Your Baby: Months 1-3

Parenting

Newborns are hardwired to interact first with you and later with others. This emotional connection, called bonding, gives them the sense of security and confidence they need to learn about the world around them. Studies show that children who receive lots of love and attention have higher self-esteem and actually learn faster and better. So as a parent, when you shower love and affection on your infant, you’re NOT spoiling him. You are giving him a solid foundation that will benefit him throughout every stage of life. 

Everyday interactions can promote learning:

  • Love and affection build confidence and make your baby more relaxed and happy. Happy children learn more easily.
  • Providing routines and being consistent in the way you respond to your infant (or any age child) give him a sense of stability. He learns he can depend on you.
  • Opportunities for fun encourage your child’s brain to grow in new and wonderful ways. Infants, like most adults, tune out when they are forced to participate in activities or situations that bore them. Share a baby book and name the objects, play peekaboo or “this little piggy,” make faces or tickle his tummy. But remember, your baby may become bored even after only a few minutes of one activity. He’ll tell you when he’s had enough by turning his head or starting to cry.
  • Newborns love interesting sounds, and those sounds are the building blocks for talking and language. That’s why it’s so important for you to talk to your baby as often as possible. Describe everyday events like the steps of changing his diaper or cooking dinner. 
  • Don’t worry about spoiling your infant. When your baby cries, please pick him up. If he’s wet, change him. When he shows you he’s hungry, feed him. You’re teaching him that he can trust you.

Resources

Pacifiers 

Baby with pacifierSucking is one of the most natural responses your baby has, and it’s not just for eating. Sucking also is a way babies soothe themselves. After your baby is 1 month old, sucking on a pacifier between breast- and bottle feeding is perfectly all right and will not cause any harm. 

A pacifier should not be used as a way to replace or delay eating, so only give your baby a pacifier when you know he’s not hungry. If your baby is hungry, getting a pacifier instead of your breast or a bottle may cause frustration that could make feeding time unpleasant for both of you. Remember, the pacifier is for your baby’s benefit, not your convenience.

Your baby’s pacifier should be:

  • A one-piece model with a soft nipple.
  • Dishwasher-safe so you can either boil it or run it through the dishwasher. Do that frequently to reduce risk of infection. Your baby’s immune system is considered immature until around 6 months of age. 

Early learning

Learning begins at birth

Newborns may not be able to read written words, but they are learning to make associations and understand the world around them by reading signals. Newborns learn how to read signals all around them by listening to voices, watching faces and reading body language. 

  • Dad bonding with babyHearing people speaking and sounds of all kinds sets the stage for infants themselves to begin speaking and later reading. To give your infant a head start on learning:
  • Read, read, read. Make story time a regular part of your baby’s routine. Morning, afternoon and evening are all good times to read to your baby.
  • Use rhymes, games and songs. Babies respond to these almost from birth, even if they don’t know what the words mean. 
  • Talk about what’s going on. Describe objects, activities and places to your infant. 
  • Encourage baby babble. Babies experiment with language and their own voices through babble. Repeat their sounds, and turn them into real words. “Da-da-da…daddy.” “Ma-ma-ma-ma”…”mommy.” “Ba-ba-ba…ball.” 
  • Talk and touch. Pair rhymes with gentle touch, such as patting your baby’s feet with the rhythm of the rhyme, or give him a tender rub while you’re talking.  
  • See and say. Help your baby label the things he sees around him.
  • Ask questions. By saying, “What’s that?” and then naming the picture in a book, your baby learns that objects have names.  

Developmental milestones for your baby

Your baby will grow and develop at an amazing rate in his first year. Although no two babies are alike, there are certain achievements, called developmental milestones, that most babies reach by similar ages. Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for a healthy, normal baby to fall behind in some areas or race ahead in others. The milestones we present in this book are only guidelines. Your baby’s doctor will evaluate his development at each well-child visit. 

If your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), you need to look at the milestone guidelines a little differently. Milestones are based on due date, not birth date. So if your baby was born two months early, he will most likely achieve milestones two months later than the guidelines predict.

Development

By the end of his third month, your baby should be able to:

  • Hold his head high and raise his body on his hands while lying on his stomach.
  • Keep his hands open while at rest. 
  • Play with his hands, bat at mobiles and reach for rattles. 
  • Place any object he holds directly into his mouth.
  • Show a clear preference for parents and other caregivers. He will turn toward a sound and recognize his parents’ voices.
  • Begin to learn cause and effect – he shakes a rattle, and it makes noise; you wind the mobile, and it begins to move.

Mother playing with baby

If you’re concerned, talk to your child’s doctor. 

As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his age or if you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks or acts, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait.

Eating right

Most mothers say that feeding time was easiest in the first three months. Remember that feeding time is bonding time. Enjoy it. 

Baby sleeping

  • During the first three months, babies need only breast milk or iron-fortified formula unless otherwise directed by your baby’s doctor. 
  • Always hold your baby during feedings. Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. 
  • Call the doctor if you feel your baby is not gaining enough weight. 
  • Do not use a microwave to heat formula or breastmilk. 
  • Delay the introduction of solid foods until your infant’s doctor says it’s time to do so, usually around 6 months.

Resource

Sleep

Babies should always sleep on their backs. Newborns and infants may sleep as much as 16 hours in a 24-hour period, usually for 4½ hours at a stretch. This will vary from baby to baby depending on age. 

  • The risk of sudden infant death is reduced when babies sleep on their backs. Make certain that everyone who helps care for your baby understands it must be tummy to play and back to sleep.
  • By 3 months, many babies will be sleeping through the night. Having a regular bedtime routine will help your baby go to sleep and stay asleep all night long. 
  • All babies are different, so don’t worry if your baby doesn’t meet this milestone at 3 months.
  • Establish a bedtime routine by doing the same thing every night, like bathing your baby, reading him a story and then putting him to bed when he is drowsy but still awake. 
  • Avoid rocking your baby until he is asleep or holding him until he falls asleep. Your baby needs to learn to fall asleep on his own. 
  • Try to ignore squirming or whimpering. This may just be your baby’s way of getting rid of excess energy so he can relax and go to sleep. If he cries, go to him. Make sure he isn’t wet or in distress, but keep him in his quiet, dimly lit room to help him know that the dark means it’s time to sleep.

Resource

Your child’s safety begins with you 

If you haven’t made your home safer yet, get started. Refer back to the “Safe Home for Baby” chapter for details and reminders.

  • Use an infant car seat that is properly secured in the backseat at all times. It’s the law.
  • Do not leave your baby alone in a tub of water or in high places such as changing tables, even for a few seconds. 
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home or car.
  • Never shake or jiggle your baby’s head, and don’t allow anyone else to shake him. 
  • Do not use an infant walker that has wheels. They are dangerous and do not help your baby’s motor development. 

Never leave your infant or child alone in the house or car, even for a minute. In most states it is against the law to leave a child unattended in a car at any time. If something bad were to happen, you would be looking at a felony charge.

 

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