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Health & Baby

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Baby Development: Your 1-month-old


Being born is hard work. For the first few weeks, it seems that all your newborn will want to do is sleep. In fact, newborns sleep 15 to 16 hours a day. Those hours may be erratic, because baby hasn’t yet adjusted to the normal day and night cycle. You can help your baby adjust by limiting activities to daytime, and keeping things quiet, dark, and boring at night. Eventually he will get the hint that day is for play and night is for sleep.

Also, your 1-month-old’s sleep cycles are much different than yours. Unlike adults, newborn babies spend more time in REM sleep than in deeper non-REM sleep. That means they may wake up fairly easily during those first few weeks.

The Senses

Babies are born with very fuzzy eyesight. Newborns are very nearsighted. Your baby can see objects and people most clearly when they are just 8 to 12 inches away. That means he can see your face while he is nursing, and in fact, will prefer looking at you than at a stuffed animal, because infants are naturally drawn to human faces. They also prefer high-contrast objects because they’re easier to see (although you needn’t outfit your entire nursery in black-and-white; bright colors are good, too).

You may notice that your 1-month-old’s eyes cross when trying to focus. That is normal, because a newborn's eye control hasn’t fully developed. However, if they remain crossed at three or four months, call your pediatrician, because it could be a sign of strabismus (crossed eyes).

Although a newborn's hearing isn’t yet fully developed, babies can recognize sounds -- especially their parents’ voices, which they got used to hearing in the womb. They especially like high-pitched sounds; so don’t get too annoyed when your mother-in-law uses that squeaky baby voice every time she talks to your newborn. If baby doesn’t seem to be responding at all to sound, be sure to mention this to your pediatrician at your well visits. Many states screen all babies’ hearing at birth, but be sure to mention hearing concerns to your pediatrician even if the birth test was OK.

Like many older children (and adults), babies prefer sweet tastes. Their taste buds aren’t yet mature enough to distinguish bitter and sour. They have a well-developed sense of smell, and can already pick out the scent of their mother’s nipple, and breast milk, within the first few days of life.

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