There are several different stages that a baby will go through during the development process. In addition to these different stages of development, research also provides approximate ages when these developmental stages will occur.
The Newborn Child
Just after birth baby’s birth, the child’s weight will drop. The weight is typically regained when baby is approximately 10 days old. Newborns will sleep and eat whenever they need it. Some babies sleep as long as 20 hours a day, waking randomly, other babies may need less sleep, spending more time crying instead. During the first month of life, the baby will begin to recognise the mother’s voice and smell.
Sight and Hearing During the First Few Months of Baby’s Life
A newborn will turn his head from side to side when lying on his stomach; he will exhibit poor head control when lifted and display alternating movements of his legs when on stomach as if trying to crawl. At this stage, too, baby will automatically grasp and hold onto a finger. Familiar sounds may elicit some response in baby for instance he might respond to music or a TV program his mother watched regularly while he was in her womb. He will be comforted by familiar voices and should be left to sleep with a background of general household sounds. From birth, the baby will turn his head towards voices.
Baby can see from birth but a newborn has difficulty focusing beyond nine inches (22 cm). Adults should make regular eye contact with baby. Over the first few weeks, baby’s sight will sharpen and improve until at about six to eight months, at which point, he will see the world almost as well as an adult does. Baby’s hearing is fully mature at the end of the first month. By two months baby will be able to focus both eyes and track a moving object; some babies reach this milestone a bit earlier. Also, at two months baby will see colour differences more clearly.
How Adults Can Help Baby’s Development
Studies have shown babies prefer human faces to patterns; keep your face close to the newborn so he or she can study your features. When baby is one month old, almost anything passed in front of his face will transfix him. Hold shiny, colourful objects in front of baby and move them up and down. This should attract his attention and encourage his interest in colours. Hang eye-catching mobiles where baby can see them.
Always be sure to support baby’s neck when he is being lifted. Talk to baby continuously while he is awake during the first weeks and months. He will love the different tones in voices. During his first month baby may also try to mimic the faces you make and lip movements. Vocal interactions are crucial in the development of baby so even if you feel silly talking to him in public, just do it.
- Bee, Helen L. The Developing Child. 7th ed. New York: HarperCollinsCollege Publishers, 1995.
- Gemelli, Ralph J. Normal Child and Adolescent Development. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1996.
- Kagan, Jerome. The Nature of the Child. New York: Basic Books, 1994.
- Piaget J. The Psychology of the Child. New York Basic Books 1972.
- NeisserU. Cognitive Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts 1977.