Promoting your baby's development
Your relationship with your child is the foundation of his or her healthy development. Trust your ability to meet your baby's needs. You can:
- Hold your baby. Gentle caresses and tender kisses can help your newborn feel safe, secure and loved. Hold and rock your baby. Allow him or her to study your face. Let your baby grasp your little finger and touch your face.
- Speak freely. Simple conversation lays the groundwork for language development, even before your baby can understand a word. Ask questions and respond to your baby's coos and gurgles. Describe what you see, hear and smell around the house, outdoors, and when you're out and about. Use simple words that apply to your baby's everyday life. Remember that your tone of voice communicates ideas and emotions as well.
- Change positions. Hold your baby facing outward. With close supervision, place your baby on his or her tummy to play. Hold a colorful toy or make an interesting noise to encourage your baby to pick up his or her head. Many newborns get fussy or frustrated on their tummies, so keep these sessions brief at first — just a few minutes at a time. If drowsiness sets in, place your baby on his or her back to sleep.
- Respond quickly to tears. For most newborns, crying spells peak about six weeks after birth and then gradually decline. Whether your baby needs a diaper change, feeding session or simply warm contact, respond quickly. Your attention will help build a strong bond with your baby — and the confidence he or she will need to settle down without your help one day.
When something's not right
Your baby might reach some developmental milestones ahead of schedule and lag behind a bit on others. This is perfectly normal. There's typically no cause for concern. It's a good idea to be aware of the warning signs, however. Consult your baby's doctor if you're concerned about your baby's development or you notice any red flags by age 3 months:
- Hasn't shown any improvement in head control
- Doesn't respond to sounds or visual cues, such as loud noises or bright lights
- Doesn't smile at people or the sound of your voice
- Doesn't follow moving objects with his or her eyes
- Doesn't notice his or her hands
- Doesn't grasp and hold objects
Remember that every baby is unique — but your instincts are important, too. The earlier a problem is detected, the earlier it can be treated.
June 25, 2014
See more In-depth
- Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 10, 2014.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:158.
- Birth to 3 months: Your baby's development. Zero to Three. http://www.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/0-3Handout.pdf?docID=6042. Accessed April 10, 2014.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): Other FAQs. National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sids/conditioninfo/pages/faqs.aspx. Accessed April 10, 2014.
- Assure baby's physical development. Pathways.org. http://pathways.org/lower-left-nav/brochures/multi-language-brochure-assure-the-best-growth-and-development-chart. Accessed April 10, 2014.