You will be thrilled as you watch your baby grow…
You had often watched other mothers and probably were struck by how fast their babies grow. Between those times when you did not see mothers and babies, a lot happened. Now that you have a baby of your own, you are in a better position to put all these development and changes into greater perspective.
Baby at 1 to 12 Weeks
This is probably the most important stage of her development when you give her the most attention and respond to her every call. At this early stage your baby is adjusting to the new changes to her world. You may be getting the feeling that it’s all feeding, sleeping, and diaper changing. You will not have any problem getting your baby to eat as she will demonstrate the natural instinct to search for food by rooting for the breast when she is hungry. By the second week she should be latching on correctly and getting her food. If not, see your lactation consultant.
First to second week, your baby will clench her hands, and her arms and legs are pulled in, imitating the same position she had while in the womb. By week 4 however, her muscles will relax and she begins to stretch. Her eyes are blurry at this stage and can only see 10 – 15 inches away. It is important to stay close to her at this stage. Your baby may only interact with you when it is time to feed as she sleeps constantly. At this stage, they are awake only 10% of the time and you may have to wake her to change her diaper.
During the first week she easily startles and wakes easily at the sound of loud noises. By the second week however, she doesn’t bother to wake up as she quickly gets used to this. Crying will be natural at this stage because this is what babies use to get your attention. However, some babies tend to get colic which may cause them to cry excessively. If you can’t seem to stop her crying, consult her pediatrician. The umbilical cord will fall off during the second week. Keep the area clean and dry during this time to prevent infection.
At weeks 3 and 4 your baby is more alert and there is more awake time during the days. Your baby may give her first smile and you will feel all bubbly as she starts to make cooing sounds. At week 4 also, the muscles have gotten stronger as she digs her heels in frustration when the food is delayed and she tries to get your attention. She is also able to raise her head and turn it from side to side during tummy time on her stomach. Her eyes are gradually clearing she is making a bit more eye contact. She still gets the startle effect when she changes her position and if she feels that she is falling. Your baby is now becoming more interactive. You will notice that she tends to quiet herself if you speak quietly to her when she fusses. By this, your baby will have her first “well-check” by her pediatrician who will give her a physical check to ensure she is developing properly.
Baby at 13 – 24 Weeks
Your baby has taken on lots of skills at this stage. She is responding to you by this and smiling back at you. By this she is turning her head at sounds, and making cooing and gurgling sounds. By 20 weeks you are now enjoying your time with her, and playtime is full of fun for her. She loves peek-a-boos sessions and now imitates your facial expressions. She will amuse herself also by babbling and mimicking your sounds. At this stage, she moves from just being able to lift her head, to raising her stomach. You will notice her trying to do the mini pushups that say “hey! I am ready to go”. Her muscles are so much stronger she can actually push down on her legs if you hold her in a standing position.
She can now open and close her hands as she now tries to get a-hold of things. Watch your baby swat after toys and dangling objects you hang in her crib as she tries to get at them. Her eye coordination has developed tremendously also and she can now focus on, and track objects. She can now recognize you from across the room. Encourage your baby’s development by giving her more attention and interaction. Provide toys that she can grab and that will develop her hand coordination. Talk to her often; play games with her.
Baby at 25 – 36 Weeks
These 12 weeks are an exciting time for your baby. Her communication skills are better and she is now holding babbling conversations with you. She can distinguish between your voice and others. This is the time when she will want to explore her world and she is more sensitive to your tone and warning if you should say “no”. She smiles and laughs more often and is definitely more active. Watch her roll from one place to the other trying to go after a toy all by herself. By week 36, she is sitting up all by herself and she can roll on her tummy too. Her grasp is now more coordinated as she can move objects from one hand to the other. You can help the process along by increasing play time with her. Hold conversations and let her talk back even if she babbles. Do not talk back in babbles. Get tiny-tot books with lots of pictures and read with her daily. Encourage the development of her physical abilities by providing objects that she can interact with.
Baby at 37 – 52 Weeks
You should be getting it now. Your baby is no more an infant. In these weeks leading up to her first year, she is on the move and shaping up to explore her world more. She is definitely stronger and is crawling around, scooting on her bottom or doing the army move by dragging herself on her tummy with the help of her hands and feet. She can also move around on her knees. If you see your baby not crawling, and instead pulling herself up and starts walking, don’t be surprised. Some babies do that.
Your baby will continue to babble which at this point sounds more like she is trying to hold a conversation. She is now forming her first words which usually start with “Mama” and “Dada”. Expect her to start using simple phrases to express herself. In the meantime she is using gestures a lot, and she will shake her head, for example to indicate what she doesn’t want. She loves to clap and play games and your role is to engage her in this way to encourage her development. She will try to imitate everything you do – from combing her hair and drinking from a cup, to pretending to talk on the phone. Congratulations! You and your baby have reached a huge milestone and you have done excellently.