Diana Boggia: Strive to meet baby’s basic needs for healthy development

Diana Boggia

Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of columns presenting an overview of child development. A specific age group will be targeted each week, ranging from newborn to 5 years. Nothing replaces contacting your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns, but the following may help you to identify and nurture specific developmental milestones.

Over the next six months, as your newborn moves into infancy and then into babyhood, you will see remarkable surges of development in all areas. Take lots of pictures, because you will want to hold on to these precious moments, forever.

Cognitive development    

Your baby needs to sleep, to be properly fed, and have his basic needs met for healthy development. Diluting formula or reusing the remains of an old bottle to save money can cause long-term functional damage.

You hold in your hands a very precious life, so it is important to reach out for help if you are overwhelmed or tired. Many new parents feel overwhelmed, along with their joy. It is the strong, courageous parent who seeks information or help when she feels she can’t provide everything her baby needs.

Babies are wired at birth to learn any language, and yours will be listening intently. Provide repeated soft sounds, quiet talking and soft music. Read books for your baby to hear the intonation of his language. He will stare at faces, locking in and seeking information through your eyes, and within the first two months begin to recognize familiar faces.

A study was done where a mom sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” with excited eyes and facial expressions. Her baby watched intently and gurgled with excitement. When she sang it again, without any facial expression and no eye movement, her baby became unsettled, turned his head away, looked back to see if her expressions had changed, and then began to cry when he couldn’t “read” her expressions. Babies learn to read us and self-regulate very early on.

Other senses

Within the first few days, a newborn will be able to recognize the scent of his mother (or primary caregiver) as she approaches. As a newborn, he is sensitive to bright light, which may cause him to sneeze when he first opens his eyes, as the nerves in his sinuses and eyes adjust to the visual stimulation.

At about 2 months old, an infant will start to follow objects with his eyes, and will develop a social smile. He will bring objects to his mouth for exploration, and within the four to six month mark as he chews on things, he will also shake and bang objects to figure out what they do.

Next: Understanding a newborn’s physical growth and language development.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio. Send your child-rearing questions to Family Matters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources, along with links to all of her columns, at Diana Boggia’s website, www.yourperfectchild.com.