As we start a new year, you might be making some resolutions for the coming year. Maybe you are trying to break bad habits, improve your health, or pick up a new hobby. Your baby might also be making some of the same resolutions you are this year. Check out some of the new skills, habits, and health changes your baby is going to make this year.
Improve Sleep Habbits
As your baby grows, their need for sleep changes. When your baby goes through developmental changes (sometimes called Leaps or Wonder Weeks) you might find your baby sleeps more than usual or less than usual (mine usually would sleep less). Luckily, these sleep changes are usually short lived, and your baby will likely go back to their usual sleep patterns after a week or so.
As your baby gets older, their sleep patterns will also change. Newborns spend most of their time sleeping, typically 16-17 hours in two to four hour spurts. This sleep tends to be lighter and more active than the way adults sleep. After about three months, most babies will develop more regular napping times (usually 3 times a day) and sleep 14 to 15 hours a day. After about six months, your baby’s sleep cycles will be more like an adults, with longer periods of deep sleep. At about a year, your baby will start to only take one nap, and usually sleep around 13 hours per day.
All babies, however, are different, and will wake up different number of times per night, and change to fewer naps at different ages. The best thing you can do is learn your child’s sleep cues like rubbing their eyes, getting fussy, or getting heavy eyes. Establish a sleep routine, but also keep in mind that you may need to tweak your routine as your baby’s sleep needs change.
Read More Books
Reading to your child is an important part of your baby’s language development. Reading to your child, even if it seems they aren’t listening, helps your child hear different sounds, words, and language patterns and has been proven to increase the amount of spoken words a child has by the age of 2.
And your baby may want to read the same new book everyday for the whole year! Babies love repetition. Repetition helps your child learn about how the world works and can be very stimulating to their developing brain, even though you might be over Brown Bear (yes, we know the red bird is looking at you!). You may notice your child becomes especially interested in a particular book because of the pictures or the word sounds, and you might even see your child pick a favorite book or character.
The way you incorporate reading time to your child will likely evolve as your child gets older. Newborns tend to like simple books with bright colors and distinct patterns. You can have simple books around to pick up and read during a quick cuddle. Follow your child’s lead for how much time they remain interested. It’s ok if you only get through a page or two before your child wants to move on to another book or activity. You might think about incorporating reading time into some of your daily routines, like bed or nap time. Many libraries also have baby story times, so you can connect with other parents with similar aged babies.
Learn a New Language
A newborn primarily communicates through nonverbal cues and crying, but they are also laying the ground work for language acquisition throughout the first year. Your baby begins listening to you and the world before they are even born and knows and prefers the voice of his mother from birth. Around four months, babies will move on from single vowel sounds (aaaa, oooo) practicing different consent/vowel combinations an eventually get to repetitive syllable babbling. While you may hear your child’s first uttering of mama or dada around six months, your baby probably won’t connect these sounds to meaning until after 10 months and tend to know (both say and understand the meaning) of 3 words by their first birthday. This progression is the important foundation for their understanding of language for their entire life.
There are many things you can do to help your child with language learning. Reading to your child helps you child hear new and different words and can connect meaning with pictures. Many people constantly talk and narrate life to their infant as they are going around their day. You can also hold conversations with your child, pausing for their end of the conversation. Eventually, you child might come to babble during their part of the conversation as they learn the verbal cues for taking turns in conversation.
Eat more adventurous foods
For the first year, milk (either breastmilk or formula) is the main form of nutrition for your child. As your child gets older, however, they’ll want to begin practicing eating other forms of foods. Look for signs your child is ready for solid foods like your child can hold their head upright, sit with minimal support, and the disappearance of the tongue-thrust reflex. These signs usually appear between four and six months.
There are many different ways you can begin to introduce solids. Some people begin with baby cereal mixed with breastmilk while others go straight to pureed baby foods. Other people begin directly with table foods, letting babies explore holding food and feeding themselves right from the beginning (often called baby led weaning). Whatever the method, remember that all of this is new for your baby and may take some practice to get right. Your child might spit out or refuse to eat this new food for awhile. In the case of baby led weaning, your child might play with the food more than eat it for weeks. You may need to offer the same kind of food several times before your child decides that they like it or not. You may want to consult your child’s doctor when introducing certain kinds of foods, especially if allergies are common in your family, but the newest research suggest introducing common allergens earlier rather than later is best.
Get More Active
Many newborn milestones revolve around your child learning new ways to move around. It’s exciting watching your child grow from unable to support their own head to crawling and maybe even walking within a single year. You can expect your child to begin rolling by six months, crawling by ten months, and taking their first unassisted steps around a year old. Keep in mind, there are HUGE variations between children, so don’t worry if your child seems on the earlier end or later end of things. Crawling is an especially tricky milestone, as some children might develop their own version of crawling, like side-winding, or prefer to go backwards rather than forwards. Some children never crawl at all. Do consult your child’s care provider, though, if you are at all concerned about your child’s development.
You can support your child’s development by making sure they have ample opportunity to develop their muscles. When your child is very young, tummy time or time upright in a baby carrier helps your child develop their back and neck muscles so they can support their head. As your child grows and moves, give them time and space to explore their world and figure out their next move forward.
You’ll be amazed at the progress and changes you’ll see in your child in just a few short months with a lot of time for practice and your support cheering your baby on! If you want more ideas for how to set-up your newborn for success, contact me and we can give you and your baby all the tools they’ll need to be successful.