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Month 1

Limb control Wibbly wobbly heads can be scary for novice parents and newborn necks certainly require plenty of support. By the end of their first month you will see how much stronger baby’s neck muscles have become. They may not don lycra and break into a sweat but all those head lifting reps and side to side glances are subtle little work out moves that build strength and greater head control.

Given that they have gone from womb to world it isn’t surprising that your newborn is a bit unsure of their body and how it works on dry land. Movements are quite jerky and uncoordinated but become more fluid within weeks as they get the hang of things.

The grasp reflex is the one you have to thank for those super cute photos of tiny baby fingers curling around yours. The instinctive and spontaneous grip response is strongest in the first eight weeks of life.


Sound
Babies can hear while they are in the womb so some voices will already be familiar, as may some of your favourite iPod tracks if you had them on repeat while you packed and repacked your hospital bag! Loud noises and sudden bangs will be startling but babies can sleep through a surprisingly high volume of background noise.

Sight Newborns can only see about 30cm in front of them and ophthalmic mother nature did this deliberately; it is the perfect distance to gaze at you while feeding and far enough to study the friendly face giving them a cuddle.

Keep your face close to baby’s and enjoy watching them watching you, it won’t take long for them to start mimicking your expressions and then the funny face games can begin. Even if they do not copy you they will be entertained by you looking silly, as will your guests!

Bright lights are uncomfortable for sensitive eyes but shadows are fun for baby to watch. They will prefer two coloured objects that are easier for them to distinguish.

By the end of the month baby still might not be able to see well enough to earn their pilot’s wings but they can focus with both eyes and track a moving object. Rattles are perfect to slowly pass from side to side, as is your face! Seeing your baby’s gaze intently follow your eyes as you move from side to side is a great way to feel connected.

Feeding foodie fact Your teeny tiny baby has a teeny tiny stomach that can only hold a small quantity of milk. Three or four feeds a day for the first few sleepy days gradually increase to six to eight as your sleepy shiny new person adjusts to life outside the womb.

Month 2

Smile

Just when you were beginning to wonder if baby appreciated the endless errands and lack of sleep you had endured for the last month they reward you with a smile, phew! Keep them coming with ridiculous happy clappy routines and raspberries and tummy tickling.

Baby babble

A cacophony of contended coos is hard to beat. Your chirruping two month old is mastering babble and testing out their vocal range; which has an ever-increasing amount of squawks and shrieks. You can talk back in baby burble or iambic pentameter; baby won’t mind what you say or how you say it, they will just be pleased to hear you talk.

Mastering movement

Not quite smooth enough to moonwalk but definitely more co-ordinated than last month. All that wriggling around over the last few weeks has paid off and mobiles are a great way to showcase new skills; batting away at the shapes overhead demonstrates much improved hand-eye control, and an appreciation for bright colours that is a change from the black and white favoured last month.

Grab and grip is still pretty impressive but letting go again needs a bit more work, beware long haired mums – and dads!

Feeding foodie fact

A regular feeding pattern has probably been established as you and baby get the hang of things.

 

Month 3

Ready steady roll

You may glimpse little signs that rolling over is imminent or it may take you by surprise, for this reason you might want to start changing baby on the floor rather than a waist high table. Regardless of where you change baby you should never leave them unattended in case they roll into trouble.

Tummy ‘push ups’, when baby lifts their head and chest, require a certain amount of strength and determination. In building up to this point the knee, hip and elbow joints have also become stronger and more flexible and all help baby to lever themselves up and over. It is common for babies to roll from front to back first – but they are likely to get stuck and need a bit of help turning over again. For a while at least.

Attachment

Baby was born knowing that you were extra special as your smell and sound were innately familiar to them. At three months the parietal lobe is developing rapidly (the bit that helps recognise objects) so you are becoming even more hard-wired as significant.

The temporal lobe (the bit that helps with hearing, language and smell) is also ramping up a gear so baby may be extra responsive to you when you engage with them, working hard to interact in return. If more than one language is spoken at home baby will be processing them both.

Feeding foodie fact

Baby’s stomach has grown, meaning they may be consuming more at each feed and lasting longer between feeds.

Month 4

Touch

As well as listening more intently to what is going on around them your baby is keen to get their hands on stuff too! Crinkly toys and textures are a win but keep an eye on what is going in to baby’s mouth, they will still be using that to work out what is what which isn’t always a safe strategy.


Shake, rattle and roll

Check out your little learner! They may now be rolling over, lifting their head up, picking things up and smiling. If you are worried that your baby hasn’t reached some of these milestones check in with your healthcare team, but remember they don’t read the books and most babies get there in their own time.

Increased engagement with the world around them is exciting but it can also be distracting, you may find getting baby to focus on feeding a bit of a challenge. It can help to settle down somewhere quiet so you can just focus on each other.

Your baby’s stomach has grown over the last few months so the number of feeds has probably decreased to four or five a day. They will still gain weight because they are able to consume more milk on fewer feeds than they could when they were teeny tiny.


Legs and lunges

Well, maybe not technically a lunge but if you hold baby so their feet are on the floor they will do some pretty impressive knee bends and squats. Helping them to find their feet and enjoy a vertical view of the world is exciting and likely to be met with enthusiastic squeals of approval. Your reactions to baby’s noises are increasingly important now as they begin to piece together the significance of language.

Feeding foodie fact

Your baby may have begun to drop the night feeds.

 

Month 5

Sitting up

You can help baby get the hang of sitting by placing their legs in a V shape, which makes them less likely to topple over. If you build a nest of cushions around them and give your fledgling sitter a toy to play with you’ll be helping them to practice this bold new move.

Tummy time

This an help baby to build up more of that vital neck strength, lifting up their head and chest helps strengthen muscles. Colourful play mats are great for tummy time because baby will want to lift their heads up to study the patterns.


Hugs and kisses

Remember when you thought things couldn’t get any more magical than baby’s first smile? Well get set to enjoy hugs and kisses from your increasingly affectionate little one, who is beginning to master a more sophisticated range of feelings than just the discontent that bothered them as a newborn.

Affection, humour and love are welcome additions to the emotional mash up. Your five month old is likely to hold their arms up to you when they want to be picked up and you might notice they react to their name when they hear it. That’s definitely worth another cuddle for being so clever!

Feeding foodie fact

The UK Department of Health states that babies should be weaned from six months, so this is your last month of milk only feeds. If you think your baby is ready to wean this month have a chat with your Midwife.

Month 6

Hand control

Babies can now entertain themselves for a little bit longer thanks to a new found ability to pass toys from one hand to the other. Letting go of things starts to be fun too, though not as fun as watching someone else pick up all the things that get dropped!

Your six month old may seem to favour one hand over another but it is still too soon to know for sure if they are right handed or left handed.


Tummy time

Your increasingly mobile monkey is keen to bust some new moves and a bit more time on their tummy can help them practice and perfect the art of rolling both ways. You can encourage this skill by enticing them with a toy to roll toward. This is fun but, as with many new milestones, can make life a bit trickier for you. Be extra vigilant at nappy changes; your baby’s heightened sense of adventure is not kept in check with an awareness of altitude.

Your baby may begin to roll on to their tummy at night and if they are happy it is safe to leave them. As it is an unfamiliar feeling they may want a little help being settled back to slumber on their back.

Feeding foodie fact

Ready set wean! Kick things off with purees and don’t worry if baby only has a couple of spoons to start off with. You might like to try:

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/vegetable-puree

Month 7

Bouncing

Walking requires weight bearing and the next few months are where the training starts in earnest. Remember a few months back when your baby stayed where you left them? Not only are they now rolling around they are beginning to want to raise their game; holding on to you or a chair is a great opportunity to practice standing up and bouncing is a brilliant way to build up those leg muscles.


Separation anxiety

Your baby is getting bolder and braver in many ways, quite literally bouncing their way to new frontiers, however they may become suddenly shy with strangers and increasingly anxious when you leave the room.

It can be tempting not to leave your child so as not to upset them but you risk prolonging a normal developmental phase. Cheerfully say goodbye as you leave and ask the caregiver to distract baby by engaging them in a favourite game. They are fond of you but they are fickle and usually settle down once you are out of earshot still worrying!

Feeding foodie fact

Have fun with flavours and blend fruits and vegetables together, not only do they taste great but you are upping the nutritional value of each mouthful. You might like to try;

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/peach-apple-pear-puree

 

Month 8

Dexterity

Your baby is fine-tuning their fine motor skills this month and practicing a pincer grasp, that tricky finger and thumb manoeuvre that enables them to pick up small objects. Given that weaning is now underway this new skill comes in especially handy at dinner time – make sure unsuitable small objects are kept well out of reach.


Crawling

Who knew there were so many ways to crawl! Your baby may be a commando or a bottom shuffler or a tummy slitherer; all equally efficient ways to get around and surprisingly quick! Furniture becomes fun-ctional and useful to pull up and scoot around on. Thankfully nappies provide soften the landing for inevitable bumps but be vigilant about safety and make sure your house is safe for your baby’s rapidly changing needs.


Feeding foodie fact

Finger foods are fun now that baby is beginning to perfect their pincer grasp. You might like to try some of the following;

  • Banana
  • Fingers of toast
  • Hardboiled egg cut into quarters
  • Raw carrot
  • Sticks of cheese
  • Miniature rice cakes

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/chicken-and-apple-balls

Month 9

Cruising

The first unaided steps may still be a few months away but with your helping hands, or a trail of furniture to hang on to, your nine month old will demonstrate that they are approaching the stepping start line by cruising around the room. Shoes aren’t strictly necessary until baby is walking unaided – and pottering about outdoors. Your baby will continue to grow rapidly and outgrown shoes will cramp teeny toes and do more harm than good. Barefoot is best for the time being.


Stack Attack

Towers are tremendous at this age, building blocks and stacking containers enhance dainty dexterous skills, and the noise they make when they all fall down is pretty fab too!

Feeding foodie fact

Don’t forget to add texture, chewing is important as it develops the same muscles needed for speech. You might like to try this lumpy bumpy recipe;

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/finger-food-mini-meatballs

 

Month 10

Communicate

Your baby has been immersed in language since birth and the noises that they have begun to echo back are probably sounding increasingly like words. Tone is more understood than content still but the more you talk and describe what you are up to, and encourage the repetition that comes back, the closer to conversation you are getting.

Even without words as you know it you and your baby can make each other understood, and within that not so silent space you see character emerging. Your social butterfly is blossoming and so too is a sense of self, which may be wilfully exerted at times!

Saying ‘no’ and establishing boundaries is important but at the moment distraction is your best tool.


Mastering mobility

Your baby’s hard work is paying off and sitting unaided is a pretty solid stance these days, so too is a more conventional approach to crawling on hands and knees. A keen sense of curiosity and adventure makes the call to explore surroundings pretty strong. With the aid of things to hang on to your baby may practice standing without support, getting ready to go solo.

Feeding foodie fact

Milk feeds are reduced as baby approaches their first birthday, so it is even more important that their diet is varied and balanced. Tummies are still small at ten months so everything that goes in should pack a nutritional punch, you might like to try:

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/salmon-footballs

 

Month 11

Instructions

Birthday countdown is on! Take a look back to see how far you have both come. Your mewing little new born can now understand and act on instructions and it is exciting to see baby respond to simple commands like ‘please bring me teddy’. She probably has a few sounds pretty sorted now too!


Early riser

If your little cockerel still kicks the day off before dawn it might be time to consider a slightly later bed time. It is unlikely baby will sleep for a full 12 hours but leaving a night light on and a safe source of entertainment in the cot to encourage play might buy you a bit more peace. A board book or baby mirror attached to the bars are good options, never leave anything that could be used to climb up and over the cot though.

Feeding foodie fact Your baby is getting so good at the whole real food scene that you may now be able to cook one meal for the whole family to enjoy, chicken burgers are bound to be a hit with all ages:

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/fruity-chicken-curry

Month 12

Walking

This is a big month! First birthday is often accompanied with a few first tentative steps and the activity and energy levels are ramping up! Whenever they happen the first attempts at walking as we know it may be on tip toe or with out-turned toes, practice makes perfect and as with all the skills your baby has learnt over the last year they will persevere until you can’t remember them not being able to do it.


Wordsmith

You may need to interpret for friends and family but you and your little chatterbox can understand each other pretty well these days as baby babble becomes more discernible. By describing objects and actions as you make your way through the day you will be helping baby to connect the label to the object or action.

Repetition helps things stick so state things several times so baby is clear about your message. You can see what has stuck by giving baby choices, like wearing the green or the yellow top, or playing with the cup or the ball. Your answer may come in an action not a word but you will see that you are being understood. Your not so little baby is on their way with words!

Feeding foodie fact

Iron is important for brain development yet iron deficiencies are surprisingly common. To ensure your baby isn’t missing out try to incorporate red meat into meals, you might like to try the following;

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