Newborn Baby Development
What a tremendous moment it is, the first time you lay eyes on your newborn baby! The first time I was going to give birth I remember that I wondered if the baby was going to look like a complete stranger. But every time I have given birth, my baby has looked familiar in some way right from the start.
Maybe that’s because they are said to resemble their dads in the beginning so that he will feel safe that it is his child… At least that is what the old wives’ tale will tell you.
Newborn babies are so tiny and helpless. And they sleep and sleep and sleep. And eat. And poop. If breastfed, your little darling might actually poop every time he or she eats. (Some 8 times or more per day…) And you wondered how a new mom can be so busy… 😉
But they are also full of abilities that will help them survive. Do you know which?
Guide to the Newborn Baby
Newborn Baby Milestones
Did you know that not too long ago it was common to do surgery on newborn babies without anesthesia? The assumption was that they wouldn’t feel the pain anyway.
Today we know better!
Here are the development milestones and abilities of a newborn baby:
- Your infant has a sensitive skin and enjoys and needs skin contact. That is a reason it is often recommended that mothers who can’t breastfeed their baby take their top off as often as possible when bottle-feeding the infant.
- Babies have a well developed hearing already when still in the womb. Therefore, they often recognize their mother’s voice right from the beginning. A few weeks later, your baby will also recognize the voice of his dad and siblings.
- His or her sense of taste and smell is also well developed. Your baby prefers sweet tastes and can turn away from something that smells bad.
- Your baby’s vision is not at all as good. But right from the start, your baby is able to focus and follow a moving object. It can’t be too far away, though. His/her immature eyes can only focus about 8 to 10 inches from the face.
- The newborn baby sees black and white patterns and colors the best. It is believed that the distinction between other colors is not very good until at least 3 months of age.
- Already during their first weeks of living, babies prefer human faces to objects. Experts explain this by a portion of the brain being dedicated to this facial recognition. With this part of the brain relatively well developed right from the start, the baby is helped in his/her process to bond to his/her mother.
You’ll notice that your baby enjoys eye contact right from the beginning (the few moments that she is alert…).
- Don’t worry if your baby is cross-eyed in the beginning. The eye muscles are weak and uncoordinated, and will remain so to some degree until the baby is 3 months old.
- Already when newborn, a baby can also co-ordinate his senses, and for example watch dad stick his tongue out and mimic it. Give the baby some time if you try this, the imitation will come after a while!
- Even if many senses are well developed, the newborn baby does not have much control over her body. The limbs as well as her strong urge to suck are mainly controlled by reflexes.
- Some babies also fire off their first smile within days, while others wait a few weeks. Keep your camera ready!
- If you think your baby looks weird in anyway, read here about normal newborn appearance.
Games To Play
Talk to your baby! As he or she is likely to recognize your voice right from the start, this will make your child feel safe. Encourage dad and siblings to do the same, to speed up the baby’s recognition of their voices too.
Hearing your voice and looking into your eyes from a short distance is great fun for a new baby. Before you know it, he/she will start smiling at you and maybe even begin cooing. Wonderful!
You can also help your baby using her eyes by slowly moving your index finger to the right and left in front of his eyes. Make up a little rhyme while doing it. If you can, try to use the same rhyme every time you play the game, babies love routines!
Your new family member doesn’t really need any toys. He needs you! Being close to mom and dad is a favorite occupation.
For some stimulation, you could invest in a baby musical mobile to hang over your baby’s crib or changing table. It has to have bright colors and patterns to be interesting.
A mobile over the crib can be used to entertain your baby up until he is old enough to be able to pull himself up to reach it Then it has to go for security reasons.
A brightly colored finger doll (or black and white) can be a fun variation when playing to train the baby’s eyes muscles as described above.
Newborn Baby Video
Here is video showing a number of newborn babies and their abilities. For example, you can see the typical newborn movements and reflexes in this video.
More about the Newborn Baby
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