Your first days and weeks with your newborn will be a blur of feeding, changing and sleeping. But once things have settled and your baby begins to get a little more comfortable with this crazy new world around her, you will notice her grow, change and develop on a near daily basis. A lot is going to happen in the next few months and we have chosen some of the major milestones you can look forward.
Your baby is grinning away at you, you think you are having a special moment and then your nose wrinkles. You realise your baby isnt as much smiling, as passing gas. So when will you be on the receiving end of a deliberate smile? Smiling is your baby’s first social skill and you are unlikely to see one until in or around the eight week mark. It takes this long for your baby’s nervous system and vision to develop enough to see you and to respond to your smiles with one in kind.
It may be over a year before your baby will take his first steps but there are lots of milestones in between. From as young as two months, babies will enjoy tummy time and may begin those little mini push ups that put them on the road to sitting, crawling and ultimately, walking. Once they can push themselves up with their arms, they will start to rock back and forth, kicking out their feet. Before you know it your little one will be rolling on to her back. It may take a little longer for him to tackle rolling from his back to his front, usually sometime between his fifth and sixth month. This is because it requires a lot more co-ordination and strenght. Once your baby has developed sufficient balance and neck and body strength, he will be able to sit up on his own.
Cutting that first pearly white is a really exciting first milestone for most parents. This may happen as early as three months old, although most babies’ first tooth will generally appear at around five or six months of age. When your baby starts teething, you will notice that he is dribbling or drooling more. His gums might be swollen and tender and he might also be biting down on your fingers or gnawing at his cheeks. Other signs to look out for include going off his food, pulling at his ears and red, flushed cheeks. Soothe your baby by gently massaging his gums with your finger; give him a teething ring that has first been chilled in the fridge – the cold numbs sore gums. Or talk to your pharmacist about over the counter teething gels or granules, which will soothe sore and swollen gums.
Most new mums and dads are paranoid about germs, and so it should be. Babies, especially newborns, have yet to build up their immunity to all the viruses and bacteria out there. Still, it will be absolutely impossible to shield your baby from all those bugs and you could potentially drive yourself mad trying. Chances have it, your baby will pick up a bug somewhere along the way, no matter how careful you are. If your child has a blocked or runny nose, generally seems unwell and has a temperature over 37˚C/98.6˚F, chances have it that he has a cold. With newborns, the best way to approach a cold is with lots of fluids, as you don’t want him to become dehydrated.
Coughing and wheezing are terrifying sounds for any parents, but chest infections are actually common in young babies and children. Most coughs indicate a cold. They can be dry and rasping or chesty and phlegmy. Give your baby plenty of fluids, ban any form of smoking in your home and, if over 12 months of age, you can ask your pharmacist’s advice for a suitable cough medicine. If your child’s breathing is laboured or you have any concerns about his breathing at all, you should call your doctor immediately.
Between four and six months your baby may seem unsettled after his milk feed or he might start waking in the night again after a feed, after a period of sleeping right through. This is an indication that he is ready to start on solid foods. Once you have decided that baby is ready, you will need to sit him in something that will support him in an upright position until such time as he can use a highchair – around six months. You can use a car seat, pushchair or a bouncy chair. Only a small amount of super smooth purée will be eaten at first, maybe one to two teaspoons, so be prepared for most of your carefully prepared food to end up all over baby, on the floor, in fact just about everywhere but in his tum! It’s best to start with one or two simple flavours such as apple and banana, before introducing a wider range of tastes and textures.
All babies develop at their own rate, so don’t get too bogged down in timelines. Some babies will be crawling around with a mouthful of teeth at six months, whilst others will be happily rolling around in the same spot for eight months without a tooth to be seen. All perfectly normal. Below we are listing some early warning signs of developmental delay which you should check out at six months but again, just because your baby ticks one or two of these boxes, does not necessarily mean there is any issue at all. If you are worried though, talk to your GP or health worker to ensure everything is on track.
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