Childhood Development: First 6 Weeks
Newborns experience the world very differently from the way that we experience the world. Newborns are totally dependent on us for their basic needs. Fortunately, newborns have ways of communicating their needs to us. In the first six weeks, you and your baby will learn a lot about each other. The give-and-take that occurs between you helps to create a bond, which will form the basis of your relationship together and will provide the foundation for your child to develop relationships with others. Pay close attention to your baby, because he is paying close attention to how well you treat him! When your baby sleeps, make sure he is lying on his back unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

What your baby can see:
  • Your baby's vision is not fully developed yet. At birth, your baby can only see objects that are about 8-12 inches away, like your face when you are holding her.
  • When you are close to your baby, what she sees best is your face.
  • Soon, you will notice that your baby follows your movements.
  • Your baby may enjoy seeing bright colors or large black and white pictures and toys.

What your baby can hear:
  • Your baby has been listening to sounds since he was inside you. Your baby already recognizes his mother's voice when he is born!
  • Look for changes in your baby's body movements or facial expressions when there are new or loud sounds around him.

What your baby can feel:
  • Your touch is very important to your baby! Babies enjoy gentle massages.
  • By holding your baby, you are teaching her that she is loved and safe.
  • You are not spoiling your baby by holding her. You are helping her feel secure. You cannot "spoil" a baby by holding her too much.
  • Your baby feels temperature changes, so be careful to dress her appropriately for the weather.

How your baby eats:
  • How much and how often your baby eats will vary.
  • Your baby can only tolerate liquids right now, so feed him only breast milk or iron-fortified formula.

How to care for your baby's mouth:
  • Your baby's gums need to be cleaned with an infant toothbrush or wet washcloth/gauze after feedings and at bedtime.

How your baby moves (your baby's gross motor skill development):
  • Your baby is slowly gaining control over his muscles.
  • During these six weeks, your baby will need a lot of support to hold his head up. Be careful not to let his head wobble or shake!
  • Your baby may move his arms and legs to show his interest in the action around him.
  • Your baby may have sudden jerking movements, so when you are carrying him, be careful to support him well.
  • When awake, give your baby "tummy time" so he learns to lift his head and look around.

How your baby communicates (your baby's speech and language development):
  • Your baby's cry is her way of communicating her needs.
  • Your baby cries to let you know when she is hungry, tired, hot, cold, bored, sick, or wants to be held. Very soon, you will notice that your baby's cry sounds different based on her different needs.
  • Your baby may make cooing sounds, particularly when you talk to her.
  • When your baby makes eye contact with you, he is communicating his interest!
  • Your baby may pull back, or turn away from you to show that he needs a break.

Loving and playing with your baby:
  • In the first few weeks of life, your baby will sleep much of the time. This is a good time for you to rest.
  • When your baby is awake and alert, it's your time to interact!
  • Talking and singing to your baby are the best things you can do to encourage language development. Lullabies introduce your baby to the sound system of language.
  • Don't worry about holding your baby too much. You are teaching your baby to trust you.
  • The sooner you respond to your baby's crying, the better it is for your baby's sense of security.
  • Spend a lot of time face-to-face with your baby. You'll both enjoy the view!

How to keep your baby healthy:

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