on the arrival of your beautiful baby! For each month of your
baby's first year we will provide you with information, facts,
tips, support and links to other reso
related to baby development.
Please keep in mind that all babies
are unique. Whether your baby reaches milestones early or
late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing
lines between these months are very fuzzy. We advise you that
if you have any concerns or questions about your baby's development,
then please visit your child's pediatrician or your local
health care provider.
The first month is a celebration
of finally meeting your new baby face to face. No doubt you
are also tired, sore, and emotional. But in between changing
diapers, feedings, and cuddles, you will notice some wonderful
discoveries made by your baby -- from the very start.
What Newborns Look Like . . .
Nothing compares to the strong
feelings of love and attachment parents feel when they first
gaze upon their newborns. After nine long months, you marvel
at baby's little hands and toes, and scrutinize for signs
of mom's nose or dad's eyes. But life in the cramped quarters
of the womb and an arduous journey into the outside world
sometimes leave their mark on a newborn. Don't worry -- these
"marks" are what protect and support baby along the way. So
you may see baby with an asymmetrical head, puffy eyes, pushed
in nose, swollen genitalia, cheesy covering on skin, and red
patches on forehead and eyelids.
In no time, baby will have flawless,
soft skin and irresistible pudgy arms and legs.
I Can Hear You . . .
Studies have shown that newborns,
who have heard mommy's voice for several months in utero turn
toward mommy when she speaks. They respond to soft, higher
pitched voices and soothing, gentle rhythms. And they recognize
daddy's voice too. Soft music from the radio, a CD or -- best
of all -- sung by mom and dad is very comforting as baby settles
into the outside world. Keep talking and singing to her; she
is absorbing every sound you make.
A Feast for the Eyes . . .
Also during the first few days,
except for fleeting moments, baby's eyes are mostly closed.
Soon though, her eyes will open for longer periods. She is
visually attracted to high-contrast patterns and shapes that
are round. This month she can see up to about eight to ten
inches away, the perfect distance to see your face and to
take aim when puckering up to your breast.
A Conversation . . .
It makes sense why parents make
exaggerated facial gestures and speak slowly with loving,
higher pitched voices to their new babies. This is baby communication.
Baby may not make eye contact for a few weeks after birth,
but she responds with cuddles in your arms.
Hold Your Hand . . .
Baby is born with reflexes that have evolved for survival.
You have probably already seen baby turn her head, searching
or rooting for breast or bottle. Or has baby been startled
and quickly extended arms out to grab hold of you? Another
reflex is baby's strong grip. Put your finger in her palm
and feel her tight grip. She is not going to let you go. These
reflexes are inborn mechanisms for baby to find and hold onto
Life With Diapers . . .
One of my friends shared a story
of the first night with her son. She, her husband, and her
parents, all with post graduate degrees, scrambled to change,
wipe and rediaper their baby boy. It took four adults to change
a diaper on that first night home.
Actually, after the first night,
most parents become quite adept at changing diapers. Practice
makes perfect. Maybe parents would prefer to do just about
anything else, but diaper changing time is a very important
way to support baby. It is a time when baby watches you closely,
listens to you talk or sing, and feels your gentle touch.
From baby's perspective, it is intimate way for mommy or daddy
to meet an important need and make her feel warm and comfy
And then there's diaper rash.
It doesn't take much for a rash to develop because urine and
feces are acidic. When held against baby's soft, sensitive
skin, they create an irritation. The best way to support a
baby with a diaper rash is to take the diaper off and let
baby enjoy the fresh air. Some parents have recommended fanning
baby's bottom after cleaning. Then there are those who swear
by the blow dryer. Check with your newborn's health provider
on any rash or sensitivity caused by diapers.
Sleep . . .
Putting babies on their backs to
sleep has dramatically reduced the incidence of Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome (SIDS). This may be contrary to what our parents
remember being told about positioning when putting us down
to sleep when we were newborns.
The Sound of Baby . . .
No matter how much you prepare,
no new parent is ready for the intense feelings when you hear
your newborn cry... and cry... and cry. While there is variability
from one infant to the next, and from one day to the next,
most infants spend up to seven percent of their day crying.
It is an involuntary response to something causing discomfort
for baby. Pretty soon, you'll have a mental checklist:
When did baby last eat? Is it time
to check the diaper? Does baby need to burp? Does baby need
to sleep? Is there too much stimulation in the environment?
Some parents can even learn to
identify types of crying, including:
1.The rhythmic hungry cry
that becomes louder and stronger as baby's tummy continues
2.The mad cry that is also rhythmic but much more intense.
3.The cry of pain or a shriek, followed by a small
period of silence and then a vigorous wave of wails.
You will learn how to comfort your
baby -- how she likes to be held, whether she likes a pacifier,
if she prefers rocking and singing softly, or maybe something
else. Responding promptly to baby's cry is a way of communicating
your love and support. Studies have shown that parents who
responded to infants' cries quickly had babies who actually
cried less. So, follow your intuition and pick up baby when
she is calling out. Remember, it's her primary form of communication!
Curve is Steep . . .
This month you become the expert
on your baby. You are developing strategies to support your
baby and meet her needs. Parents have shared with me techniques
to help baby when she is upset that include swaddling baby
in a soft blanket, holding baby upright against a shoulder,
breastfeeding, rocking and more.
All parents feel frustrated at
times -- life with a newborn is an emotional roller coaster.
You are overjoyed to meet baby face to face, recovering from
the exhaustion of labor, and on top of it all -- getting less
sleep than ever before.
the child by the hand takes the mother by the heart."
- German Proverb