During the first few weeks from birth, your baby’s development is very rapid. Amongst the sleepless nights and nappy changes, it is important to look at how your baby is developing and report this at check-ups. Although some infants skip some stages, being able to match your baby’s development to typical trajectories will enable difficulties to be spotted and treated early. This article will help to inform you about what you can expect to see, as well as how you can aid your baby’s development.
In the first month, your baby will go through a range of development. From day one your baby’s language abilities start developing and research has demonstrated that at four weeks they can tell the difference between ‘ma’ and ‘na’. They also have the ability to ‘baby babble’ with coos, gurgles, and hums to express their feelings. Talking back in ‘motherese’ will aid their development further.
During this stage, your baby’s hearing is very sensitive and fully developed, they will turn their head to the source of the sound and may react differently to different sounds. However, their vision is very fuzzy with a distance around 30cm. They also can track a moving object but forget it existed when the object disappears. To aid development here, choose bright and noisy toys, as well as hanging a mobile above their cot. This will help your baby’s tracking skills and focus.
This month, your baby begins to discover they are a separate person from you, however, they still lack coordination at this stage. Neck muscles are still weak, although you may find that your baby is able to hold their head up briefly when lying on their tummy or being held.
At this age, you should start getting your first smiles. This is the stage where as a parent you become more settled in your routine and start feeling more ‘normal’ again. Your baby will start sleeping for more solid blocks. They will also begin drooling as their salivary glands develop. Alongside this, colour differences are becoming clearer and they start to distinguish between colours. Your baby will prefer bright primary colours and clear designs and shapes, the distance will also increase to around 60cm.
Further development of the hearing will enable your baby to differentiate between voices they’ve heard more frequently. Babies prefer listening to female voices and their mother’s voice, however, regularly talking to your baby will increase voice familiarity. When a voice becomes more familiar is becomes a better way to sooth and calm the baby. When speaking to your baby give them time to respond with looks and babble.
Movements start to become more co-ordinated and start kicking out when lying down. This is a great exercise to strengthen their legs and should be encouraged to aid muscle development. Their neck muscles also become stronger and can hold their heads up for short periods. They may also start rolling around more, but not yet able to fully roll over. Their grasping reflexes are still present, but they will begin unclasping their fists. Introducing your child to a baby gym will help them to develop movement and coordination.
During this time, your baby continues to develop their coordination as well as connections being made in the brain. Your baby will begin to develop more of a sense of touch and awareness of things around them. To increase development, provide your baby with a rich environment of different textures, as well as providing lots of skin to skin contact. They also develop a sense of cause and effect, becoming aware that when they hit something it moves.
Spending a brief period of the day on their tummies, ‘tummy time’, will improve your baby’s coordination, muscles and motor skills needed for movement. They will also have a full range of motion in their arms and legs. Their joints become stronger and they are able to kick harder and in a more coordinated manner. Hand-eye coordination can also be increased by using a range bright toys and a mobile.
It is important to remember that all babies are different and although encouragement can aid development, every baby is programmed to do things at their own pace. As mentioned, some may skip stages (typically later or when they may skip crawling) and they may also start stages a lot earlier than others. There is a considerable influence from cultural practices on baby development and room for variation in any developmental milestones.