Child Development 0-3 Months

You’ve made it! You?ve joined the ranks of parenthood. So, what now? Is he normal? What is normal anyway? There is no definitive answer. Your new baby is an individual, and will do things at his own pace, albeit within certain generally acknowledged time frames, therefore comparison is not a helpful parenting skill to develop. Instinct is a much more useful tool. You know your child best, and even the professionals will acknowledge that.

As long as your baby’s development progresses around about the ?developmental milestones’ you can rest easy. It is important to recognise that some factors influence the rate of development you should expect. Experts say that a premature baby’s development will routinely be behind by about half of the time they were premature, so a 6 month old baby who was 2 months early can be expected to meet milestones for a 5 month old. Multiple birth babies can develop at a different rate than a single baby, and of course, some babies have special additional needs which will affect development. As a rule, if you are concerned at all, speak to your Health visitor or GP.

At Birth

At birth, your new baby’s actions may appear random and meaningless, but in fact they are essentially controlled by primitive reflexes. there are quite a few of these – sucking (when a nipple or teat touches the roof of the mouth), rooting ( touch your finger to the side of baby’s mouth and he will turn towards the stimulus), startle/Moro ( baby reacts to sudden noises , stretching out arms, legs, fingers) palmar ( touch baby’s palm and she will grasp your finger, plantar ( touch baby’s foot and he will stretch toes out), stepping (hold baby upright and he will demonstrate a stepping motion with his feet), swimming ( if baby is put in water, she will move arms and legs and hold breath) and tonic ( put baby on her back and whichever side her head turns to, the arm and leg on that side will extend and the other side will bend. these reflexes will all be tested at birth and regularly thereafter, so it is important to attend check up appointments. they will disappear gradually over the first year as they are no longer needed. Apart from primitive reflexes, your new baby’s development will progress beginning right at birth.

The First Weeks and Beyond

In the first 4 weeks, baby will already love to look at faces, and will make eye contact from a very early stage. He will ‘track’ your face, following your movements at a close distance, but when you move out of his field of vision, he wont look for you ? it is a case of out of sight out of mind… babies as young as 2 weeks seem to recognise the faces of their parents over others, and by around 5 weeks will usually manage his first smile, which you will be able to distinguish from the ‘windy ‘ expression with which you are no doubt very familiar already.

Another thing to look out for is mirroring. Baby will often copy your facial expression in the first few weeks. Older children love to show off that the new baby can stick his tongue out at visitors! You will have noticed that baby is curled up, with fists clenched in the beginning.

By 1 month old, he will start to stretch out his arms and legs and begin to unfurl his fingers.

By 2 months, baby will turn towards sounds made at either side of him. Also around this time, when he is lying on his back, he will begin to lift his head, although he won?t have the necessary neck strength to support his head for a while yet. Raising his head when he is lying on his tummy will take a bit longer. He will also begin to understand ’cause and effect?…if he does a certain thing, he achieves a certain result, for example kicking causes water to splash, so next time he is in the bath he will do that again.

The HSE have a downloadable guide to a childs development