Baby’s got skills
There’s a lot more going on with your baby’s early development than meets the eye
I can walk (SORT OF)
As your baby’s brain develops, the areas that control his head and neck will strengthen first, followed by his upper body and his legs last – which is why your baby will push up and crawl before he can walk. However, he will have a stepping reflex when he’s first born. If you hold your baby up in an upright position, he will lift his legs up and down as if he is walking. This reflex disappears after about four months.
Letting your baby kick and make a bicycle movement when he’s in the bath or the pool will help to strengthen his leg muscles.
I’m already FLEXING my muscles
He might not have the mischievous temperament yet, but your baby already resembles a little monkey. If you press on the palm of your newborn’s hands, his fingers will wrap around you and start gripping. It’s called the palmar grasp reflex and it is a remnant of when our ancestors were apes and babies had to hang on to the mother while she carried them around.
Give him tummy time and it will strengthen his arm and neck muscles. If he’s not a fan of this, try laying him along your body while you’re lying on the bed so he can look down into your face.
Your voice makes ME HAPPY
Your baby started hearing sounds in the womb, so the sound of your voice soothes him in the outside world. “If you read the same book to your baby before birth, he’ll prefer your voice reading it when he’s born,” says Dr Bremner. “If a stranger read it, your baby would sense the different intonation and wouldn’t feel as calm and happy”. Your baby’s hearing will be fully developed by the time he’s a month old.
Talk to your newborn in a high-pitched voice and elongate your vowels (hellooo baaaby!). He’ll tune into this even more than a consistent tone.
My smile is MEANINGFUL
When your little one grins for the first time, it’s all part of his in-built survival technique to make you love him, but it also shows he’s trying to please you. The smiles it provokes in you encourages him to repeat it. “It also makes him more attractive to you – and any other adult nearby – so that you care for him,” says paediatrician Dr Bob Welch.
To encourage smiles, look for times when he is calm, yet alert. Talk to him or play peekaboo so you have his attention, then smile yourself. Your baby will start copying you.