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Keep an eye out for upcoming Development Posts covering all developmental stages from 0-18!
Welcome to When Fit Hits the Shan’s Development Series!!
We’ll cover each major developmental phase of life from age 0-18, diving deep into what affects children during that particular phase, what you as a parent need to be aware of, and how you can help your child develop properly.
Each post (including this one!) covers helpful topics for each developmental stage of life- including:
- Milestones, New Skills, and Developmental Goals
- Activities to Boost Development
- Warning Signs or Potential Dangers
- Typical Struggles for Mom and What to Do
- GREAT Things About This Developmental Phase
- What’s Coming Up Next for Your Child??
Let’s dive into the infant stage!
First of all, congrats Mama!! That’s so exciting that you get to enjoy this amazing miracle of parenthood!
It’s seriously the best. There’s not a thing in the world that can compare. You love these little ones so much, and they just fill your entire universe.
Sometimes I just let my jaw drop and sit in awe for a minute at how wonderful and perfect and sweet and funny and cute and innocent and pure and loving and forgiving and cuddly and honest and wonderful kids are! Especially my own kids. There’s nothing like having your own.
And now you get to enjoy all that too! I’m just bursting with joy FOR you!
So here it is! Everything a mom needs to know about your infant’s development within the first 6 weeks of life!
Milestones, New Skills, and Developmental Goals
First of all, it’s important to note that developmental milestones happen over a range of time.
For example, it’s normal for kids to start talking between 9 and 14 months! That’s quite a range! It gets really stressful if your child is a 14 month old talker.
You wait and wait… and all the other kids are saying words… And you’re just hanging in there hoping your baby will speak too! And then one day, he does! And it’s such a relief. But you can’t help but feel behind! Now all the other kids know five or six words and your baby only says one!
Don’t get caught up in comparisons. It’s perfectly ok for kids to take their development at their own pace!
So don’t freak out mama.
Here are a few awesome new skills to watch for in the first 6 weeks of life:
- Gain about 4 lbs during the first 6 weeks. Keep in mind- babies often loose a couple pounds in the first two or three days after birth, then gain it back slowly over the next weeks.
- Focus on faces. This is super fun because you can tell your baby is getting to know you! Hold her close because her eyesight isn’t great at first.
- Coo, sigh, gurgle, and other adorable sounds!! Soak these up! These adorable little noises are unique to newborns and will start to change as your baby gets older. This is great practice for your baby to eventually use those vocal chords to speak and sing!
- Improve eating. Infants eat on demand- meaning whenever they are hungry, feed them. Your baby should be showing consistent signs of hunger (yay- you’re figuring out this crazy motherhood thing!). She should also be using a proper latch (if not, practice makes perfect! Don’t be afraid to stop feeding and adjust the latch!). You will also notice that she is more efficient at eating- meaning she can feed faster and less frequently.
- Sleep 16 hours per day. Don’t expect your infant to sleep through the night because he still needs to eat during the night (I know, that sucks! Hang in there mom!). Around 6 weeks of age, you can start understanding better what your baby’s sleep patterns are! Woo hoo for schedules and death to the unpredictability of the first few weeks!!!!
- Stronger neck and head! It’s tough for an infant to hold their head up, but as your baby gets lots of tummy time you will see improvement during the first 6 weeks! You will still need to be careful to support his head, but he will start trying to lift his head on his own. He should also be able to move his head from side to side.
- Umbilical Chord. You can expect the baby’s umbilical chord to fall off on its own within the first few weeks. Once it does, your baby is ready for her first real bath- not just those wipe-em-down-with-a-towel wannabe baths!
- Social and Emotional Skills! I know, so exciting! This is by far my favorite developmental milestone of the first 6 weeks! Your baby learns who you are! He learns your voice and your face! When you start talking or when you approach your baby, he’ll start to wiggle and flap his arms and reach for you! And the SMILES! Every once and a while, a newborn will smile in their sleep as they dream of your breast milk, but at about 6 weeks you see a real I-love-you-mommy SMILE! Yay! There’s nothing like it in the world.
Activities to Boost Development
One of my favorite things about being a mom is that balance between nature and nurture!
It’s awesome because I get to relax and enjoy my kiddos in whatever stage of life they are in (nature) and yet I also love being an active participant in shaping their character (nurture).
So cool, huh?? Moms really get the best of both worlds!
We’ve been talking about the nature part so far (development) but let’s throw in a little of the nurture. Here’s what YOU can do to help your child along in learning new skills and mastering his first 6 weeks of life!!
- Snuggle, touch, hold, kiss, diaper, burp, feed, sleep together, etc. Touch is wonderful for newborns! All the typical routines of taking care of a baby (diapering, burping, feeding, sleeping) can involve a lot of parent-child bonding if you hold and snuggle your newborn during those times. It’s stimulating to his senses, he can learn your voice and your face, and it strengthens your relationship. Look for any chance you can find to soak up your sweet little one- it’s great for them too!
- Eye contact. Newborns have poor eyesight, so hold them close to your face. It’s good for them to see you up close to learn who you are. This builds trust and familiarity. You can also practice tracking- meaning helping your baby follow an object with his eyes- by moving a brightly colored toy across the baby’s field of vision (this is also great for his neck muscles!!).
- Talk, sing, read, and more! Let your baby hear your voice! Even though she can’t talk yet, she’ll learn to recognize who you are by your voice and she’ll pick up on specific pieces of language, like tone fluctuations, emotions in your voice, pauses in speaking, and more!
- Movement games. Babies love to move! Lay your little one on your lap, take a hold of their hands or feet, and practice clapping, running, jumping, playing pretend drums, and more!
- Bright colors and patterns. These are easier for their little eyes to see and they get their brains working!
- Tummy time! Tummy time is not a suggestion- it’s an important part of babies’ health. Without tummy time, babies develop a flat head from laying in one position all the time. Laying them on their bellies strengthens babies’ neck and back muscles.
- Meet their needs quickly! The most important developmental goal of the first 6 weeks is to develop a strong bond between parent and child. This bond is your child’s first emotional attachment and has a deep influence in the rest of her social and emotional development for life. Help your baby learn to trust you by meeting her needs quickly in the first few weeks. As the baby gets older, she is more capable of waiting a minute or two if needed. For now, do your best to respond quickly to your child’s cries.
Warning Signs or Potential Dangers
Now. Moms. We are always on hyper-alert for anything that might be wrong with our babies because we love them and it freaks us out to know that they might not be genetically perfect.
Keep an eye out for these things, but don’t stress yourself too much! Follow your mommy intuition. Trust your gut.
If you have any questions, just give your doctor a call. It’s always better to be safe and double check!
Here’s a few of the common warning signs or potential dangers of the first 6 weeks of life.
- Yellow skin or eyes. Jaundice is when your baby has too much bilirubin in her blood. Basically, her liver is just brand new and needs a little more practice to function properly. The great news is that there’s a super simple solution! All she needs is a little sunlight! Open a window, lay down a blanket in the sun, and let your baby soak up the light for 10-15 minutes. In extreme cases, newborns may need to be hospitalized for extreme cases of jaundice. If you’re unsure, call the doctor and ask about your specific situation.
- Sluggishness/Unresponsive. Babies who are lethargic may have medical problems that need a doctor’s attention. Your baby should sleep often, but wiggle, look around, and make noises when she is awake.
- Refuse to eat. Generally, infants eat on demand- meaning we feed them whenever they need food. Typically, babies at this age are hungry every 4-5 hours. If your baby shows no interest to eat or avoids eating for a long period of time, see your doctor.
- Vomiting/Diarrhea. Sickness in babies can be serious because of their weak immune systems. If your child is vomiting (more than just a little spit up… which is normal) or has diarrhea visit your doctor.
- Fever. For a baby under 29 days old, a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is a medical emergency. Get your baby to the doctor right away!
- Umbilical Chord Infection. Keep an eye on the child’s umbilical chord for signs of infection, which include: red skin, puss, and/or a yucky smell. Take your child in to the doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
- Sucking Problems. Nursing is tricky for moms and babies. It’s a new skill that you both have to learn. Don’t be too concerned if nursing is difficult, but know that there is a lot of help out there (lactation consultants, online resources, creams and lotions to heal your nipples, etc.). However, there are more serious feeding issues that might require a doctor’s attention, such as:
- Weak sucking
- No swallowing during nursing
- Abnormally long feeding (45 minutes or longer)
- Excessive spit up or discolored spit up
- Not gaining weight. Babies typically grow in a steady and upward trend. You don’t want to see a baby’s weight or height plateau. Your baby might not be gaining enough weight if he has very few dirty/wet diapers or if his skin is loose. Don’t be worried about the drop in weight that usually occurs 2-3 days after birth. It’s normal for babies to drop a little weight but then they gain it right back and then some in the following weeks.
Typical Struggles for Mom and What to Do
The first 6 weeks is no picnic. There are some tough things about this developmental phase.
Here’s a few of the common struggles for mom during the infant phase… and what to do about it!
- Postpartum Recovery. Let’s not forget- through all of this development that your baby is going through and all this change you’re experiencing, you’re still healing from childbirth! This is a major physical and emotional adjustment. If you are struggling to care for your baby while recovering from labor and delivery, try these tips:
- Follow the doctor’s directions to the T!
- Ask other people for help!
- Communicate clearly to your partner so that they can help you.
- Make time for self-care, even if it’s just a little extra sleep.
- Keep it simple. Cook meals out of a box like Hamburger Helper or something. Don’t worry about cleaning. Don’t move unless you have to. The couch and Netflix are your friends.
- Take advantage of helpful products that can make you more comfortable.
MomWasher Peri Bottle for PostPartum Care by Fridababy – Perineal Recovery After Birth
Tucks Md Cool Hemorrhoid Pad, 100 Count
Gel Ice Cold Compress – (2 Pack) – Reusable comfortable soft touch vinyl provides instant pain relief, rehabilitation and therapy from injuries like shoulder, upper/lower back, knee, neck, ankle
Pink Stork Recovery: Strawberry Passionfruit Postpartum Body Tea -USDA Organic Loose Leaf Herbs in Biodegradable Sachets, Supports Healthy Labor Recovery, Restores Nutrients -30 Cups, Caffeine Free
Best Organic Sitz Bath Soak For Postpartum Care Recovery & Natural Hemorrhoid Treatment, Soothes Relieves Pain Reduces Discomfort, 100% Pure Epsom & Dead Sea Salts Witch Hazel Lavender Essential Oil
Herbal Perineal Spray by Earth Mama | Safe for Pregnancy and Postpartum, Natural Cooling Spray For After Birth, Benzocaine and Butane-Free 4-Fluid Ounce
Gepoetry 3 In 1 Postpartum Support – Recovery Belly Wrap Girdle Support Band Belt Body Shaper (Plus Size For Weight Over 190lbs, Nude)
- Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. Please know that these are REAL conditions that can affect ANYONE- regardless of your emotional health before the baby comes. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s nothing to hide. If you find yourself battling with postpartum depression or anxiety, try these tips:
- Tell a doctor right away and follow his recommendations!
- Tell your family and friends. Be prepared with a list of things they can do to help you- including cleaning your house, meals, taking the baby for a bit while you sleep, watching the older siblings, shopping, or WHATEVER else you think of!! Maybe you just need chocolate! Tell someone and they’ll get it for you!
- Self-care the crap out of yourself!! Take long showers, nap when the baby naps, snuggle your husband and/or the baby, eat yummy food, get take out!! All that and more!
Need some great ideas for self-care? Read more here:
- Knowing what baby needs. How am I supposed to care for an infant who can’t tell me what is wrong?? She just cries! Luckily, science and smart moms before me have it down. Here’s what to look for when your baby is crying:
- Is he hungry?
- Is he tired? (Side note- it’s better to help a baby fall asleep before they get fussy so be aware of early signs of sleepiness)
- Is he hot or cold?
- Is his diaper wet or dirty? (Or maybe he’s in the process of pooping??)
- Does he want to be held?
- Does he have gas? (Try pumping his legs or holding him in a different position to relieve gas pains)
- Is he uncomfortable? (Try holding him in different positions or laying him down in different positions)
- Is he overstimulated? (Try giving him some space to see if that calms him down)
- Is there something hurting him that I didn’t notice? (Try checking him from head to toe to see if there is something wrong. It could be something poking him through his jammies or a hair wrapped around his toe. One mom told me she accidentally clipped the pacifier to her baby’s nipple! Oops!)
- Colic. Basically, colic is when babies cry for no reason for 3 hours per day or more, for 3 days a week or more. It’s really tough on parents because colicky babies are difficult (nearly impossible!) to soothe. And it can last for a few months! If your baby is colicky, try these methods:
- Give your baby something to suck on, like a pacifier.
- Swaddle the baby tightly to resemble the snug feeling of being in the womb.
- Sway and rock with your baby to calm and relax them.
- Sing, shush, or use white noise to drown out the new and loud sounds outside the womb. These noises can be overstimulating to a baby, so consistent sound like a vacuum, running water, or shushing can be relaxing to a newborn.
- Try a change of scenery, like going outside or taking a bath. The warm water or the fresh air might help your child calm down.
- For more excellent suggestions, check out Coping with Colic from BabyCenter
- And of course, moms- take care of yourselves if you have a colicky baby!!
- Nursing struggles. Nursing doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. If that’s the case for you, try:
- Using a lactation consultant for help.
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Learn as much as you can. Maybe the baby isn’t latching properly and there’s a simple fix!
- Try pumping and feeding the baby your breast milk in a bottle.
- Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you need to feed your baby formula!
- Take advantage of the products that are out there to help you.
Suekaphin Nursing Wireless Women’s Sleeping Maternity Breastfeeding Bra,Large, Black/Beige/Pink/Gray/Purplebean
Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream, 100% Natural Lanolin Cream for Breastfeeding, 1.41 oz Tube
Lansinoh Nursing Pads, 2 Packs of 100 (200 Count) Stay Dry Disposable Breast Pads
Reusable Hot Cold Gel Packs NO CLOTH BACKING – Set of 5 Microwaveable Hot Packs or Ice Cold Compress for Pain Relief, Boo Boo Pack, Breastfeeding, Nursing Pad, or First Aid
Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care
- Sleep deprivation. If you ask moms what the worst part of the infant stage is, you’ll always hear about the lack of sleep! This one is universal. Everyone gets less sleep during the infant phase. Every baby in this phase needs to eat at night, and that means you’ll be up to feed them. So sorry about that one, mama! But it’s a fact of life. If you’re struggling with the sleep deprivation, try these things:
- Sleep any time you can!
- Ask friends or family to watch your older kids so that you can nap when the baby naps.
- Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be productive while baby sleeps! You’ll get there later- but in the first 6 weeks, sleep time for baby is sleep time for mom too.
- Divide duties with your partner. Pump some milk so that he can feed the baby with a bottle sometimes.
- Use relaxation methods and calming techniques to help you get a restful sleep.
- Simplify daily life. If you’re exhausted, you can’t keep up with everything, so just do what really matters and let the rest wait!
- Feeling stuck indoors. Are you a social butterfly? Or a workaholic? Or a busy bee? Then you’re likely to struggle with the first 6 weeks. This time is about relaxing, laying around on the couch, figuring out this new little person. Not about getting stuff done or going out. In fact, it’s not very safe to take your little one out because his immune system is weak. If you’re feeling stuck, here’s some tips:
- Ask friends to come visit!
- Ask a friend, your partner, or a family member to watch the baby while you go out. Make sure you pump some milk so baby can eat!
- Think up a bunch of fun activities for yourself before you have your baby.
- Get ready to binge watch your favorite shows!
- Get yourself treats, comfy pillows and blankets, adult coloring books, regular books, whatever you need to be cozy and happy indoors.
- Sit outside with your baby for a few minutes to get some fresh air!
GREAT Things About This Developmental Phase
Now, just because there are some tough things doesn’t mean the newborn phase isn’t incredible… because it really is!
The newborn phase is one of my favorites. Ok, I’ll probably say that about every developmental phase… but it’s true- every single one has so many amazing things!!!
You’ll never experience anything else like the infant stage. Here’s why:
- They’re SOOO snuggly! As babies and children grow up, sometimes they don’t want to cuddle you. It’s so sad! Not so with infants. You can hold them close, dress them up, take adorable pictures, and snuggle some more. And they love every second of it!
- It’s so short. The infant phase is unique because it’s only a few weeks long! That can be a good thing because there are difficult things about this phase… but it’s also the perfect reason to soak it right up!!! Your baby will change so fast, so you need to remember every second!
- It’s an amazing reason to slow down in life. Life is way too fast paced in modern society. The infant stage defies this extreme rush! None of that- instead, we’re going to rest for a solid 6 weeks. That’s right- take that, assembly lines and race cars.
- It’s humbling. The infant stage reminds me of what’s important. I refocus on my family each time I have another baby. But that’s not all- I learn that I can’t do everything myself and I learn to accept help from others all over again. I learn to simplify and take it easy. I learn to smell the flowers. I learn to admire the amazing perfection of a new child and I remember my immense responsibility to raise this little human to become a responsible adult. It’s a lot to take in- in a short time. The infant stage is all about the baby’s growth and my own growth.
- It’s simple. The infant stage isn’t complicated. There’s no discipline because an infant doesn’t break rules. They cry for three or four reasons, give or take. The infant stage is a good beginner lesson to the complex role of parenting.
What’s Coming Up Next for Your Child??
Your child is graduating from the “infant” stage. Soon, she’ll be a full-fledged chubby, wiggling, giggling, playing baby!
Watch out for our upcoming post: Everything Parents Need to Know- Development from 6 Weeks to 3 Months Old!!
Well mama, enjoy your infant, and remember how lucky you are to be a mom! It really is the best job in the world. So rewarding, so fulfilling, and so enriching.
You’ll learn to give your entire self to another person who needs you.
There’s nothing like it! Enjoy motherhood!
Who is Mrs. S… and why do people call you that?
It’s my favorite nickname! That’s what all my students call me!
I’ve been around the block a time or two. I’ve worked with children from ages 0-18, some with mental illness, some with disabilities, some with Autism, and many with behavioral problems.
I also worked as a parent educator!
All that doesn’t hold a candle to my best experience with children- being a mom. Want to learn more about me? Click here!