Baby's First Wish
Just in time Parenting
Parenting information when you need it.
Table of Contents You and Your Baby are Learning Together
You and your baby are spending a lot of time getting to know each other.
Most of the baby's time is spent crying, eating, and sleeping, while most of your time is spent figuring out the best way to meet your baby's needs.
Do you feel as if you will never sleep through the night again? Are you a little nervous about taking care of this helpless but demanding baby? Do you feel tired a lot but excited, too? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are like most new parents.
There are new things to learn when you be-come a parent. If you have questions or doubts, call your doctor. It is better to get the correct information from a professional than to worry whether you're doing the right thing. Taking care of a newborn is a challenging job, especially the first time around.
Use Car Safety Seats
Always have your baby's car seat professionally installed in the back seat of your car. Call the local police station or a child care resource and referral agency to find out where to take your car to have the car seat correctly installed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should always sit in the back seat of a car. Many cars have front air bags that, when inflated, can injure or even kill small children. The AAP recommends that all infants should ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Safety Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.
What's It Like to Be 1 Month Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I cry when I'm hungry, wet, tired, in pain, or when I want to be held.
- I'm beginning to make some throaty sounds.
- I like your hand behind my neck when you move me, so my head doesn't wobble.
- I turn my head sideways when I'm on my stomach.
- I root around and try to suck even when I'm not feeding.
- I roll part of the way from my back to my side. Never leave me alone in a place where I could fall. Keep the sides of my crib up when I'm alone.
- I keep my hands in a fist or slightly open most of the time.
- I have a soft spot on my head. My skull was soft to allow me to be born more easily. My flexible skull will give my brain room to grow.
How I Respond
- I like to look at things that have a light verses dark contrast.
- I like to look at your face the most, but I like mirrors, too. I make eye contact with you.
- I stare at things, but I don't grab for them yet. Please change my position so I can look at different things.
- I don't show much expression in my face, but I will soon!
- I may smile when I see or hear you. Don't believe those people who say I'm smiling because of gas. Babies smile for real (it's not just a reflex) within two to eight weeks after birth.
How I Understand and Feel
- I feel comforted when you hold me close, smile, and talk gently to me. Don't be afraid of spoiling me because I need to be held and touched.
- I tune in to Mom's voice, and I like to hear her heartbeat and similar beats or rhythms. I spent a lot of time listening to her voice and heartbeat before I was born.
- I can recognize Mom by her smell. As Dad and other caregivers play with me and help me, I'll recognize them too.
Talk to Your Baby as You Care for Him
- Imitate the sounds your baby makes.
- Use complete sentences. "It's time for your bath:' "Now, I'm going to wash your face; scrub-a-d u b-d u b." "Won't it feel good to be clean?"
- Your child will talk back to you by smiling, crying, making soft sounds, and making arm and leg movements.
- Most of your child's vocabulary will consist of "oo" sounds.
- Try to figure out what your baby is trying to tell you and respond to it.
- Get down on your baby's level and look into his eyes when you are "talking" to each other.
Your Baby Learns by Seeing and Hearing
At first, your baby stares at objects. If an object is just 7 to 8 inches away, she can focus on it pretty well. Later, she begins to watch and follow objects with her eyes.
To help your baby learn to lift her head, lie on your back and put your baby on your tummy. Call her name and encourage her to lift her head to see you.
Encourage your baby to track your face. As you move from left to right, see if she will follow you with her eyes and turn her head.
Talk to your baby from different places in the room. As she searches for you with her eyes, she will start to learn how to coordinate sight and sound.
Hang a mobile over your baby's crib. Select one without string or elastic that could entangle her. Place the mobile on one side of the crib for a few days, and then move it to the other side. This will help your baby look in both directions.
Say simple nursery rhymes to your baby. She will enjoy the sound of your voice and the repetition of the words.
Get a Second Newborn Screening
Be sure your baby has the second newborn screening test. The first test was given in the hospital before your baby came home. The second test is done at the first well baby checkup, usually at 1 to 2 weeks of age.
If you aren't sure whether the second newborn screening test has been given, please check right away. Then, if the test has not been given, call your clinic or doctor and make arrangements to get it done as soon as possible.
Newborn screenings are important because they can detect problems, many of which can be corrected if found early.
It is also a good idea at this time to ask about immunizations for your baby, which should start at 1 to 2 months old. Ask your doctor for an immunization schedule.
Give Your Baby a Kick Start to Healthy Eating and Fitness
One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to help them learn how to be healthy. They can do this by feeding babies when they are hungry and stopping when they are full. They can help babies enjoy being physically active everyday.
Your baby uses signals to "talk" to you. Learn to read those signals so he can learn to depend on you. It helps for you to be there for your baby when he needs you.
When your baby is hungry, he may:
- Begin to move his mouth
- Rapidly move his eyes in his sleep
- Try to suck on his hand or tongue, your shoulder, or anything he can touch
- Bob his head and search around
- Be fussy, squirm, stretch, and clench his fists or toes
When your baby has had enough food, he may:
- Push away the bottle or breast
- Turn his head away
- Put his hands in front of his mouth
- Cry and fuss
- Forcefully move his entire body away from you
- Smile and relax his body
- Fall asleep with the nipple in his mouth
Help your baby learn to enjoy moving. With your baby on his back, hold his ankles and gently move his legs as if he is pedaling a bicycle. Sing a song and keep rhythm with the movements. Lift his arms gently up and down over his head — and then in and out. With your baby on his back, hold a toy above his body. Encourage him to try to reach for it.
Give your baby a gentle massage after his bath. Touching him helps you bond.
Feeding Your Baby
All your baby's food and nutrition needs can he met with breast milk or formula.
When a baby needs to eat every two or three hours, even during the night, it may seem as if you'll never get to sleep again. As she gets bigger, though, she won't need to be fed as often.
When should you feed your baby? Whenever she is hungry. Watch the clock but also watch—and listen—to your baby. Babies usually cry when they're hungry. If fed when hungry, many babies will start to get themselves on a regular schedule in about a month.
If you try to set a rigid feeding schedule, you and your baby may both be frustrated and unhappy. So, be as flexible as you can be during this first month.
Rather than growing a little bit each day, babies grow in spurts. During growth spurts, your baby may seem hungry all the time. She will stop eating when she is full, so don't try to get her to take more than she wants.
Breast Feeding Tips
Breastfed babies usually need to eat more often than bottle-fed babies, especially during the first few months. It is common to nurse a baby every hour or so during the part of the day when the baby is most active. Nursing will often cause a mother's breast to make more milk.
Breast milk is the best food for babies and the only food they need for the next four to six months. Breast milk is easier to digest and helps protect babies from infections and allergies.
One way to know your baby is getting enough milk is to count wet diapers – there should be at least six a day. If you need help with breastfeeding, contact a lactation consultant at your hospital or your county WIC breastfeeding staff.
Bottle Feeding Tips
If you have decided to bottle feed your baby, cool formula won't hurt him. Most parents want to warm formula to body temperature. Don't heat bottles in a microwave oven.The bottle may feel cool on the outside but will still have hot spots inside that could burn your baby's tender mouth.
Heat the bottle in a pan of warm water that has been removed from the burner, or hold the bottle under hot tap water for a minute. Always shake the bottle well to mix the formula. Test the temperature by sprinkling some formula on the back of your hand. If it feels lukewarm, it's OK for him to drink.
Plan for Quality Child Care
If you plan to go back to work or school after having a baby, you should start looking for quality child care as soon as possible.
Quality child care is friendly, warm, and loving care. Such care can be found in a caregiver's home, in a child care center, or with someone who comes into your home. It goes beyond caring for your baby's need for sleep, food, and physical comfort.
Look for a licensed child care center or home that is clean and safe. Be sure there are not too many babies for the caregiver to handle. Ask questions such as: "What will you do if my baby cries a lot?" "Do you take care of sick children?" "Will my baby have the same caregiver every day?"
The goal is for you to feel as comfortable as you can about the child care provider that you select. Find a caregiver you have a good feeling about. Ask other people you trust for referrals or contact a child care resource and referral agency in your state.
Once someone begins taking care of your baby, visit the site during the day. Is the caregiver giving your baby special, loving attention? Good child care is based on mutual respect and open communication between parents and caregivers.
Take Time to Care for Yourself and Your Baby
Mom, make and keep the appointment for your own six-week doctor's checkup. This is very important!
During the first few weeks after your baby is born, it is not unusual to feel tired or depressed or to find yourself on the verge of tears for no apparent reason. Both mothers and fathers may experience a letdown — similar to what most of us feel after any long-awaited moment has come and gone.
New mothers may go through "the baby blues", or postpartum blues. The baby blues come from the many changes your baby goes through after the baby is born. You may feel discouraged, tense, or sad. These feelings are normal. Rest assured that many new parents have such feelings and they are usually only temporary.
To deal with the baby blues, keep your daily routine simple. Talk to your partner, a family member, a good friend, or your doctor about your feelings. It helps to talk to someone who is close to you and cares about you. If you have a partner, remember you're in this together.
Ask nothing of yourself except what you must do. Plan a nap for yourself around the baby's schedule. Eat healthy foods and take relaxing breaks.
Try to be flexible. You will feel less worn out at the end of the day if you relax more during the day. Give yourself a chance. Pretty soon you will feel better about yourself and parenting.
Crying is a Call for Help!
When your baby cries, he is trying to tell you something. You just have to figure out what it is. Here are some things your baby may be trying to tell you.
He May Be Hungry. Babies may need to eat more often than you expect. If it has been an hour or more since your baby was fed, he may be telling you he's hungry.
He May Be Lonely. If your baby calms down and stays calm as soon as you pick him up, he missed you. Your baby's need for closeness is very real. You can't spoil a baby by cuddling him when he needs it.
He May Have a Wet Diaper. Some babies don't mind; others do.
He May Be Sleepy. Some babies fuss a bit before sleeping.
He May Be in Pain. He may be uncomfortable because a pin is pricking him or his clothes have sharp tags or zippers.
He May Be Cold or Hot. Feel your baby's back or tummy to see if he is too cool or too hot. Adjust clothing to make him comfortable. Dress your baby as you would yourself or add one extra layer of clothing.
He May Be Overstimulated. Sometimes your baby may get too excited about everything going on around him. Rock your baby in a dimly lit room to calm him.
You Can Cope With a Crying Baby
- While holding your baby with her head up and her feet down, rock and stop. Then rock and stop again. This usually will help her quiet down.
- Rock continuously with your baby lying across your lap. This may put her to sleep.
- Swaddle or wrap your baby in a warm, soft blanket with just her head uncovered.
- Burp your baby gently to see if an air bubble in her stomach is making her uncomfortable.
- Give her a pacifier. Sucking is soothing to many babies and helps them calm down.
- Cure diaper rash by leaving the diaper off and wrapping your baby loosely in a blanket. Powder her bottom with cornstarch instead of powder.
- Care for a crying baby in shifts. Take turns with your partner, a relative, or a friend so you can get a break.
Never Shake a Baby!
Do not shake your baby. Shaking can cause permanent damage to her brain.
Babies do not intend to upset you. At this age, they can't control when they start to cry. They are too young to understand how much their crying can get on your nerves and will cry more if you spank them or treat them roughly.
If you've tried everything – feeding, changing, cuddling – and your baby still cries, call a friend or relative to watch your baby for an hour while you take a break. Everyone needs a little time away every now and then.
Place Babies on Their Back to Sleep
Put your baby on his back to sleep. This will help prevent breathing problems and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Do not use soft bedding materials such as waterbeds, mattresses, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals. Your baby cannot move them if they happen to get on his face and he may not be able to breathe.
Use a firm mattress, and clothe your baby in a one-piece sleeper outfit to keep him warm while sleeping.
Take Good Care of Yourself
You need energy and stamina to be a good parent, so do your best to be healthy in every area of your life. Allow time each day for relaxation and exercise.
The following exercises take only a few minutes and will help you feel refreshed.
- Lie flat on your back. Take a deep breath. Now, breathe out slowly. Repeat five times.
- Lie flat with your arms at your sides. Move your arms out to shoulder level, keeping elbows stiff.
- Raise your arms over your head and bring your hands together. Repeat five times.
- Lie flat and raise your head, touching your chin to your chest. Try not to move any other part of your body. Repeat a few times.
Eat healthy foods. For more information on eating healthy, call your local Extension office.
Plan and take time for yourself. Find a friend or relative to watch your baby while you take time away. Do something that will refresh you and make you happy to be back home. Anything that makes you a happier, more enthusiastic person is bound to make you a better parent. Be kind to everyone, and take a "parenting break."
Parents are Baby's First and Best Teachers
Your child will learn more from you than anyone else. She is continuously learning about the world around her through her senses of smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch. You can help your baby develop her senses by providing playthings that can be seen, heard, and touched.
Playing helps your baby to strengthen and use her muscles better. Use items that you already have around the house. Such items are often a child's favorite play things. Toys need not be store bought and expensive.
Playing with your baby gives her a chance to explore the world and satisfy her growing curiosity. She will enjoy and benefit from your loving attention.
Take Your Baby to the Doctor and Keep Him Healthy
Check with your doctor, nurse, or clinic about the immunizations your baby needs. Immunizations help to prevent diseases that could change the life of your baby and your family. Ask your doctor for an immunization schedule so you can keep track of his immunizations.
Keep going to the well baby visits. The doctor will check to see that everything is developing well. Many problems can be corrected if they are caught early.
Don't be afraid to call your baby's doctor and ask for advice. There will come a time when your baby will have a cold or fever, or when he acts as if he doesn't feel well. The doctor expects you to call when there is a problem or when you have a question.
If you are concerned about your baby, tell your doctor that you would feel better if you could bring him to the office to be checked. Your doctor will listen to you. Remember, you know your baby better than anyone else.
Your doctor will want to know if your baby has a fever and whether it is a low fever or a high fever. Learn how to take your baby's temperature by looking in a baby care book or asking a friend, nurse, or doctor.
Before you go to the doctor, write down your questions so you won't forget them. When you talk with the doctor, whether it is in person or on the phone, have the following information written down in front of you:
Baby Exam Checklist
_____ Your Baby's Temperature
— Head rolling
— Pulling up legs
— A different kind of cry
— Cries when touched
— Very little
— Pulling or rubbing
— Flushed or sweaty
— Hard or dry
— Too quiet
— Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Listen carefully to the instructions the doctor gives you. Write them down. Don't be embarrassed if you need the doctor to repeat or explain something. Read the instructions you have written back to the doctor to make sure you understand them. The instructions need to be followed carefully. Look at them later to see that you are following them.
What's It Like to Be 2 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- My head is still a little wobbly when I'm propped up.
- I hold my head up for a few minutes and turn it sideways, when I'm on my stomach.
- I cry with real tears now, but usually only enough to wet my eyes.
- I move my arms and legs and "bicycle" with my feet when I get excited.
- I hold onto things for a little while. Did you notice that my hands are open most of the time now?
- I gurgle, laugh, and smile when I'm happy.
- I like to try out cooing sounds.
- Make it easier for me to hear and learn the patterns of words. Talk slowly, raise the pitch of your voice, and say your words VERY clearly. When you repeat words and phrases, that helps me learn, too.
How I Respond
- If I am a quiet baby, I spend a lot of time just looking. If I am an active baby, I will spend more time moving, smiling or screaming depending on how I feel.
- I am fascinated by my own hands. First, I may just look at them. Then I may bring them to my mouth. This may have happened before, but now it is because I decided to move them.
- I blink at shadows made by my own hands.
- I follow you with my eyes when you move.
- I can follow moving objects with my eyes.
- I can see bright colors now.
- I smile at people.
- I quiet down when I suck my fingers, a bottle, or a pacifier.
- I perform just to get your attention. I love it when you get excited about what I do.
- I don't like some noises, such as loud televisions and radios. I will tell you this by fussing. Turn it down, Mom and Dad!
How I Understand and Feel
- I need lots of cuddling and holding.
- I can have lots of feelings, including feeling happy, scared, or uncomfortable.
- I feel happy when I hear you tell me that I am beautiful and you love me.
- I feel happy and secure when you give me what I need, such as feeding me when I'm hungry, changing my diapers when I'm wet, or rocking me when I'm tired.
- I recognize different voices and people.
- I recognize a few familiar things, such as my bottle.
- I like to stare at people and things.
Crying is a Call for Help!
Researchers believe that babies increase the amount of time they cry between birth and 2 months of age. That is why it's so important to learn what the crying means and how to cope with it. When your baby is crying, use this checklist to help figure out what the cries mean:
Does your baby have wet or soiled diapers?
- Check her diapers to see if she needs to be changed.
Is she hungry?
- Offer her some food and see if she is ready to eat. Be sure to burp your baby often to get out air bubbles.
Is she lonely?
- Call her name to let her know you are coming. She may even stop crying before you get there. If your baby calms and stays calm after you pick her up, she missed you! Your baby's need for closeness is very real.
Is she bored?
- Give your baby a new view. Change her position. Hang something over the crib that she can see but not reach. Put her where she can keep an eye on you.
Is she tired?
- Some babies get fussy before falling to sleep.
Is she too hot or too cold?
- Touch your baby's tummy. If she feels too hot or too cold, adjust her clothing. Try to keep the room an even temperature — neither too hot, nor too cold.
Is she uncomfortable?
- Does she have diaper rash? Leave diapers off so air can help her skin heal. Is your baby's clothing too tight? Is a pin pricking her? Are there sharp or scratchy edges on labels or zippers?
Is there too much going on around your baby?
- Take her to a quiet place with dim lights. Hold her close and talk to her with your soothing voice. Rock your baby in a rocking chair.
Is your baby having trouble calming down?
- Sing a gentle song over and over. Play soft, soothing music. Swaddle your baby by wrapping her in a soft, light blanket to keep her from thrashing about. Help her learn to comfort herself. Hold her hand in yours or help her find her hand to suck on.
Give Your Baby a Kick Start to Healthy Eating and Fitness
Your baby is beginning to hold her head up, but her tongue cannot manage food, not even cereal. If you try to feed your baby with a spoon, she will push the spoon and food out of her mouth with her tongue. She could choke if you put cereal in a bottle and try to feed it to her.
Your baby uses signals to "talk" to you. Learn the cues she gives when she is hungry and full. This will help set the stage for a lifetime of fitness.
Help your baby learn to enjoy moving. Encourage her to turn over by placing toys just out of her reach. She may try to twist toward them.
Help your baby stand up on your lap. Hold her up under her arms and bounce your legs. Dance with and sing to your baby. She loves to move to music.
Watch your baby. She may propel herself up on her chest. Encourage her to try.
When your baby is hungry, she may:
- Begin to move her mouth
- Rapidly move her eyes in her sleep
- Try to suck on her hand or tongue, your shoulder, or anything she can touch
- Bob her head and search around
- Be fussy, squirm, stretch, clench her fists or toes
When your baby has had enough food, she may:
- Push the bottle or breast away
- Turn her head away
- Put her hands in front of her mouth
- Cry and fuss
- Forcefully move her entire body away from you
- Smile and relax her body
- Fall asleep with the nipple in her mouth
Feeding Time is a Special Time to Build Love and Trust
Hold your baby so he can see your face when you feed him. Feed him with breast milk or fortified infant formula. Do not feed him solid food yet.
Breast milk is best. It has all the nutrition babies need and protects against food allergies and some diseases. If you have started breastfeeding, keep up the good work.
Parents once thought that feeding solid foods at bedtime would help their babies sleep through the night. Not true! Feeding solids before your baby is ready may trigger allergies and/or cause him to eat too much.
Your baby's digestive system is not ready to handle foods other than breast milk or infant formula. His tongue and swallowing skills won't develop enough for solid foods until he is about 4 months old.
Night feedings don't last forever. Babies will usually sleep through the middle of the night feeding by the time they weigh about 11 pounds.
Let's Play. It Helps Me Learn!
These games will help your baby develop neck and eye muscles:
Talk to your baby. Call out when you are coming to your baby's crib. She will learn to recognize your voice and look forward to seeing you.
Babies like simple games best. Look at your baby when you are about 10 inches away. Catch your baby's eye and make a sound. Wait to see what she does. Make the sound again. If your baby likes the game, do it again and make different sounds.
Speak slowly using a high-pitched voice. Speak in short phrases, and change the tone of your voice. Invite your baby to respond by raising your eyebrows, changing your voice pitch, or saying something such as, "What do you think? "
Use different objects that make noise when you play with your baby. Babies like music boxes, bells, rattles, and squeak toys and even the crinkling of paper. Remember, though, babies like to play for only a minute or two at a time.
Help your baby learn about the world by telling her about the sounds she hears. Tell your baby what is happening when the telephone rings, when you drop something, when you turn on the water in the sink, or even when she burps. When you say, "Did you hear that? " in an excited tone of voice, your baby thinks you are having fun, too.
Learn your baby's way of telling you that she is listening. She might smile, wiggle her body, or stop what she was doing to tell you she is listening. She might also show that she is listening in ways that are difficult to see. For example, she might change her breathing pattern or move her hand.
Your baby likes your touch. Rub his body and give him a gentle massage after a bath. Give your baby textures to touch. He likes the feel of soft fabric and different textures on his skin. Place him on a clean carpet, a terry cloth towel, or a smooth blanket. Touch his arms and hands with stuffed animals, rubber toys, and smooth and rough fabrics.
Stay close to your baby and don't leave him alone on a table or chair. You will be surprised at how fast he can turn and roll off. Active babies can move or tip infant carrier seats. Always use the safety belts that come with the seats.
Never place a carrier seat on soft, plush surfaces, which could make the carrier unstable and tip over.
Keep Your Baby Safe When He Sleeps
The three things that belong in the crib are (1) a firm mattress, (2) a tight fitting sheet, and (3) your beautiful baby.
Keep these things OUT of the crib: pillows, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys, bumper pads, and other soft items.
In addition: Be sure your baby's crib is in a smoke-free place.
Do not place the crib near draperies or blinds where your baby could become entangled and strangle on the cords.
Babies should sleep in a safe crib. Your baby's mattress should be firm and snugly fit the crib. The space between the mattress edge and crib frame should not be more than the width of two of your fingers. Cover the mattress with a fitted bottom crib sheet. Avoid too many blankets. Consider clothing your baby in a sleeper instead of a blanket. If you use a blanket, place your baby so that his feet are at the foot of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, covering only as high as your baby's chest.
Keep your baby from overheating. Never cover your baby's head with a blanket. Keep your baby at a temperature that feels comfortable to you, about 68 to 72 degrees F.
Do not overdress your baby. Watch for signs that he is too warm: sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, or rapid breathing.
Check the batteries in your smoke alarm. A good time to do this is when the time changes to daylight-saving time.
Always place your baby on his back when he is in his crib. Your baby may sleep anywhere from 2–10 hours at a time.
Could Your Baby Have Colic?
Colicky babies have tummy pains and loud, piercing cries. Sometimes, this will help:
- Lay your baby across your knees.
- Rub or pat her back.
- Walk with your baby or use an infant swing.
- Change bath time to evening.
Try a pacifier. Sucking helps relax her stomach. If you use a pacifier, use it safely. Replace pacifiers frequently because they can fall apart. To avoid strangulation, do not put a pacifier on a string or ribbon around your baby's neck. Wash the pacifier if it falls on the floor.
Talk to your baby's doctor for more ideas.
Help Your Baby Learn to Roll From Side to Back
When you have time to watch, find a rattle or noisy toy. Place your baby on his side. See if he will follow the noisy toy with his eyes and then roll to his back. If he doesn't, help him by gently moving his shoulder or hip.
Rolling from back to side is difficult for a baby. When he does roll over, even with your help, be sure to praise him by talking to him and giving him loving hugs.
Thumb or Pacifier?
While a pacifier or finger may help satisfy your baby's urge to suck now, she will outgrow this between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. When the time comes, you can help her find comfort in other ways, such as by singing to herself or holding a favorite stuffed toy.
The American Dental Association says that sucking on a pacifier or a thumb can be equally damaging after the permanent teeth come in. It is often easier for children to give up a pacifier than to give up thumb sucking.
Try other ways to comfort your baby, such as rocking her, singing to her, and gently rubbing her body.
If you use a pacifier, use it safely. Replace pacifiers frequently because they can fall apart. To keep your baby safe, do not put a pacifier on a string or ribbon around your baby's neck. Wash the pacifier if it falls on the floor.
A Special Note to Mom and Dad
About this time, many babies seem to settle down. Some don't cry as much, and they are easier to comfort. This makes you feel more confident as a parent. And the more confident you feel, the more you will relax.
By spending less time crying and fussing, your baby has more time to learn. She can get her hand to her mouth and suck on her fingers, but your baby still doesn't have full control over her arms and legs. She may get angry or frustrated when she can't make her body do what she wants it to.
If your baby reacts with fear or anger to new situations or doesn't keep a regular schedule then you could easily get angry, impatient, or confused.
Your baby really needs you to:
- Be patient
- Introduce new things, gently and slowly
- Offer several chances to get accustomed to new things
- Make life simpler, quieter, and less stimulating
When you do these things, your baby learns to deal with her feelings of fear or insecurity. If you have a partner, remember you're in this together.
What's It Like to Be 3 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I hold my head and back pretty straight when you support me.
- When you hold me, I push with my arms and legs.
- When I'm on my tummy, I can lift my head, lean on my elbows, arch my back, and rock.
- I like to put things in my mouth, so keeping things clean becomes even more important.
- I like batting at things hung from a mobile or toy bar. I may have better aim with my feet than with my hands.
- I may get a thrill when you lift me to a standing position, but my legs are not strong enough to support my body yet.
- Don't put me in a walker. I cannot control a walker and may get hurt. Help me learn to move but not with a walker.
- When I see something I like, I squeal with delight.
- I coo simple sounds, such as "oy," "aah," and "ee."
- I don't cry as much as before. Have you noticed?
How I Respond
- I stare at the place where things drop, but I don't watch where they go when they fall. Play peek-a-boo by hiding behind your hands or a blanket. I will love finding you when I see your face again.
- I follow sounds with my eyes.
- I like to listen. Talk to me in simple sentences — with real words.
- I react with my whole body to familiar faces.
- I am really into sucking. I'm not always hungry when I'm sucking. A lot of the time I'm just learning about things by putting them in my mouth.
- I also use sucking to help me calm down when I'm upset. As I get older, I'll grow out of my need to do so much sucking.
- I can see bright colors now.
How I Understand and Feel
- I am becoming really inter-ested in people. I don't like to be left alone. Let me sit where I can watch you!
- I am learning that my actions can bring results and that I can count on you to help me when I need it.
- I'm starting to have a memory. I can remember that I like some toys better than others.
- I usually love to be held, rocked, and cuddled. If I'm very active, you may have to catch me when I'm tired, before I want to slow down long enough to cuddle. If I'm extra sensitive to lights and noises, you may have to turn everything down and then very gently hold me.
- I may make a big discovery soon. I will learn to recognize your face from a photo.
Feeding Your Baby
Breast milk or the formula recommended by your baby's doctor is the only food your baby should have now.
Your baby's feeding schedule should be on demand. He senses what his body needs and adjusts how much he eats. Sometimes your baby will need more, sometimes less.
Your baby will have five to 10 feedings a day, drinking between 16 and 32 ounces of milk.
Be careful that your baby is not being fed too much. Interested friends and relatives may pressure you to "fatten him up." Fat does not equal healthy. Researchers believe that putting on too much weight during these early months may cause your child to be overweight later. Babies need to be fed only the amount they want. If your baby isn't hungry, don't force him to eat.
Do not give your baby fruit juice. Fruit juices can lessen his appetite for what is really needed — breast milk or baby formula.
Babies don't need baby cereal until they are at least 4 to 6 months old. Feeding cereal to your baby does not help him sleep through the night. Your baby will sleep through the night when he is ready, usually when he weighs about 11 pounds, not because of what he eats.
Your baby may not be hungry every time he cries. When babies are fed too often, they eat less at each meal. Their stomachs empty more quickly, and empty stomachs soon make them hungry again.
Try to figure out why your baby is crying and soothe him in other ways. Giving him a bottle just to keep him quiet teaches him to connect food with being unhappy. This may lead to feeding problems later.
If you think it is too soon for your baby to eat again when he cries, try playing with him or helping him become interested in another activity. If he is truly hungry, he will let you know by trying to suck on his hand, your shoulder, or anything he can touch.
Keep extra containers of formula or breast milk cold. Bacteria grow rapidly in infant formula or breast milk that is not refrigerated. When you go out, take a bottle of formula or breast milk with you. Keep the bottle cold until your baby is ready to drink it. Pack the bottle in an insulated cooler with some ice.
You Are Your Baby's First and Best Teacher
Your child will learn more from you than anyone else during his lifetime.
Babies are born ready to learn. They are learning even before they are born. Research shows that when you talk to, hold, and care for your child, the brain is stimulated and the child learns to trust. He learns that you care. He learns that the world can be a good and safe place. The foundation you are building by forming a strong bond with your baby will help his brain and body grow in the best ways possible.
Parents tend to interact differently with boys and girls. Studies show that parents tend to imitate and encourage girls to be verbal, which may be one of the reasons girls usually talk earlier than boys. Parents tend to focus on motor skills with boys. It is important for parents to stimulate verbal development as well as physical development for both boys and girls. All babies need stimulation in all the different areas of development.
Brothers and Sisters Need to Feel Needed
When you have a new baby, it's normal for brothers and sisters to be upset at the way their family has changed, especially if they're younger than 5 years old. A toilet-trained child may go back to diapers for a while. Good eaters may lose their appetites. You may notice other changes, too.
Everyone is affected by having a new family member. Encourage the children to talk about both the good and bad parts of having a new baby.
Don't go to another room and leave your baby alone with a child younger than 5. Young children can't always control their actions. They may hurt the baby accidentally.
Spend time with your other children. Read books to the siblings about babies joining families. Involve the children in caring for the baby. Praise them when they do well. Teach them how to hold the baby and how close to sit. Help them recognize how the baby responds to them.
Help everyone learn how to handle your baby gently. It may be tempting to hear your baby giggle after tossing him in the air or bouncing him vigorously on your knee, but don't. Babies can be injured this way. Rapid movement can damage blood vessels in a child's brain, resulting in blindness, brain injury, or even death. Effects may not be noticed until later, when learning problems occur. Don't take a chance! Never allow anyone to spank, shake, hit, throw, toss, or swing babies or young children.
Take Excellent Care of Yourself
When you're on an airplane getting ready to take off, you will be reminded that in the event of an emergency, you should secure your air mask before you secure the mask for children.
When it comes to parenting, that basic idea of taking care of yourself so you can take care of others is likewise important. Unless you take really good care of yourself, you won't have the energy, stamina, or creative brainpower to meet the challenges that parenting brings.
Stress is contagious. Your baby is becoming aware of your moods. He will sense when you are tense, as well as when you are calm and happy. Do everything you can to manage stress well. Have realistic expectations for yourself. Prioritize what you want to get done each day.
Exercise! With everything you have to do, exercise is one of the easiest things to leave out. But it's one of the most important things you can do as a parent. It's great to walk or swim, if you have someone to watch your baby. What exercises can you do without leaving home?
Here are two simple exercises that take just a few min-utes and help to loosen up your body.
- Lie on the floor, on your back, and point your toes. Raise your right leg slightly and stretch your left arm toward your raised leg. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Repeat six times.
- Lie on the floor, on your back, with arms stretched out to shoulder level. Bend your knees and lift your feet. Swing bent legs toward right, making sure your shoulders and arms are flat on the floor. Then swing legs to the left. Repeat six times.
Keeping Your Relationship Strong
It's time for a parenting break! New moms and dads need to make time for each other and to be with other people. After some time away from your baby, you can return refreshed to face the challenges of parenting. Well-adjusted babies tend to have dads and moms who show that they enjoy and love each other. Are there ways you can make your partner feel special each day?
Try to show your love for your partner and your baby on a daily basis. Hugs and kisses are great ways to show you care, as is helping with household and child care chores. Each day, tell your children and partner why you love them.
Make Sure Your Baby Has Safe Playthings
As your infant begins to put things into his mouth, be sure that he has safe things to play with.
- Are too large to fit into your baby's mouth, ear, or nose
- Are light enough so they won't cause harm if your baby drops them on himself
- Are nontoxic and made of non-breakable materials — never glass
- Do not have spikes or wires in them and are not sharp
- Do not have pinch points that might catch your baby's fingers, skin, tongue, or lips.
Begin now to inspect your child's toys to make sure they are safe. Even at this young age, children can have serious accidents with toys. Infants can partially swallow rattles while sucking on them or by falling on them when rolling over. The rattles can get jammed into the throat, causing the child to choke.
Squeeze toys and other teething toys have also caused babies to choke. Make sure that no part or end of a rattle can fit into your child's mouth. A baby's mouth is very flexible and can stretch to hold larger shapes.
To keep your child safe:
- Take all toys out of the crib when your baby sleeps.
- Do not hang pacifiers or toys around your baby's neck and avoid hanging them from long strings above his bed. They can come loose and get tangled around his neck.
- Don't give plastic bags to your baby as playthings.
- Remove stuffed toy animal eyes and buttons if they are loose or pinned on.
- Remove loose metal squeakers from squeak toys.
Buy toys that are washable. Children suck and chew on toys, so the toys should be easy to keep clean. Regularly check to see that the toys are not broken or about to break.
Use the safety straps on an infant seat and keep it on the floor, away from steps and other dangers. Your baby is now strong enough to wiggle out of an infant seat and tip it over.
How to Play
Put your baby on the floor, in an infant seat or propped up enough to see you. Get your baby's attention by making eye contact and calling her name.
Show your baby a toy. Say, "Look what I have. It's a red rattle. Listen! " Then give the rattle to your baby. As she plays, talk about what she is doing. Say, "You can make it rattle. How does it taste? Is it hard? "
Allow your baby time to play and explore what she can do with the toy.
Preparing a Sitter
Ask someone you trust to care for your baby. The first time you have a sit-ter, ask the person to come 30 minutes before you leave so you can show the sitter around your house and tell her about your baby's routine.
Write down the following information about your baby and put it in a folder for the sitter:
- What usually happens at the time of day the sitter is present?
- What are your baby's favorite toys and activities?
- How does your baby tell you that she is hungry, sleepy, or wet?
- What do you do to calm your baby?
- How do you feed, burp, diaper, and place your baby in the crib? (You always place your baby in the crib on her back with no pillows or toys.)
- Where are all the things that the sitter will need for a diaper change, for warming a bottle, and for changing clothes?
Show the sitter around the house and where the following items are located:
- Smoke detectors and fire escapes
- Emergency phone numbers
- Outside doors
- First aid kit
Provide the sitter these phone numbers:
- Where you can be reached
- Your baby's doctor
- Neighbors or nearby family members
- 911 or emergency response system (fire and police)
- Poison Control Center (800-222-1222)
- Your house address
- Address of nearest emergency room
- A signed consent form authorizing medical care within certain limits if you cannot be reached
Learning to Talk Helps Your Baby's Brain Grow
Be at your baby's eye level. Get down to where you meet your baby's eyes or prop her up safely in an infant seat to make eye contact.
Look into your baby's eyes and talk to her. Repeat the sounds she makes. The two of you can play verbal ping pong. Your baby makes a sound. Then you make the same sound. Keep going back and forth.
Each child will "talk" in different ways. Your job is to learn your ba-by's special ways of trying to talk to you. When you copy your baby like you're talking with her, you're helping her learn how to use language.
Good language skills help wire your baby's brain in the most powerful way. Language skills are the key to social and emotional well-being as well as school success.
Prevent Bottle Feeding from Causing Problems
One of the most important parts of feeding is the warmth and pleasure your baby feels while being held and fed. Don't prop the bottle in your baby's mouth and leave her alone. Doing so can lead to serious health problems, such as ear infections and tooth decay.
Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle. There is a small opening or tube between your baby's throat and her ear. If your baby is lying down and sucking on her bottle, a small amount of formula may travel from the throat to the ear and cause an ear infection. The formula that stays in her mouth when she falls asleep with a bottle can cause tooth decay.
Babies Are Busy Building Their Brains
Babies begin learning during the very first minutes of their lives. By age 3, about 85 percent of the brain is wired. This wiring affects how your baby sees, talks, hears, moves, and interacts with others.
Babies need a warm and loving environment to develop the brain connections that will help them learn throughout their lives. Physical, cognitive, language, social, and emotional development are all linked together. Everything in the brain and the body is connected. Babies are learning to talk, to work their bodies, and to form strong bonds with caring adults. Everything works together to build their brains.
The way people treat your bay affects how her brain develops. When babies live in a safe loving home, they reach out, explore, and learn. When you spend time enjoying and playing together, your baby learns how to love and relate to others. Parents are the best and first teachers that babies have.
Do Yourself and Your Crying Baby a Favor
Researchers have found that when a parent responds to a baby's cries more quickly at age 4 months, the baby cries less and calms easier by the time he is 8 months old.
This surprises many people. They think responding quickly to a cry will spoil the baby. But babies aren't like that. Babies cry when they need you because they are upset, sick, or uncomfortable — not to cause trouble.
A quick response teaches your baby to trust you. Your baby learns to give a small cry instead of a big one, because he knows you will come to help. When your baby is getting the help he needs, he needs to cry less.
Ignoring your baby's needs may teach him that the world is not to be trusted. Learning trust gives us the courage to deal with the world around us. Your baby needs to learn to trust so he can grow into a caring and responsible person.
What's It Like to Be 4 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I turn my head in all directions.
- I lift my head forward when I'm on my back and grab my feet with my hands.
- I sit up with my head and back straight if you support my body.
- I prefer sitting, instead of lying down. It's more interesting!
- I roll from side to side, and I might even be able to roll from my tummy to my back.
- Watch out! I could quickly roll off a counter, changing table, or bed.
- My reaching and grasping skills are getting better. At first, I had to look from my hand to the toy. As I get better, I grab for the toy without looking at my hands first.
- I try to move a toy from one hand to the other.
- I put things in my mouth.
- I splash and kick with my hands and feet while getting a bath.
- I babble and imitate sounds, such as coughing and clicking my tongue. Make the same sound back to me.
- I coo, grin, or squeal with joy when you talk to me.
How I Respond
- I love to see myself in the mirror.
- I'm fascinated by my hands.
- I like some people and am shy or scared of others.
- I remember important people, such as Mom and Dad from night to morning or even longer.
- I may have one favorite toy or blanket.
How I Understand and Feel
- My hands are so cool! I really like looking at them.
- I can remember where an object was hidden for a few seconds.
- I'm starting to learn that things go together, when I hear the water running, I look forward to splashing in my bathtub.
- I know if something is near or far. I'm more aware of depth and distance.
- I get excited when I have fun. Everything is a game to me.
- I may cry and get mad when you stop paying attention to me or take a toy away.
- I love it when you play music and dance with me.
- When you hug, kiss, and hold me, I feel loved.
Games Babies Play
I Can Move to Keep Things in Sight: An Eyes and Body Game
Purpose of the game: To teach your baby to use his body and lift his head and part of his upper body when watching a moving object.
How to play: Put your baby on his stomach and sit facing him. Use a ring of keys or a toy that makes noises. Dangle the noise-making object in front of your baby's face and say, "Look at the keys." Raise the object slowly in the air to encourage him to lift his head and push up with his hands. Say something such as, "Follow the keys" or "Keep your eyes on the keys." Watch your baby and see if he can lift his chest off the floor.
Another Eyes and Body Game
Move objects slowly behind your baby's head. See if she will move around to find the object.
Encourage your baby to use both eyes and both sides of her body when she is playing. For example, if you give her a toy for her right hand, try giving it to her in left hand the next time.
Help Me Learn
Put me on my tummy and hold up a toy for me to follow. This helps me learn to roll over.
Blow soap bubbles for me to follow with my eyes, but don't let the bubbles get in my eyes!
Read nursery rhymes to me. I like to listen to you voice.
I like looking at myself in the mirror. Give me a kiss while both of us are looking in the mirror. Move me close to the mirror, then away. Let me touch the mirror.
Play, " This little piggy" with my toes or fingers.
If I seem strong enough, encourage me to get on my hands and knees and rock my body. Show me what to do.
Set me on the floor and hold me up. Let me try to sit alone and balance myself.
Place toys out of my reach and ask me to get them. Watch me roll or scoot!
A Special Word for Fathers
Dads make a difference! They love, guide, teach, and nurture their babies. Some fathers are the main caretakers for their children.
How much should fathers be involved with their babies? As much as they can! Studies show that when dads play with their babies, it helps babies feel important. It also helps them later in elementary school. These same children get along better with their classmates because of their dad's involvement.
Fathers play an important role in helping give children a kick start to fitness. Dads and moms both can be good role models for exercising and keeping their bodies in good shape.
You can help set the foundation for wealthy weight by helping your baby learn to eat the right amount (just the amount your baby wants) of healthy foods and learn to enjoy moving his body and keeping active.
Give Your Baby a Kick Start to Healthy Eating and Fitness
Don't force your baby to eat more than she wants. She will let you know when she has had enough. Fat babies are not healthy babies. Researchers believe that babies gain too much weight in their early months may have more problems with their weight as they grow older. If you think your baby is gaining too much or not enough weight, talk to your doctor.
Pay attention to your baby's cues. She will know when she has had just the right amount. Never put your baby on a diet!
When your baby is hungry, she may:
- Wave her arms and legs
- Open her mouth or reach for the food
- Fuss and look around
When your baby is full, she may:
- Push away or play with the bottle
- Hold her mouth tightly shut
Many doctors recommend that babies do not start eating cereals or other solid foods until they are 6 months of age. The reason is that babies can't control their mouths and tongues very well yet. The food gets pushed back out when the baby tries to eat it.
Another reason to avoid solid food is that your baby may not have control over her head and neck. Semi-liquid and solid foods should not be given to your baby before she can sit up with support and has head and neck control. Check with your doctor or nurse before starting solid foods.
For now, breast milk is the best food for your baby, or the fortified formula your doctor recommends. Babies don't usually need extra water. They get all they need in breast milk or formula.
Take Care of Yourself
It's easy to ignore the first signs of stress. But if you tune into your body and your feelings, you can learn to read the warning signals and take action to reduce tension.
Put your baby down for a nap and forget about the things you think you should be doing. Use this time to rest and relax.
Set realistic goals and prioritize. Trying to do everything, plus taking care of your baby, will wear you out. Pick the most important things and don't worry about the rest.
Eat healthy foods, including veggies, fruits, and whole grains.
Your sleep is as important as your baby's sleep. You need enough sleep to stay healthy.
Plan time for yourself. Ask a friend to watch your baby while you exercise or do whatever makes you feel fresh again — energized and relaxed.
When you feel worried or angry, don't bottle it up. Talk to a trusted friend. If your feelings seem to be getting out of control, or if tension is so high that your partner reacts by harming you, there is help available. Call 800-799-SAFE (7233), the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.
Some Babies Begin to Teethe About Now
A baby's first teeth often come in at about 6 months of age, but some babies get them as early as 3 months of age. Some babies won't get any teeth until after a year. The age doesn't matter. Once she starts, your baby will teethe off and on for months.
Here are some signs to look for:
- Your baby will want to chew on everything.
- She will probably drool more than usual and may be fussy and cranky.
- As teeth push through the gums, your baby will feel some soreness. Chill a clean teething ring in the refrigerator, then give it to your baby to chew on. If your baby has a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of illness while teething, call your doctor.
The American Dental Association suggests that parents:
- Begin brushing their baby's teeth with a little water as soon as the first tooth appears.
- Not use toothpaste until their baby is at least 2 years old.
- Get a well-baby dental checkup by their baby's first birthday.
How Much Does Your Baby Understand?
Can your baby obey you? It's important for a child to obey her parents, but a 4- to 5-month-old does not understand what you say to her.
She hears your tone of voice and may sense that you are angry. Research shows that a baby this young is not able to control her actions long enough to do what you tell her. And your baby won't be able to obey for some time.
Spanking or slapping her hand will only confuse her and won't help. Being kind and gentle with your baby will help more than anything else. Your baby doesn't do things on purpose yet, and she surely doesn't do things to bother you.
Baby Walkers: NO; Safe Strollers: YES
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that babies NOT use a walker. They can be very dangerous. Many infants arrive in emergency rooms after baby walker accidents. These injuries are usually serious, including skull fractures and other head injuries.
Many of the injuries are caused by infants falling down stairs in a walker. The stairs either do not have gates on them or the gates are left open.
Not only are they unsafe, baby walkers generally do not help babies learn to walk. Some experts think that baby walkers do more harm than good for leg muscle development in most babies.
Strollers, on the other hand, can be useful. When buying or borrowing a stroller, look for one that has:
- A firm backrest to help the baby sit up
- A canopy or covering for the head tall enough that a 3-year-old can sit under it
- A seatbelt that is secure and comfortable
- Wheels that can be locked
- A special latch to prevent the stroller from accidentally folding
- A wide base to prevent tipping
When you use the stroller:
- Never leave the stroller in the driveway or behind a car.
- Keep your baby with you at all times.
New Abilities Create Safety Hazards
Your baby can wiggle out of an infant seat, out of the bathtub, off the changing table, and off the bed.
Children can strangle in the cords of window blinds or draperies. Keep them out of your baby's reach.
Your baby can reach and grab. He can grab your coffee cup or stick his hand in your soup. Hot liquids can badly burn him. Keep your baby away from hot liquids and foods.
Never leave your baby alone in the house or a car, or anywhere for that matter. If you do need to leave your baby alone for a few minutes, put him in a crib or playpen.
Invisible Invader: Lead
Old lead paint in homes built before 1978 can break down into dust. The lead dust clings to toys, fingers, and other things that children put into their mouths. Lead poisoning can occur when lead dust is the size of three grains of sugar and gets into your child every day for just 30 days.
If your home was built before 1978, use soap and water to clean up lead dust with a mop or sponge. Use that mop or sponge only for lead cleaning. Do not allow anyone who is pregnant to clean up lead dust.
Clean your baby's hands, toys, and your home often. Wash your baby's hands before and after eating and sleeping. Every day: Wash pacifiers, chew toys, and other items that your baby puts in his mouth. Each week: Wash stuffed toys.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Next time your baby is playing with something, watch to see if she looks for it when it is taken away. Probably not. At this age, if she can't see it, she doesn't remember that it exists. For your baby, out of sight is out of mind.
When your baby has a toy you want to take away from her, give her another toy before taking away the first one. Put it out of her sight. This is an easy way to redirect her attention.
Baby Exercises Are Fun
Pull to Sitting
Lay your baby on his back on a blanket or rug. Place your hands under his arms. Slowly pull your baby up until he is sitting. To encourage him, say things such as," Up we go! " At first, you may do more of the work. Your baby will get the idea and may soon work hard to help himself up.
Lay your baby on his back on a blanket and sit behind his head, holding a noisy or squeaky toy. Hold the toy where your baby can see it. Slowly move it so he has to turn his head to follow it.
Praise your baby if he arches his back and starts to turn. If your baby turns with his shoulders, but his legs don't follow, gently push on his bottom to help him over. Save this game for later if your baby doesn't try.
To help your baby feel what it's like to roll over, lay him on one side of a small blanket. Gently raise the blanket to help him roll over. Reward him with big smiles and hugs.
Time for a Well-Baby Check
At this checkup, your baby will get a set of immunizations. The second set of polio, HIB, and DTP immunizations will be given. Remind your doctor of any reaction your baby may have had to the first set of immunizations. Take a list of questions you want to ask your doctor or health care provider.
Keep a record of your baby's immunizations. Use a health journal, a notebook, or form that you are given. You will be asked about your child's immunizations many times, including when he goes to school. Make it easy on yourself by keeping this information in a handy place.
Immunizations protect your child's health. Immunizations are available through your doctor, health care provider, or public health office.
What Is Your Baby Like?
Your baby is one of a kind. Babies are different in many ways:
Some babies eat, sleep, and even have bowel movements about the same time each day. Others never do the same thing from one day to the next.
Approach or Withdrawal
Some babies shy away from new things, while others seek them out.
Some babies won't take their formula if it isn't the right temperature. Some babies can sleep only in their own cribs. Others do fine no matter where they are or with whom.
Intensity of Reaction
Some babies whimper quietly when they're cold or hungry. Others howl as soon as they are unhappy.
Level of Responsiveness
Some babies notice the tiniest change around them. Others can sleep through thunderstorms.
All of these things make up your baby's temperament or personality. Some combinations are easier to live with than others.
Some babies are active and predictable. They adapt easily to change and are usually happy.
Some babies pull away from new things a little and adapt slowly to change.
Some babies tend to be unpredictable and hard to comfort. They have a hard time with new situations and it takes them a long time to get used to change.
If your baby is hard to comfort, know: Your baby is not doing this on purpose and is not bad. He can grow up to be as bright and loving as others. Your baby was born with this style of adapting, but it may change as he grows. This kind of baby needs caring and patient parents who will accept him and help him learn.
To help a baby who has a hard time dealing with new situations: Introduce things slowly, so he gets accustomed to them. Pay attention to your baby's signals, and watch how he reacts to the world. Over time, you will figure out how much change and activity are right for your baby. This style of adapting, which makes your baby seem hard to comfort, may help him when he is older. It may help him think for himself and not go along with the crowd.
What's It Like to Be 5 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I rock, roll, and twist my body.
- I kick my feet and suck on my toes.
- I keep my head and back straight when I sit if you support my body.
- If you hold me under my arms, I stand up, jump up and down, and stamp my feet.
- I have pretty good aim when I grab at something.
- I can roll from my tummy to my back, and I may be able to roll from my back to my tummy.
- I watch your mouth and try to imitate you when you talk to me.
- I make sounds such as ee, ah, ooh, and maybe da, pa, ma, ba.
- I babble to myself, to my toys, and to people — I get attention that way!
How I Respond
- I look around when I hear sounds.
- I may cry when I see strangers.
- I look for something if I drop it.
- I stop crying when you talk to me.
- I usually cling to you when you hold me.
- I have my good days and my bad days — just as everyone does.
How I Understand and Feel
- I recognize my name.
- I can tell the difference between me and others in the mirror.
- I remember what I just did.
- I am very interested in toys that can be touched and chewed on. I like to twist, shake, and bang my toys.
- As I play, I learn what it means to be near and far. I also learn about inside and outside.
- As I play and explore, I learn about the world.
- I am starting to show fear, anger, and disgust. It doesn't mean I'm bad, it just means I'm growing into a normal person with many emotions.
- I'm beginning to be aware of my feelings. I notice your feelings, facial expressions, and body language.
Child Guidance: Discipline and Safety
Your baby has lots of energy. It seems as if he is always on the move. You may need extra patience to keep up with him. Your baby is starting to get into things you may not want him to have. Because everything he picks up goes into his mouth, it's time to think about safety.
Babies under 1 year old are too young to understand why they should stop doing something. Your baby may love to throw toys on the floor. He likes to hear the noise and watch the toys bounce. To him, it's a game. Your baby doesn't drop things to annoy or "test" you. He's learning where things go when they drop.
Put away things that are dangerous or could break and hurt your baby. Baby proofing will simplify your life if you take the time to do it now. Read all about baby proofing your house later in the newsletter.
Your baby needs and wants to explore. So it makes sense to baby proof your house, rather than having to follow him around saying no to everything he does. That approach is exhausting for you and upsetting for your baby, who learns by touching and exploring.
Another form of teaching is redirection. This means moving your baby away from a hazard, such as a lamp cord, and moving him to a safe place.
You can substitute things to teach your baby. For example, find a different drawer in the kitchen that is OK for your baby to empty. Then gently remove the thing you don't want him to have. As you take it away, say something like, "This could hurt you."
Do not slap your baby's hands or yell at him. Your baby can't control his behavior yet. If you spank him, he learns that it is OK to hit. It's your job to keep him out of danger, not to punish him for getting into it.
If you can set limits, and at the same time provide loving care, and have a sense of humor, you will help your baby grow up with a good head on his shoulders.
Get More Information if You're Worried
Sometimes parents wonder if there are signs that their baby is not developing normally. There are lists of warning signs, or red flags (as some people call them), to help you find out if your baby is developing normally. To get more information on these warning signs, talk to your doctor or go to this web site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-3mo.html.
Games Babies Play
Difficult Sounds: A Communication Game
Purpose of game: to encourage your baby to imitate sounds and words. Repeat the sounds your baby makes so she can hear them twice. As you say these sounds back to your baby, you are helping her learn how to make the sounds she has "invented."
How to play: Hold your baby in your arms and let her relax. Make sounds such as "brr-own," "grrr-ate," "bizzz-y," "uh-oh," and "aaa-all gone." Face her so she can watch your lips move. Nuzzle or cuddle her after you make the sounds. Laugh, smile, or hug her gently when she makes the sounds.
If your baby still wants to play, try new words and sounds. Face your baby so she can see you say other words and sounds.
Help Your Baby Learn About His Body
Help your baby discover his feet.
- Rub his feet together.
- Bring his feet to his mouth.
- Count his toes.
Say, "This little piggy went to market (wiggling the big toe). This little piggy stayed home (wiggling the next toe). This little piggy had roast beef (wiggling the third toe). This little piggy had none (wiggling the fourth toe). And this little piggy cried wee, wee, wee, all the way home (wiggling the littlest toe)."
Help your baby discover his hands.
- Rub his hands together.
- Bring his hands to his mouth.
- Count his fingers.
Help him clap his hands together. Do hand games such as patty cake. Clap your baby's hands as you say, "Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. (Pat hands on lap.) Pat it and roll it (move hands in a circle) and mark it with a B (draw the letter B with the hand). Put it in the oven for baby and me (pulling hands away from your baby)."
Take time to laugh together!
Feeding Your Baby
Between 5 and 6 months of age, several things begin to happen. Your baby's growth will begin to slow down. He will become more active and burn more calories.
Your doctor is probably tell-ing you to not start solid foods for another month or two. Your friends and relatives are probably telling you that everyone starts solids sooner. Pay attention to your doctor.
Breast milk is best. Keep up the breast milk and/or the in-fant formula your doctor has recommended. If you don't already have a breastfeeding support group, check out the La Leche League at http://lalecheleague.org.
Help your baby learn to eat when he is hungry and to stop eating when he begins to feel full.
Hungry babies may:
- Open their mouths when they see the breast or bottle
- Lean forward to be able to drink
Babies who start to feel full may:
- Hold their mouths tightly shut
- Push away the breast or bottle
- Lose interest in eating
- Turn their upper body away
No Honey, Honey!
Babies under 1 year old should not be fed honey. Honey is harmful to babies because it has spores that can cause infant botulism.
Read Books to Your Baby
Your baby likes to look at brightly colored pictures in books. Point to the pictures of items as you read to your baby. Make up your own short story about pictures you see on a page of a book or a magazine.
Helping Your Baby's Memory
Watch what your baby does when things disappear from view. Does she lean over to look for things she dropped? Does she look for a favorite toy?
These are signs that your baby's memory is growing. When she was younger, out of sight was out of mind. Now, she is learning that things exist even when she can't see them.
You can have fun with your baby and help her memory at the same time. Show your baby a toy, and then cover it — slowly at first — with a cloth or cup. Does your baby try to pull the cover off? What if you cover only part of the toy? Try different toys and different covers.
Play peek-a-boo to help your baby learn that you come back when you go away. Sometimes cover your face and sometimes hers. If your baby doesn't have fun playing these games now, wait a few weeks and try again.
Child Toy Safety Alert!
Now is the time to remove crib toys that fit across the crib. When babies can push up on their hands and knees, sometime around 5 months of age, they can fall over a toy in the crib and not be able to get free. This could cause a baby to strangle.
Hooded shirts, toys, or anything with strings can also cause strangling, so keep these things away from your baby.
It's Time to Baby Proof Your Home
Your baby wants to move, climb, open things, and poke around in small spaces. She does not understand how dangerous things can be.There are many reasons to baby proof:
- It helps your baby avoid accidents and injuries.
- It gives your baby a large area to safely explore, which helps her learn.
- You won't have to keep saying no.
- It keeps your valued items safe.
- Get down on the floor and crawl around. Look carefully at everything in the rooms where your baby goes. Create a safe area for your baby to play.
- Cover all electrical outlets.
- Put small items such as matches, nails, and tiny beads out of sight.
- Move chemicals such as cleaning products and bug killers to high, out-of-reach shelves.
- Keep all medicines out of reach.
- Install childproof locks on cabinets that hold items you don't want your baby to have.
- Use new gates to block off stairs and other places you don't want your baby to play. Old-fashioned accordion gates are dangerous. Your baby can be trapped in the gate.
Until you have a safe play area, borrow or buy a playpen or new gate. Playpens work well with some babies, while other babies cry the minute they're put into one. If you do use a playpen, be sure it has a spring lock and no hinges or joints that can pinch tiny fingers. Do not keep your baby in the playpen long; she will get tired of it and it keeps her from safely exploring and learning.
What Happened to Time for Us?
"Ever since we had the baby, there's been a lot of strain between my partner and me. We never seem to have time just to sit and talk anymore. I can't seem to tell him how I feel. Things really seem to be piling up between us."
Many parents feel this way. With all the demands that a new baby adds to your busy life, it's difficult to find time to sit down, talk, and make a plan for working together. Even though it's difficult, it's important to find the time to talk about what's bothering you.
Chances are that your partner also has been storing up some gripes. Set up a date or set aside a special time each week that you can be together and talk without being interrupted.
Use "I messages." Tell each other how you feel, without placing blame. Instead of saying, "You always put me down" say, "I feel put down when you tell me" By using "I messages," your partner will not feel blamed or accused and is likely to be more interested in addressing the problem.
Be direct. Say what you mean, rather than hoping your partner can guess or know what you mean. Instead of saying, "The living room looks messy" say, "I get upset when the newspapers are all over the room, and I have to pick them up."
Avoid the question trap. Instead of saying, "Why didn't you call to tell me you'd be late? " say, "I was worried that something had happened to you when you didn't come home at the usual time. Next time, please call me, so I won't worry."
When you find yourself ready to ask a question or place blame, identify what you are really feeling. Then send an "I message" instead.
Listen, listen, and listen! Give your partner a chance to air his or her feelings and gripes. Don't interrupt, jump to conclusions, preach, or quickly offer advice. Check back to see if you really understood what was said. For example say, "Let me see if I understand" or "Are you saying that? "
These skills will be helpful as you parent your baby. You may not agree with each other about how to discipline your baby. One of you may want to distract the baby from dangerous objects, while the other may believe in yelling at the baby. These are issues to be worked out by talking them through and using the skills listed above.
Do Yourself a Favor
Some parents make a regular date to be with other parents and babies. Babies enjoy these play groups. Parents may enjoy them even more! You may be able to use each other for emergency baby-sitting, too.
All parents have days when their babies wear them out. It helps to have a friend you can call on for an hour or so if you need to run an errand or when you just need time alone.
To raise a baby, you need help. Is there someone in your neighborhood who loves babies? Are there new parents nearby who might like to join a play group?
Children Learn From Watching Parents
When raising their children, many parents either do the things their own parents did, or they do just the opposite. What do you copy from your parents? What do you do that is different? Have you thought about why you copy some things and not others?
Even though your baby is only 6 months old, he is learning by watching you. That is why it is so important to set a good example. Your baby will copy what family members do. Once set, patterns of family life are hard to change.
Your baby will notice:
- How you talk to each other
- How you work out problems
- How you show your feelings
Talk to others with kindness and tell them what you really mean to say.
Work out problems by talking about them and finding positive solutions.
Show love and concern for family members, but also tell them when you are angry or upset so the issue can be resolved before it becomes a big problem.
Remember, you are the most important influence in your children's lives. How you act teaches them how to behave.
Your Baby Is Half a Year Old!
Now that your baby has reached the half-year mark, she is probably spending most of her awake time sitting up, playing, babbling, looking around, and touching everything.
Your baby may be driving you a little crazy because she wants to grab everything she sees. Try to be patient; she is learning about the world.
So far we have talked about how your baby grows each month. But another person has also grown—YOU. Congratulations—Keep up the good work!
What's It Like to Be 6 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I turn and twist in all directions.
- I roll from my back to my stomach.
- I sometimes can sit up without the support of my arms.
- I creep backward and forward with my stomach on the floor.
- I hold onto an object with one hand and then put it in the other hand.
- I hold one building block, reach for a second one, and look for a third one right away.
- I grab for an object when it drops.
- I still babble a lot, but I have more control of sounds.
- I'm beginning to understand some words by the tone of voice you use.
How I Respond
- I pick up things, shake them, and then listen to the sound they make when I drop them.
- I play games with people I know.
- I get upset when I'm around grown-up strangers, but I'm friendly to children I don't know.
- I coo, hum, or stop crying sometimes when I hear music.
- I keep very busy doing something all the time.
How I Understand and Feel
- I know that I have to use my hands to pick up something.
- I look at and study things for a long time.
- I turn objects upside down just to get another view of them.
- I turn when I hear my name.
- I haven't learned how to control my feelings yet.
- I complain and howl when I don't get my way.
- I giggle, coo, and squeal with joy when I'm happy.
- I have very strong likes and dislikes about food.
Discipline Is Teaching
Six month old babies don't understand what it means to obey you. Their minds are not developed enough for them to know right from wrong. However, they may do things that are not safe or things that you think are wrong.
For the next year or so, you need to help your baby learn how to behave, which is sometimes called discipline. Discipline really means teaching, not punishing.
If you are a warm and loving parent, your baby will learn to trust you. The more your baby trusts you, the more she will accept the limits you put on her. She will want to do the right thing to please you.
Research shows that discipline works best for parents who have a warm relationship with their children.
Here are some good ways to teach your baby:
Let your baby know when she does things you like with words, hugs, and smiles. The more positive you are when your baby is good, the more she will listen to you when you don't like what she's doing.
Ignore misbehavior, such as spitting food, if it's not harming anyone. Don't look at her, smile, or yell. Until she stops, pretend you don't see her.
Pick your baby up and move her to safety if she is doing something dangerous. For example, take her away from a stairway and put her in the middle of the room and say, "You can crawl here." This is redirecting.
Remember to praise your baby for doing something that is OK after you have ignored misbehavior or redirected her.
Baby proof your home so your baby has safe places to explore and move around. For example, leave one low kitchen cabinet unlocked and stock it with safe plastic dishes. Have baby toys on low safe shelves that she can reach.
Prevent problems before they happen. For example, put a safety gate on the stairs to prevent falls. Put a vase away or on a very high shelf out of your baby's reach.
Make your baby's world interesting. If she has fun things to explore, she will be too busy having safe fun to get into trouble. For example, when you visit someone else's home, take interesting toys to hold her attention. This way she won't get into dangerous things at the other home.
Teach your baby to do things right. If she pulls the cat's hair or yours, show her how to pat the cat or you gently.
When Your Doctor Says It Is Time to Start Solids
Most doctors recommend that parents wait until their baby is 6 months old to start solid foods. Until that time, babies can't control their mouths and tongues very well so they may push food out of their mouths instead of eating it.
When you decide to feed your baby solid food, choose the right moment. Try it when your baby is rested, when she is hungry but not starved, and when you are relaxed.
The first solid food to give your baby is often an iron-fortified cereal in addition to breast milk or infant formula. Choose a baby cereal with just one ingredient such as just rice (least likely to cause allergies), only oatmeal, or just barley. Put a teaspoon of baby cereal in a dish and mix it with breast milk or formula to a watery consistency. Don't add sugar or salt or any other seasoning. For the first few weeks, offer the cereal once or twice a day after the breast or bottle feeding.
Use a small, narrow spoon. Put a small amount of cereal toward the middle of your baby's tongue. If she seems interested, give her a few more tastes with the spoon. If she doesn't like it, or pushes the spoon away, wait a few weeks and try again.
The first feedings will be messy. Your baby has been used to sucking liquids. Now, she has to learn how to swallow solids. The tongue thrust that makes food come back out is a natural reaction. Your baby has to learn to swallow rather than push her tongue out.
The next foods after cereals will probably be a few teaspoons of pureed vegetables or fruits. But wait until your doctor tells you to give them a try.
Try only one new food at a time. If you start with a few teaspoons of infant rice cereal, keep giving your baby just the rice cereal for a week or so. The reason you try only one food at a time is so you can see if your baby has a reaction to a food or is allergic to it. So, see if your baby has an allergy to rice cereal before you start infant oatmeal or infant barley.
Sometimes a new food can cause diarrhea, a skin rash, or even a runny nose. If you think your baby has an allergy problem, check with your doctor, nurse, or clinic.
You can help your baby learn to eat healthy foods. Try to make eating a pleasant time.
Babies Love Babies
When you are around town, you will meet other parents with their babies. Notice how much the babies like to look at each other. Babies really do like other babies.
Make a date to meet another parent and baby at the park or at your home. Make it a fun time. See what the babies will do with each other.
It's great to watch another parent and baby together. You can learn a lot from just watching, and they can learn from you, too.
Watch Out! High Chair Safety
When your baby starts to lean forward out of his infant seat and you're afraid he will tip over, it's time for a high chair. Remember, though, babies can get badly hurt in a high chair if you don't follow safety rules.
Here are some things to look for to be sure the high chair is safe for your baby:
- It should be sturdy, with a wide base so it won't tip over.
- A seat belt with a crotch strap to go between your baby's legs keeps him from sliding out and is a must.
- The tray should lock securely on both sides and have no sharp edges.
- Belt buckles and tray locks should be easy for you to use but NOT easy for your baby to use.
- Caps or plugs on tubing should be firmly attached and unable to be pulled off. They could cause a child to choke.
- It should be easy to clean. If the finish will allow, you can place the high chair in the shower stall to soak and steam it clean.
- If the seat is slippery, attach rubber bathtub adhesive stickers to the seat so your baby doesn't slide around.
Do's and Don'ts of High Chair Safety
Do always use the seat belt and strap.
Do lock the tray into place.
Do be sure your baby's hands are out of the way when you lock the tray.
Do be sure that there are no sharp edges to cut her or you.
Do keep the high chair at least 12 inches away from a table or counter. Your baby could push off and tip over.
Do watch your baby closely. Some babies have slipped down between the leg straps and strangled.
Don't leave the chair near a stove.
Don't leave your baby alone in the chair.
Don't let your baby stand in the chair.
Don't let other children climb on the chair.
Fathers are Changing
Today, many fathers are quite involved in raising their children. These fathers play with their babies, feed and change their babies, and create a warm close relationship with them.
More mothers work outside the home than in the past, so dads are taking on the responsibility of doing more in-home work, including caring for their children. By taking care of their children each day, fathers have a chance to form a strong, close bond with them.
Dads create that close bond with their babies by giving them some special time each day. By focusing on just their baby and nothing else, dads are telling their children that they are important.
Baby's First Tooth
Some babies are born with one or more teeth; others do not get teeth until after their first birthday. Because the average age for the first tooth is 7 months old, your baby may begin teething soon.
Your baby's first teeth will probably come in easily. She may have slightly inflamed gums, some drooling, and quite a bit of chewing as the first teeth come through. To comfort your baby, rub her gums with your clean finger or give her a cool safe teething ring she can chew.
When teething, your baby may have a runny nose or a rash on her face and neck. She also may be fussy. Teething does not cause high fever above 101 degrees, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your baby has these symptoms, call your doctor.
After teething, the first tooth is a welcome sight. By the time your child is 2 to 3 years old, all 20 baby teeth should be in. Many people believe that if children lose their baby teeth, the teeth are not important. This is not true. See the story on care of baby teeth for reasons baby teeth must be protected.
Take Care of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth do five important things:
- Chew food
- Help child speak clearly
- Guide permanent teeth into place
- Add to general good health
- Make a nice smile
Tooth decay is a serious problem for young children. Half of American children have cavities by the time they are 2 years old.
Cavities are caused when sugars in breast milk, formula, sweetened drinks, and juices are on the baby's teeth for long periods of time. This often happens if a baby sleeps with a bottle in his mouth or stays attached to the breast and goes to sleep.
Safety Alert for Parents and Caregivers: Childproof Your Home
It's time to childproof your home. Your baby is getting around more now and can get into things that are dangerous.
Look everywhere for small items your baby could choke on and remove them. This may be hard if you have older children who have toys with tiny parts, but it's important.
Remove things that could smother your baby, like pillows and soft bedding from the crib. Put plastic bags where your baby can't reach them.
Prevent burns by turning pot handles toward the back of the stove. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. Lock up matches and lighters. Put knives and sharp scissors out of reach.
Put medicines, cosmetics, cleaning agents, and anything poisonous in a locked cabinet. Put safety gates at the top and the bottom of the stairs.
Make sure the paint and furniture in your house is nontoxic. Some of your furniture may have been painted with lead paint. Remove poisonous house-plants. Consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www.cpsc.gov for more information to keep your baby from being accidentally poisoned.
Games Babies Play
Get What You Want: Using a Tool Game
Purpose of game: Encourage your baby to use objects as tools for getting what he wants.
How to play: Put your baby in a sitting position on the floor with a small blanket in front of him. Make sure he can reach the blanket. Sit beside him.
Put a favorite toy on the blanket, but place it out of reach. If your baby does not pull the blanket to get the toy, pull the blanket toward him until he can reach the toy. Use action words to describe what he is doing, such as "See, you got the ball by pulling the blanket." You can use towels, potholders, or pillows instead of a blanket.
Play the game with another toy to see if your baby learns to pull the blanket to get what he wants. Stop if he gets tired or fussy.
Your Baby May Wake at Night
It is common for babies who have been sleeping through the night to begin waking up at night. Reasons for this might be the baby wants to play; he might not feel well, or it may just be the development of a new sleep cycle and behavior.
Unless your baby is in pain, it's best for your baby to learn to comfort himself to get back to sleep. Leave him alone for a few minutes to see if this happens. If it doesn't, comfort the baby and tell him it's time to go to sleep. He may cry a little and that is OK. If the baby cries for more than 15 minutes, go back in to comfort him.
Be Your Own Best Friend: Give Yourself a Pat on the Back
Remember how you felt just before your baby was born and during those first hectic months?
Now would be a good time to think about how your feelings as a parent have changed since that time.
Are you feeling more sure of yourself and relaxed about bringing up your baby? Are there still times that you feel unsure of yourself and guilty that you're not being the perfect parent?
You know, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We often expect too much from ourselves. It's impossible to be patient, understanding, and loving all the time. We just try to do the best that we can.
Yet many parents feel guilty and discouraged if they don't live up to their expectations of parenting. They have a whole list of "shoulds," such as: "I should always put the baby's needs ahead of mine. I should always put things away so the house looks neat." These shoulds are impossible to live up to.
What are some of your shoulds? Make a list. Try to fill in the following sentences. Just write down any thoughts that come to mind:
- A good parent should:
- When I'm tired, and my baby is cranky, I should:
- As a parent, I should always:
Where did you learn your shoulds? You might want to think about where they are coming from. Are they coming from your own parents or your friends?
Don't be too tough on yourself. Instead of putting yourself down with your list of shoulds, try to accept your feelings and realize it's not easy to be all things to all people, even little babies. Remember, too, that no one's perfect. Be a good friend to yourself.
What's It Like to Be 7 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I creep on my stomach and may crawl.
- I balance myself and sit for a while with no support.
- I keep my legs straight when you put your hands under my arms and pull me up. I try to stand by myself. I may fuss because I don't know how to sit down. Show me how to do it.
- Be careful not to lift me by the arms. My bones can still be easily dislocated. Lift me by putting your hands under my armpits.
- I feed myself foods I can pick up, but I'm pretty messy!
- I turn my eyes and head to see you when you come in the room. If you think I might have a hearing problem, call the doctor.
- I say several sounds such as ma, mi, da, di, and ba.
- I watch your face when you talk to me. I may even try to put my hand in your mouth to see where the sound is coming from. I'm a smart kid!
How I Respond
- I want to be included in all family activities.
- I like to see myself in the mirror.
- I get excited when I see a picture of a baby.
- I like to make things happen. I like to grab, shake, and bang things and put them in my mouth.
- I like toys that make noise such as bells, music boxes, and rattles.
How I Understand and Feel
- I can pay attention to things now and I spend lots of time studying things.
- I can tell when people are angry or happy by the way they look and talk.
- I can grab things and hold on to them, but have trouble letting loose. I may straighten my whole arm and fling things down because that's what works.
- I may be afraid of strangers, so stay with me when they're around.
- I feel strongly about what I want and don't want to do.
- My sense of humor is starting to show. I feel playful, and I like to tease you. I may laugh if you pretend to eat from my spoon or when you do other silly things.
Feeding Your Baby
Your baby will probably be eating:
- Breast milk and/or formula when hungry—about 30 ounces a day
- Infant cereal mixed with liquid—several tablespoons twice a day
- Vegetables, pureed—2 to 4 tablespoons daily (include green and yellow)
- Fruits, pureed—2 to 4 tablespoons daily
Give your baby new foods one at a time. Don't force a new food. If your baby doesn't like it, put it away and try again the next day. It may take seven to 10 tries before your baby starts to like a food.
If your baby is interested, let him try to hold his own bottle or spoon. Also offer finger foods, such as crackers and dry cereal, so he will try to pick them up. It may take a while, but that's OK. He's learning a very important skill.
Your baby will be messy when he is first learning how to feed himself. Try not to become overly concerned about neatness now. A large plastic tablecloth under your baby's chair will make cleanup easier.
Check for the circle of safety when buying baby food. Do not buy jars that have the circle pushed up. Listen for a pop when you open the baby food jar. That will tell you that you have broken the vacuum seal, and it is safe to feed your baby.
Serve and feed your baby from a dish, not directly from the jar. Don't put leftovers from the dish back in the jar. You can refrigerate the unused baby food in the jar for two to three days. After your baby begins to eat an entire jar in one meal, then you can feed him from the jar.
No sweet foods! Candy, sugar, sweetened cereal, sweet desserts (including baby desserts), fruit-flavored drinks, and soda pop are not good for your baby. These foods should not be fed to your baby because they will spoil his appetite for healthy food. These foods also are harmful to your baby's teeth.
Do not add sugar, sweeteners, or salt to your baby's food.
Have you thought about weaning? Experts on baby care and feeding want babies to continue to be breastfed until they are 1 year old. They believe breast milk gives the best nutrition a baby can get. If you are breastfeeding, try to keep it up.
Games Babies Play
The Mirror: An Eyes and Hands Game
How to play: Stand in front of a mirror with your baby and point to his reflection. Using his name, say, "I see Brandon. Where is Brandon? " Encourage him to point to himself in the mirror.
Still sitting in front of the mirror, do the same thing with objects. Pick them up one at a time and move them beside your baby's head. Name the objects, telling your baby something about them such as, "This is a ball, and it is round."
Then ask your baby, "Where is the ball? " and encourage him to point to the mirror.
Your baby may enjoy sitting in front of a wall mirror and playing with his toys.
Baby Shots Reminder
Baby shots, or immunizations, protect your infant against many serious diseases. The shots are so much safer than the diseases.
Vaccines work best when they are given at certain ages. Your child needs a series of shots. If you have missed shots, don't worry. You can start now. Call your doctor or clinic. Many communities offer free immunizations. Check with your public health office.
Babies are scheduled for a series of shots that can be given anytime between 6 and 9 months old. This includes Hepatitis B, diphtheria, and flu, as well as polio. If you aren't sure if your baby needs more shots now, call your doctor or clinic.
Attachment and Stranger Shyness
One of the most important things that babies do is become attached to their parents and other important adults in their lives. You'll know that your baby is getting attached when he starts to cry when you leave. This does not mean that your baby is spoiled. It's a sign of attachment. This will set the foundation for healthy relationships throughout his life.
Around 7 months of age, babies may start to act differently around the people they know and the people they don't. Your baby will talk, coo, and laugh with the people he sees every day. But when a stranger, perhaps even a grandparent, picks up your baby, he may be quiet or even scream.
This is normal. It's a sign that your baby is picking up on the differences in people. Your baby is learning that not everyone is the same. He is likely to accept new people after he has spent some time with them and knows he can trust them.
You Are the Most Important Teacher
Researchers have found two types of play between parents and their children. One style is similar to a professor lecturing to a class. The other style is called "ping-pong" because it's similar to a ping-pong ball going back and forth between parent and child.
A ping-pong-type teacher will share interactions back and forth with her baby.
Lecturing doesn't help babies learn. "Ping-pong" is best.
To be a ping-pong-type teacher, do this: When your baby giggles, you giggle. When your baby hands a block to you, hand two blocks back to her. When you do something, your baby will react to what you do. The best learners have adults who spend time playing with them.
Mom and Dad
Your baby needs lots of love and attention. It's also important to find time to nurture yourself and your relationship with your partner.
Now that you are developing into loving and responsible parents and feeling more confident about parenting, find time for each other. Enjoy your hobbies, sports, reading, and other activities that energize you and reconnect you to each other. Healthy parents, who take time to keep themselves healthy, are just what children need.
Talk About Feelings
Your baby is learning about good and bad feelings. Help him by talking about emotions. Say, "You fell over and are crying. You feel bad. Let me help you up. Now, you're feeling better." Learning about our emotions takes a long time. The first steps begin right now.
Your child's tears may be hard to take. It will pull at your heartstrings to see your little one feeling such pain. But tears are a sign of healthy emotional growth. Your baby is reacting the same way you would when you trip over a bump in the sidewalk, fall down, and get drenched in the rain — all on an empty stomach.
Tears can be good medicine — they help us relieve tension, reduce stress, and get us ready to bounce back to feeling better in a short period of time. Tears help us deal with bumps in the road.
Healthy eating begins with the right information
Building Good Food Habits
Did you ever stop to think why you don't like some foods? Most people like the foods they were given when they were young. If you give your baby a variety of nutritious foods now, she is more likely to eat foods that are good for her, during her whole life. What a wonderful gift to give her!
Children copy their parents, brothers, and sisters. If your baby sees her family eating healthy foods, she probably will, too.
Ways to help your baby develop good eating habits:
- Make meals happy and relaxed times.
- Feed her with the rest of the family.
- Feed her as much as she wants, but don't force her to eat more than she wants.
Prevent choking. Do not give your baby small, firm, and slippery foods such as peanuts, raisins, whole grapes, hard candy, popcorn, raw carrots, or hot dogs cut into circles. Some people think it's OK to cut foods into small circles for babies to eat, but this size of food can get stuck in their throats and choke them.
Baby Skin Is Delicate and Burns Easily
Babies need fresh air and light, but too much sun can be harmful. Researchers have found that severe sunburns in childhood can lead to greater risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, later in life.
Here are some simple steps to help you and your baby enjoy the sun safely:
- Before 6 months keep your baby out of the sun. After 6 months, always put a sunscreen lotion with a 30 or higher sun protection factor (SPF) on your baby and yourself when you'll be in the sun. Test a small area of your baby's skin to check for a reaction before applying all over. Re-apply every two hours.
- Stay out of the sun from 10 am to 3 pm, when the sun's rays are strongest.
- Keep your baby in the shade. If you use a stroller, keep the sun shade on.
- Put a hat on your baby, and dress him in lightweight clothes that cover his body. Dress like that yourself. If you or your baby gets sunburned, put cool, wet towels on the burns. If a fever or blisters develop, call the doctor.
Temper and Frustration: Normal Growing Pains
As your baby gets around more on his own, life is more exciting. It is also scary and frustrating.
Temper and frustration begin to show. Your baby moves into another room to explore and satisfy his curiosity. He doesn't see you, so he gets scared and starts to cry. If you leave the room, he begins to scream because he is frightened of being away from you. He might drop a toy out of sight. He screams with anger because he can't see it or get to it. He wants it back.
Temper and frustration are normal. Help your baby learn ways to deal with frustration. If your baby drops a toy, help him look for it. If you leave the room, tell your baby you will be back. Give him some extra cuddling during these bursts of independence.
When your baby is pulling leaves off your favorite plant — one by one — or smearing cereal in her hair, it's hard to stay calm.
If tempting things such as houseplants and wastebaskets are left in your baby's reach, she will explore them. The easiest way to keep her out of trouble, and you relaxed, is to put "do-not-touch" things where she can't see or reach them.
Babies do things that are upsetting to parents, but they don't do these things on purpose or to annoy you.
When your baby bangs toys together, it's because she likes the noise. If it gets on your nerves, give her a quiet toy and take the noisy toys away.
Keep your baby safe. A baby can drown in 2 inches of water. Never leave your baby alone in or near a bathtub, toilet, pail of water, or pool — not even for a moment.
Remember, your baby is not doing anything to try to upset you. She's busy learning about her world, and that learning can get messy and noisy. When you see things from your baby's point of view, you will feel less stressed.
Take Good Care of Your Back
When you pick up your baby, bend from your knees and kneel or squat, keeping your back as straight as possible.
- Hold onto your baby, and straighten up from the knee-bend or squat position.
- Make your knees do the work, not your back.
- Do not bend over from your waist.
Are You Talking with Other Parents?
When you're out walking or shopping, you will see other parents and their babies.
Stop and talk. Ask questions. It's fun to compare notes.
Ask how the baby has changed in the last one to two weeks. What is the latest thing she is learning? What is the baby's favorite time of day? What does she seem to enjoy the most?
You will have your own questions, too. Other parents will have their own tricks for soothing a crying baby or making feeding easier. Ask about them.
Other parents are like you. They have learned a lot — and they love to talk about their babies!
The Age of Curiosity
Imagine that you are 8 months old. You try to talk, but no one seems to understand your language. You try to walk, but you're not quite sure how to do it yet. You reach out to touch things that are shiny, soft, hard, smooth, or sticky, but everyone tells you, "No, don't touch."
How would you feel? A little frustrated, you can bet! That's how your baby feels at this age. She is very curious and wants to find out about all the fascinating things that are around her.
When you find yourself saying no, give your baby a one- or two-word reason. This helps her learn why she cannot do certain things. Tell your baby what you want her to do instead. Research shows that this really helps.
If you see your baby crawling toward your slippers, and you know they'll go into her mouth, say, "Yucky" or "Tastes bad". Give her something else to play with and say, "Let's play with the teddy bear."
If your baby tries to touch the hot oven, say "Hot," and move her away from the stove.
As your baby gets older, you can make ex-planations a little longer — three or four words instead of one or two.
Your baby's memory is not the same as yours. Remember how many tries it took her to learn pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo? You will have to tell your baby again and again how to behave and handle situations the way you want.
Show the world to her, lovingly and safely. Be your baby's guide while she looks at, explores, and satisfies her curiosity.
What's It Like to Be 8 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I crawl backward and forward on my stomach.
- I pull myself up by holding onto furniture, but I have trouble getting back down.
- I stand up if I lean against something.
- I sit without support for several minutes. My neck and back are getting stronger, so I can sit up straighter now.
- I hold onto a toy, such as a rattle, for several minutes.
- I reach for things and hold them with my thumb and first and second fingers.
- I pick up small things, such as pieces of string.
- I let you know if I am happy, sad, or scared by the sounds that I make.
- I still babble a lot and shout to get your attention. I am now an "advanced" babbler, which means I'm making sounds in my family's language. Spanish babies "speak" Spanish; Russian babies "babble" in Russian.
- I recognize some words.
- I watch and try to copy the way your mouth moves.
How I Understand and Feel
- I like to pat and kiss my reflection in the mirror.
- I turn and listen when I hear familiar sounds such as the telephone ringing or someone saying my name.
- I love to imitate people I know.
How I Respond
- I am very curious and want to explore everything. I empty drawers, tear magazines, and turn things topsy-turvy. Move everything that can harm me.
- I know how to solve simple problems, such as making a toy bell ring.
- I understand more of what you say. I know the meaning of "in" and "out."
- I remember events that just happened.
- I like to look at pictures and have you name what's in them.
- I am frightened by new events and new people.
- I am upset when you leave me, even if it's for a short time.
- I feel so relieved when you return.
- I'm upset when people make a lot of fuss over me.
- I get frustrated or lose my temper when I can't find something.
Feeding Your Baby
Your baby will probably be eating:
- Breast milk and/or formula when hungry, about 30 ounces a day
- Infant cereal mixed with liquid, 2 to 3 tablespoons twice a day
- Vegetables, pureed, 6 to 8 tablespoons daily, including green and yellow veggies
- Fruits, pureed, 2 to 4 tablespoons daily
With patience, you can help your baby learn to like many different foods. Remember to start one new food at a time to be sure it doesn't cause allergies.
Your baby may have some teeth and may be ready to try fork-mashed vegetables and fruits. Mash a favorite vegetable thoroughly with a fork. You could also use a potato masher, blender, or food processor to mash ripe bananas, cooked apples, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Make sure your baby's food contains no lumps, pieces of skin, strings, or seeds. The mashed food can be a little thicker than pureed food.
Cooked foods may be strained through a fine mesh sieve or strainer. A sieve can also be used to steam-cook small amounts of food for your baby. Press the food through the sieve or strainer. This gives the food a very soft consistency. Be sure that all food particles are removed when you wash the strainer.
Help Your Baby Learn to Problem Solve
Safety note: Remove the strings or ribbons from the toys when you and your baby fin-ish your play session.
Tie string or ribbon, no longer than 6 inches, around some favorite toys. Place the toys out of reach and the string close to your baby. Pull the string to get the toy. Talk about what you did. "I pulled the string to get the keys."
Put the keys back and see if your baby can pull the string to get the keys. This is a good high chair game if you tape the string to the high chair.
Tie strings, no longer than 6 inches, around other objects that are large, small, heavy, or light. Let your baby try to pull each one.
Place toys on a towel so your baby has to pull the towel to get the toys. Put toys in a box. Turn the box over. Does your baby lift the box off the toys?
Create simple problems for your baby to solve. Tell your baby how wonderful she is for solving the problem.
Play with Me: It Helps Me Learn
Watching and learning: Babies learn by imitation, copying what they see other people doing. You will see more of this in the months to come.
How big is baby? "So big! " At first you might need to gently show your baby how to raise her arms up over her head while you say, "So big! "
Hide and seek: Big brother or sister can hide nearby. You can say, "Where is _____? Your baby can help you try to find the person who is hiding.
Hiding things: Let your baby watch you as you hide a small toy under a cloth or cup or in your pocket. Does she try to find it? If not, try covering only part of the toy.
Music fun: Your baby will enjoy listening to many kinds of music. Show your baby how to clap and move her body to the music. As your baby learns to stand and walk, those movements will turn into dancing.
Help Your Baby Have Safe, HEALTHY Food
DO NOT add salt, sugar, or seasonings to your baby's foods. Foods that taste bland to an adult are a new taste experience to an infant. There is enough natural sodium in foods.
DO NOT feed honey to your baby during his first year. Honey may carry botulism spores that can make him sick.
DO NOT use leftovers to make baby foods. Leftover foods are likely to have more bacteria than freshly prepared foods. This could cause your baby to get food poisoning. Use fresh, frozen, or canned food. If you use frozen food, buy the one with the least amount of added sugar, salt, and fancy sauces. These are not good for your baby.
DO NOT feed your baby raw eggs or raw milk. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. These raw foods can be dangerous for him.
DO NOT feed your baby chunky foods such as corn, nuts, popcorn, and seeds, or coarse-textured foods (such as cookies) that crumble easily. Your baby could choke on these foods.
Beets, spinach, turnips, and collard greens contain too many nitrates for your baby. DO NOT feed him these foods yet. Commercially prepared baby food for these vegetables may be safe, but it's best to avoid them right now.
DO NOT get your baby's food too hot. Your baby's mouth could be burned by hot food. If you want to warm your baby's food, do it just before serving.
NEVER leave your baby alone while he's eating. He may choke or try to climb out of his high chair.
How Are Things Working Out With Child Care?
Researchers have learned that babies who go to child care still bond most closely with their parents. Even so, it is better for babies to have the same caregiver every day.
Babies in high quality child care are just as smart as babies whose parents care for them at home. Unfortunately, some child care providers are not providing quality care.
It's important for caregivers to like taking care of babies, to smile often, and to talk while dressing and feeding your baby.
Babies should be kept clean, dry, and comfortable. They need to hear gentle voices and cheerful sounds. They need to receive lots of praise.
Infants should have their own separate space for eating, sleeping, and playing. Centers with lots of infants should divide babies into smaller groups so they feel more secure. The environment should be bright and cheerful.
Cribs, high chairs, playpens, and toys should be clean and in uncrowded spaces.
Good caregivers wash hands carefully after diapering, dressing, and feeding each baby. They are careful that bottles and cups are not shared among babies.
Babies are moved to different play areas and given different toys so that they have lots of chances to move around and explore. They need time for peace and quiet too, but it's not a good place if babies are kept in cribs or playpens for long stretches of time.
Enough adults should be on hand to cuddle, play with, and hold the babies for bottle feeding, but they should not hold and carry the infants all day.
If you are not happy with the care your infant is receiving, it may be time to find another caregiver.
Variety is the spice of life, but babies need consistency. They like routines or doing the same things every day. If your baby has a bunch of child care providers, it may be hard to form close bonds. Your baby needs someone who responds to him quickly and gently, someone he can learn to trust.
Frequently Asked Question: Fear of Strangers
My baby has suddenly become scared and shy of strangers. She sometimes cries, even when my mother comes to visit. Why does she act this way? What can I do to help her overcome this fear?
First of all, don't worry. A fear of strangers at this age is normal. Babies are beginning to develop a sense of self and others — an important step in growing up. Your baby now knows the difference between close family members and strangers.
Sometimes your baby will just stare at new people, watching them closely. Other times, he will look at a new person, and then look away a few times before warming up and smiling.
Some babies howl or whimper with genuine fear. Others cling to their parent and refuse to let go. Some babies, just like adults, develop an instant dislike for a person.
Usually, your baby is afraid of what the stranger does rather than who the person is. Try to see this from your baby's point of view. You don't want a stranger hugging you, and neither does your baby. So, don't just hand him to someone he doesn't know well. Hold him while he gets to know the person. Have the new person smile and talk to him, and perhaps offer a favorite toy.
Let your baby make new friends at his own pace.
However she reacts; comfort your baby if she is fearful of strangers. Hold her close to you and let her know that she is safe.
Tell friends or relatives not to take it personally that your baby needs time to get used to people. Ask them not to rush up to her or try to pick her up.
Grandparents or friends may have a hard time understanding why your baby gets upset when they pick him up. Assure them that it will be worth the effort to get acquainted slowly. As your baby gets older, he will feel more secure and more comfortable with other people.
Spanking Your Baby Doesn't Work
No baby should be spanked or slapped. Spanking a baby is dangerous. Many babies are injured this way. Family members may tell you to spank your baby so he won't be spoiled and will know you're the boss. This is not true.
We are learning new things about babies all the time, including what discipline works best. So, the information in these newsletters might be different from what your parents or neighbors were told when their children were little.
Babies are too young to understand, so they don't learn from spanking. It just makes a baby cry more, and it will make you feel bad. When your baby does something you don't like, show him something else he can do instead. Show him a better way.
Your baby may upset you by waking you up at night, crying a lot, or messing a diaper just as you put it on. Remember: Your baby doesn't do this on purpose to make you mad. Your baby doesn't think that way. He can't help it, so it doesn't help for you to get angry.
What can you do?
- Call a friend and ask what she would do.
- Ask someone to watch your baby while you get some fresh air. You may come back with a new outlook on living with your baby.
Many 8 month-olds have trouble settling down to sleep. They're so excited about sitting, crawling and exploring that they don't want to go to bed!
Here are some sleepy-time tips:
- Put your baby to bed at about the same time every night when he is drowsy, but awake.
- Spend time cuddling, reading, singing or talking to your baby.
- Help her slow down and relax with bath time, gentle massage and book reading.
Doing the same thing in the same way helps children settle down to sleep. Being sure your child gets plenty of cuddle time during the day will probably help him sleep better at night — according to recent studies.
If your baby cries after you've put him to bed, check on him, but keep the lights dim. If he is OK, pat his back for a minute or two, and leave.
If he continues to cry, check on him every few minutes until he falls asleep. Slowly increase the time between your checks. Try to be understanding, not angry.
Show him you are there for him, but that he must fall asleep on his own. If you are consistent, he will learn to sleep on his own by learning how to comfort himself.
Take Time for Yourself
There never seems to be enough time to do everything you feel you need to do. It is important to prioritize and do what must be done, which includes taking care of yourself.
Plan time for yourself. The fun and trials of having an 8 month-old in your life may cause you to feel tired at times.
Swapping baby sitting time with friends can be a way to arrange for some important get-away times for you.
Get enough sleep and exercise. It is part of taking good care of yourself so you feel rested and refreshed.
Plan a Special Time for You and Your Baby
It's so easy to get caught up in daily routines that you may overlook the need for a special time for you and your baby. Think about setting aside a time each day when you can give your baby your undivided attention with no interruptions.
The length of time is up to you. Even a small pocket of time, maybe 10–15 minutes a day, can mean a lot for both of you.
How can you spend this special time? Sing, read, play, or listen to music. Relax together. Cuddle. Enjoy being together.
Babies are happier and learn how to amuse themselves if parents give them moments of their time and attention.
It takes less than a minute to give your baby a hug and a kiss or to play pat-a-cake.
Act–Don't Just React
To learn, babies and children need to be able to explore their surroundings and to experiment. Listen to yourself. If you find yourself saying no all the time because you are afraid she will break something or hurt herself, think about changing the way things are arranged in your home.
For example, move that fancy clock to a higher shelf. Put safety latches on the kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Move the houseplants to a spot where your baby can't go. Figure out a way to cover up the buttons on your radio or television.
This will make life easier for you, and you won't have to stop your baby from exploring so often. It's easier and better to change your home than to discourage your child's curiosity.
Sometimes you will have to say no to your baby. If you save it for the times when you need to protect her from getting hurt, it will be a much more powerful word.
What's It Like to Be 9 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I may crawl and turn around while holding something in one hand.
- I crawl up steps, but I may not be able to crawl back down yet.
- I may sit by myself and turn my body all the way around without losing balance.
- I may be able to stand for a little while if you hold my hand and I sidestep along furniture.
- I don't really need shoes to help me learn how to walk. When I start walking, shoes will protect my feet.
- I try to build towers with blocks or toys.
- I poke my fingers into holes or into anything that looks interesting, including electrical outlets.
- I pick up small things with my first finger and thumb, and larger things with both hands.
- I like to bang things together.
- I feed myself finger foods. I'm pretty messy!
- I play with a spoon and a cup, but I'm not good at using them yet.
- I understand some words, my name, and simple sentences.
- I repeat one or more sounds over and over.
- I like to cough, click my tongue, and make hissing noises.
- I listen to people talking and try to copy the sounds.
- I say two-syllable sounds such as "choo-choo," "da-da," and "ma-ma."
How I Respond
- I like to watch people scribbling on paper.
- I like to show people what I can do and love it when they clap their hands for me.
- I sometimes want praise when I do something well.
How I Understand and Feel
- I'm very sensitive. If I see another baby crying, I will cry, too.
- I am afraid of a lot of things that didn't bother me before, such as taking a bath. I may be afraid of heights.
- I am very determined—that's all part of my growing up. I may "test" you by trying to throw food when you feed me or by crying when you put me to bed.
- I try to figure things out by myself.
- I know that if I partly cover my eyes or look upside down, everything will look different.
- I know which toys are mine and get upset when they are taken away.
- I can remember a game, person, or toy from the day before.
When Will My Baby Walk?
When babies walk depends on:
- Their weight
- Whether they are aggressive, timid, or passive
- Their general rate of development or the speed at which the bones, muscles, and ligaments are growing
Most children go through the same stages but at different paces. Your baby may be a little ahead or a little behind other 9 month old babies.
There's really not much you can do to hurry or slow down your child's growth. However, it's a good idea to help your baby use and exercise his large muscles. Help him kick, splash in the bath, wiggle his toes, stretch, and roll over. Give him lots of freedom to move about. Put a toy just out of his reach, and see if he scoots, stretches, rolls, or crawls to get it.
Learning to Talk
Talking and explaining helps your baby to understand. While you might feel silly talking to your baby, research shows that when you imitate and respond to your baby's sounds, it helps him learn language.
What is that noise? Have you heard some strange shrieks coming from your baby? He is trying different sounds to see which ones get the attention he wants. Keep listening. You may hear certain tones of voice and sentence patterns in your child's babbling.
Your baby may be getting ready to say his first word soon! Your baby may make a sound such as "ba" that he uses for many different things. These sounds indicate that talking isn't far away. When your baby is between 9 and 12 months of age, don't be surprised to find a real word or two mixed in with the babbling.
Use hand motions and actions to help your baby understand what you mean; point to different objects. Say the word as you point. Point to show which direction you want him to go.
Watch Your Baby's Cues for Hunger and Fullness
Does your baby give you the "raspberries"? That is, does he sputter with his tongue and lips? This is sometimes a clue that he has eaten enough food for now. Watch carefully for signals of "I've had enough." When your baby is still hungry, ne may cry if you stop feeding him. Your baby will probably follow the food with his eyes when he is hungry.
Helping Curiosity Grow
Researchers have learned that curiosity is very important for success in school. Curiosity for your baby is an interest in exploring and finding out what is happening all around her. A child who is interested in what is going on around her watches to see what happens and learns from it.
You can't really teach curiosity with flash cards or similar teaching methods. Young children learn best when they are in charge of their own learning, not when you try to force something on them.
Your child's first year is a very important time in laying a foundation for a lifetime of curiosity.
You can help your child develop curiosity about her world. People who study children say that encouraging a child to explore is very important. This helps the child develop the curiosity skills needed to answer questions she faces as she gets older.
Here are some ideas that you can begin working on right away:
Hearing Let your child listen to soft music. Help her make sounds by banging blocks together. Talk and sing to your baby.
Sight Use brightly colored clothes, toys, and room decorations. Show your baby the pictures that hang on your walls and the pictures in books and magazines.
Touch Give your child many textures - soft, hard, smooth, and rough. Touch your child and let her touch your skin, hair, and clothing. Tell your baby what she is touching as she touches it. Say things like, "Feel how soft the kitten is? " or "The ball is hard."
Taste Encourage your child to try new and different foods.
Smell Give your baby many chances to smell safe things, such as soap, food, flowers, and feet.
The child who is curious is a child who is learning.
Try to see and hear things as your baby does. Share the experience. When your baby gets excited about something, she probably has had a "wonderful idea" about it. That is what learning is all about!
Feeding Your Baby
Does your baby hold most foods while eating? Does he drink from a cup with a little help? Does he hold and lick the spoon after it is dipped into food?
These are the first steps in learning how to eat by himself. You can help your baby practice by giving him some of the following finger foods:
- Dry, unsweetened, round and puffed cereals
- Small pieces of soft, mild cheese
- Cooked (never raw) vegetable strips or pieces (carrots, peas, green or waxed beans, zucchini, or sweet potatoes)
- Peeled, soft fruit wedges or small pieces (bananas, peaches, pears, plums, avocados, or melons). Be sure they will "mush" easily in your baby's mouth.
- Cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and small pieces of soft tofu
You should not put seasonings in your baby's food. Although you may find your baby's foods bland or tasteless, he likes it that way.
Your baby can now eat most of the things you cook for the rest of the family. Just take out his food before you add salt or other seasonings for the rest of the family.
Praise your baby while he is feeding himself, even if he is very messy. If the mess really bothers you, spread some newspapers or a plastic tablecloth under your baby's chair to catch food that he drops.
Sometimes a baby will not like a certain food one day and will eat it a few days later. Every once in a while, try giving your child a food she has not liked. You may find that this is the day she likes it.
Make foods into finger foods. Nine-month-olds like to feed themselves. They like to feel grown up. Cut your baby's food into very small pieces.
Avoid foods that could cause your baby to choke. Avoid small hard foods like popcorn, nuts, seeds, or raw vegetables. Avoid round and slippery foods, such as whole grapes or hot dog circles.
Mealtime should be a pleasant time for you as well as for your baby. She will eat more on some days than on others. Don't force your baby to eat. She will eat if she is hungry.
Brothers and Sisters
This can be a hard time for brothers and sisters. Now that your baby is moving around, he can get into toys and the older children's favorite things. It is also common for older brothers and sisters to rush by your baby as he tries to stand up, knocking him down. Sometimes, they grab their toys from your baby's grasp.
Babies need to form a good relationship with their older brothers and sisters. You can make this happen.
Prevent problems. Give older children a place of their own where their things are safe from your baby. A drawer that's out of your baby's reach will do. Or let them play on the kitchen table, away from your baby.
Teach children to help. Show your baby's brothers and sisters some of the amazing things he can do, and point out problems he cannot yet solve. Show them how to teach the baby new things. Suggest things they can do with the little one, such as rolling a ball to him or reading him a book. Another good activity is to say, "Where is Baby's chin (or other body part)? " Naming body parts is a great game that brothers and sisters can play with the baby in the car. Be sure to compliment the older children when they play with the baby.
Point out to your older children how much your baby looks up to them. Show your baby's older sister when your baby tries to copy her, how he wants to be like her. By treating an older child as a partner in caring for the baby, you will help her gain a sense of cooperation and responsibility.
Try to give each child some of your full attention each day. Your children may resent your baby if he always interrupts their time with you. You can also make special activities for "big children only." This could be something as simple as inviting a friend over or going to a friend's house.
When problems arise, take the time to teach children how to share, take turns, or stay out of each other's way. You don't have to get angry or take sides. It takes a long time for children to learn to see things from someone else's point of view.
The Secret to Good Behavior: REWARD IT!
At this age, discipline is simple. It means loving care and guidance. The key is reward. Many parents pay attention to their children's behavior only when it upsets them. This teaches a child that attention only comes when she does something bad.
Reward your baby with your loving attention when she plays well. Don't become a parent who only notices his child when she has done something wrong. Notice the good times, and give your baby a smile, a laugh, or a hug. Your attention is your baby's best reward. Use it to encourage good, not bad, behavior.
Prevent situations in which your baby might do something you don't like. Move the TV control to a higher shelf. Put a gate across the stairs. If your baby does something you don't like, think of ways you could keep it from happening again. Create a trouble-free environment.
Ignore behavior that is annoying but not harmful. If your baby pulls everything out of your sock drawer, take a deep breath and ignore it. If you pay too much attention, it teaches your baby to do things such as this to get attention from you.
Save "No! " for times when your baby's safety is in danger.
Distract or redirect your baby from things you don't want her to have or do. If she has your keys and you need them, don't grab them out of her hands. Instead, hand her an interesting toy. Your baby will let go of the keys then. It's easier to get a baby started on something else than to take something away from her.
Provide freedom within limits. Your baby needs freedom to explore, but she also needs limits. You need good judgment to provide both. For example, your baby should not be in the bathroom when you're not with her; shut the door to the bathroom. Babies kept in playpens or high chairs for much of the day don't have enough freedom. They miss opportunities to learn. They don't get a chance to move and exercise. Your baby needs freedom on the floor to safely explore.
Your baby may cry about the limits you have set. You may be tempted to give in to her demands. Keep in mind that setting limits is necessary for your child's safety. Say, "I know you are angry, but you are safe. I would rather have you cry because you are angry than because you are hurt."
You can set limits while giving your baby freedom to explore and to grow. Make the area where your baby plays as safe as possible. Stick to the limits and be firm in your guidance. Offer your baby safe activities, like playing with plastic bowls and cups.
Roughhousing with Your Baby
Some parents like to swing babies around, lift them high in the air, bounce them high and low, and tickle and chase them. Babies enjoy this. But keep it safe!
Never shake a baby! This can lead to blindness, brain damage, or death. Never jerk a baby's arm. The joints could easily be dislocated. Hold him under the arms by his chest instead. Don't throw your baby in the air. Instead, lift him over your head without letting go.
Some fun and safe ways to play with your baby include:
- Chasing him as he crawls
- Rolling him along the floor
- Holding him so he flies like an airplane
- Dancing with your baby
Do Yourself a Favor
Whenever you find yourself overly stressed, think about giving yourself a gift - time just for you. If you're a single parent, you can trade babysitting with another parent or trade a service, such as cooking a meal in return for a few hours to yourself.
Taking time for yourself will help you feel refreshed and ready to get back to parenting. There's an added bonus for your baby. You will be better at solving problems and finding different ways to get things done. When you take care of yourself, you are helping everyone in your family.
Here are some ideas for investing in you:
- Take a long bubble bath, a walk, a swim, or a catnap. Watch a movie or read a book.
- Plan your future. Investigate classes you might take or jobs you might apply for, or plan other activities you would enjoy.
- Spend time with a friend.
- Talk to someone about the stress you feel and what you might do to reduce it.
Time to Teach the "Ahhh" Game
A smart thing to teach your child is to open his mouth, stick out his tongue, and say, "Ahhh." This trick will make going to the doctor easier. It is also helpful when you want to see what your baby has put in his mouth.
To teach your baby to say, "Ahhh," open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue. Your child will learn by copying you.
No matter how safe you try to make your home for your baby, he will find something to put in his mouth.
When this happens, don't panic! You might startle your child and cause him to swallow the object. Instead, act as if you are playing the "Ahhh" game. If your baby knows the game, he will copy you. You can check your child's mouth in no time.
What's It Like to Be 10 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I crawl up steps, but I haven't learned how to get back down yet.
- I walk if you hold my hands, or I can hold on to furniture.
- I sit down from a standing position.
- I climb up on to chairs and then climb down again.
- I feed myself with my fingers, and I help hold my cup.
- I carry things in one hand without dropping them.
- I may have trouble sleeping at night because I'm restless.
- I may understand simple sentences.
- I can say no and shake my head from side to side.
- I am interested in conversations when I hear familiar words.
- I know a few words besides ma-ma and da-da.
- I may really test your patience when I repeat the same words all day long. Or, I may say no words at all.
How I Respond
- I know when you approve or disapprove of what I do.
- I cry if another child gets more attention than I do.
- I still don't like being away from you.
- I like to imitate people, gestures, and sounds.
How I Understand and Feel
- I have many different feelings now—sad, happy, mad, and scared.
- I can be very moody, and I get upset easily.
- I may still feel shy around people.
- I am sensitive to other children's moods.
- I know which toys belong to me, and I have some favorites.
- I will look for something—if I see you hide it.
- I know that if I don't see a toy, that doesn't mean it's gone forever.
- If my toys are out of reach, I get them myself and play with them.
- I am beginning to know that I am a boy or a girl.
Play with Me: It Helps Me Learn
Which Hand Is It In? A "Things-Don't-Disappear" Game
Purpose of the game: To teach babies that things are still there, even when you can't see them, and how to get information from words.
How to play: Hold a small object in one of your hands and show your baby the object.
Switch the object back and forth slowly between your hands several times.
Keep your hands closed. Show both hands to your baby and say, "Which hand is it in? "
When your baby reaches for one of your hands, say either, "No, it's not in this hand." (Quickly open your hand.) "This hand is empty. Where is it? " or, "Yes, it's in this hand." (Quickly open the other hand.)
Other "Things-Don't-Disappear" Games
Hide a toy under a towel. Encourage your baby to hunt for the toy.
Hide a book under a box. Ask, "Where is the book? "
Remember, the goal of these games is not to fool your baby but to help him learn that objects are there even when he can't see them.
Question and Answer: Explorers Are Learning
My daughter crawls around and pulls every-thing out of drawers and cupboards. I want to let her explore, but will this become a bad habit if I don't do something?
Don't worry about your baby developing bad habits yet. Babies this age create clutter. Healthy 10-month-olds are explorers.
Your baby pulls things out of drawers, turns furniture over, drags toys all over the house, and examines everything she can touch. She is trying to figure out how everything works.
Make the most of this fun stage. Drawer and cupboard latches will keep her out of things she shouldn't have. Make special drawers or shelves just for your baby. Fill them with plastic bowls, wooden spoons, special toys, or surprises that will keep her interested in staying in one place.
You are right to let her explore. Now, you just have to guide her to explore the places you have set aside for her.
Studies show that mothers, whose children do well in school, talk to their babies. They encourage their children to explore. They are relaxed about housekeeping and spend time enjoying their children. They also enforce the few rules they set.
Feeding Your Baby
While you are feeding your baby, your baby may be feeding the floor. Most babies don't learn how to use a spoon well until after their first birthday.
If your baby is interested, now is a good time to begin letting her practice using a spoon.
Here are some foods that will stick to the spoon when scooped up:
- Cooked cereal (oatmeal, cream of rice, or cream of wheat)
- Cottage cheese
- Macaroni and cheese
- Mashed cooked beans
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Pureed or mashed vegetables and fruits
- Pureed or mashed cooked chicken
If you are worried about your baby not getting enough food, try two spoons — one for you and one for her. If she will let you, give her a mouthful in between her efforts.
Include finger foods with your baby's meals. Although your baby may not be good at using a spoon yet, she likes to feed herself. Having some finger foods at mealtime gives your baby some easy foods to eat.
Good finger foods are:
- Unsweetened round cereal and cereal puffs
- Cooked (never raw) vegetable strips or pieces (carrot, green beans, and potato)
- Peeled, soft fruit wedges or small pieces (peach, pear, melon)
- Small, tender pieces of cooked and ground or shredded meat
Food habits you build today will last a lifetime. Meal times matter!
Hungry babies want to eat. It's up to parents and other caretakers to help babies develop a good attitude about food.
How? With lots of praise, a little patience, and encouragement, your baby can learn to like a wide variety of tastes and tex-tures in new foods.
Good food habits start in infancy. Help your baby learn to eat just the right amount for her — not too much, not too little, but just the right amount. Don't make your baby clean her plate. Don't offer food as a reward.
If your baby doesn't like a food, don't make her eat it. Wait a week or two, and then offer it again. Give a small portion of what she didn't like before, served with a food she does like. Do not mix the two.
You might try to cook the food she dislikes in a different way. Young children may not like a food they can't identify. If the rest of the family likes a food, your baby will probably like it, too.
When family members or friends offer your baby foods that you prefer not to serve, be willing to bend a little bit. Allow your child to have a small amount of the food every now and then. Small amounts of sweets will do less harm than a negative response from you. On the other hand, encourage your child to eat healthy foods every time you get a chance.
Has Your Baby Started Teasing You on Purpose?
Has your baby ever headed straight for a wastebasket, making sure you notice? Does she reach for your glasses, waiting to hear you say no? Your child is testing the limits. She is experimenting to see just where the limits are.
Teaching children to behave has always been a challenge. What works best is to make it easy for her to do the right thing. That works better than trying to keep your baby from doing the wrong thing.
Make sure your baby gets plenty of your attention when she is doing things right, not just when she is doing things wrong. She loves your attention and will do anything to get it.
Give your baby safe toys and places to play. Pick up your baby and take her away from dangerous things.
Be a teacher. Use words such as "hot," "tastes bad," and "stop" instead of saying "no" all of the time.
Some Babies Like Field Trips
Does your baby like to shop? Some children really seem to enjoy the shopping experience. Others get overly excited by all the colors, textures, smells, and noises and may "freak out" with bad behavior. If your child can handle the stimulation, shopping can be a fun outing.
Plan before you go. Plan to go at a time when your baby is not hungry or tired. You might want to bring something from home for him to play with and keep those busy hands from grabbing something unsafe at the store. Don't let him stand in the grocery cart. Use the seat strap, or bring one to keep him seated.
You can help your baby learn in the store by talking to him and pointing out the different items. When you choose some apples you can say, "We need four red apples. See, one, two, three, four."
Dealing with Anger and Temper Tantrums
You may have seen your baby act angry. Understanding angry behavior can help you handle these difficult situations.
The anger might start when your baby wants something he can't have or when something is taken away from him. He looks angry, and his body is heavy and tight. He focuses on what he wants and won't be distracted. He may kick and scream. He is having a temper tantrum. He is being controlled by his anger. Now, you have to help him learn to control his anger.
Yelling and punishing him are not helpful. Actually, they make things worse. He is out of control. So you have to be in control.
Think about when and where your baby gets angry.
Is he hungry or tired? If so, either feed him or change the schedule.
If it happens in a particular place or situation, see what you can change to prevent your baby from becoming angry.
If your baby is frustrated because he doesn't know how to do something, show him how. For example, if he can't crawl back down the stairs, show him how to crawl backward.
If your baby is frustrated because you have set limits (such as no cookies), try to interest him in a different activity or object. If this doesn't work, pretend to ignore him as you straighten the room or wash the dishes. Stay nearby and be patient. When he sees that you are not paying attention, he will quiet down.
Once your baby is calm, give him a hug and a little understanding. His strong emotions are no fun for you, but they are scary for him, too.
What if your baby gets upset in a public place, such as the grocery store? Once again, try to interest him in something else, such as a toy or a picture on a cereal box. If he continues to be frustrated, you may have to pick him up and leave the store.
Your child is not the first to scream or cry in public. Even the people who frown or make comments have probably gone through the same thing themselves. Ignore them.
Don't spank your baby. This does not help. He is already out of control. It scares him even more when you are out of control and angry.
This is just the beginning of helping your child deal with anger. Creating good habits to handle anger now will pay off later.
My Baby Called the Teacher Mama
Parents who use full-time child care sometimes worry that their babies will feel more love for the child care provider than they feel for their parents. When your baby calls another woman "Mama" you may feel hurt, jealous, guilty, or confused.
Research shows that infants in child care do form strong bonds of love with caregivers. Your baby sees the caregiver as someone to calm his fears and help him feel secure.
Studies show that caregivers do not replace parents. Some of the research was done in communal towns in Israel, where babies live and sleep in special infant houses with trained caregivers and only see their parents for about three hours every evening. Even in this extreme case, babies are more strongly attached to their parents than their caregivers. Babies form these same strong attachments to adoptive parents, too.
The research is clear: Your child care provider doesn't compete with you. He or she helps you raise your baby, but never replaces you.
Having a strong attachment to the child care provider is good. Your baby feels secure and loved in every place he spends time, both at home and in child care.
If your baby calls the child care teacher "Mama" by mistake, you can tell yourself, "How nice! My baby feels safe and loved by his teacher." You'll also know that no one can replace you.
Question and Answer: How Much Time Is Enough?
Sometimes I feel guilty. Am I a lousy parent because I have to be away at work all day?
Of course not. But it is hard to be both a good parent and a good worker. If you find quality child care for your baby and if you do your best to be a sensitive parent, your baby will usually do fine.
The research shows that what you do with your baby when you are together is more important than the number of hours you work outside the home. For example, babies usually form their first strong attachments to fathers and mothers during the same period (about 6 to 8 months of age), even when one parent works full time and the other is home with the baby.
From your baby's point of view, the important thing is to have quality care all day long, whether at home or elsewhere, or with a parent or a child care provider.
Climbing Is an Important Skill
Show your baby how to climb up and down, on and off safe objects. This makes learning to climb safer. When you have time to help your baby with her climbing exercises, show her how to climb up. Show her how to come down crawling backward, so she doesn't do it head first.
Gates at the top or bottom of the stairs, depending on where the baby is, can prevent accidents. Don't use an accordion-style gate or a gate with a V-shaped opening. These have caused accidents and deaths. Buy a gate approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Your Baby Learns About Love From You
Your baby learns about most things from you, especially about love. Babies, just as grown-ups, need love and attention.
Rewarding your baby with a smile, hug, or kiss is better than rewarding with a new toy. Your baby will know that she is loved, and that is very important for her growth. With your support, she will feel that she can tackle anything.
Some parents think they must set special times aside to play with or to teach their baby new things. That's a good idea. But sometimes you don't have big blocks of unhurried time.
Children are happy with lots of little bits of your time and attention. They learn to amuse themselves with your help. There are times when you are waiting for an appointment or standing in line. Below are some ideas to play with your child in those little bits of time.
It takes less than 2 minutes to:
- Give your child a hug and a kiss
- Tweak your baby's toes
- Play pat-a-cake or peeka-boo
- Show your baby his nose or chin, or your nose
- Admire your baby's shoes
- Gently tickle your baby's tummy at bath time
- Lift your baby up over your head
- Point to an interesting leaf or pretty flower and make sure your baby sees it
- Show your baby the pictures in a book
- Give your baby a big smile
Your child's first words may be one-word puzzles. Your child may say, "go", but he may mean, "Where did Daddy go? " or " I want to go to the car." With one word, your child is trying to tell you a complete thought.
When your baby talks to you, let him finish his sentence before you talk. Say back to your baby what you think he's trying to say.
What It's Like to Be 11 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I stand by myself for a moment or two. Once I get good at standing, I may love it so much that I'll refuse to sit down!
- I hold a toy in one hand while I pull myself up on my feet with the other hand.
- I may even wave and turn my body around while standing, without falling down.
- I walk if you hold only one of my hands.
- I easily squat down, stoop, bend over, and then get up.
- I hold a pencil or crayon and love to make marks.
- I can take a spoon and put it in my mouth.
- I know that words are used to identify things.
- I may use one word to mean a whole thought.
- I babble and mumble gibberish a lot.
How I Respond
- I want to do everything you do, but I want to do it in my own way.
- I try to get your approval. I hide when I know you are not pleased with what I have done.
- I may test you to see how much I can get away with.
- During times of family stress, I may suck my thumb or fingers. It gives me comfort. If I do it a lot, see if I'm getting enough attention and if I'm feeling secure.
How I Understand and Feel
- I see the expression on your face and copy it. I'm learning from you!
- I try to bark and meow when I see a dog or a cat. I am learning what people, animals, and things do.
- I like to look at pictures in books and magazines. Teach me about the sounds animals make and show me their pictures in books.
- I know that tools will help me. I might push a chair in front of me to steady my walking.
- I may cling to you, especially in new situations.
- I may cry, scream, and have tantrums if I don't get my way.
High Self-Esteem = Feeling Good About Yourself
How do you want your child to feel about himself? Do you want your baby to grow up thinking he is a good person and able to handle things in life? Do you want him to get along with others and to share his feelings?
The way a person feels about himself is called self-esteem. High self-esteem means you feel good about yourself. Self-esteem begins at home. If you want your child to develop high self-esteem, you have to feel good about him and let him know.
- Tell your baby how important he is to you. Share lots of hugs, kisses, and smiles. Give him some of your undivided attention every day, and really listen and pay attention to him.
- Allow your baby to develop at his own rate. Pushing him to do something that he's not ready to do will only frustrate him and cause him to have less self-confidence.
- Use positive discipline. When your child does something that you don't like, you can correct him in a way that teaches without hurting his self-esteem. Say, "I get angry when you (name what he's doing that you don't like)."
- Point out at least five things your baby does right each day. You can say, "I like the gentle way you are petting the kitty" or "You are playing with your sister very nicely."
Play with Me: It Helps Me Learn
Play Ball: An "Eyes and Body" Game
Purpose of game: This game teaches your baby to crawl to get things and to find out about them.
How to play: Take a ball that your baby likes and roll it toward, away from, and then to the left and right of her. Say, "Look at the ball. Go get the ball." Your baby will try to get the ball by crawling after it.
Another Eyes and Body Game
How to play: Move things away from and back to your baby while she watches. This helps your baby see that distance may affect how things look, but it doesn't change their size.
Feeding Your Baby: Fat Does Not Equal Healthy
If you have a very active baby, you may notice that your baby isn't gaining weight as fast as he did in the past 10 months. That's because your baby is more active and is using more calories. Even though your baby is not gaining as much weight as before, he is still healthy.
A fat baby is not a healthy baby. At this age, babies should be developing muscle tissue, not fat.
Expect your baby to play at mealtime. Splashing in the cereal and dropping food on the floor is all a part of learning. Usually this starts to happen when your baby has lost interest in eating. If you don't want this to continue, take the food away from your baby and let him play with something else.
Your Baby Is In Charge of How Much He Eats
Worrying about what your baby eats, or does not eat will only make both of you nervous. Don't expect your baby to clean his plate or to eat "just one more mouthful." Trust him to be the best judge of how much to eat.
As your baby moves around to explore his world, he will become more independent. He may be eager to try out this new independence by insisting on feeding himself. Or he may be a little scared of his new abilities and may cling to you at mealtimes. He may even refuse to hold his cup or spoon and demand to be fed.
Whether your baby clings to you or is a self-feeder, try to be calm and patient. It will pay off in fewer feeding problems now and in the future.
Who Can You Talk to About Your Baby?
It helps to have people around who you can talk to and learn from. If you have a child care provider, consider talking with her. Child care providers have ex-perience with lots of children and families. Is there a group for new parents in your area? Try to get to their meetings. It's a great time to compare notes.
Water play in the bathtub and pool or at the beach can be a lot of fun for your baby. But water can be dangerous. Here are some tips to make water time safe and fun:
Doctors now advise against swimming lessons for infants and toddlers. Their bodies are not yet good at fighting some diseases that are easily passed in water, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Don't let your baby swallow lots of water at the pool or beach; it could make her sick.
Floating toys are fun, but they don't substitute for a watchful parent and they don't prevent drowning.
NEVER leave a young child alone near water, not even for a minute. Teach your child to wait for an adult before getting into water.
If you have or use a pool, teach proper pool-side behavior. Don't allow running or rough play around the pool. Never leave a pool halfway covered. A child could get trapped under the cover.
To prevent sunburn, use a waterproof sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. A higher SPF of 30 is best for those with fair or sensitive skin. Put more on at least every two hours or sooner if water washes the sunscreen off. However, it's not a good idea to keep your baby in the sun for that long. Use an umbrella or tent when you're outside for the day.
Babies have drowned in buckets and open toilet bowls because their heavy heads became trapped when they fell in. It's possible for a baby to drown in less than 2 inches of water.
Learn infant CPR so you are prepared in case of an accident. Ask your doctor, clinic, or local American Red Cross about CPR classes.
Welcome to the NO-NO's
It may seem as if you are always telling baby what NOT to do. No wonder! An 11-month-old loves her independence as she moves around and touches more things. So, discipline becomes part of your daily life. Do everything you can to make it easy for your baby to do the right thing.
Be realistic in your expectations. Babies this age are into everything. They poke, dump, lick, squeeze, toss, and climb. They are picky about food, and they splash the milk in their cereal. Think about how your child is learning and growing. When your child sees something bright or interesting, she learns by feeling and tasting it. "Look, but don't touch" doesn't mean much at this age.
Make your expectations clear. Let your baby know when you are unhappy with her behavior. Be sure to emphasize what behavior you are unhappy with. For example say, "Biting hurts! I can't let you bite me."
Avoid situations where you must constantly correct your child. At this age, it is easier to put your baby in situations where she can do something that is all right for her to do, rather than to "make her mind." If you are in a new place, be prepared that your baby will want to explore. You will need to follow her around. It is not realistic for your baby to sit still at this age.
Discipline is helping your child develop the habits of behaving. The habits of behaving well will develop over the years. They will come as your baby has a longer attention span and is able to explore more carefully.
Love and affection are part of effective discipline. The relationship between you and your child develops from everything you do for and with your child. Show your child how much you love her by playing with her and telling her that you love her. As your child grows in her love and trust for you, she will want to behave in a way that will please you.
All Parents Have Good Days and Bad Days
When it comes to parenting, there are good days and there are bad days. Every parent sometimes feels positively worn out. Taking care of a young child can leave you feeling like you never have a moment to yourself unless you find it after midnight, and then you may be interrupted by a small cry.
You may wonder if someone else has found an easier way to do the job. On bad days, you might secretly ask yourself if you are doing something wrong.
No one knows a short-cut to being a good parent. Take heart, you are probably doing fine. A lot of weariness goes along with being a parent.
Bad days are usually followed by good days. All these days will pass as your little one becomes less demanding.
Young children need parents who try to do their best with them every day. That doesn't mean parents succeed all the time.
When you feel like you're at the end of your rope, call a good friend to talk and let off steam. Or call your doctor or spiritual adviser. Even though you sometimes feel overwhelmed, that doesn't stop you from being a good parent; you still care about and love your child. Talking about it shows that you are responsible enough to know when you need to get help.
Prime Time Parenting
People learn specific skills easier at certain ages than at others. Kids can be experts at rollerblading after an hour, but grand-fathers probably need a little longer. These prime times for learning are also called windows of opportunity.
These are times when the brain is most ready to learn something new. It's as if a window in the brain opens for a while, making it easier to learn certain new skills or gain new knowledge. Then the window closes. When it's closed, we still learn, but it's harder.
Windows of opportunity will open and close during the first few years of life. Your baby's brain grows larger and more active, depending on what he sees, hears, tastes, touches, and smells.
While he is so young, he depends on you to make the most of his prime times for learning. Continue to encourage your baby to explore. Provide him with objects and toys that interest him, and encourage him to look, listen, taste, touch, and smell, as well as use his body in different ways.
Wait to Start Toilet Training
Most child development experts suggest waiting until a child is between 2 and 3 years old before teaching him to use the toilet.
Wait until your baby:
- Has a bowel movement at about the same time every day
- Can tell you in words that he has to go
- Can undo clothing, including snaps and zippers
- Can relax and let the urine or bowel movement out
Your Baby is One Year Old
Both you and your baby have come a long way. You've helped your baby grow into someone who can sit, stand, climb, and reach for things. She can think, feel, understand what you say, and maybe even say a few words.
You can look back with pride on the past year and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. At times it was hard, but you managed well. Hopefully, you had some other people to help.
From now on, your baby will grow and learn at an amazing rate. You can look forward to the coming years, confident that you will help him de-velop into a responsible and loving human being.
Is Your Baby's Development On Schedule?
For more information on your baby's development, check out the developmental milestones at the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site (A) or the Centers for Disease Control (B)
Being a parent can sometimes tax your patience and your confidence in coping with daily problems. At times, you may feel comfortable and self-confident, and at other times you may feel uncertain and fearful about your decisions.
We all strive to feel comfortable and good about ourselves. Self-confidence is measured by the way we feel and the way we behave.
There are ways to boost your self-confidence so that you feel better about yourself. Here are a few suggestions:
- Examine and determine what YOU want out of life — not what other people want for you or want you to do.
- Live your life from this moment on. Don't become discouraged by past mistakes.
- Trust your own decisions. You are the best judge of what works well for you.
- Don't put yourself down. Instead of saying, " I can't do it," say, "I am going to try to do it."
What's It Like to Be 12 Months Old?
How I Grow and Talk
- I may walk, but I still prefer to crawl. It's faster!
- I may also try to do other things while I'm walking, such as wave to you or pick up my favorite blanket.
- I stand by pushing up from a squatting position.
- I climb up and down stairs, if I have a chance.
- I may even be able to climb out of a playpen or crib.
- I hold things with one hand while I'm doing something else with the other hand.
- I insist on feeding myself.
- I use my hands to remove lids from jars.
- I use my index finger to point to things.
- I repeat words I know. It's good practice.
- I babble away in phrases that sound like sentences.
- I make up my own words to describe objects or people.
- I may not talk as much once I walk well.
- I use one word to express a whole thought.
How I Respond
- I trust people I know well.
- I imitate people, even if they are not around.
- I'm still afraid of strangers and unfamiliar places.
- I am very definite about my likes and dislikes.
How I Understand and Feel
- I remember more because my memory is getting sharper.
- I hunt for a toy and, even if I don't find it right away, I can remember where I saw it last.
- I keep trying to do something and may even solve the problem through trial and error.
- I follow simple directions and understand most things you say to me.
- I have favorites among people and toys.
- I feel great that I have a personality all my own.
- I'm developing a sense of humor and think a lot of things are funny.
- I feel secure and happy eating meals with my family.
- I feel and show love and affection to my favorite people and things.
What You Can Do to Help Your Baby Learn
What you do with you baby now will make a difference later. To help your child do well in school later, do these things now:
Floor freedom – Provide safe space and encourage your baby to explore by crawling and walking. Do not keep him in a crib, high chair, walker or swing all day.
Language – Talk to your baby, explain things to him, and expand on what he tries to say. For example, if he says, "Doggie", say, "Yes, it's a big brown dog and he's wagging his tail."
Outings – Take your baby places, such as the grocery store, post office, fair, and park.
Just enough help – Help a little bit, but not too much. For example, put chairs together so an early walker can hold onto them while walking. As the child walks more, move the chairs a little more apart to make it more challenging.
How Your Baby Learns to Feel Secure
To help your baby feel more secure, it's a good idea to keep things the same as much as possible. Babies do not feel secure when things are always changing.
Try to follow the same schedule every day so your baby gets used to the way things will be. Feed your baby at the same time every day so he will get used to a schedule. That will help both of you feel more organized and comfortable.
Use the same words for familiar objects, such as cup or ball, so your baby will learn the names of things.
Your baby may have favorites. He will show love and affection to these things and people.
He still does not like being separated from you. There is always a feeling of relief when you return, and that's the way it should be. You're special to your baby!
Build Good Eating Habits
You can do a lot of things now to help your baby build good eating habits for the rest of her life.
Set a good example by serving and eating a variety of nutritious foods. Eating nutritious foods is good for your physical and emotional health, too.
Sit down and eat with your child. Try to have the whole family sit down together at least once a day. It's a good time to connect with each other.
Smile and pay attention to your child when he eats the nutritious food you've given him.
Remember babies do not spend very much time eating. When they are done, let them out of the high chair to play somewhere else. Never make eating a power struggle.
Babies and adults need good healthy food to live. Spend time preparing and enjoying good foods.
How Much Should My Baby Eat?
Your baby doesn't have to eat something from every food group at every meal. He may eat several types of food at one meal, and only one type of food at the next meal. He might not eat anything at the third meal, if he isn't hungry. That's OK.
One hearty meal a day plus four foods from the food groups listed below are about average for this age. Forcing babies to eat can work in reverse and make them refuse to eat any food. Or they may continue to eat just to get your approval.
Offering food to babies when they are upset may quiet them for a few moments, but it will also teach them the habit of using food as a solution to problems. Instead, try to find the cause of the problem and solve it, without using food to make your baby feel better.
Parents are responsible for what babies eat and when food is offered. Babies are responsible for how much they eat.
Feeding Your Baby: What and When?
Most experts recommend that a baby should be at least 1 year old before whole milk is given. Until your baby is 1 year old, breast milk or formula (2-3 cups daily) is the best milk to feed her.
In addition to milk, give several small servings from each of the following food groups:
- Vegetables, fruits
- Cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese
- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs
- Bread, crackers, cereal, rice, spaghetti
Your child understands many things you say, and she may even be able to say a few words herself. However, your baby cannot think ahead about what might happen and can only decide between the most basic choices. This means you have a challenge ahead. You have to help your baby learn rules so she can learn to manage her own behavior. Here are some easy ways to do this:
Be brief. Your child understands short, simple phrases. Give reasons for rules. Long, involved explanations won't help.
Be clear. Your baby can understand the difference between standing in the high chair and not standing. She may be confused if the rule is, "Standing in the chair is OK when I am next to you, but it is not OK if I'm across the room." For now, make simple rules. Use yes and no, OK and not OK, and you can do it or you cannot do it.
Be specific. Tell your child what she can do and what she can't. If your baby is throwing blocks, tell her, "Blocks are not for throwing. Stack the blocks like this." Be ready to take her away from the blocks if she does not stop throwing them. Or you could give her a soft toy that you think is OK to throw. This focuses on positive rather than negative behavior.
Be consistent. At this age, a child cannot adjust to differences in rules set by parents or by child care providers. Don't forbid an activity such as jumping on the bed one minute and allow it the next. It's good to be flexible sometimes, but most of the time, decide what you want the rules to be and be firm about them.
Admit feelings. Sometimes children do things that make parents angry. When you feel angry, admit it. Don't make your baby feel like a bad person just because she did something bad, and don't scare her. Say in a firm voice, "I'm really mad that you did that." Remember it's what she DID, not her that made you angry. She will understand how you feel. When you admit your anger without yelling, calling names, or hitting, you are teaching her how to deal with her own angry feelings. She will learn how to express anger without hurting others.
Lighten up. See the humor in things. Don't make an issue out of everything. Instead, choose your battles wisely and relax about the rest.
Common Household Products Can Poison Children
You know your child likes to put things in his mouth to taste them. Maybe you don't know that children will eat poisons even if they taste bad - poisons such as mothballs and drain cleaner. Only as we get older do we learn that bad-tasting things may be harmful.
It's your job to protect your child from poisons in your home. Listed below are some common household products that are poisonous.
If your child eats something poisonous, immediately call the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 and tell them what your child ate. They will tell you what to do.
If your child is having convulsions, stops breathing, or loses consciousness, call 911.Poisonous Products Found In Your Home
IN THE KITCHEN:
Dishwasher soap, oven cleaner, floor and furniture polish
IN THE BATHROOM:
Prescription drugs, aspirin, and aspirin substitutes, vitamin and iron pills, tranquilizers, birth control pills, cold and cough medicines, cosmetics, mouthwash, perfume, drain cleaner, disinfectants, rubbing alcohol
IN THE LAUNDRY:
Bleach, detergent, fabric softener, stain remover
IN THE STOREROOM AND OTHER ROOMS:
Kerosene, lighter fluid, gasoline, paint, paint thinner, turpentine, weed killer, pesticides, rat poison, fertilizer, house plants, garden and yard plants, tobacco, any alcohol, mothballs, paint chips or dust
Ways to Prevent Childhood Poisoning
Store poisonous products in a locked cabinet and out of your child's reach. Return products to the locked cabinet immediately after you use them.
Never put a poison in food or drink containers. Someone may think it is food and eat it.
Watch out. Other people's homes may not be childproofed.
Don't take medicine in front of your young children. Never tell children their medicine is candy. This will help them think it's OK to eat medicines as if they are candy. They might eat the medicine and hurt themselves.
Do not use syrup of ipecac. In years past, syrup of ipecac was used to make children vomit or throw up the poison. Now doctors feel this can do more harm than good, so do not use it. Vomiting may not help a child who has swallowed a poisonous substance.
Look up the phone number for your Poison Control Center. Write it down and keep it by every phone in the house. The universal number in the United States is 800-222-1222.
Most children sleep through the night by their first birthday. When they do wake up for a few minutes, they usually go back to sleep by themselves unless they are teething or sick. Some 1-year-olds need more sleep than others. While one baby sleeps as little as eight hours, others may sleep as much as 17 hours.
How can you tell? Set a regular bedtime and watch your child's reaction. Does your child wake up too early in the morning? If so, your short time sleeper may need a little later bedtime. Watch how your child acts during the day. Your child might need more sleep if she is fussy or if she falls asleep at strange times.
Once you set a pattern, your child will have regular times for sleep. Establish a pattern for nights and for nap time. Young children are happier when important parts of the day, such as mealtime and bedtime, stay the same.
By the end of the first year, your baby has developed his own personality. Your baby is a full-fledged member of your family. It's hard to imagine what life was like without him! In the months ahead look forward to your child doing the following:
- Sleeping about 12 hours at night, and getting up early in the morning
- Needing a longer nap on some days
- Usually wanting attention when waking up
- Having a varied appetite, especially while teething; after 12 months, children grow more slowly and eat a little less
- Having a language "explosion"; a 12-month-old may speak two or three words while a 2-year-old may know 200 to 300 words
- Exploring and playing with genitals or private area; this is normal curiosity
- Starting to show independence without really knowing what he wants; you may hear "No! " and "Me do it." a lot
- One or two words will stand for many things. "Mommy" may mean, "Where's Mommy? " or "Mommy, play with me" or something else entirely. It's up to you to figure out what he means, so be patient and understand this will pass as he learns how to talk with you.
TV and Children
Child development experts strongly suggest that children under 2 years old (that includes your baby) not watch television. The images on TV are too over-whelming for babies. Watching television also takes time away from doing more important things, such as moving, exploring, and interacting with family and friends.
You may have noticed that there are lots of media products for children under 3 years old that are marketed to parents. These media products, such as educational videos, television programs, and 24-hour television channels for babies, may look appealing, but there is no evidence that these products make babies smarter.
We do know, through research, that babies learn best by being able to move around and interact with people and things in their environment.
Want to Learn More?
For an online version of this newsletter go to www.extension.org and choose parenting.
If you have questions, contact your local Extension office.
When reading this newsletter, remember: Every baby is different. Children may do things earlier or later than described here. This newsletter gives equal space and time to both sexes. If he or she is used, we are talking about all babies.
Credits: This newsletter was adapted from Extension Just In Time Parenting Newsletters in California, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
Months 1-12 of this newsletter are available in print by postal mail and electronically by the Internet. To receive the free electronic version of this newsletter through baby's fifth birthday, go to www.babysfirstwish.org and choose "Newsletter Subscription".
New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.