Baby’s got skills

There’s a lot more go­ing on with your baby’s early de­vel­op­ment than meets the eye

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

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.

Try it!

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.

Try it!

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.

Try it!

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.

Try it!

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.

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