Newborns. It is amazing how skilled your brand new little one is. They have several reflexes that come to play right from the start. Most notable is the rooting reflex, allowing them to turn their head with the intention to try and suck when their cheek or mouth is stimulated or touched, as well as the grasp reflex, gripping your finger when offered. Their sight is limited, but they still can see within a range of 4 to 12 inches, just the right distance between mom’s breast and face - not a coincidence, I would say. As they observe in close range, they will experiment with mimicking your actions and facial expressions. This is a neat thing to see. Their head and neck are surprisingly strong, but not very coordinated, so although you can be impressed, still be careful.
One to three months old
Lots of development occurs during this period of time. You will notice your little one more attentive to sounds, and your baby will turn toward those sounds. Their sight will significantly improve, and they will begin to track and follow objects you place across their vision line. Their neck strength is improving every day and by three months old, they should have pretty great control and be able to hold their head up for short periods of time. Your little one will be opening their fists, too, and will try to hold items you place in their palm. Cooing has begun. Your baby will be making all kinds of wonderful sounds attempting to communicate with you. Probably the best and most rewarding part of this stage is your baby starts to smile! There comes a point where we know it isn’t just gas anymore, and they are actually responding to us. Such a great reward!
Four to six months old
Let the laughter begin! Usually around four months, your little one will begin to laugh. There is nothing better than being able to engage with your baby and get the response of laughter. Your baby will be rolling from tummy to back, so prepare yourself to be on the move with them. During this time, your baby will be attempting to reach out for toys and will try and put the toys to their mouth to tactilely explore them. The coveted nighttime sleep may be in sight for you at this stage. Baby’s sleep patterns become more consistent, and the length of sleep in the night becomes longer and longer. Some babies will start to sleep through the night at this stage (hallelujah!). Baby’s core is much stronger and they will be learning to sit up, so set up a pillow fort around them as they learn this skill. Some babies will even cut a tooth or two at this stage. It is also common for them to show some stranger anxiety and become even more attached to mom and dad.
Seven to nine months old
Your baby is on the move. Your baby will be crawling, creeping or shuffling, so it’s definitely time to baby-proof the house! Baby will also be attracted to the stairs, so watch out! This is a nerve-racking but necessary developmental stage. You will be climbing a lot of stairs right along with them to keep them out of trouble. They will be able to sit up unsupported and will be switching between lying down and seated frequently. Speech is becoming organized, what fun as they imitate sounds! You will start to hear their first words like “dada” and/or “mama.” Their coordination is ramping up. Not only are they figuring out crawling, they are also starting to bang toys together, grasp toys with their thumbs and fingers, and wave ‘good-bye.’ So many changes.
10 to 12 months old
Your little one will be attempting to pull themselves up and unsteadily stand before they attempt their first steps. They will be able to stand for a couple of seconds on their own. Your baby can put items into a container, feed themselves finger foods and drink out of a cup. They won’t be neat, but they can do it - just prepare yourself for this ‘messy stage’ of life. Your baby will continue to mimic sounds and actions. They will be able to understand simple instructions and understand the word “no.” They will try to communicate their wants with gestures, and they will be attempting to take steps on their own and stoop from a standing position.
There is so much growth and development in the first year of life. It is so amazing to watch it unfold, and see the skills and abilities in your little one flourish. Enjoy this time with them as you help encourage and build on their development.
Sharon is the owner of Calgary Birth Essentials, and has over 15 years experience educating and supporting families having babies in Calgary. Calgary Birth Essentials offers small group and private prenatal classes, birth doula services and lactation consultations. For more information, visit calgarybirthessentials.com.
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