Growth & Development Milestones: Newborns

The American Academy of Pediatrics has identified important milestones for Baby's first month. We've included fun and easy ways to help your newborn reach these key developmental markers, plus helpful information new parents should know.

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Fancy Photography/ Veer

Has Strong Reflex Movements

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: Lift your baby so her feet are resting on a flat surface, and she should make mimic walking movements. Test her startle reflex by gently and safely dropping her into waiting hands. She will throw her arms outward. Stroke her cheeks and lips. This should prompt her to turn her head and open her mouth.

Mama Must-Know: Your baby's primitive reflexes should disappear after a few months.

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Aimee Herring

Eyes Focus 8-12 Inches Away

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: Show him three similar toys (blue, yellow, and red) within his range of vision. He will most likely spend more time looking at the red one, but doctors aren't yet sure why. At this age, he probably can't tell the difference between similar colors, such as purple and pink. As he begins to focus on the toy more quickly, gradually increase the distance between the toy and his face.

Mama Must-Know: It is normal for Baby's eyes to occasionally cross or wander.

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Anna Palma

Hearing Is Fully Mature

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: It's sad to hear your baby upset after she is startled, but crying is a good and normal response after hearing a loud crash or bang. Hold her to comfort her or swaddle her to let her know she is safe.

Mama Must-Know: Your baby might also "shut down," as if she heard nothing when confronted with a loud sound or noisy, crowded room.

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Heather Weston

Prefers Sweet Smells

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: Place different foods and scents near your baby's face and watch his reaction. He should breathe deeply when he smells bananas or vanilla. Bitter or acidic scents, such as alcohol or vinegar, should cause him to turn his head in disgust.

Mama Must-Know: This natural instinct helps protect Baby from dangerous substances.

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Alexandra Grablewski

Arm & Leg Movements Become Smoother

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: By the end of the month, when you lay your baby on her stomach, she might look like she is trying to crawl. Lay her on her back, and she might seem like she's riding a bicycle.

Mama Must-Know: Jerky, quivering arm thrusts are normal for the first couple of weeks as her nervous system continues to develop.

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Banana Stock/ Jupiter

Prefers High-Contrast Patterns

Type of Milestone: Cognitive

Practice with Baby: Place a boldly patterned black-and-white toy in front of your baby's face. When it seems like his gaze is focused, slowly pass it side to side and up and down. Let him lie beneath a high-contrast mobile above his crib, changing table, or play mat.

Mama Must-Know: For the first couple of weeks, he might be ultrasensitive to bright light, but as his eyes develops, he has an easier time seeing and recognizing patterns.

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Kathryn Gamble

Recognizes Some Sounds

Type of Milestone: Cognitive

Practice with Baby: Choose a favorite book to read aloud to your baby for several days in a row. Then take a break for a day or two. When you read it again, does she seem to recognize it?

Mama Must-Know: Some research shows this tactic works even when Baby is still in the womb.

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Recognizes the Smell of Mama's Milk

Type of Milestone: Cognitive

Practice with Baby: If you are breastfeeding, place a breast pad near Baby's head. Even babies who are just a few hours old will turn their heads toward the familiar scent.

Mama Must-Know: When babies are met with a choice between their mother's breast pad and a breast pad with a different mother's milk on it, not only do they recognize their mom's smell, they prefer it.

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Aimee Herring

Brings Hands Toward Eyes & Mouth

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: Touching your baby prompts her to move the parts of her body you touch. Kiss her hands and feet, stroke her arms and legs, and gently tickle her face.

Mama Must-Know: For the first several weeks, Baby's hands might remain in tight fists. Her tight, ball-like body position mimics the way she fit in your tummy.

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BananaStock/ Jupiter

Prefers Human Faces

Type of Milestone: Cognitive

Practice with Baby: When you are holding or feeding your baby, keep your face within his range of vision. Smile, sing, and talk to Baby to keep his attention.

Mama Must-Know: While live faces are best, babies prefer even pictures of faces over other patterns.

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Aimee Herring

Turns Toward Familiar Sounds & Voices

Type of Milestone: Cognitive

Practice with Baby: Sing or talk to your baby in a high-pitched "baby talk" voice from across the room. See if she turns her head to find you. Also see if her arms and legs are moving or kicking in time with the rhythm of your speech.

Mama Must-Know: Most babies receive a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you ask your pediatrician to share the results.

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Baby Milestones: Your Baby's Sixth Month

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Kaysh Shinn

Prefers Soft Sensations

Type of Milestone: Cognitive

Practice with Baby: If you are having a difficult time calming your baby or getting her to sleep, wrap her in a snuggly flannel blanket or a blanket with satin trim. The cozy fabric might help her relax.

Mama Must-Know: Pulling away from coarse and scratchy materials is another response that helps Baby avoid potentially harmful materials.

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BrandX

Moves Head from Side to Side While on Stomach

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: Gently bounce, sway, dance, and rock with your baby to help him develop a sense of movement. If you use a swing or bouncy seat, make sure he gets plenty of free time on the floor to wiggle.

Mama Must-Know: When Baby is upright, make sure to keep his head supported. It will be very wobbly and prone to flopping around until he is several months old.

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Kathryn Gamble

Dislikes Rough or Abrupt Handling

Type of Milestone: Physical

Practice with Baby: If your baby is picked up too quickly, she might cry. Hold, rock, and cuddle her to soothe her. Also give infant massage a try. Gently rub her back and belly, and lightly stroke her arms and legs. Some hospitals offer infant massage classes.

Mama Must-Know: Babies are very perceptive to their parents' moods, and the way they are touched is one way they sense affection or stress.

Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.

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