Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Growth & Development

Over the second 6 weeks of your baby’s life he will continue to grow at a similar rate, averaging a weekly weight gain of between 120 - 250g per week. His head will increase in circumference by about 1.25 - 2 cm each month. He will also grow by about another 3 to 4 cm. These figures are only averages, however, so keep track of your child’s growth with regular clinic check-ups.

At 2 months, the soft spots on your baby’s head should still be open and flat, but by 2 to 3 months, the soft spot at the back should be closed. Also, his head is more likely to be proportionately larger compared with his body because it is growing faster. This is quite normal; his body will soon catch up.

At 2 months, your baby will look round and chubby, but as he starts using his arms and legs more actively, muscles will develop. His bones also will grow rapidly, and as his arms and legs loosen up, his body and limbs will seem to stretch out, making him appear taller and leaner.

Those early jerky movements are starting to become more purposeful as baby’s nervous system matures. Lie him on his stomach and he will make crawling motions with his legs and may even push up on his forearms by the end of 3 months.

Your baby’s neck muscles also will develop rapidly, giving him much more control over his head movements. Again, when lying on his stomach, he will start lifting his head up and looking around for a minute or two. However, he won’t be able to hold his head independently until about 3 months, so make sure you support it whenever you’re holding him.

Your baby’s hands, will become  a source of endless fascination throughout much of this first year. His finger movements are limited, since his hands are likely to be clenched in tight fists most of the time. But he can flex his arms and bring his hands to his mouth and into his line of vision. While he can’t control his hands well, he’ll watch them closely as long as they’re in view and gradually develop the ability to purposefully hold objects in his hands.

Many of your baby’s movements will still be reflexive at the beginning of this period. For example, he may assume a ‘fencing’ position every time his head turns and throw out his arms if he hears a loud noise or feels that he’s falling. But as we’ve mentioned, most of these common newborn reflexes will begin to fade by the second or third month. He may temporarily seem less active after the reflexes have diminished, but now his movements, however subtle, are intentional ones and will build steadily towards mature activity.

Your child’s legs also will become stronger and more active. During the second month, they’ll start to straighten from their inward-curving newborn position. Although his kicks will remain mostly reflexive for some time, they’ll quickly gather force, and by the end of the third month, he might even kick himself over from front to back. He probably won’t roll from back to front until he’s about 6 months old. Since you cannot predict when he’ll begin rolling over, you’ll need to be especially careful and pay close attention whenever he’s on the changing table or any other surface above floor level.

Due to a strengthening of the muscle mass in the legs, 3-month-old babies can sustain their own body weight while being held in a standing position. This will not result in bowed legs (Leary, 1990).

Vision

At one month your baby still can’t see very clearly beyond 30 cm or so but he will study anything within that range. Faces have the most fascination for him and he will stare intently at you, especially during feeds. An unbreakable mirror placed within his line of vision will delight him, as he loves to flirt with himself in the mirror.

By the time baby is 3 months old his eye movement will become more coordinated and he will be able to track an object moving in front of him. This increased visual coordination will give him the depth perception he needs to track objects as they move towards and away from him. With the improved eyesight, your baby will seek out more stimulating things. From the linear images that held his attention at one month he now enjoys circles and curves which is why faces are the most fascinating.

Visually Directed Behaviour

The period from 6 weeks to 3 months is when your child’s communication with the world really begins as he achieves sustained binocular vision within a distance of 1 metre. He is now able to focus on interesting objects like the human face. One of the most exciting changes during this time is the attainment of social smiling, as he starts to show the first signs of genuine emotion (Leary, 1990).

Your baby’s first conquest as a visually directed explorer is his hands. Previously, most of his actions were reflex based. During this stage, his actions seem to be more controlled and purposeful. For example, he realises that his hands ‘are mine’: they are interesting, sometimes hit together, and can be opened and closed. He begins to engage in mutual fingering, by clasping his hands together and marvelling at the sensation of how they complement each other (baby-milestones.com; Leary, 1990).

He also begins to use his newly found hand-eye coordination to swipe at objects dangling before him, but is only able to hold them momentarily at this point. His mouth also becomes a source of pleasure, often resulting in finger sucking, as he tries to simulate pleasant feeding experiences. By 3 months of age, most babies thoroughly enjoy exploring various objects with their mouths (baby-milestones.com; Leary, 1990).

At this age, babies learn to visually track anything within a 180° radius by turning their heads from side to side. During the first few weeks most babies have a rightward head-turning tendency, possibly because they are held in their mother’s left arm, near her heartbeat, causing them to voluntarily turn to the right. This can be improved by alternating ‘head’ and ‘foot’ in the crib and by placing interesting objects on the left hand side (iloveindia.com; Leary, 1990).

Hearing and making sounds

Instead of simply being startled by sounds, babies start to respond more specifically to sounds, first by turning their heads and changing their facial expressions, and then by actually cooing and gurgling. These sounds will probably be music to your ears, as well they should be. You can consider these sounds to be your child’s first words to you, as simple cooing and other verbalisations represent the very beginning of language development.

At this stage babies are brighter, more alert, attentive and gregarious, evidenced in the above skills and their ability to laugh especially when tickled, and the recognition of mom’s voice and scent (baby-milestones.com; child-dev-guide.com, 2007-2010; iloveindia.com; Leary, 1990).

Emotional and social development

Your baby is now beginning to spend much of his day listening to and watching the activity around him. He has even given you his first big, genuine, heart-warming smile, which has made everything worthwhile. Smiling gives baby another way of expressing his needs, besides crying. By 3 months your baby will have mastered the ability to start a conversation with a smile and a gurgle to catch your attention or responding enthusiastically when you smile and talk to him. These early exchanges play an important part in his self-esteem and social development. By responding and engaging with your baby, you’ll let him know that he is important to you, that he can trust you and that you are interested in him and value him.

Playing/Interacting
Babies thrive on love and attention. While parents of newborns sometimes find it somewhat difficult to think of ways to ‘play’ with their brand-new babies, many find interacting with 1 to 3-month-olds to be much more natural and rewarding. Simple actions we all take for granted as adults, such as making eye contact, smiling at, singing or talking to, and even just holding a baby are as beneficial for young infants as they are for a newborn. But now you can look for other ways to help your baby discover new sights, sounds, and abilities. As your baby develops the ability to push his chest off the floor, for example, you can help him to roll onto his back. Hold a rattle or small toy just within grasp so that he can pull it towards his mouth. Place a toy that has a bell in it near his feet and he will get great pleasure from kicking it and making the bell tinkle. Just as in the newborn period, remember that it doesn’t take much to entertain a young baby as he begins to appreciate and interact with the world around him, and that your love and attention is most important for him.

How to stimulate your baby

  • Since his favourite source of information is mom’s face; use it to stare and smile at him, make various facial expressions and you will receive amazingly rewarding feedback, as your baby begins to mimic at this stage.
  • All toys should be directed towards his newly acquired visual skills. This includes stimulating and fun cot devices, such as brightly coloured mobiles to be swatted at, safety mirrors (metal are preferable to glass) placed at 20 cm, so that he can flirt with his own image, and cut-outs in various patterns and stripes.
  • Babies at this age don’t like lying in their cots indefinitely. Therefore move their toys to other areas of the house, where they can sit and gaze at them in different surroundings (Leary, 1990).