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Baby Growth and Development


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When a baby is born, it has no conception of night and day. Babies sleep, on average, about seventeen hours per day, but in a series of short naps. These naps usually last from two to four hours. They can’t sleep for long stretches of time, like adults do, because they often need to be fed and have a diaper change in the middle of the night. To help your baby become accustomed to sleeping more at night, keep the room where baby sleeps brightly lit during the day, but not in direct sunlight and dark at night. You can also establish a bedtime routine, such as bathing and feeding right before bedtime and play soothing music to help baby fall asleep.

Babies are born with reflexes that help protect them after birth. For example, touch baby’s cheek with the tip of your finger or breast, the baby will turn towards the source and open its mouth. Place your finger in the palm of its hand and baby will grasp it. These reflexes only last a few months and are then replaced with voluntary movements. Breastfeeding is the best form of feeding a newborn. There are different nutrients found in breast milk that aid in the development of the child and antibodies that help fight off infection. Breastfeeding makes baby’s immune system stronger. Engorgement is a common problem associated with breastfeeding. It causes the breasts to become hard and heavy. Expressing a bit of milk before each feeding helps resolve this problem. Sore nipples are an indicator that baby isn’t latching on correctly. Make sure the baby takes the areola into its mouth along with the nipple itself, or milk won’t express properly, causing the baby to want to suck harder. This causes pain for the mother and frustration for the baby.

The development of a baby is very rapid. Babies double their birth weight in the first six months of life and triple their birth weight in the first year. After the first year, a child’s growth pattern begins to slow a bit. The average child at one year is about thirty inches and twenty-one pounds. The average height and weight for a two year old child is about thirty-three inches and twenty-six pounds. By just three months of age, baby should be able to hold his/her head up when placed on his/her stomach for a few seconds. Baby may try to swipe at or catch toys hanging overhead and will love to study faces. He/she will turn his/her head when spoken to, listen to voices and become startled at loud noises. When baby is six months old, he/she is developing control over their body. Baby will be able to sit with assistance and maybe even alone for short periods of time. He/she will begin to reach out when he/she desires to be held. Baby will be able to roll over. Baby will be able to hold his/her own toys and bottle and babble happily or scream with annoyance.

At nine months of age, baby should be able to sit alone, without assistance and may be able to pull his/herself up on furniture. Baby will be able to use his/her fingers to point and grasp small objects and feed his/herself small finger foods. You will notice a pattern in his/her babble, as if it were a foreign language.

At one year, baby may be able to walk and stand unassisted. He/she may be able to crawl up stairs and out of his/her crib or playpen. The baby will prefer using one hand over the other. Baby will become afraid or wary of strangers and will be able to express emotion, affection and will be able to solve simple problems.

Michael Russell

Your Independent Baby and Toddler guide.

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  • Posted On January 14, 2007
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