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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Time Capsule – 0-12 Months at the Speed of Life! ( 1 )

We will start here, because, we know you must have many questions about what to expect in the way of development and growth.
Let’s start at square one.
0-3 Months
From the first day of your baby’s life through the first three months, he is busy growing and learning, and you will see changes every day.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your behavior and actions as a parent don’t matter much at this point.

Everything your baby does is a new effort and challenge for her and if you reinforce those things by talking to your child and getting involved in the process, you will encourage them to keep trying.

In the first month of your child’s life, you will see a smile appear for the first time!
Aunts and grandmothers may tell you it is just a reaction to gas bubbles, but you’ll know better. As your baby’s vision fuzzy vision disappears and he can see better, he will begin to recognize faces and respond to you and to others he sees every day.

By the time your baby is a month old, he has mastered the art of focusing both of his eyes on one thing – as long as it is about 8-12 inches away from him, he can see it more clearly and practice his focusing skills.

By the time he is two months old, he will be able to focus on your face and direct that smile right at you and you will feel like you are in heaven!

All babies develop at a slightly different pace, so your baby may or may not be lifting their head and looking around during the first week or so. Her head will be wobbly and her arm and leg movements will seem erratic and strange.

You will note that, as a newborn, your baby’s hands are curled into a loose ‘fist’, and if you insert your finger into his little hand, his grasp will be tight.

But, as your baby adjusts to his new, larger environment and get used to being outside the womb, he will begin to stretch and flex his hands and limbs.

These little exercises and physical movements help your baby to develop motor skills over time and to learn how to control their limbs and fingers.

By the end of the first month, if you are watching carefully, you will notice more control when your baby lifts her head or moves her arms and legs.

When your baby is about 4 weeks old, she will react to loud noises (e.g. if you drop something on the floor or bang a pot on the stove). Her arms and legs will jump and straighten in a startle reflex and she will blink and look concerned or wary.

Other sounds approaching her crib (e.g. the sound of your shoes on the floor or a door closing or opening) will elicit a mild response.

Somewhere between three and six weeks of age, your child will try to communicate and you will notice that her crying is different if she is hungry, if she is tired, or if she is in pain.
She may pause and kick her feet a bit or wave her arms in anticipation, or she might stop sucking on a pacifier momentarily to assess the sound.

At approximately 8 weeks of age, your child will start to open and flex her hands more and make attempts at grasping objects, and he will start to respond to your voice as a unique sound.

By now he has learned to distinguish your voice from others and can tell when you are in the room.

Your voice, and the voice of others he sees every day, will calm him when he is crying or upset, where other voices may have no effect on him at all!

At two months, your child will also be more social, smiling in response to your smile, watching you move from one side of the crib to the other, gurgling and cooing when you talk to him or play with him.

You may notice that his cooing sounds become more varied in tone as if he is trying to speak his own language and form actual words.

His neck muscles are stronger and he can hold his neck up without wobbling too much as long as he is looking straight ahead.

He likes to look at colors and shapes and seems to be studying them and trying to figure out the differences.

At three months, your baby will be able to grab that rattle in her crib. She can lift her head and her chest when she is lying on her stomach.

And you will see a PERSONALITY beginning to take shape.

Her social skills are developing and she is much more interactive. Her routine is beginning to emerge and you can tell when she is tired, hungry and playful.

She will probably go to sleep around the same time at night and wake up at about the same time every day.

By the time your baby is a full three months old, he will reach for you for comfort, and can play for 10 minutes at a time in his crib or playpen without your attention or involvement.

He likes to look at pictures, mirrors with his own image and mobiles above his crib, and he is already preparing to turn over by turning from his side onto his back.

Within a short time, he will make the complete flip!

Your child loves to look at his hands at this age. He will watch as he moves his hands and fingers, as if he isn’t sure he is the one moving them.

This is all part of the learning experience and this process will soon help him develop his eye and hand coordination.

You will notice that your child is anticipating things based on her previous experience.

For example, she might reach out to be picked up when she knows it is time to be fed, or she might bend her knees toward her chest when you are about to change her diaper, or gurgle and coo when you put her coat on and she knows she is going outside.

He is cooing and talking to himself and to anyone who will listen; practicing his verbal skills and watching and listening for your response.

So you’ll want to talk to him a lot and encourage him to talk back.

4-6 Months

This is an exciting phase. By the time your baby is 6 months old, he will be a self-starter (probably crawling and crossing the room with little or no difficulty).

But let’s start with the fourth month so you can witness the development in sequence.
By the time your baby is four months old, she will have grown about 3-4 inches in length, and an average of 4-6 pounds in weight.

Keep in mind that this is AVERAGE and it does not mean that your child has a problem if she hasn’t grown that much.

If you have questions, of course, ask your doctor. Growth may slow a little at this stage, but it will pick up again and become more rapid when she is 8-9 months old.

She will play with toys you give her and is cooing and babbling up a storm!

At this early age your baby has significantly improved his balance and coordination by practice and determination. He has some control over his larger muscles and will roll over! He may even sit and balance himself with his hands on the floor on either side of his body.

He will reach for things that are far away from him and he can hold objects for longer periods of time.

At the four-month phase, your child’s brain is developing rapidly and her vision and senses are much better. She can associate what she smells or feels with what she sees and her vision is much better and clearer. She will put everything in her mouth to examine it and figure it out.

She is a real social creature now, and loves to play and laugh with you and to snuggle in your arms or on your shoulder. She may even start to respond to her name when you call her.
When your child is five months old, he will start to form and shape more sounds, as he works toward speaking his first words. These new sounds may be nonsense to you, but if you listen carefully, you will hear consonants (e.g. ‘ga’, ‘ba’).

At six months, your baby is a wonder of whirling activity, passing her toys from one hand to another, holding her bottle and her rattle and using both hands to hold larger objects or objects that are harder to control.

She is making more sounds and her syllables are clearer. She may even use these sounds to express different feelings and to let you know what she wants.
If she wasn’t already sitting on her own earlier, she is probably doing so now and seems to have pretty good balance.

She may already have started to crawl and while these first attempts may include a lot of rocking back and forth, followed by some crawling and then a flop or rest, her crawling will rapidly progress from stomach lurches (or belly crawls) to a point where she can support her own weight by crawling on her knees and hands.

Then, watch out! She will cross the room in no time and you will wonder where she is going so fast!

By 6 months your child will probably have doubled in weight, and the ‘soft spots’ (fontanels) on the top of her head will become smaller as they start to close.

Your child will express feelings like happiness, anxiety, curiosity and anger, and he will demonstrate these feelings with facial expressions.

As your baby passes his sixth month of life, he will show strong signs of emotional preference and bonding with parents and others who care for him.

He may cry if he is approached by a stranger as opposed to someone he knows and he might turn away or hide his face.


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