Weeks 5 – 10
You’ll notice that your newborn is more alert with every week that passes, and this coming month you’ll probably see the sweetest sight: a smile! Other developments this month might be:
- Cooing, possibly with vowel-consonant combinations like “ah-goo.”
- Lifting head 45 degrees while on stomach.
- Holding head steady when held upright.
- Reaching for objects.
- Looking to see where noises are coming from, showing you that he or she is more aware of the surroundings.
- A bit more mobility, rolling one-way from back to belly. Of course your baby isn’t quite on the move yet, but be extra careful not to turn your back during a diaper change.
- More coordinated movements, as the month progresses. Those spastic jerks will soon smooth out to purposeful motions.
- A first laugh (or squeal) possibly. But remember, every baby develops differently.
Your baby is starting to recognize voices and be more responsive, and although they won’t be able to roll a ball or even laugh at a joke, playtime is an important part of their development:
- Talk. Some parents are more comfortable with “baby talk” – you know, high pitched squeals and gibber-jabber – but the truth is, it doesn’t matter how you talk to a baby at this age, just that you do it. Tell them about your day; narrate what you’re doing; explain your political positions. Getting them used to hearing your voice and the language in general will be beneficial and mesmerizing no matter what you’re actually saying. And remember – it’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it. Exaggerated smiles and sing-song voices always help to keep the baby’s attention.
- Ask questions and wait for a response. Make your baby feel included in the conversation, even though he or she doesn’t understand a word. When you hear a coo or a gurgle, listen and then respond. Studies show babies learn more when they’re being talked with, not at.
- Skip the pronouns. You have a long way to go before your baby starts talking back, but it’s never too early to get them used to hearing familiar words. “Mommy” and “Daddy” are more recognizable than “I” or “him,” so try and be conscious of the words you’re using.
- Copy your baby. When you hear your baby say, “ahh-goo,” repeat “ahh-goo.” Make a game out of copying his or her little gurgles, so eventually the baby will start imitating your language.
- Sing. Even if you can’t carry a tune, just the sound of a song (with accompanying hand movements, like Itsy Bitsy Spider) is always a sure-fire hit. It’s a fun, melodic way to introduce the language.
- Read. It’s never too early to instill a love of literature. A good way to integrate reading into your everyday routine is right before bedtime.
- Tummy time. Just as last week and the week before, it’s important to set aside some time for the baby to play on his or her tummy. Since babies are spending less time on their tummies (now that experts agree they should sleep on their backs), they need to build up their muscles during playtime.
- Play airplane. By the end of the month, your baby might have more control over his or her body, making play time a little more adventurous. While sitting up with your knees bent, put the baby tummy-down on your shins and carefully lay down on the floor. Bounce your legs up and down, taking your baby for a ride. (Wait until your baby has good control over his or her neck, and always be gentle.)