Fast-Track Your Baby’s Development Month-By-Month
Parenting a Newborn and an Infant – Comprehensive Guide
There is nothing more overwhelming than the feeling of being a first-time parent. You’re all giddy and excited, worried and confused all at the same time.
You’ve prepared yourself for nine whole months – or maybe your whole life – and yet when you have the actual baby in your arms, you quite don’t know what to do.
First, please relax and bear in mind that every parent went through what you’re going through right now and yet they survived – which means that you will, too! See your baby’s development here so that you could keep track of how you’re guiding your little one.
The Newborn Stage
The newborn stage is the first few months of a baby’s life after birth. There is no definite amount of time at this stage. Some say 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 2 months, even up to 3 months, but every baby is different, and this stage lasts until they are more of an infant.
A newborn’s life is pretty simple. During this stage, babies basically just feed, sleep and poop. They need to feed ideally every 2-3 hours (breastfed) or 3-4 hours (formula-fed). They sleep for about 16-17 hours each day which are broken up into small fragments of 2-4 hours. Waking hours are spent during feeding, then they doze off again when they are full. Little by little, their waking hours become longer, and you will sometimes see them wide awake, looking around, but this only lasts for about 5-30 minutes at a stretch.
Developmental Stages of a Newborn
- From birth, babies already have their own reflexes as soon as they are out of the womb. These reflexes are:
- The Rooting Reflex – which begins when the cheek or the corner of the mouth is stroked lightly. The baby’s head will then turn and the mouth will open to the direction where he/she was touched. This helps babies find the breast or the bottle for feeding. This lasts up to 4 months.
- The Suck Reflex – which is their innate ability to suck when the roof of their mouths are touched. This reflex begins in the 32nd week of pregnancy and is then fully developed by the 36th In some three-dimensional or four-dimensional ultrasounds, babies can be seen sucking their thumb while still inside the womb.
- The Moro Reflex or the Startle Reflex – which is their natural reaction to a startling, loud sound. Some newborns are deep sleepers, but some are easily woken up by sounds. When a newborn gets startled, her arms and legs extend out, she cries, then pulls the legs and arms back in. Sometimes, their own cries startle them which then triggers this reflex. Parents resort to cuddling their babies or swaddling, which is wrapping up newborns tightly in swaddle wrap or muslin blankets so that their arms and legs wouldn’t extend out when startled, giving them the feeling of being inside the womb again. This reflex lasts until they are 2 months old.
- The Grasp Reflex – which is their ability to grasp something tightly which stroked their palms. This reflex lasts until they are 5 to 6 months old.
- The Stepping Reflex – which happens when they are held upright and they start to “take steps” when their feet touch the solid ground or one’s lap. This reflex lasts until they are 2 months old.
- After a week
- Head control: Newborns are able to lift their heads briefly while lying on their tummies. This lasts for only a few seconds because their muscles are not yet steady.
- Vision: Newborns are near-sighted. They can see faces really close, about 8-10 inches from them, but these images are in black and white and are still blurry.
- Hearing and sense of smell: By now, they are familiar with their mother’s scent and voice, and can recognize her when she’s nearby. They are also familiar with the sounds they hear when they are still in the womb, that’s why parents use white noise or sounds of heart beating to soothe their fussy babies or put them to a deep slumber.
- Tips to help their development: Converse with your baby as much as possible. Respond to their needs and make sure they are comfortable in every aspect.
- After a month
- Head control: Babies can now lift their heads higher and more steadily.
- Vision: Images are still blurry, but they can now focus on something nearby. When talking to your baby, he can now lock his eyes with yours and sometimes even track you while you are moving.
- Hearing: Babies’ hearing is fully developed by now. He will turn his head towards the direction of where a sound is coming from. He may blink or get startled when you clap your hands or make a loud sound.
- Tips to help their development: You may help their vision improve by showing them high-contrast, black and white images. You can also help them discover their body parts. Babies are not aware that they have arms and legs, so you can pull their hands to their face so they can see and get to know them.
- After 2 months
- Head control: By this time, babies now have enough control to hold his head up while being carried, but just briefly. They still need support on their necks while being carried upright because their muscle is still wobbly.
- Vision: Babies now are learning to distinguish colors. From birth, most of they see are black and white, and this improves over time.
- Hearing: By now, babies can “converse” with you. They have their own response to what you are saying because they can hear you now more clearly and they are starting to distinguish your tone and pacing. They are also starting to smile at this stage, which is a very big deal because they can now show how they are comfortable with you and you are appreciated.
- Tips to help their development: While conversing with your little one, try talking slowly, then try talking faster. Try talking quietly, then loudly. Watch their reactions and if they are responding to you. You can also show them colorful images with primary colors to help improve their vision.
How to know when you’re past the newborn stage
You know you already made it when you can already take care of yourself, the household
chores, the grocery, everything that you have been putting on hold since your little one came along. It means that you have already made your routine, and so does your baby. All the beautiful chaos of the newborn stage has now vanished, but the beauty remains. Do you want to get specific? Here are some signs that the smoke has cleared:
- Showering again – Yes! You may still have the paranoia that you can hear your baby crying while you’re in the shower, but hey, at least now you can pop in some conditioner and shaving, too.
- You do things quicker – Have you noticed that you eat, go to the bathroom, wash dishes, walk, and even sleep in a hurry? It became your thing to do things faster so that you could attend to your little boss in an instant. By now, you can relax and do things more slowly. Take your time and just enjoy each day with your little one.
- Your baby is now showing his/her personality – As weeks and months pass, you notice a gradual change in your baby as you two are conversing. You know when your baby has passed the newborn stage when he/she is already talking, smiling and laughing back at you.
- You change fewer diapers – As your baby’s gut matures, his poop interval becomes longer and longer, some even poop after 5-7 days, and it’s all normal. As a result, no more round-the-clock diaper changing, and you’re not really bothered anymore even when your baby is in a soiled diaper for a few minutes.
- You can have a date night – Now that your baby has settled into a routine, you can now leave your baby to someone you really trust (like a family member or a relative) for a few hours and have some time for yourself and your partner.
- You sleep longer – Why? Because your baby can now go on long hours without a feeding. As time goes by, babies start to distinguish day from night, especially when you provide an environment which clearly shows the difference. When a baby’s body clock goes into the proper rhythm, he/she becomes more awake during the day and sleep longer hours at night, and so will you.
- For a breastfeeding mom, feedings become quicker – By now, you have mastered how to breastfeed your little cherub in every position possible. The breastfeeding pain is gone, your milk supply is established and both of you are now more in tune with each other.
The Infant Stage
Babies are called infants when they are already past the newborn stage. Certain developmental processes mark the beginning of the infant stage, such as having an established routine.
The Infant Stage (3-12 months) is the stage for the most rapid learning and growth. Babies start discovering a lot of things. Each month has its own surprises you wouldn’t want to miss. They say that babies grow fast, and this statement cannot be truer. One moment you laid your baby down briefly to change your clothes, the next moment he already rolled from his back to his tummy and you cannot do anything but just thank the lucky stars you positioned him in the middle of the bed.
- At 3 months
- Head control: Babies have much more control now. They can hold their head up without much support, even when held upright. When lying on their tummies, they can now raise their head and chest.
- Motor skills: By now, some babies can roll from their backs to their tummies. If your baby is not ready yet, don’t force him/her, some babies need some time and he/she will be ready soon.
- Touch: Your baby is now discovering his hands. He may try to reach your face or your finger, anything that is nearby. His sense of touch is also improving, and he’s learning as you let him feel a different texture.
- Vision: If by last month they can only track things nearby, they can now track someone or something from a distance. Some babies can even converse from afar.
- Hearing: Babies now love to hear different voices, different sounds, and different music.
- Speech: Babies can now babble vowel sounds (“aaaah”, “ooooh”) back at you. Try to distinguish their tone if they are happy or uncomfortable.
- Tips to help their development: When talking to your baby, use adult words as much as possible. It seems early but you are actually setting your baby’s first words. You can also do baby talk and converse with them in a high-pitched voice because they usually respond to this tone. Always watch for their reaction and get a response as much as you can. This improves their communication skills. You can also try conversing with them from afar and see if they can already respond to you. This means their vision is clearer as well as their hearing. Play some soothing music to help them get ready for bed, and more upbeat music during the daytime when they are the most active. You can also help them develop their sense of touch by letting them play with different textured materials, or maybe do a lot of skin-to-skin contacts. This does not only improve their development, but this also lets you bond with your baby, too.
- At 4 months
- Head control: By this time, babies can now hold their head up steadily while they are being carried upright. No neck support is necessary, only the back and the spine should be supported.
- Motor skills: Rolling over is possible now. Some babies start early, while some start from 5-6 months, and that’s okay, too.
- Touch: Your baby’s sense of touch has improved during the past month, and he is now interested in specific textures (crinkly, smooth, furry).
- Vision: Babies’ vision has now improved from primary colors to colors that are similar to each other (example: red and orange).
- Hearing: Babies can now pick up parts of your speech. If by the past months they can only distinguish your tone and pacing, now they can already recognize words that are spoken to them more frequently. For example, they can recognize their name or nickname and possibly can respond to it.
- Speech: If by last month they can only say vowel sounds, their speech has improved and can now add some consonants to the mix. They may also try to imitate you as you are conversing with them.
- Tips to help their development: This is a good time for you to show more colorful books and mobile to help develop their vision. Some mobiles and toys also offer different textures and sounds (bells & clinking sound) for your baby to experience. When you are conversing with your baby, try speaking some easy and fun words and see if they are going to respond to it or imitate you.
- Teething: This may be the time for the first tooth to emerge, somewhere between this month to the 6th But some babies take longer. It will be a tricky situation because your baby may become fussy and difficult to handle due to the pain, all it takes is a lot of patience and comforting.
- At 5 months
- Head control: By this time, babies now mastered their head control.
- Motor skills: Babies can now sit up, but not yet steadily. They still need pillows or cushions to prop them up or to fall back down on if they are still wobbly.
- Touch: The most important touch that babies need to improve theirs is yours. Try massaging your baby to help him relax and fall asleep.
- Vision: Babies can now recognize a wide range of sizes and shapes, nearby or from a distance. Some babies can now track small, moving objects from afar. Try going to the other side of the room and see if they can track you or something you are holding.
- Hearing: Babies are now picking up everything they hear altogether and this helps improve their speech, because everything they hear, they try to imitate.
- Speech: As their speech improves, they will start adding more and more sounds. They may growl, squeak, make a high-pitched sound, or gurgle. By this time, they will be starting to “blow raspberries.” This is a milestone you will definitely enjoy because when babies discover that they can do something, they will do it over and over again.
- Taste: You may notice from the past months that your baby has been putting his hand/fist to his mouth. This month is a good time for their grasps to improve, so keeping their toys clean is a must because there’s a good chance that they will be putting all kinds of things in their mouths to stimulate their taste buds.
- Tips to help their development: During this month, you can help your baby sit up by positioning his legs in a V-shape in front of him, then placing a toy between his legs for him to focus on. Also, you can try putting a toy in his one hand, and then hand him another, and watch if he will pass the toy from one hand to the other for him to be able to hold the other toy.
- At 6 months
- Motor skills: By now, your baby must be crawling, or somewhat crawling. Others take their time with this ability and there’s no point in rushing. His motor skills have definitely improved and he can now go from being on all fours into his sitting position. Continue giving him tummy time for him to strengthen his muscles.
- Touch: Your baby is now very fascinated with different activities that stimulate his sense of touch (running his hands through silk cloth, sandpaper, running water, etc.). This also helps with his introduction to solid foods, so familiarity with different textures help him with the different textures of foods that he will be eating this month.
- Vision: Babies can now pick up even the tiniest details. The buttons on your blouse, the mole on your cheek, the pendant of your necklace. You may notice him staring at these for a few seconds. He is now taking in the details that he never noticed before.
- Hearing: This is the best time for babies with hearing problems to get help. You will know that your baby has a hearing problem when she doesn’t imitate the sounds around her, she doesn’t turn her head to the direction of a sound, she doesn’t respond to a voice/sound when in a quiet environment, or when she hasn’t begun babbling to herself or responding to others talking to her. These are red flags and should be a matter of concern.
- Speech: Babies continue on picking up from their surroundings and can now combine consonants and vowels into one word. Example: “gah”, “puh”
- Taste: Your baby is now ready to take his first solid food. This is an exciting milestone because he will be learning new tastes and textures through food. This is also his start to weaning, as he transitions (gradually) from milk to solids. Start by introducing mashed or pureed vegetables to practice his chewing and swallowing ability, as some babies still have their Tongue-Thrust Reflex (their natural reflex to push out their tongue when something touches their lips).
- Tips to help their development: Babies at this point, love to learn new things. They should have plenty of stimulation through toys, books, and different kinds of learning material. They should also have a quiet moment to themselves, such as quietly playing with building blocks or stacking cups. When talking to your baby, you can say a syllable over and over again, such as “ma”, “pa”, or “da”, so that he can hear them more clearly and set them as new words to try.
- At 7 months
- Motor skills: Your baby has much more control over his environment now. He can roll and crawl now to where he wants to go, so watch out. You can also encourage his movement more by placing toys out of his reach so that he can go for them. By now, he can also sit unassisted, but some babies still fall back down from time to time, so be sure to still put some pillows or cushions around him so that he will not fall on hard surface.
- Vision: Babies now are not anymore very interested in their mobiles, but are more fascinated in and entertained by books with big, colorful images, so read to them during their play time to also improve their hearing.
- Hearing: From this point on, babies continue on picking out parts of speech by listening intently to those talking around them. They also like to listen to different interesting sounds like animal sounds and different instruments.
- Speech: You may notice him now saying a syllable over and over again. As months pass by, more and more syllables will add to his vocabulary.
- Taste: Eating during the past month has improved his ability to chew and swallow, so introducing chunkier foods can be a new fun experience to try.
- Tips to help their development: As soon as your baby can sit unsupported and can hold his body steady, bath-time can now be more fun. Introduce floating toys in bathtubs such as duckies, sponges and pouring cups, and let him watch you while you use them so that he can imitate you.
- At 8 months
- Motor skills: By this month, your baby has gained some muscle strength to crawl more effectively. Some babies are already trying to stand at this point. Some advanced babies are even trying to walk. But if your little one is still in his “scooting” phase, it is normal, too. The pincer grasp, using the forefinger and thumb, is now developed and can be used during mealtime. Your baby can now pick up small pieces of food and put it in his mouth.
- Vision: After months of practice, your baby has now a much more improved vision and is enjoying looking at colorful books and other colorful learning materials. You can show him familiar objects in books and then show them the real thing for them to compare. You may notice your baby staring at them for a while. It means that they are taking the images in and learning their similarities.
- Hearing: By this month, your baby now knows some “labels”. He can now attach words to certain persons or objects. For example, when you say “Where’s daddy?”, and he will look the direction where his daddy is. Try attaching more labels to objects he is familiar with so that he can remember more words.
- Communication: Eight-month-old babies no know their routines very well. He already knows the “clues” for each activity. For example, when you close or dim the lights, he knows that it’s time for bed. When you put on his bib, he knows it’s his mealtime.
- Taste: Your baby can now eat other foods such as soft meat. His taste buds are now experiencing a lot of other flavors so keep his mealtime interesting with food combinations.
- Tips to help their development: Because they are now capable of the Pincer Grasp, you can now encourage your little one to self-feed. This is called Baby-Led Weaning wherein they decide how much they want to eat. They pick up pieces of food and only eats until they are full. This helps them determine if they are truly full and not because a parent has “set” a baby’s fullness by feeding continuously with a spoon. At this point, you can now also start teaching them easy gestures they can do by request such as “clap your hands”, “flying kiss”, “goodbye”, and “close-open”.
- At 9 months
- Motor skills: By now, your baby is now trying to stand up while holding on to something. Some babies are even trying to walking while holding on to railings for support.
- Vision: Babies will now love toys that move. He will take his time to discover how and why it moves and this will be very interesting for him.
- Speech: Your baby is now continuing to add more syllables to his vocabulary.
- Tips to help their development: This is a good time for you to teach them new things through art. For example, finger painting, using clay, kinetic sand, and other baby-friendly toys.
- At 10 months
- Motor skills: Your baby is now becoming more and more independent. He can now stand up longer without support. Some babies, at this point, are now taking their first steps unsupported.
- Speech: Babies are now little chatterboxes! They have a lot of murmuring up to their sleeves and they are really entertaining. Don’t forget to listen intently because they are communicating with you with this little syllables.
- Communication: Because your baby is now an expert at imitating, you can now try acting out some gestures or saying easy words then watch if he will follow. Babies are now showing more personality. They are very giggly and are smiling much more.
- Tips to help their development: Babies are getting more and more interesting as time goes by. They are getting more fun to converse with because they now have a deeper understanding than before. Continue conversing with them in every way possible – tell a very lively story, narrate something you are doing at the moment and let them watch you, show them objects and do a little role-playing or acting out. Be creative with your activities and don’t be shy in bringing out the inner child in you.
- At 11 months
- Motor skills: Now that your baby is nearing up her first year, she becomes more of her own person. Some babies are running by now, but don’t fret if your little one is not yet up to speed. He/she will develop in his/her own time.
- Vision: At the 11th month, they will now be interested in stacking cups or building blocks. Anything simple that requires precision and pattern. Encourage your baby to arrange his toys in a straight line or his books on top of each other. Use other resources instead of toys to widen his imagination.
- Communication: Now that your little one is babbling away like there’s no tomorrow, this is a good time for you to encourage a back-and-forth conversation. Ask him something and wait for his response. It will not year be a clear word yet, but at least there is an answer. Continue doing this every day to exercise his communication skills.
- Tips to help their development: Babies love learning new things (they always do). But when you are outside, make it a habit of pointing out certain things and describing them to your little one. Be specific with things he cannot see inside the house, like the sky, clouds, and trees. Describe them with much enthusiasm.
- At 12 months
- Motor skills: Your baby now is a little mover. Some are confidently walking by now, some are confidently crawling. And it’s all okay! This is not a competition like some moms think. Every baby is different and they have their own phasing.
- Vision: Your baby’s eyes are now fully developed. He can now see everything, from big to small, from something near to something in a distance. He can now also track objects that are moving fast.
- Communication: By this time, you can now converse with your little one more maturely than before. You can hear lots of response and reactions to different scenarios, different people, and different activities. Keep your play time interesting and full of new learnings.
- Tips to help their development: Because your baby is now entering the toddler stage, he is already very mobile. Baby-proofing your house is a must so that nothing can hinder his development. Try to make his space very wide, clean and safe for him to cruise on during his active moments. Make the most out of your playtime together and treat it as your bonding so that he will familiarize learning with fun and love.