As the proud parent of a brand new baby, you are likely getting settled in at home with your newest family member. While you get the hang of taking care of this dependent little human, you may have questions about what sort of baby development occurs during the first 6 weeks. Read on to see what you can expect during this phase. (Click at the bottom of the article to learn more about what to expect from baby, month by month.)
Baby Development Milestones To Watch For
Baby's ability to focus improves. Within these short weeks, you'll notice that your infant starts being able to better focus and track things within his vision. At first, your newborn will only be able to see things clearly within a foot of her face, but by the second month, this distance extends to about three feet.
Baby prefers faces (especially yours, Mom!). Newborn infants are naturally drawn to look at faces over objects (although a shiny object may draw their interest for short periods of time). Research shows that infants prefer to look at their mother's face over just about anyone else. They will usually focus on the eyes - likely due to the sharp contrast between the eyes and the rest of the face.
Baby follows the sound of your voice. Over these first six weeks, your baby will start to try and look to where he thinks your voice is coming from.
Baby appears to be listening. As you talk to your smallest family member, you may get a very serious expression in return. Your child's brain is actually already trying to tell the difference between sounds and tones of voice.
Baby starts to imitate faces. Toward her second month, your baby will begin to try copying your facial expressions. She may try to stick her tongue out when you do!
How To Help Your Baby
Have conversations with your baby, and remember eye contact! You may feel as though you're talking to yourself for quite a while (welcome to parenthood!) but talk to your baby during his or her awake time. Make frequent eye contact to keep the baby's interest, and tell him or her what you're doing, what the weather is like, what you'll be doing next. This early discussion is actually laying the beginning groundwork for speech development.
Practice visual tracking with your infant. Choose a high contrast toy or rattle (black and white, or highly contrasting, light/dark colors) and move it slowly across your infant's line of sight.
Install a mobile over baby's crib or bassinet. Infant mobiles are typically produced with bright shapes and colors to draw baby's interest. When turned on, the slow movement helps your child to track objects.
Include a mirror in baby's toys. Babies love faces, and are almost always intrigued by seeing their own face and movements. Ensure that your baby's mirror is unbreakable and has no dangerous corners or edges.
Common Concerns - The Moro Reflex
Many new parents are concerned when they see their bundle of joy suddenly startle and throw their arms and legs up in the air. Don't worry - your baby didn't get scared! This is a natural protective reflex that is part of typical baby development. It's triggered by sudden movements or loud noises, causing your baby to feel as if his or her neck isn't supported enough. Their natural response is to throw out their limbs and then draw them in close to their body. Babies may also cry afterward. This neurological reflex is a survival mechanism that typically dissipates between 3 and 6 months, and helps your baby regain his equilibrium. Many parents swaddle their infants at naptime and sleep time to help babies sleep through these startling episodes.
New Parent Help: "My baby cries all the time! Is this normal?
Crying is how babies express to their parents that they need something, since they have no other means of communication. Crying could indicate that the infant is hungry, needs a diaper change, needs a change of scenery or activity, or is simply fed up. Over time, parents will learn to distinguish between their individual baby's cries.
Above all, remember that babies are naturally wired to cry, and that some cry more than others (regardless of parenting skills!). At times, babies will cry when there is seemingly nothing wrong, which can be endlessly frustrating. Once making sure that your baby's needs are met, do your best to soothe him or her. If you find yourself having a hard time coping, ask your partner or a family member to step in so that you can step away. If you're alone, it is okay to put your infant in a safe place (like a crib or playpen) while you step away for just a couple of minutes.
What's Next? Click here to learn about month by month baby development - 2 months old.