The main job for newborns is to grow. And in the first year, they do it in a
big way. In that time most babies triple their birth weight and increase
their length by about 50%.
From your newborn\'s first day, health care providers will keep track of your
baby\'s weight, length, and head size. Why all this interest in your baby\'s
size? Because growth is a good indicator of a newborn\'s general health. A
child who is growing well is generally healthy, while poor growth can be a
sign of a problem.
● How Much Do Newborns Weigh?
Just like adults, newborns come in a range of healthy sizes. Most babies who
are born full-term (between 37 and 40 weeks) weigh somewhere between 6
pounds, 2 ounces (2,812 grams) and 9 pounds, 2 ounces (4,173 grams). The
average length for a full-term infant usually ranges from 19 to 21 inches (
48 to 53 centimeters).
If your full-term newborn is lighter or heavier than the average range, he
or she is probably perfectly fine but might receive extra attention from the
doctors and nurses after delivery just to make sure there are no problems.
Various factors can affect a baby\'s size at birth. In many cases, the length
of the pregnancy is a key factor. Babies born at their due date or later
tend to be larger than those born earlier. Babies born prematurely, as
discussed below, are often smaller than full-term babies.
Other factors include:
――Size of parents. Tall parents may have larger-than-average newborns;
short parents may have smaller-than-average newborns.
――Multiple births. If you\'re having twins, triplets, or more, you can
count on your babies being relatively small. Multiples not only have to
share their growing space in the uterus, they also are often born early,
which leads to small size at birth.
――Birth order. First babies are sometimes smaller than brothers or sisters
――Gender. Girls tend to be smaller, boys larger, but the differences are
slight at birth.
――Mother\'s health during pregnancy. Certain illnesses and habits can
affect the weight of a newborn. Factors that can lead to a lower birth
weight include a mother\'s high blood pressure, heart problems, or use of
cigarettes, alcohol, or illegal drugs during the pregnancy. If the mother
has diabetes, the baby may have a higher birth weight. All conditions that
can affect a baby\'s weight should be closely monitored by the mother\'s
doctor. In addition, women should not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal
drugs during pregnancy.
――Nutrition during pregnancy. Proper nutrition is essential for a baby\'s
growth in the uterus and beyond. A poor diet during pregnancy can affect how
much a newborn weighs and how the infant grows.
――Baby\'s health. Medical problems, including some birth defects and
certain infections acquired during the pregnancy, can affect a child\'s birth
weight and later growth.
● Growth and Premature Babies
Premature babies generally are smaller and lighter than other newborns. A
preemie\'s weight will be largely determined by how early he or she was born.
The time the infant has missed being in the womb was growing time, so the
baby has to do that growing in the outside world.
Many pre-term babies are classified as having \"low birth weight\" or \"very
low birth weight.\" In medical terms, \"low birth weight\" means a baby weighs
less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,630 grams) at birth. That\'s the case for
about 1 in every 13 babies in the United States, so it\'s quite common. \"Very
low birth weight\" means a baby weighs less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,587
grams). Most babies with low or very low birth weight were born prematurely.
Premature babies are given special medical attention immediately after birth
, and a pediatric specialist called a neonatologist may be involved in their
care. Many premature babies spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit
(NICU) while they receive medical care, including feeding and observation of
● Is Bigger Better?
In the old days, a \"strapping\" baby with chubby cheeks and dimpled thighs
was many people\'s picture of a healthy newborn. But a baby born much larger
than average may have special medical problems that need attention. Some
exceptionally large babies, especially those born to mothers with diabetes,
including gestational diabetes, may have problems for a few days keeping
blood sugar levels up and may require extra feedings, or even intravenous
glucose, to prevent those levels from falling too low.
● How Much Do Newborns Grow?
Babies are born with some extra fluid, so it is perfectly normal for a
newborn to drop a few ounces when that fluid is lost in the first few days
of life. A healthy newborn is expected to lose 7% to 10% of his or her birth
weight but should regain that weight by about 2 weeks after birth.
During their first month, most newborns continue to gain weight at a rate of
at least 5 ounces (141 grams) a week. They generally grow in height about 1
to 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.81 centimeters) during the first month. Many
newborns go through a period of rapid growth when they are 7 to 10 days old
and again at 3 and 6 weeks.
● Should I Be Concerned?
Newborns are so small, and it can be hard to know if your baby is gaining
weight the way he or she should. You may worry that your baby has lost too
much weight in the first few days, or that he or she isn\'t taking enough
breast milk or formula. Most likely, everything is fine. But if you are
concerned at all, check with your child\'s doctor.
● What\'s Next?
Being small or large at birth doesn\'t necessarily mean a baby will be small
or large later in childhood or as an adult. Plenty of towering teenagers
began life as small babies, and the biggest baby on the block can grow up to
be a petite adult. By and large, by the time they\'re adults, kids tend to
resemble their parents in size. Genetics, as well as good nutrition and your
attention, will play a large part in determining how your baby grows in the
years to come.
Whether your baby starts out large, small, or in between, in the next few
months you can expect your infant to keep growing fast.
Like they did as newborns, most babies grow quickly in weight and length
during the first few months of life.
● How Much Do Babies This Age Grow?
After losing some of the birth weight (up to 10%) during the first few days
of life, your baby should have regained that weight and then some, gaining
at least 2/3 ounce (18.9 grams) per day.
As a 1- to 3-month-old, your baby will likely continue to grow at a similar
rate, while also gaining 1 to 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.81 centimeters) in
length per month. These are just averages. Your baby may grow somewhat
faster or slower, and is likely to experience growth spurts along with other
times of slower growth.
Your pediatrician will measure your baby\'s weight, length, and head
circumference and track your baby\'s growth pattern on a standardized growth
chart (there are different charts for boys and girls). Generally, whether
your baby is large, small, or medium-sized, as long as your child\'s growth
pattern stays consistent over time, chances are excellent that he or she is
If your baby is born prematurely, keep in mind that his or her growth or
development should not be compared with that of a child who is carried full-
Preemies will need to be followed more closely and may need to be weighed
weekly during the first months to make sure they are growing properly. They
have some catching up to do!
● Should I Be Concerned?
If your 1- to 3-month-old is not growing at the expected rate, or the growth
rate slows, your doctor will want to make sure your baby is eating enough
and absorbing what\'s being eaten.
The doctor may ask you about:
――How many feedings a day your baby gets. A breastfed baby may feed 8 to
12 times in a 24-hour period; bottle-fed babies usually eat less frequently,
perhaps every 3 to 4 hours.
――How much your baby eats at each feeding. A baby generally nurses for at
least 10 minutes, should be heard to swallow, and should seem satisfied when
done. Bottle-fed babies eat about 3 to 4 ounces (88.72 to 118.29
milliliters) a feeding during the first month, with an extra ounce (29.57
milliliters) per feeding for each additional month.
――How often your baby urinates. Babies should have at least 4 to 6 wet
diapers a day.
――How many bowel movements your baby has each day, and their volume and
consistency. Breastfed babies\' stools should be soft and slightly runny. The
stools of formula-fed babies tend to be a little firmer, but should not be
hard or formed. Frequency of bowel movements depends on age and type of
Most of the time, a baby\'s growth will simply be tracked over the next few
months during routine well-baby visits. But if your doctor is concerned
about your baby\'s growth, he or she will want to see your baby more
frequently. Breastfeeding mothers may benefit from meeting with a lactation
(breastfeeding) counselor who can make suggestions to improve technique.
You may have heard the term \"failure to thrive,\" which describes a baby who
isn\'t gaining weight normally but does not get at the cause. Sometimes,
there may be a medical reason for slow growth, which would require further
Call your doctor if your baby is not feeding well or if you have concerns
about your baby\'s growth or development. Call the doctor immediately if your
infant is vomiting every feeding, not wetting his or her diapers, has a
fever, or seems listless or unresponsive.
● What\'s Next?
In most cases, breast milk or formula is all a baby needs for the first 6
months of life, but some doctors may recommend introducing iron-fortified
rice cereal at 4 months. Talk with your doctor before starting any solids or
Babies this age continue to bloom — in size, physical skills, and ability
to interact with the world. In most cases, this is the age when babies begin
to respond to their name, reach for objects, sit alone, and make happy
sounds — or show frustration when a new skill proves too hard to master
Many of the new skills they\'re learning will come in handy for eating solid
food. In fact, sometime during this period, your baby will probably get that
first taste of food beyond breast milk or formula. Although breastfeeding
or formula feeding will continue to be the main source of nourishment, your
baby can start to explore different tastes and textures. As long as your
baby continues to grow steadily, eating habits shouldn\'t be a cause for
● How Much Do Babies This Age Grow?
Babies continue to grow quickly in this period, gaining an average of about
1.5 to 2 pounds (700 to 900 grams) a month at first. At about 6 months,
growth often slows slightly, to about 1 to 1.25 pounds (450 to 600 grams) a
month. That rate usually continues until the first birthday, when growth
slows a bit more. Babies\' length also continues to increase greatly, perhaps
2 inches (6 centimeters) during this period.
There is no strict rule of thumb about how much a baby should weigh at this
stage, but by 8 months most weigh about 2.5 times more than they did at
birth. A 7-pound (3000-gram) newborn, in other words, is likely to weigh 17-
18 pounds (7,500-8,000 grams) by the end of this period.
Since your child\'s birth, the doctor has been recording growth in weight,
length, and head size (circumference) during your regular well-baby visits.
The doctor tracks these figures on standard growth charts. Ask your doctor
to show you your baby\'s growth record. By now, you should begin to see a
personal growth curve emerging — expect your child to continue growing
along this curve.
● Should I Be Concerned?
Is my baby too fat? Too thin? Is my child destined to be tall or short?
Parents often worry about growth and may compare a baby with siblings and
peers. It\'s important to remember that kids come in a wide range of shapes
Growth depends on many factors, including:
――genes passed on by the parents (kids tend to resemble their parents in
――the amount and quality of food a child eats
――the functioning of the hormones that control aspects of growth
Based on the growth chart, the doctor can determine whether your child is
growing as expected. If at any time you\'re concerned about your baby\'s
weight or growth in general, discuss your worries with your doctor.
In response to your concerns, the doctor may ask you these questions:
――How many feedings a day does your baby get?
――How much does your baby eat at each feeding?
――How long does a breastfeeding baby nurse at each feeding?
――What else are you feeding your baby?
――How frequent are your baby\'s bowel movements? What do they look like?
――How often does your baby urinate?
In addition, the doctor may ask questions about your baby\'s health and
development. All of these factors together will help the doctor decide if
your baby is growing at an appropriate pace. The doctor may recommend
further medical evaluation if he or she thinks there may be an underlying
problem that needs to be addressed.
Premature babies may still be behind in size compared with their full-term
peers, but they should also be growing steadily at their own rate.
● What About the Chubby Baby?
With all the concern about childhood obesity, parents may worry that their
baby is getting too fat. A few babies and toddlers are overweight. For these
children, professional advice from the baby\'s doctor can be useful.
But never withhold food from a baby in an attempt to cause weight loss. To
grow and develop as they should, babies need proper nutrition, including fat
, in their diet. Rather than limiting food intake, make sure the foods your
baby eats are nutritious rather than full of \"empty\" calories. For instance,
many babies drink a lot of apple juice, which is high in calories and has
little nutritional value. Juice is not recommended for infants younger than
than 6 months. After 6 months, 100% fruit juice can be introduced in a sippy
cup (limited to less than 4 ounces, or 118 milliliters, a day).
Introduce pureed vegetables and fruits without added sugar and don\'t give
your baby desserts or other sweets that are high in sugar and offer little
nutritional value. Also, look for the cues that your baby is full, and don\'t
use food to keep a baby quiet or occupied. A crying baby may just be
looking for some attention.
If you\'re concerned about your baby\'s weight — or even if you\'re not —
encourage your child to be active. For a baby this age, that means providing
plenty of time when the baby is free to move around in a safe space rather
than being confined to a carrier, stroller, or other equipment that limits
It also means playing in ways that encourage your baby to develop skills,
such as reaching for objects, rolling, and crawling. Some parents take
babies this age to organized exercise programs. That\'s fine if you and the
baby both enjoy it, but such programs are not necessary.
You might also want to look at your own habits. If parents are overweight,
have unhealthy eating habits, and get little physical activity, their kids
are much more likely to grow up to be overweight. Your child is growing so
fast that before you know it, he or she will be copying what you do. It\'s
never too early to start improving your own habits so you can be a better
role model for the ones you love. Besides, being in good shape to run, jump,
bike, and actively play with your child can be one of the great joys of
being a parent. It\'s like being a kid again.
● What\'s Next?
Your baby\'s rapid growth will start to slow down as the first birthday
approaches. Expect big changes in the coming months as your infant becomes
Your baby is changing and growing in many ways, and is crawling, cruising
along the furniture, or maybe even walking by 12 months! Along with all this
activity comes the ability to self-feed and the start of food preferences.
These new developments can affect your baby\'s growth, especially his or her
● How Much Does a Baby This Age Grow?
By the time of the first birthday cake, your baby will probably have almost
tripled his or her birth weight and will have grown about 10 inches (25
centimeters). However, physical growth slows down during the second half of
the first year.
Your child\'s doctor will continue to monitor growth during routine visits,
usually scheduled at 9 months and 1 year of age.
● Should I Be Concerned?
Parents\' concerns about growth often center on eating habits. Is your skinny
baby a picky eater? Do you worry that your baby isn\'t getting enough to eat
? Chances are that everything is fine. Most babies eat enough to satisfy
their hunger, which in most cases is enough to supply them with the energy
Your baby\'s weight, length, and head circumference have been measured since
birth and plotted on a growth chart by your child\'s doctor. This is where
you should start looking if you have questions about how your baby measures
up. When you review your child\'s growth chart with the doctor, make sure to
compare your baby\'s growth with his or her own growth pattern, not with the
growth of other babies. As long as your baby\'s growth is steady, there is
probably no reason to worry.
If you do notice slowed growth or a drop in weight, consider these questions:
――Has your baby been ill? A couple of days of not eating, especially if
combined with vomiting or diarrhea, can lead to weight loss that will be
regained when he or she is feeling better.
――Is your baby on the move? Crawling, cruising, and walking all burn lots
of calories, so weight gain might not be as great with this new mobility.
――Is your baby just more interested in playing peek-a-boo or dropping the
spoon on the floor than eating? The world is a fascinating place and your
baby is learning new things every day. Keep distractions at a minimum during
mealtime and pay attention to cues that he or she has eaten enough.
――Are you introducing the right kinds of foods? As your baby gets better
at eating, you can begin to pay more attention to the texture and variety of
foods he or she eats. If your child is not so interested in baby foods
anymore, how about introducing soft table foods and finger foods that are
safe and fun?
Though growth rate does slow down between 8 and 12 months, your child should
continue to follow his or her own growth curve. Talk with your child\'s
doctor if you have any growth-related concerns.
● What About the Chubby Baby?
Plump may be the old-fashioned \"ideal\" of a baby, but a baby who is gaining
weight rapidly is a cause for concern. Overweight babies are more likely to
be overweight later in life, so consider whether a pattern of overeating and
inactivity has begun.
Never withhold feedings from infants, but pay attention to your baby\'s cues
that he or she is full. Also:
――Make sure your baby\'s calories are coming from nutritious sources - like
fruits, vegetables, and fortified cereals - rather than sweets and junk
――Make sure your baby isn\'t drinking high-calorie soft drinks or too much
――Play with your baby to encourage physical activity, making sure he or
she has a safe space to move around in.
――Limit the amount of time spent in car seats, strollers, and playpens.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your baby is to eat well
and be physically active yourself. Your baby has a better chance of growing
up fit if good health habits are part of the family\'s way of life. Not only
will you be a good role model for your little one, but you\'ll have the
energy to really enjoy life with your child (and the stamina to chase after
him or her).
If you are concerned that your infant is overweight, ask your child\'s doctor
Isn\'t it hard to believe that a year has passed? In 12 short months, your
baby has grown from a tiny newborn you could cradle in one arm to a toddler
on the move. Between 12 and 24 months, your child will only grow about 4
inches (10.2 centimeters). Though physical growth has slowed, expect big
changes in the year to come.
Play is the primary way that infants learn how to move, communicate,
socialize, and understand their surroundings. And during the first month of
life, your baby will primarily learn by interacting with you.
One of the first things your baby will learn is to associate the feel of
your touch, the sound of your voice, and the sight of your face with getting
his or her needs for comfort and food met.
You can encourage your newborn to learn by stimulating your newborn\'s senses
in positive ways — with smiles, smoothing sounds, and gentle caresses.
● What Is My Infant Learning?
Even at this young age, newborns are ready to learn about the world around
them. A newborn loves to look at faces, especially mom\'s. Likewise, in the
first days and weeks of life, newborn babies can recognize their mother\'s
voice. Your infant will respond to your voice (or other interesting sounds)
by looking alert and becoming less active. The baby may try to find out
where the sound is coming from by looking around and turning his or her head.
When you smile and talk to your infant, your face and the sound of your
voice will become a familiar source of calm and comfort, and he or she will
learn to associate you with getting nourishment, warmth, and soothing touch.
Babies are born with reflexes or programmed responses to certain stimuli,
such as touch. These reflexes help ensure survival. But they also provide an
opportunity for the infant to interact with the world. For example, the
rooting reflex is elicited by gently stroking a newborn\'s cheek. The infant\'
s response is to turn head and mouth to that side, ready to eat. By the time
they\'re 3 weeks old, babies will turn toward the breast or bottle not just
out of a reflex, but because they\'ve learned that it\'s a source of food.
During the first month of life, your newborn will spend much of the day
sleeping or seeming drowsy. Over the next several weeks to months, your baby
will mature and be awake or alert for longer periods of time. It\'s
important to recognize when your baby is alert and ready to learn and play
and when the baby would rather be left alone. A baby who is quiet and alert
will be attentive and responsive and interested in his or her surroundings.
A baby who is awake but active (squirming, flapping arms, or kicking legs)
or fussing will be less able to focus on you. The baby may seem agitated or
start to cry when you try to get his or her attention. These are signs that
your baby may be getting overstimulated. Over the coming weeks and months,
you\'ll learn to recognize when your infant is ready to learn or
● How Can I Encourage My Newborn to Learn?
As you take care of your newborn, he or she is learning to recognize your
touch, the sound of your voice, and the sight of your face.
In the first few weeks you may want to introduce some simple, age-
appropriate toys that appeal to the senses of sight, hearing, and touch,
――unbreakable crib mirrors
Try toys and mobiles with contrasting colors and patterns. Strong contrasts
(such as red, white, and black), curves, and symmetry stimulate an infant\'s
developing vision. As vision improves and babies gain more control over
their movements, they\'ll interact more and more with their environment.
Here are some other ideas for encouraging your newborn to learn and play:
――Put on soothing music, and hold your baby, gently swaying to the tune.
――Pick a soothing song or lullaby and softly sing it often to your baby.
The familiarity of the sound and words will have a soothing effect,
particularly during fussy times.
－－Smile, stick out your tongue, and make other expressions for your infant
to study, learn, and imitate.
――Use a favorite toy for the infant to focus on and follow, or shake a
rattle for your infant to find.
――Let your baby spend some awake time on his or her tummy to help
strengthen the neck and shoulders. Always supervise your infant during \"
tummy time\" and be ready to help if he or she gets tired or frustrated in
this position. Never put an infant to sleep on his or her stomach — babies
should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death
――Talk to your baby.
Keep in mind that babies develop at different rates, and there is a wide
range of normal development. If you have any concerns about your newborn\'s
ability to see or hear, or your newborn doesn\'t seem to be developing well
in other ways, talk with your doctor.
Now that your infant has learned to recognize your voice, your face, and
your touch, and associate them with comfort, during the coming months he or
she will start responding more to you. Your baby may even give you a smile!
Your baby will spend more time awake and alert during this time, and will
start to get more curious about you and about objects that he or she sees.
Your baby will also start getting physically stronger and better able to
You can encourage the learning process by talking to your infant, responding
to his or her vocal expression, and providing colorful age-appropriate toys.
● What is my Infant Learning?
During this time, you will see your baby\'s personality emerge. In the first
month or two of life, the baby depends on you to initiate any interaction.
But by the end of the third month you will find your baby engaging you with
his or her expressions, vocalizations, and gestures. Your infant\'s eyesight
will be improving, and your child is better able to distinguish between
different sights and sounds. Your baby will be carefully watching your
facial expressions and listening to your voice, responding to you with coos
and gurgles, and around 2 months, respond to your smile with a smile.
Between 3 and 4 months, most infants can squeal with delight and laugh out
Your child will learn to open and shut the fists, and will be able to hold a
rattle that you place in his or her hands. Your baby will soon discover
that he or she is the one that caused the rattle to make noise.
Your baby will also start to explore the surroundings using his or her hands
, reaching out, swatting at, and grasping for a favorite toy. Your baby will
also begin to notice his or her hands and feet, and they\'ll become a source
of amusement. You may notice your baby staring at his or her hands, playing
with his or her finger fingers, and bringing hands or a toy to his or her
● How Can I Encourage My Child to Learn?
As your infant becomes increasingly capable of exploring the surroundings
and engaging other people, provide opportunities and a safe environment for
your baby to do this.
It\'s important to respond to your baby\'s coos and gurgling with sounds of
your own, so that your baby will be encouraged to keep using his or her
voice for expression. Through these exchanges, your infant is hearing the
sounds of language and is learning how to have a conversation.
Your baby\'s sense of touch is also being sharpened during this time. It\'s a
good idea to provide colorful objects that have different textures, shapes,
and sizes for your infant to hold and explore. This is a good age to
introduce an infant gym with interesting objects that dangle for your baby
to swat at. You also can hold a toy just out of reach for your baby to reach
for, swat, and grab hold of, but do not string up toys on cribs or other
baby equipment - your baby could get tangled in them.
Be aware that there may be times when your child has had enough stimulation.
It\'s important to recognize the signs that your child might be
overstimulated, and to take a break.
Here are some other ideas for encouraging your baby to learn and play:
――Gently clap your baby\'s hands together or stretch arms (crossed, out
wide, or overhead)
――Gently move your baby\'s legs as if pedaling a bicycle.
――Use a favorite toy for the infant to focus on and follow or shake a
rattle for your infant to find.
――When your infant is awake, let your baby spend some time on his or her
tummy to help strengthen the neck and shoulders. Always supervise your
infant during \"tummy time\" and be ready to help if he or she gets tired or
frustrated in this position. Never put your infant to sleep on his or her
stomach. Infants should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS (
sudden infant death syndrome).
――Make different facial expressions for your baby to imitate
――Talk to your baby and let your baby respond
Keep in mind that there\'s a wide range of what\'s normal for babies. If you
have any concerns about your infant\'s ability to see or hear, or your baby
doesn\'t seem to be developing well in other ways, talk with your child\'s
By the time your infant is 4 months old, he or she has learned to recognize
you and familiar caregivers, focus and pay attention to things and actively
engage your attention. Your infant will learn to sit during this time, and
be able to get a new perspective on the world. In the next few months, your
child will start to explore the surroundings by reaching out for objects,
grasping, and inspecting them.
It\'s important to continue to foster the learning process by engaging,
responding, and encouraging your child as he or she develops a stronger body
, a curious mind, and a feel for language. Provide opportunities for your
child to practice and build on what he or she has learned. Offer age-
appropriate toys and be sure that your baby has a safe environment to
● What is my Child Learning?
Exploring will be a big part of this stage.Your child will be drawn to
colors, patterns and shapes of different objects, and toys. By reaching out
and touching objects, your child will learn about touch, shape, and texture.
Your baby\'s ability to reach and hold an object will mature over this
period. Once he or she successfully grasps an object, chances are it will be
brought into his or her mouth for further exploration. It\'s important to
make sure that any objects that could be choking hazards - or dangerous to
your baby in other ways - are out of reach, and even better, out of sight!
Though your baby\'s first words are still a couple of months away, your
infant is learning a lot about language. He or she will begin to be able to
distinguish between different sounds even though he or she doesn\'t
understand what the words mean. By the end of this period your baby will
recognize and respond to his or her own name!
The baby will also be learn how to use the voice. Now cooing sounds may be
mixed with other consonants such as \"ba\" and \"da,\" and evolve into babbling
like \"bababababa\" or \"dadadadada\" or \"mamamama\". When you talk to your
infant, and respond to the sounds he or she is making, that you are helping
to teach the social aspects of language and conversation.
Your baby will also begin to get a sense of object permanence, that
something can exist, even when it\'s out of sight. That new knowledge will
prompt your baby to search for an object that you have partially hidden. It
will also prompt your baby to drop toys and other objects over the side of a
crib or high chair to watch you retrieve them. By doing this, your child is
learning that the object exists even after it\'s dropped out of sight. He or
she is getting a sense of cause and effect, that idea that his or her
action causes a reaction. As your child gets this concept down, he or she
will look for more ways to make thing happen!
● How Can I Encourage my Child to Learn?
Now\'s a good time to create a safe place for your infant to explore (with
supervision), because by the end of seven months he or she will likely be
rolling over, sitting, and reaching for everything. It\'s never to soon to
child-proof your baby\'s play space, even if your baby is not getting around
yet - your baby will be crawling, cruising, and walking before you know it.
Make your play space inviting and fun by providing age-appropriate toys in a
variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Everyday objects, like
wooden spoons, plastic containers, and cups also stimulate creativity and
curiosity. Again, it\'s not so much the toy that\'s important, but the way
that you use the toy to help your baby learn.
As your baby babbles, and explores how to use his or her voice, it\'s
important to keep responding to that babbling. Reinforce the sounds by
repeating them for your infant. Introduce new sounds and simple words and
watch as your baby tries to imitate you.
If you haven\'t already, introduce books to your child during this time. The
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends reading to your child
everyday, starting around 6 months of age. When you read to your infant, say
the names of the objects, people, and animals as you point to them, and
make the sounds of the animals and the objects in the book. Choose baby
books with simple pictures and faces and books with lots of textures to feel
, like Pat the Bunny. Also look for cloth, vinyl, and sturdy board books
that won\'t rip and can withstand a little drooling and chewing.
Here are some other ideas for encouraging your 4 to 7 month old to learn and
――During tummy time, place a favorite toy or soft ball in front of the
baby to reach for.
――Hide one of your baby\'s toys - but don\'t hide it very well - and
encourage him or her to find it.
――Cover your face with your hands, then remove your hands and say: \"
Peekaboo, I see you!\"
――Let your baby discover that his or her actions can make things happen.
Provide toys that will move or make sounds when your infant manipulates them
, such as baby musical instruments, busy boxes, or see-through toys that
――Sing your favorite nursery rhymes like \"Baa, Baa Black Sheep\" and \"Hey
Keep in mind that there\'s a wide range of what\'s normal for babies. Some
babies develop slower, and some faster than others. If you are concerned
about the way your baby is developing, it\'s a good idea to contact your
You\'ve watched your child change over the preceding months from tiny newborn
to a curious infant, reaching out and exploring his or her surroundings.
That curiosity and readiness to learn will continue as your baby becomes
more mobile during these next few months.
With this new ability to get around, your infant will make great strides in
learning. Play will take on a new dimension as language emerges. During
these next few months, your baby\'s babbling will start to morph into words
like \"mama,\" \"dada,\" and \"baba.\" These words will emerge randomly at first,
but your infant will soon learn to associate them with mom, dad, and bottle.
Your baby will begin to use gestures like pointing and waving for expression
. This is also the stage where your infant will understand more of what you
are saying, including the word \"no!\"
As your child gets more mobile and interested in exploring, it\'s important
to provide supervision and to make sure to childproof the house to prevent
● What Is My Child Learning?
Your child will be very busy learning how to move around. Infants learn to
crawl during this stage, though some will develop more novel ways of getting
around, such as creeping on their bellies, scooting on their bottoms, or
rolling to where they want to go. It doesn\'t matter so much how your baby
gets around, as long as he or she is able to move arms and legs equally and
coordinate both sides of the body.
Babies also become more adept at changing positions, moving readily from
lying to sitting, then pulling themselves to stand. Holding on to furniture
and other large objects nearby, your infant will take tentative first steps
and start cruising along the furniture. Some babies may even learn to walk
independently during this stage.
As hand-eye coordination improves, your baby will explore objects in greater
detail, also learning their functions: you use a brush on your hair, you
talk on the telephone.
Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety are emotions that also typically
emerge during this period. Your infant may get upset when a stranger
approaches or you try to leave, whether you\'re going into the next room for
a few seconds or leaving your child with a sitter for the evening. Your
child may cry, cling to you, and resist attention from others. This is a
normal reaction and appropriate for this stage of development. Typically,
this response intensifies over the next several months, then gradually
improves as your child acquires the language and social skills to cope with
a strange situation and feels secure that the separation is not permanent.
● How Can I Encourage My Child to Learn?
Your baby\'s ability to get around and never-ending curiosity are the
catalysts for learning during this period, so it\'s important to provide
opportunities — and a safe place — for exploration. Your baby may enjoy
playing with egg cartons, blocks, balls, stacking toys, and push-pull toys.
When your baby is in the bath, provide squeeze toys and cups and containers
to splash around with.
Infants are learning to understand language so continue to talk to your baby
. Introduce simple words by naming familiar objects and let your baby try to
imitate you. Reinforce the words by repeating them. Encourage your infant\'s
expressions by waiting for a response when you are having a \"conversation.\"
Continue reading to your child from books that have large, colorful
illustrations. Point to pictures in the book and say their names to create
associations between the things your child sees and the words that describe
Here are some other ideas for encouraging your 8- to 12-month-old to learn
――Encourage crawling during tummy time by helping your baby get into the
crawling position on hands and knees. Place a favorite toy out of reach and
encourage your baby to move toward it.
――Continue to play games like peekaboo, but vary it a bit by hiding your
face with a blanket and letting the baby pull it off, hiding around the
corner, and showing your baby how to cover his or her own face with the
――Continue to play hide and seek and test your child\'s understanding of
object permanence. Let your baby watch you hide a toy — first partially
hidden, then covered completely — and let him or her find it.
――Teach your baby action songs, like \"Pat-A-Cake,\" \"This Little Piggy,\" \"
The Itsy Bitsy Spider,\" and \"Pop Goes the Weasel.\" Babies love to hear and
learn these songs and anticipate the accompanying movements.
There is a wide range of what is normal for babies, and some babies develop
slower and faster than others. Talk with your child\'s doctor if you have a