Development in Reverse?
Dr. Klaus discovered that newborns instinctively reach out until about 3 weeks of age, when this ability apparently disappears until about 3 months of age. This coincides with the time it takes your baby to start learning how to integrate his senses and gain control over his muscles. This is a prime example of how your baby's need to learn so much, so quickly, means he must set aside some tasks while focusing on other, more important ones, such as regulating his sleep-wake cycles and figuring out how to focus his brand-new eyes on all the new sights around him.
So why do all these useful survival instincts seem to disappear so early -- some as early as the 2-month mark? A baby spends the first few months of his life reacting to the world around him. But once he starts to understand where he ends and the world begins, which is partly a matter of brainpower, and partly a matter of practice, some behaviors that were once reflexive become active, as gradually baby learns that he can make things happen on his own and affect his environment. And, says Dr. Brazelton, "Just watching a baby learn is enough to give you hope for the human race."