Weeks 1 through 26
How does your baby grow? Here's a look at 52 wonderful weeks of learning.
Don't worry if your baby isn't doing what's described here at exactly the time listed. Remember, every baby grows in a way that's entirely unique and individual. If you have concerns about your child's development, be sure to discuss them with your pediatrician.
It's only been a week, but already your newborn knows she can rely on you. By now, she can recognize your voice. Hearing her parents' familiar voices helps her adjust to the strange new world outside the womb and lets her know that she's not alone. So the more you talk to her, the better. She can't understand your words, but your love comes through loud and clear.
This week, your baby can focus on objects 8 to 14 inches away--just about the distance between his eyes and yours during feedings. In fact, babies this age prefer faces to other objects. By looking at him during his meals, you'll encourage him to practice focusing. As you feed him, move your head slowly from side to side and see if his eyes follow you. This helps build his eye muscles and tracking skills.
Though her movements are still random and jerky, your baby can control her body in one amazing way by this week. She can snuggle! As you hold her, watch how she adjusts her posture towards you. She finds your arms and even your scent calming and comforting. There couldn't be a more perfect and relaxing way for the two of you to bond.
Have you noticed your baby using his vocal chords in ways other than crying? He may coo and make "ahh" sounds this week, especially when he sees mom or dad. Babies learn by mimicking--so replay his sounds back to him. He not only loves the attention, but he's also finding out that his voice has power: he calls, you appear!
This week, your baby's movements are becoming smoother and more purposeful--those random, jerky motions are beginning to disappear. She's not ready for gym class, but try to give her time each day for using her body. You can give her a gentle mini-workout by slowly pulling her to a sitting position, or letting her "fly" by resting her tummy-down on your forearm. Always support her head.
It wasn't gas! At about this age, your baby will flash an adorable gummy grin that is his first genuine smile. How can you tell? His eyes will brighten and widen as he moves his mouth upwards. By smiling back and cooing to him, you'll do more than get another smile. You're teaching him that his actions cause a reaction--with pleasant results!
Your baby is busy this week. She's starting to make sense of her senses--she can look at a rattle and connect it to the sound it makes. She's also developing more sophisticated tastes in color, too, preferring bright colors and three dimensional objects over flat black and white ones. A musical mobile in her crib could entertain her for several minutes--just watch her follow it and smile!
His head is still wobbly, but those neck muscles get stronger by the day. Around this age, your baby can lift his head about 45 degrees. Put him on his stomach for brief periods every day so he can practice. He may even try to do mini-pushups! Encourage him to look up by placing a mirror or dangling a toy in from of him.
Your baby's world is alive with the sound of music this week. Sounds fascinate her, especially high tones and pitches. She's also interested in hearing you talk, and will stare intently at your mouth as you speak to her. She may even reply with cooing or "goo"-ing. Though she's not ready for epic poems, start reading to her--she's already building a bank of vocabulary words.
Guess what? Your baby can pick out his parents' faces in a group. His eyes widen and shine and he wiggles with glee when someone familiar comes near. He's ready and willing to hone his social skills, so make him part of family activities-bring him to the table during dinner, or put him in a carrier sling while you work. He loves your company as much as you love his.
At this age, your baby is sleeping less, and she's awake for longer periods of the day. She's anxious to learn about her world and family, and she may not always be interested in your choice of game. If she turns her head and looks away, she's declaring she's ready to move on to something else. At only 11 weeks, she's got ideas of her own!
Around this age, your baby has discovered an endless source of enchantment--his hands. He's realized that those fingers and thumbs are separate objects. He can also bring his hands together, look at them, then put them to his mouth to taste. Let him experiment with these wonderful tools by offering different textures for him to feel--a velvet scarf or a rubbery toy. Just make sure it's clean!
All of those sleepless nights are really starting to pay off now. Besides bestowing sweet smiles and coos on you, your baby may be laughing, chuckling and babbling in long chains. Because you've been talking to her, she's starting to figure out that your message is broken into parts--syllables. Soon she'll start using these syllables by putting together vowel sounds with consonants.
Rattles and dangling toys on a bouncy seat do more than amuse your baby at 14 weeks. These doodads help her hand and eye skills develop together. Vary her diet of toys--she's intrigued with multi-textured toys, bright primary colors, and things that make sounds. She'll bat or grasp them (she'll also try to mouth them, her favorite way of learning!).
Say good-bye to a relatively stationary baby. Around now, your baby may start rolling over--either from his back to his front, or front to back. This is quite an accomplishment! In the coming weeks, he'll likely master his rolls in one direction. Make sure he's never left alone on a bed or high surface. And give him lots of praise for each flip--he'll relish the attention and will be inspired to keep at it.
Your four-month-old is getting stronger by the day. She may protest when she's placed on her stomach, but she needs tummy time every day for exercising her neck, chest, rib cage and arm muscles. These muscle groups are necessary for rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. Join her on the floor and talk outside of her range of vision. She'll be distracted from fussing for a few minutes while she's busy looking for you!
Your baby probably entertains everyone (including himself) by making razzing noises or blowing raspberries. He'll laugh when you tickle his belly, he'll mimic your words by making similar sounds. Boost both his ego and speech skills by chatting and making eye contact with him whenever possible--during playtime, while changing a diaper. He's a lot more responsive now, and there's nothing more exciting to him than your face and voice.
It's awfully quiet in that crib. You may have been pleasantly surprised to find that your baby has been peacefully playing by herself for the past 10 to 15 minutes. Her eyesight is sharp now and her depth perception is also improving. She's very busy using her eyes and hands in play to learn about herself. Think about rotating her toys every so often--she doesn't need more than a few at a time.
Your baby's dad claims that he distinctly heard "daa daa." But, at 19 weeks, your baby doesn't mean anything by those sounds-he's simply putting consonants together with vowels. You can help him connect sounds with meanings by labeling things: point to pictures in his books, touch his eyes, nose and mouth while naming them. Before long, he'll be calling you both by name!
What a long way your baby has come since she was born! By now, she knows exactly who you are--and is even starting to know herself. She smiles when seeing her reflection in a mirror and is beginning to display some distinct personality traits--is she quiet or a nonstop babbler? By watching her face, you'll probably be able to detect how she expresses different emotions, too.
Your baby is on the go at this age. He likes to move--he may creep around the floor and turn his direction to get a new view. In fact, he might be too busy to play with you. Honor his need for space. Put him on the floor or in a playyard and let him entertain himself. Keep your eye on him, but enjoy a few minutes of free time!
Is there a budding scientist in your midst? This week, your baby's favorite mode for performing experiments is putting whatever he can into his mouth. He's also conducting some new tests: dropping his toys to the ground and comparing the different sounds they make when they land. Other ways to help sharpen his auditory skills: point out a plane flying overhead, or an ambulance speeding down the street.
Babies develop muscle coordination and strength from the head down. By 23 weeks, she's acquired control and strength in her upper body--a long way from when she was first born! But now her legs and torso are ready for a challenge. Some ways to help her progress: gently pull her to a standing position on your lap and bounce, or pull her to a sitting position-froggy-style--on the floor.
Your baby is already storing memories this week. He recognizes names, basic words like "no," and "bye-bye," and familiar sounds. He looks when you point out objects and he may also point at things when you name them. Called receptive language, this precedes his ability to speak. Since he remembers daily rituals, try greeting him each morning with the same phrase. He'll look forward to it.
Some of a baby's big achievements--sitting, crawling, walking--occur at vastly different rates over the next several months. Your baby may be more steady and better at sitting up on her own, but she might still need help. Prop her up with a few pillows to cushion any falls. Then place tempting objects in front and to the side of her.
Your baby is halfway through this incredible first year! He's still a charmer, but he may be more selective about giving out smiles to strangers. He may even be afraid to be away from you. To help soothe his anxieties and make your partings less sorrowful, try leaving shortly after a feeding. Stick to your schedule and establish a "goodbye" routine to give him a sense of security.