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Baby Growth and Development
When a baby is born, it has no concept of night and day. Babies sleep, on average, about seventeen hours a day, but in a series of short naps. These naps usually last from two to four hours. They cannot sleep for a long time, like adults, because they often need to feed and change a diaper in the middle of the night. To help your baby get used 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 bed and playing soothing music to help baby fall asleep.
Babies are born with reflexes that help protect them after birth. For example, touch a baby’s cheek with the tip of your finger or breast, the baby will turn to the source and open its mouth. Put your finger in the palm and baby will grab it. These reflexes only last a few months and are then replaced by voluntary movements. Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for a newborn. There are different nutrients found in breast milk that help the child’s development and antibodies that help fight infection. Breastfeeding strengthens a baby’s immune system. Engorgement is a common problem associated with breastfeeding. It makes the breasts hard and heavy. Expressing a little milk before each feeding helps to solve this problem. Sore nipples are an indicator that a baby is not latching on properly. Make sure that the baby takes the areola in his mouth together with the nipple itself, or milk will not express properly, making the baby want to suck harder. This causes pain for the mother and frustration for the baby.
The development of a baby is very fast. 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 starts to slow down 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. From just three months of age, a baby should be able to hold his head up when placed on his stomach for a few seconds. Baby may try to slide or grab toys hanging above and will like to study faces. He/she will turn his/her head when spoken to, listen to voices and startle at loud noises. When a baby is six months old, he/she develops control over their body. Baby will be able to sit up with help and maybe even alone for short periods of time. He/she will start reaching out when he/she wants to be held. Baby will be able to roll over. Baby will be able to hold his own toys and bottle and chat happily or scream in annoyance.
At the age of nine months, a baby should be able to sit alone, without help and maybe pull himself up on furniture. Baby will be able to use his/her fingers to point and grasp small objects and eat finger foods. You will notice a pattern in his/her speech, as if it were a foreign language.
At one year, a baby may be able to walk and stand unaided. He/she may be able to crawl up stairs and out of his crib or playpen. The baby will prefer to use one hand over the other. Baby will become shy or wary of strangers and will be able to express emotion, affection and be able to solve simple problems.
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