I still remember coming home with my newborn and thinking "What now?"
It can be overwhelming, being responsible for the development of a newborn baby, especially if you had no preparation to understand how this little human develop and what you should focus on to do your part.
Before I dive in to explain the progress of baby development I want to make one thing clear, no toy can replace the face-to-face and skin-to-skin contact that you have with your baby. Building that physical bond and connecting with your baby, is the most important thing you must do. Everything else is secondary. Stop worrying about a perfectly clean house, stop worrying about what the in-laws will say, stop worrying about having to force your child into a mold because that is what society expects. Connect with your child, bond with your child and follow your instinct. Believe me, you do know best, God made us parents that way.
Enjoy the ride, they grow up so incredibly quickly!
What follow below is some information on how babies develop but please keep in mind that every baby is unique and make connections differently. Some babies smile quicker, others like tummy time while others skip over the crawl stage altogether. If you have any concerns please discuss with your doctor.
Newborn Baby (First Month)
What can my baby see?
Babies see up to about 8 - 10 inches (20 - 25 cm) from his face
Babies see high contrast best and only in black and white when born
Babies love human faces (especially if there is contrast like bearded faces etc)
Round shapes also fascinates new born babies
Although a newborn´s sense of hearing is not as well developed as the sense of smell, touch or taste, it is definitely one of the most important senses to your baby since this is the most likely tool they will use to learn how to communicate. As a fetus your baby started to hear as early as the 24th week of gestation and yes, mommy´s heartbeat was most probably the first sound your baby heard. No wonder the maternal heartbeat has proven to be very comforting for babies especially when agitated. A lot of intensive care units use the sound of maternal heartbeat for the treatment of critically ill babies.
Since your unborn baby can hear very well during your last trimester, you should be careful about the sound your baby is exposed to.
Touch is one of the most advanced senses that a newborn has and they can feel hot, cold, rough, smooth, soft and firm. Newborns rely on their sense of touch, taste and smell a lot more during those early days than any of their other senses. These senses are the most developed at birth and doesn't require a lot of effort. The sense of smell is responsible for the bonding that take place between mom and baby and therefore plays a critical role in early emotional development. A one week old baby has no problem telling the difference between the smell of his/her mommy's breast milk and that of another woman. A baby´s development of taste starts early on in the womb when they have the privilege of sharing mommy´s food through the chemical substances present in the amniotic fluid. A newborn can distinguish between salt, sweet, sour and bitter and prefers sweet over sour. DouDous and age appropriate soft toys are perfect "first toys" for newborns. The absorb the smell of mommy and help your baby feel secure when mommy is not around but the toy smelling like mommy is safely within reach.
Your baby is born with a set of involuntary reflexes. By the age of three months these reflexes will be lost else your baby´s development will be delayed.
Stroke your newborn´s cheek and watch how your baby´s face turns towards the cheek being stroked. Your baby will ´root around´ for a nipple in order to feed.
When startled or if your baby feels he is falling, your baby will spread out arms and legs in a star shape and arch her back. This is known as the involuntary Moro´s reflex.
If you hold up your newborn and let his/her feet touch a flat surface, your baby will make step movements.
Your newborn baby has an involuntary grasp reflex - try putting your fingers against your baby's palms and watch how he/she will grasp them tightly.
If a newborn´s palms are touched, they will make a very tight fist this is an unconscious reflex action called the Darwinian reflex and it disappears within two to three months.
The hands of a newborn baby are closed most of the time and they have little control over them. As a result of the Darwinian reflex, a newborn infant will grasp at an object placed in their hands, but without any awareness that they are doing so. At some point their hand muscles relax, and they drop the object, equally unaware that they have let it fall.
Babies may begin flailing at objects that interest them by two weeks of age but cannot grasp them.
When lying on his tummy:
- Your baby will lift his feet a little and try to bend his knees
- Your baby will try to lift his/her head for a second or two. Something that is very difficult because the head is too heavy for his back and neck muscles but still a very important exercise.