, feed, or bathe him
- Providing quiet time (turning off the radio and TV)
- Encouraging your baby to turn his head toward sounds
- Repeating sounds often and trying to get your baby to mimic them back to you
Keeping baby healthy – the importance of vaccinations.
Well-baby visits to the pediatrician are probably part of your monthly routine by now. Doctor visits are an opportunity for you to make sure your baby is growing and developing properly, and to ask any questions you may have. It is also the time when your baby will get the immunizations he needs (and make up any that he may have missed).
Regular vaccinations are still the only way to protect your baby - now and for years to come - so be sure to get your child immunized to help keep him healthy.
Rest for success
You've probably been told many times that babies should sleep on their backs. But now that your baby is rolling over, you can't control his sleeping position.
Here are some suggestions
- It's probably OK to let him sleep in whatever position he finds most comfortable. Once a baby can roll over on his own, generally between 4 and 7 months of age, the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is usually reduced.
- Keep thick blankets, comforters, pillows, and large, soft, stuffed toys out of your baby's crib.
Developing People Skills and More
Fun with hands
By the third month, your baby will spend a large amount of time entertaining himself with his hands. Most of the time, his hands will be open. The act of opening and closing them, as well as staring at them, will be almost as fun for your baby as exploring his stuffed animals.
While it may look like its all fun and games, your baby is also working on strengthening his hand muscles. In five to six months, he should be able to pick up toys. To help him along, put a rattle in his hand, and gently tugs on it; this also helps him build muscle.
Your emerging social butterfly
Your baby is becoming quite social, taking in more and more of the world around him.
Help him get more acquainted
- Carrying him in a cuddled "sitting" position and showing him lights or brightly colored objects
- Rocking him in a rocking chair while talking softly and looking into his eyes
- Singing quietly to him before bed
- Giving him different textures to feel, such as stuffed animals, plastic toys, or pieces of terry cloth or rubber. (Since your baby may put the objects in his mouth, be sure they’re not too small and that the pieces can’t be torn off and swallowed)
- Having quiet times. Babies need some quiet time to babble, play, and explore their world, so don't leave a radio, TV, or stereo on for long periods
- Looking in mirrors. Put a non-breakable metal or plastic baby mirror in the crib or playpen. Show him the mirrors around your home
- Propping him up so he can watch what goes on around him
The big stretch
By 3 to 4 months old your baby should be sleeping for five-to-six hour stretches during the night.
Here are some tips to try to help him get his rest:
- Establish a before-bed routine, whether it’s gently rocking him in your arms or stroking his back and arms
- Whenever possible, try not to run to him on his first cry – if it’s a cry of distress or continues for a few minutes, investigate
- Check for a wet diaper, vomiting, fever, or other signs that he’s in distress (If his diaper needs changing, try to do it quickly and quietly, without taking him out of the crib and stimulating him too much)
- If he doesn't need a diaper change (and he's not ill), gently rub his back and talk to him in a soothing voice until he calms down, then say "good night" and leave the room.
Baby talk - how your baby communicates without words
Baby talk - how your baby communicates without words
More than meets the eye
It may appear that your baby is passive – eating, sleeping, and waiting for you to do things for him.
The truth is, your baby is always reaching out
- Seeking ways to adapt to the world outside the womb (sleeping is one way he learns to organize his life, turning off the environment to conserve energy needed to grow)
- Giving you signals – watching him closely, you’ll learn how much or little stimulation he can handle, and when he’s ready for talking, feeding, singing, or playing (“I’m happy and ready to play” signals include open eyes, relaxed arms and legs, and maybe even a tight, playful grip around your finger)
- Ready to say enough is enough – if baby is played with, talked to, or fed too much, he may grimace, turn and look away, clench his fists, and wriggle or spit up (these messages say, "Slow down, please. I need more peace and quiet.")
Establishing sleep patterns for your two-month-old
By the time your baby is 6-12 weeks old, he'll probably be sleeping for longer stretches of the night. If he's not, you may have to help him learn to fall back to sleep on his own.
Here are a few tricks
- Put him in his crib, instead of rocking or holding him
- Wait until he ’s groggy, but still awake; then lay him in his crib, say "good night," turn off the light, and leave the room
- If he cries, wait a few minutes before returning
- If he continues to cry, go back in the room (leaving the light off), rub him, and talk to him in a soothing voice until he quiets down, then say "good night" and leave the room again
- If he begins to cry again, repeat this pattern until he falls asleep
It may take a few days, but he’ll get the hang of it. Establishing this skill when your baby is still young will help prevent bedtime battles later.
This guide helps you understand him a little better, by explaining:
- Your baby’s learning style and how he takes in information
- How your baby communicates
- 2-month-old sleep patterns
By month two, your baby will also get to know you better, smiling and actually recognizing the woman who's changed his diapers for the last 28 days.
Looking through baby photos shows how far you've come
Exercises for the body and mind
Your baby's physical and mental development is important.
Here are some ways to help ensure that your baby develops to his full physical and cognitive potential:
- Encourage your baby to raise his head and push up on his arms to watch what is happening in the world around him
- Hold your baby upright under the arms and slowly lower him until his feet touch the table, bed, or your lap
- Help your baby sit up alone by sitting on the couch or a chair with your baby and propping him up in the corner (which can prevent him from falling over)
- Try to get your baby to follow faces or bright objects with his eyes
- Let your baby feel many different textures
- Help your baby pick up small toys, such as 1-inch blocks (As a reminder, keep pills and other small objects that can cause choking out of your baby's reach)
Going slow will ease your baby's fear of new people
As your baby interacts even more with his world, his first fear may occur this month - a fear of strangers. This fear is normal. By this time, most babies have developed an awareness and recognition of key people around them, and a mistrust and fear of those who are not familiar.
Although this fear goes away with time and is nothing to worry about, it usually helps to introduce your baby to new people slowly.
Outgrowing bowed legs and inward toes
There's no need to worry if your baby's feet seem flat or bent, his legs are bowed, or his toes point inward. Fortunately, these conditions are very common. Your health care professional will make sure that your baby's legs and feet are developing normally. Most minor leg and foot conditions are outgrown during childhood.
Mom turned entertainer – secrets to keeping your baby stimulated
Mom turned entertainer – secrets to keeping your baby stimulated
Sitting tall – practice makes perfect
It may seem like the change happens overnight – one day, your baby needs help sitting up, and on the next he's sitting up for the first time on his own. In fact, your baby has been silently working for months to sit up on his own.
He's been strengthening his muscles by sitting in his infant chair and by sitting propped up against pillows. While the first time he sits tall, he'll be leaning on his hands for balance, in the next two months, he will sit up completely and use his hands to play.
Meaningful play – games with a goal
This month, your baby's playful side may come out. Help him learn while he's playing with:
Activity boards that encourage him to push, pull, turn, and poke bells, wheels, and dials
Cloth, wood, or plastic blocks that help show your baby how to build towers and knock them down
Toy telephones, spoons, and measuring cups that introduce him to common household objects
Hand games that help him practice his fine-motor skills
Taking the anxiety out of separation
Last month, your baby's first fear may have emerged - the fear of strangers. This month brings a new one – separation anxiety.
This fear typically begins at 6 to 8 months of age.
This is when your baby becomes aware that you're separate from him, and this means you might walk away at any time, which can be scary for your little one.
If your baby cries when you leave the room, or wakes up in the night crying and refuses to go back to sleep this month, he's probably suffering from separation anxiety. Because your baby's real fear is that you're going to leave and never return, the best way to alleviate his fears is to leave, then return, repeating the pattern, until he realizes you'll always come back.
To make this fun, play "peek-a-boo" - go away and come back before the fear gets too strong. Then have fun watching the ecstatic look on your baby's face when you return.
Sleeping through the night – dream come true
Once your baby is 6 months old, he'll begin sleeping through the night. But he may still occasionally wake in the night. At this age, if he still wakes up several times a night, talk with your health care professional about possible causes and solutions.
During the day, your baby will be wide-awake and active for extended periods, taking two or three short naps totaling three to four hours.
- Begin to explore objects (including his feet!) by putting them in his mouth
- Pick up things by "raking" them with his fingers. (It's a good time to be even more careful about what you leave around the house.)
He may even start understanding parts of the conversation you're making with him. This month, discover your baby's developmental milestones, and tips for:
- Helping your baby feel secure
- Keeping your baby entertained
- Stepping up playtime
- Helping your baby sit tall
- Dealing with baby separation anxiety
- Coping with 6-month-old sleeping patterns
Safe and secure – helping baby's mental and emotional health
Helping your baby feel secure and engaged in the world now can help him achieve emotional health and mental aptitude as he grows. Doing this is surprisingly simple at this age:
- Soothing and calming your fussy baby helps send the message that all is well with the world-a message that stays with him as he grows
- Helping baby relax by gently stroking his back, arms, or legs from top to bottom will minimize stress
- Singing to your baby or rocking him will help him connect bedtime with a peaceful time
Signs of discomfort – a word about teething
Signs of discomfort – a word about teething
Starting Solid Foods
During month seven, your baby starts moving more independently, scooting around on his belly like a tadpole, and even, perhaps, eating his first cracker. This month, find out how to:
- Help your 7-month-old develop a strong mind and body
- Combine eating and playing
- Doctor's visits
At the end of month seven, you're baby will probably be getting his first tooth, and hitting other key milestones.
Sounds like fun – healthy play for minds and bodies
Your baby's language, recognition, and social skills are at an important stage of development.
Help ensure that his development stays on track by continuing to engage him in some of the following activities:
- Chat with your baby every time you're together
- Expose him to a variety of sounds, and help him try to locate them
- Imitate the sounds your baby makes, and try to get him to make those sounds back to you
- Provide some quiet time when the radio and TV are not on
- Read children?s books or make your own with bright pictures from magazines (Be sure to point to and name objects and people as your baby looks at them)
You may also want to make a photo album of familiar family members, and point to and name objects and people so your baby absorbs new words. He may stay interested only a few minutes at a time, but try to do this every day.
Getting her hands on "grown up" food
Once your baby can sit on her own in a high chair, mealtime becomes a party. She wants to grab the spoon, put it in her mouth, and bang it on the tray, creating her own special baby song.
Eating comes with other surprises as well.
Sometime in the sixth or seventh month, she may be ready to eat a cracker or dry cereal by herself. Not only does this introduce her to "grown-up" food, but it also lets her practice her fine-motor skills.
Keep in mind that even though she is eating solid foods, breast milk or formula is still her primary source of nutrition.
And remember, while it is difficult to never leave the room while your baby eats, it is important to stay with her to prevent choking or tumbles from the high chair.
Kids and germs – the more they play the more they share
As your baby plays more with other babies and children, he's more likely to pick up colds and viruses.
Symptoms worthy of a visit to your pediatrician:
While every baby gets these illnesses, talk with your baby's health care professional if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Runny nose or congestion that interferes with eating or sleeping or lasts longer than a week to 10 days
- Cough that is associated with vomiting or that interferes with sleep
- Unusual fatigue and crankiness
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Decreased appetite
- Pulling at his ears
Regular "well-baby appointments" during this time will also put your mind at ease, reassuring you that your baby is reaching developmental milestones and getting the recommended vaccinations that protect him from serious childhood illnesses.
More to Explore
Life your baby becomes mobile
Reaching beyond – helping your 8-month-old learn new skills
Simple and effective, these techniques can help you keep baby entertained and help her grow strong:
- Encourage her to bounce up and down while supporting her in a standing position (This is great fun)
- Help your baby stand when she is near a stable, sturdy object, urging him to use it for balance (Once she is able to pull up to stand in her crib, make sure the mattress is in the lowest setting for safety)
- When your baby is standing, hold her favorite toy just out of reach and try to get her to "cruise" along the furniture to get the toy
- Place a toy out of reach and encourage her to get the toy by crawling on her hands and knees
Bedtime made easy – creating rituals for restful nights
Near the end of this first year, it's a great time to create more involved bedtime rituals, such as reading the same book to him that your mother read you, rocking, or doing quiet activities together.
While it only takes 10 to 30 minutes, your bedtime ritual will help your baby look forward to bedtime, and find it easier to accept the separation from you when you finally leave the room. So that he'll be comfortable with anyone putting him to bed, it's good to involve loved ones early.
Shake, Bang, Drop, and Throw
Watch out: Once your little one learns he can influence the world around him, exploring will be his number one activity
False flat feet – give it time.
If your baby's feet seem to be flat, you may be worried. But your baby's feet appear flat because a pad of fat is hiding the arch. This condition is very common in infants, and is usually nothing to worry about. You'll probably be able to see an arch when the fat disappears, usually in two or three years.
From peek-a-boo to pat-a-cake – play creates strong minds and bodies
While you've been guiding your baby along his road to development, the types of skills your baby develops, and the rate at which he develops them at this point, will be largely dependent on his own abilities.
Here are some things you can do to inspire and stimulate him:
- Play peek-a-boo with him in front of a mirror
- Read him books, naming objects and people as you travel through the pages
- Teach him games such as pat-a-cake and "how big is the baby?"
- Like always, keep hugging and cuddling him whenever possible, soothing and calming him when he's fussy, smiling and chatting with him, and singing softly to him at bedtime
Turning to Teddy Bear – the importance of comforting objects
Stuffed animals, toys, or blankets can be a big part of your baby's emotional support system.
In your baby's psyche, these objects have the power to:
- Comfort him when he's upset, afraid, or stressed
- Help him feel at ease in an unfamiliar place
- Reassure him when you're not there
- Help him get to sleep
Contrary to some theories, using a transitional object is not a sign of insecurity. It actually shows that your baby has been loved and nurtured, and that he is able to comfort himself. This is important as he becomes more independent.
Your baby will want to take his cuddly everywhere and may prefer it unwashed, because it has his scent on it. This may be what's so comforting about it.
Separation anxiety – waking for reassurance
Just when you thought your baby was sleeping through the night for good, he's up again. Now, he's struggling with separation anxiety. He wakes up looking for you and for reassurance.
For a restful night sleep, try the following:
- Continue a consistent bedtime ritual for 10 to 30 minutes before bedtime
- Encourage him to go to sleep with his blankie or stuffed animal to comfort him when he's afraid, and reassure him when you're not there
- Go to him when he cries and soothe him by talking to him and patting or rubbing his back (Try not to turn on the light, rock him, walk with him or take him out of his crib)
- Check for a wet diaper or signs of illness
How saying "no" today will help you tomorrow
Your baby has a great need to explore - that means touching, tasting, and throwing everything in sight.
While these types of behaviors can be entertaining at times, discipline for negative behaviors will teach your baby self-control that will last well into her later years.
While you may have a negative association with discipline, and see it as punishment, it's really just a boundary you're creating to protect your baby from harm. Here are some suggestions for offering balanced discipline:
- Save it for important things, saying "no" firmly and removing her from the situation when your baby starts to play with something truly off-limits for safety reasons
- Respond immediately since the most effective discipline occurs when she is in the act of misbehaving
- Quickly distract your baby when she does something she shouldn't do
- You may have to repeat "no" several times before she gets it.
- Be consistent so she will catch on to what she can and cannot do
- Try to be patient (even when it's difficult)
- Reward her good behavior with praise and hugs
Baby's fears – when the vacuums become monsters
Baby's fears – when the vacuums become monsters
Ten-month milestones – from saying "mama" to waving bye-bye
All babies develop at different rates, but by the end of your baby's tenth month, he'll probably:
- Walk with you holding his hands
- Say "mama" and "dada" and know what they mean
- Stand holding on to someone or something
- Protest if you take a toy away
- Play hand games and wave bye-bye
People to See, Places to Go
In the tenth month, your growing little one may be ready to become a regular baby-about-town, interacting with people and showing off his developmental milestones. Help him deal with his broadening world this month by:
- Engaging your 10-month-old's mind
- Baby's fears
- Choosing the right baby shoes
- Helping your baby deal with new fears
- Simple milestones
By the end of this month, your baby might be walking, with a little help from you.
Puppet play, and other ways to engage you 10-month-old's mind
At this point, you can interact in an even more complex and creative way with your baby. Activities such as chatting with and singing to your baby are still effective.
You can also try these tips:
- Buy puppets or make them from old mittens or socks by drawing faces with marking pens (To help increase your baby’s language skills, make the puppet talk to your baby and encourage him to talk back)
- Cut out pictures of things such as a ball, animals, and other familiar objects from magazines and paste them in a scrapbook (Look at this scrapbook together and help him point to the pictures as you name them)
- Sing familiar songs and read nursery rhymes
Separation made simple – slow is the way to go
Continuing separation anxiety and fear of strangers are signs that your baby has a healthy relationship with you.
Fortunately, here are some ways you can cope with them:
- Do your best to leave him with people he’s familiar with
- Be sensitive to your baby's needs by introducing him to new people and new situations gradually and carefully (Try not to leave him when he’s tired, hungry, or sick)
- Practice separating by leaving him with someone in another room for short periods to teach baby that he’s OK when you're gone, and that you’ll always come back
- Leave quickly knowing his tears will gradually stop when you're gone
Choosing the right footwear for your baby
By the tenth month, baby needs new shoes. Look for the following in a baby shoe:
- Soft and flexible, allowing your baby to move his feet easily
- Flat, non-skid soles so he doesn't slide and fall
- Soft, porous tops that allow the foot to breathe
Baby shoes need not be expensive. Remember: Since your baby's feet will grow rapidly, the shoe size will have to keep pace. Check for sizing monthly.
Time for Do-It-Myself
Your baby's newfound independence has its challenges and its rewards
Smart play – engaging your 11-Month-old's growing mind
Because he's becoming so smart and inquisitive, your activities together become more interesting, engaging him cognitively and physically.
Here's what you can do together:
- Help him walk with (or without) support
- Ask him to find his favorite toy in his toy basket
- Provide push/pull toys for him to play with
- Roll or toss a large ball back and forth
- Encourage your baby to pick a toy off the floor without holding onto anything
- Continue to talk to your baby
When your baby talks back – and other signs he's getting older
After months of being talked to, your baby is starting to talk back. He may not use real words, but he can point to a favorite book or toy when you ask. And as he continues to babble, he may even say a word or two.
So keep talking to your baby. Introduce pronouns such as "he" and "she," colors and simple concepts. By the end of the first year, you'll be amazed at how much he understands and says.
Safety first – tips for preventing exploration mishaps
This month, your baby's probably cruising along while gripping the furniture, in love with the novelty of standing. While he's running about,
Consider protecting him from common baby mishaps with these safety tips:
- Buy safety gates or other barriers that are high and sturdy, have a straight top edge (instead of V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings) and a rigid screen, and are installed at the top and bottom of stairs
- Keep his play area clear of hard, sharp-edged furniture
- Lower his crib mattress so he can't crawl or fall out while he's standing
- Install easy-to-use childproof locks for drawers, screens, doors, and windows
- Keep poisonous substances (including household cleaners and products) in high cabinets that you can lock. (If you think your baby has eaten something poisonous, immediately call the Poison Control Center, the hospital emergency room or your baby's health care professional.) Always keep these numbers by the phone
- Stay close to your baby around water - pools, tubs, large buckets of water, even toilets
- Avoid leaving pots containing hot foods close to the edges of tables or counters
- Make sure you use plug protectors in any unused electrical outlets
Celebrating a Year of Milestones
As hard as it is to believe, it has been a year since you brought your tiny infant home and now he is developing a personality all his own
The power of hugs, and other ways to engage your 12-month-old's mind
This month, help him continue to develop by:
- Hugging and cuddling him often
- Soothing and calming him when he's fussy
- Smiling and talking to him as much as possible
- Rocking and loving him
- Playing games such as "pat-a-cake"
New activities to try:
- Sit baby at or near the table during family meals
- Show him how to pull a pull toy. (To prevent choking, keep toys with long strings put away when you can't watch your baby play)
- "Read" a picture book with him and identifying what you see on each page
Safety first – graduating to the next level of precautions
If you haven't already, now is a good time to make sure you've taken all the baby safety measures you can.
- Check that all approved safety gates are in place and in working order
- Lower the crib mattress so your baby can’t crawl or fall out while he's standing
- Install childproof locks for drawers, screens, doors, and windows
- Keep poisonous substances (including household cleaners) in high, locked cabinets
- Stay close to your baby around water - pools, tubs, large buckets of water, and toilets
- Continue to buckle your baby into an approved, properly installed car seat, but never in a seat protected by an air bag
- Place safety plugs over electrical outlets
- Call the Poison Control Center, the hospital emergency room, or your baby's doctor if you think your baby has ingested anything poisonous (Keep these numbers by the phone)
- Prevent choking hazards by buying your baby objects that are large enough that he can't fit them into his mouth
Tips for weaning baby off his bottle
Around 12 months of age, many babies are happy to abandon the bottle for a sippy cup. If your baby can't quite take that step yet,
Here are some things to try:
- Take it slow and trade the bottle for the cup at noontime
- Offer the cup instead of the morning and evening bottles
- Don't let your baby carry the bottle around with him, instead limit the places he can have it (on your lap, at the table)
- Give him a snack before bedtime to help him get to sleep
- Spend time with his favorite stuffed toy before bedtime, instead of the bottle
There may be some tears the first few nights but with your help your baby will soon find something he loves more than his bottle.