Friday, November 17, 2006

Infant Development

By Brandi M. Seals

Babies go through a lot of changes during their first year of life. Their minds are like little sponges, continuously sucking up knowledge. They begin to learn to speak during the first year and they become increasingly aware of the world around them. All though they come out as wrinkly, need machines that can do little for themselves, within the first year, a baby will learn to communicate what he wants, grab anything and even crawl from place to place.

Make sure your baby is on track with this comprehensive guide to baby development.

One Month
Everyone must get accustomed to having a baby in the house. They need a lot, especially at this stage. It may seem like you are stuck in an endless cycle of feeding, burping, diaper changing and soothing.

When the newborn arrives, parents will notice that they are wobbly little guys, unable to really control their heads. They can do little more than lying on their backs and look straight ahead. Your baby may turn on it his side from time to time or even grab for toys you present.

Within a few weeks, your baby will begin to respond more to external stimulation. She may be startled by loud noises or and respond to ever day noises, such as running water. The baby will likely respond to your voice at this stage.

Newborns are sensitive to the way you hold or feed them. They will let you know if they do not like what you are doing.

Two Months
Your baby is likely to smile and laugh. She will make various noises, such as cooing. She can probably lift her head and chest while lying on her stomach. You will notice your baby will turn towards sounds and even follow your movements with her eyes.

Four Months
Four month olds should be able to roll over from front to back. They can bear weight on their legs, sit up with support, and hold a rattle. Your baby's muscles are getting stronger with his constant movement.

Most children of this age require at least 2 naps during the day, generally ranging from an hour to two hours. They should also be sleeping through most of the night. If not, you may need to work on developing a bedtime routine.

Six Months
Your baby is probably about twice as heavy as she was when she was born. You will notice the baby beginning to imitate speech, reach for objects, and sit without support.

At six months, it is a good idea to cut back on a few things. If you have been using a pacifier, you will want to begin limiting its use. It is easier to do this at a young age, before a big attachment has been form. Start by only giving one to the baby while she is in the crib.

If the baby has been sleeping in your room, this would also be a good time to move him into his own room.

Nine Months
Babies at this stage can pull themselves into a standing position and stay standing with the aid of something to hold onto. They jabber and crawl around. They can wave bye and hello or blow kisses. You may notice the beginnings of some separation anxiety or nervousness around strangers.

Babies of this age love to explore and play games like peek a boo and patty cake.

Twelve Months
Most babies begin speaking around this age. They can say mama and daddy. They love to explore on two legs as long as there is something to hold on to. They love noise and can often be found banging things together.

To promoting your baby's development, you will want to hold her so she feels safe and loved. Play with her hands, let her study your face. This will help develop a bond. Speak to your child in everyday language. It will help her to learn. Ask questions and respond for her based on the baby's reaction. Describe everything, such as smells, sights, and emotions.

If something is not right
Your baby may not be right on track with the milestones. It is common for babies to exceed expectations in some areas while lagging behind in others. This is normal and should not be cause for concern. However, keep a look out for warning signs.

Consult a doctor if you notice any of these red flags by 3 months:
Floppiness
Lack of response to sounds or visual stimulation
No improvement in head control
No attempts to lift the head when lying facedown
Poor weight gain

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