What kinds of development occur in your baby's first month?
Babies are called newborns during their first month of
life. Although your newborn sleeps a lot, powerful changes are occurring in the
five major areas of development.
Watching your baby grow in size is part of the fun of being a new parent. Don't
be alarmed if your newborn loses some weight shortly after birth. This weight
usually is regained within 10 to 12 days. Most newborns gain about
4 oz (113 g) to
8 oz (227 g) a week and grow
about 1 in. (2.5 cm) to
1.5 in. (3.5 cm) in the first
Cognitive development. Cognition is
the ability to think, learn, and remember. Your newborn's brain is developing
rapidly. You promote healthy brain growth every time you interact in a positive
way with your baby.
Emotional and social development. Newborns quickly learn to communicate. They seek
interaction with you and express how they feel with sounds and facial
expressions. At first, instinctual behaviors, such as crying when
uncomfortable, are your baby's ways to signal his or her needs. Soon your
newborn starts to subtly communicate and interact with you. For example, your
baby's eyes will track your movements. And his or her face will brighten when
you cuddle and talk soothingly. Even at a few days old, your baby may try to
mimic you sticking out your tongue.
Language development. Your newborn is listening to and absorbing the basic and
distinct sounds of language. This process forms the foundation for
Sensory and motor skills development. Newborns have all five senses. Your newborn quickly learns
to recognize your face, the sound of your voice, and how you smell. Your
newborn's sense of touch is especially developed, particularly around the
mouth. Your baby also has a strong sense of smell. After a few days, your
newborn hears fairly well and responds most noticeably to high-pitched and loud
sounds. Your baby recognizes and prefers sweet tastes to those that are sour,
bitter, or salty. Vision is developing quickly but is believed to be the
weakest of the senses.
Motor skills develop as your baby's muscles and nerves
work together. Movements are mostly controlled by
reflexes, such as the rooting reflex, which is when a
newborn's head turns and his or her mouth "reaches" toward a touch. Hands are
tightly fisted when the baby is alert.
How can you help your newborn grow and develop?
The most important way to help your baby grow and develop is to
communicate with him or her. Use a high-pitched voice, gentle touch, hugs, and
kisses. An environment that is rich in stimulation, comfort, and loving
attention enhances many areas of a baby's development. Research shows that
babies who are talked to throughout their first few years usually learn
language skills more easily than those who are not. Newborns are more
interested in their caregivers than they are in toys or other objects.