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Baby's First Month - Fun Ways to Help Them Develop




Right from the start, your baby has a set of reflexes designed to protect and ensure that he/she is getting the care they need. If this is your first, perhaps you have seen other newborns and are familiar with some of their early movements such as, the root reflex, which help locate the breast or bottle for feeding, the suck reflex to aid in eating, the palmer reflex which you see when they grip your finger when placed in the palm of their hands and the moro reflex when they are startled and jump.

    Yes, those first few weeks can be a magical time for you and your newborn getting to know each other and develop a routine. Baby has many milestones ahead of them and here’s some fun and easy ways to help them reach these key developmental markers over their first month, plus learn some helpful information new parents should know. 

Milestones : Physical

 Has Strong Reflex Movements

Practice with Baby: Lift your baby so her feet are resting on a flat surface, and she should mimic walking movements. Test her startle reflex by gently and safely dropping her into waiting hands. She will throw her arms outward. Stroke her cheeks and lips. This should prompt her to turn her head and open her mouth.

Parents Must-Know: Your baby's primitive reflexes should disappear after a few months.

Eyes Focus 8-12 Inches Away

Practice with Baby: Show him three similar toys (blue, yellow, and red) within his range of vision. He will most likely spend more time looking at the red one, but doctors aren't yet sure why. At this age, he probably can't tell the difference between similar colors, such as purple and pink. As he begins to focus on the toy more quickly, gradually increase the distance between the toy and his face.

Parents Must-Know: It is normal for your baby's eyes to occasionally cross or wander. That’s because the muscles that control eye movement aren’t yet fully developed, its nothing to worry about.


Hearing Is Fully Mature

Practice with Baby: It's sad to hear your baby upset after she is startled, but crying is a good and normal response after hearing a loud crash or bang. Hold her to comfort her or swaddle her to let her know she is safe.

Parents Must-Know: Your baby might also "shut down," as if she heard nothing when confronted with a loud sound or noisy, crowded room.


Prefers Sweet Smells

Practice with Baby: Place different foods and scents near your baby's face and watch his reaction. He should breathe deeply when he smells bananas or vanilla. Bitter or acidic scents, such as alcohol or vinegar, should cause him to turn his head in disgust.

Parents Must-Know: This natural instinct helps protect your baby from dangerous substances.

Arm & Leg Movements Become Smoother

Practice with Baby: By the end of the month, when you lay your baby on her stomach, she might look like she is trying to crawl. Lay her on her back, and she might seem like she's riding a bicycle.

Parents Must-Know: Jerky, quivering arm thrusts are normal for the first couple of weeks as her nervous system continues to develop.


Brings Hands Toward Eyes & Mouth

Practice with Baby: Touching your baby prompts her to move the parts of her body you touch. Kiss her hands and feet, stroke her arms and legs, and gently tickle her face.

Parents Must-Know: For the first several weeks, your baby's hands might remain in tight fists. Her tight, ball-like body position mimics the way she fit in your tummy.

Milestones : Cognitive

Prefers High-Contrast Patterns

Practice with Baby: Place a boldly patterned black-and-white toy in front of your baby's face. When it seems like his gaze is focused, slowly pass it side to side and up and down. Let him lie beneath a high-contrast mobile above his crib, changing table, or play mat.

Parents Must-Know: For the first couple of weeks, he might be ultrasensitive to bright light, but as his eyes develops, he has an easier time seeing and recognizing patterns.

Recognizes Some Sounds

Practice with Baby: Choose a favorite book to read aloud to your baby for several days in a row. Then take a break for a day or two. When you read it again, does she seem to recognize it?

Parents Must-Know: Some research shows this tactic works even when your baby is still in the womb.


Recognizes the Smell of Mama's Milk

Practice with Baby: If you are breastfeeding, place a breast pad near your baby's head. Even babies who are just a few hours old will turn their heads toward the familiar scent.

Parents Must-Know: When babies are met with a choice between their mother's breast pad and a breast pad with a different mother's milk on it, not only do they recognize their mom's smell, they prefer it.


Prefers Human Faces

Practice with Baby: When you are holding or feeding your baby, keep your face within his range of vision. Smile, sing, and talk to your baby to keep his attention.

Parents Must-Know: While live faces are best, babies prefer even pictures of faces over other patterns.


Turns Toward Familiar Sounds & Voices

Practice with Baby: Sing or talk to your baby in a high-pitched "baby talk" voice from across the room. See if she turns her head to find you. Also see if her arms and legs are moving or kicking in time with the rhythm of your speech.

Parents Must-Know: Most babies receive a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you ask your pediatrician to share the results.

Your First Month as a Parent