Month 2: Watchful & Alert

by Penny Warner

Baby’s Physical Development

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Visual Skills – Your baby is looking all over the place! Her vision isn’t 20/20 yet – she’s still nearsighted – but it’s improving, and she can see objects as long as you keep them nearby. She can not only track objects moving back and forth, but she can follow them up and down as well. Watch her flap her arms and legs excitedly as she spots something new and interesting.
  • Physical Growth – Your baby has probably grown about one inch by now, and she’s putting on weight even more rapidly. If she looks healthy, is taking breast milk well, and has alert periods, she’s probably doing well. Most infants feed about 6 times a day, taking in about 3 ounces of breast milk, but it varies baby to baby. If she’s outgrowing her infant clothes, she’s developing!
  • Voluntary Control – Your baby is gaining better control over her arms by this time. You might see her try to reach for objects in front of her. She’s not able to make direct contact easily, but you can see the effort she makes, as she attempts eye-hand coordination.

How You Can Help

  • Visual Skills – As your baby’s vision improves, give her more interesting things to look at. Move the objects slowly back and forth in front of her face, about 12 inches away. Then move them up and down and see if she can follow them with her eyes. To help her track the objects, have them make noise, so she has another reason to look at them.
  • Physical Growth – It’s normal for a baby to lose several ounces before she begins to gain weight. To make sure she’s getting enough breastmilk, check with your doctor. He may suggest increased feedings, especially if baby is sleeping through mealtimes, which can cause a lack of weight gain.
  • Voluntary Control – As baby attempts to reach out and grasp objects, make sure some of the items are within her reach and easy to hold, such as colorful rattles, small stuffed animals, or teething rings. Move them slightly so she’s attracted to them, and then help her make contact as she tries to reach for them.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Vocalization – Around this time your baby may begin to vocalize when you talk. She’s trying to imitate your speech – “talk” with you – and may make 10-15 sounds that relate to speech. Especially common are vowels, which are easier to say than consonants.
  • Overstimulation – Your baby has only been on the planet a few weeks, and she’s still getting used to a completely different world of stimulation, not at all like the dark, insulated world of the womb. 
  • Tactile Discrimination – Your baby is sensitive to touch and responds to differences between hard and soft, cold and warm, fuzzy and plain, rough and smooth. She loves to be touched, held, caressed, carried, and handled.

How You Can Help

  • Vocalization – As baby begins to vocalize, engage in “conversations” with her. Talk to her, then pause and wait for her to try to vocalize. When she does, imitate the sounds she makes, using a high pitched voice and an animated face. The more you repeat her sounds, the more she’ll begin to repeat yours.
  • Overstimulation – You can minimize your baby’s overstimulation and irritability by watching her body language, muscle tension, and facial expression. She’ll tell you she’s had enough “fun” for the time being and needs a break by acting fussy, restless, or inattentive. Although some babies tune out when they’re overstimulated, others will need a break from all the excitement. 
  • Tactile Discrimination – Play a tactile game with baby to help awaken more sensitivity to different textures, temperatures, and touch. Find two objects that are hard and soft, such as a block and a pillow, two objects that are smooth and rough, such as a towel and a blanket, and two objects that are cool and warm, such as a plastic toy and a hand. Place baby on her back, gently rub the objects on her tummy, and talk about them. Watch the reaction in her eyes, face, and body.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Rhythmicity – Your baby’s temperament continues to reveal itself to you. One area that becomes obvious early on is her regular cycles of activity, called rhythms. Many babies eat, sleep, play, and defecate on a fairly regular schedule. You can almost time them. Other babies seem to be less predictable, waking at various times, eating at irregular intervals, and filing their diapers often or seldom. 
  • Diminishing Crying – After the first month, you should be able to distinguish your baby’s different cries. Some of those cries are a substitute for vocalizing needs and wants. As the crying becomes more selective, you’ll be better able to determine what each cry means, and how to respond. 
  • Emotional Connection – Your baby recognizes you by your smell, your touch, your voice, and your face. She needs to spend time with you, just being held, carried around in a Snugli®, being touched, and staying close. 

How You Can Help

  • Rhythmicity – You can help your baby regulate herself to some degree, although her patterns are generally innate. Follow her schedule for the most part, but you might wake her a little earlier for feeding or playtime, put her down for nap or bedtime at certain times, and help her find some routine if she doesn’t seem to have her own patterns. 
  • Diminishing Crying – If your baby’s cries are more for loneliness, boredom, or simple irritability, you can try to distract her from her fussiness with an interesting toy, funny face, or change of location. If you interrupt the fussy cry, you can often prevent a bigger upset.
  • Emotional Connection – Parents spend a large part of the day caring for their baby’s physical needs and cognitive stimulation, but often forget to take time to just enjoy one another for some quiet time. Lie down on the floor with your baby on your tummy, so she can feel your warmth, listen to your heartbeat and breathing, and hear your soft voice.