Excerpt from Your Baby’s First Year Week by Week (part 4) - Baby’s Sight , A Newborn’s Hearing

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9. Changes You May See This First Week

During the first year of life, your baby grows and changes according to stages of development. The four most important developmental categories include the following.

Motor Development—Your baby’s large and small muscle groups develop dramatically this first year. At this time he moves very little, yet by the end of 12 months, he will be walking or ready to walk!

Language Development—Development of language includes his speech and his attempts to listen to and to understand language around him.

Intellectual Development—As your baby’s brain grows, his thinking skills develop.

Social Development—Social skills he learns help your baby relate to the world around him.

As the weeks and months pass, your baby will move from one learning task to another, and his focus will shift when this happens. Developmental milestones can be very different among children. There is a wide range of what is considered normal. So don’t worry if he seems to be slow in one area for a while; it’s his overall development you are concerned with.

At birth, your baby’s brain is not fully developed, and a great deal of growth must still occur. A baby’s brain grows most rapidly from the last trimester of pregnancy through the first 3 months of life. Even when your baby seems to be lying still, with nothing happening, his brain is expanding as he adjusts to his new world.

10. Baby’s Sight

From the moment your newborn opens her eyes after birth, she can see her world, although it is a bit fuzzy. She is nearsighted; her best field of vision is about 8 to 12 inches away from her. She will stare at objects placed in this range of her vision. She can also tell the difference between a human face and other objects—she prefers faces. (If the baby is smiling at you at this point, it’s probably gas.)

11. A Newborn’s Hearing

When born, your baby’s middle ear is still a bit immature. The sound-processing center of his brain is also not fully developed.

Your baby hears most noises in the first few weeks as echoes, not distinct sounds. However, he hears voices; he recognizes his mother’s voice at or shortly after birth and will soon recognize the voices of other people around him. Speak to him often, about everything, to help develop his hearing and help him begin to relate to language. A baby can’t learn to talk or begin to understand the subtle nuances of language if he doesn’t hear a lot of conversation.

12. Other Newborn Development

Many babies are quiet and alert for a few days after birth, then they start crying. This is normal—crying is the only way baby can communicate with you!

Soothing a crying or fussy baby takes experimentation on your part. After all, you don’t know each other very well yet, so you may need to try different tactics to help her settle. You may find your baby calms when she is swaddled. Rocking and patting her or offering her a pacifier are other options. Some babies calm down when they listen to monotonous “white” sounds. Try different things when baby needs to be comforted.

When you snuggle and/or feed your baby, your skin-to-skin contact makes her feel secure and safe. It also provides gentle stimulation. Offer her this contact as much as possible.

A newborn’s hands and lips have the largest number of touch receptors. This may be the reason your newborn enjoys sucking on her fingers.

When your baby is sleeping or drowsy, you may notice her smiling. She’s in a dream state—her eyes may be moving at the same time. Enjoy watching her. It’s a beautiful sight.

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