Is my baby normal? … When will he start walking? … How long before his teeth start showing (none yet, and he’s four months old ) … He isn’t talking yet … Shouldn’t he be picking things up and showing more interest (like the neighbor baby)? … and so on.
Every mother believes her child should at least be above the national normal standard. However, questions on development, and when this or that should take place, exercise all parents’ minds sooner or later. This is invariably aggravated by checking with others of similar age, or from questions from well-meaning relatives (usually grandparents).
The average baby will develop normally and naturally, irrespective of what you do to try and hasten this along. After all, baby humans are just another facet of nature.
Cows and horses, dogs and cats manage to do quite well and generally develop in a normal healthy way without the need of textbooks and specialists or oral advice. Babies (with two legs) are not much different.
Do not expect too much too soon. There are enormous variables. One child will start to teethe early. Another will start months later. But the end point is identical. Trying to force baby along the channels can breed problems, both for you and him.
Take it quietly. If there are any obvious problems looming, consult your doctor. If there is any major query in his mind, he will get the expert opinion of a Pediatrician.
What can you expect from your baby in the first year or so?
Babies are individuals, and vary greatly in development, but they develop as nature planned.
In the early weeks, baby will sleep and eat, and do very little else.
At about four to six weeks he will begin to focus his eyes, and to smile when he is smiled at and feeling contented. He begins to lift his head when on his tummy. His hands are mostly clenched.
By three months he has found his hands, and will play with them for quite lengthy periods. He is beginning to know he is no longer part of mother.
He will grasp but not be able to hold things for very long. He gurgles and coos, and recognizes familiar faces and objects. He loves company.
By six months great strides have been achieved. Baby lifts his head and shoulders off the floor, and can lift his head when on his back. He can sit with support, and will love to “feel his feet” if you hold him firmly to stand on your knee.
He can now laugh aloud and hold and pass objects from hand to hand – and hand to mouth! He plays with his feet, rolls on the floor, and covers quite a lot of ground.
Baby can say da-da and ma-ma, and will be becoming wary of strangers, sometimes even those he sees fairly regularly. This is part of learning to trust – mother, father, the world about him, and himself.
He becomes excited with familiar things, e.g., his bottle.
By nine months he can sit alone, and may attempt to crawl, although probably go only backwards. He can hold his cup or bottle and spoon – and makes a mess trying to feed himself. He needs your help, but he also needs to be allowed to try himself.
Watch out now for buttons, blowflies, and other little objects on the floor. He’ll find them, pick them up – and straight to his mouth they go.
If you haven’t done so already, put plastic guards over power points so baby can’t poke metal objects into them and electrocute himself. (Guards available at most hardware or electrical shops.)
Keep saucepan handles on stove turned inward, and poisons well out of reach or in a locked cabinet. The same applies to bottles of alcohol – and to your small, cherished, breakable ornaments.
Baby “chatters” to himself, to you, and to his toys.
By twelve months he’ll be able to stand up against the furniture, and may even take a step or two. He can feed himself with reasonable skill, loves to use his hands to feel his food, and may be able to say quite a few words.
Teething: Teeth come when they are ready. Usually at about three to four months, baby starts dribbling, and his gums may be sore and swollen from time to time – but this doesn’t always mean a tooth is about to pop through. (Gentle massage of the gums with lemon or with vegetable extract, on your little finger, will help.)
By the time a child is two and a half, he usually has most of his first teeth, but there are no set times or set order for teeth to come through.