If you are a new mother, chances are you are more worried about getting enough sleep than about whether your baby is meeting his or her first milestones. The first few weeks and months of baby’s life can be tough for both infants and moms. Especially if this is your first child, you may feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed out. These feelings are normal.
Newborns are high maintenance, round-the-clock project. The reason for this is because their tiny, developing digestive systems are delicate and easily overtaxed.
Baby’s primary need at this point is to be nourished in a prompt and adequate manner to ensure that she has the nutrition she needs to grow and develop.
However, simple functions like burping and passing gas may need to be aided by the parent, and feedings are as frequent as every two hours to three hours.
At the same time, whether you notice it or not, your infant will likely begin to reach her first milestones within the first four weeks of life. She will start to focus her eyes on objects up to 1 foot away. She will turn her head in the direction of the sound, and notice when sounds begin and stop.
By four weeks of age, your newborn will enjoy gazing at the world around her, and show a preference for looking at your face. She will move her arms and legs with reflexive motions. This means she is using involuntary, jerky movements that will become more coordinated as she develops.
Newborns are also able to respond emotionally to a parent’s emotional state right from the start of life. In clinical studies, babies only a few weeks old have demonstrated responsiveness to the caregiver’s emotional state. That means if you are feeling irritable, your child is likely to feel irritable as well, and when you are very happy, your baby may grow excited. If your baby is cranky and cries a lot, try to stay calm. This may help your baby become more easily soothed.
Keep an eye out for those newborn milestones mentioned above. Every child develops at a unique rate, but by four weeks of age, your baby should be doing most of the behaviors listed above. If you are concerned that your baby is not meeting her newborn milestones, bring this up with your pediatrician at your next well visit or immunization appointment.
Catching problems early on is the best way to ensure your baby’s appropriate development.
Remember, at this stage, your primary role as a parent is to nurture your child physically and emotionally to support her growth.
Do this by:
- Feeding your baby every 2-3 hours
- Touching your baby to nurture connection
- Respond to your baby’s cries as soon as she starts crying, whenever possible
- Keep an eye out for developmental milestones and bring up any problems with your pediatrician
As much as you are busy nurturing baby, don’t forget to nurture yourself as well. If you are breastfeeding, make sure to eat a nutritious diet, and drink plenty of water. Sleep while your baby sleeps. Work mild exercise, such as taking the baby for walks, into your daily routine.
If your baby is colicky or cries a lot, get support from family or friends. Don’t try to go it alone when to help is available. And most of all, keep in mind that things will get easier as your baby grows.