Lamaze Jacques the PeacockDid you know that your new born baby’s brain will double its’ weight during the first year?  That’s a phenomenal rate of growth!  It’s due to the brain cells multiplying with extreme speed.  It’s also due to the growth of ‘connectors’.  These are links between cells and are built by stimulation.  Your baby needs stimuli to develop but how can you help with this?  Here’s a guide to what your baby is able to do, week by week and how you can enhance that growing and learning stage with age-appropriate simple, fun activities.

For ease of reading, we will refer to your baby as ‘he’ throughout the article.

Newborn

What your baby can do

From the day of birth, your baby can hear and is alert.  By day three, he can respond when you speak to him – not always in ways that you can recognize, but he is responding all the same.  By the end of month one, you will be able to see that response.  He will move his eyes or head to locate where your voice is coming from.  You may even see his mouth twitching when he is spoken to.

What you can do to help

Your baby can see for about twelve inches in distance, so quietly and gently, move in close.  This is why some babies startle easily when someone or something suddenly looms into their ‘foot’.  Have your face, hands or brightly colored toys well within his range of vision to stimulate his sight.  Stimulate his hearing by talking and singing or playing music.

Four Weeks Old

What your baby can do

Your baby will now have made the connection between your mouth moving and sounds coming out.  He will also understand that this is an interactive process i.e. conversation!  You will see this in how he opens and closes his mouth when you speak to him.  He will also have learned to recognize tones of voice.  This is demonstrated by him becoming calmer and quieter when you use a soothing voice and distressed if anyone speaks loudly or with anger.

What you can do to help

Laugh a lot to make him feel secure and happy.  Sing-song rhymes or lullabies are wonderful now.  You can now be more physical too – rocking, swaying and dancing.  Just make sure his head is well supported.

Six Weeks Old

What your baby can do

This is a milestone time as it is around now that many babies begin to smile!  He may even try to make little noises in his throat when your talk to him.  He’s trying to talk back!

What you can do to help

At this age, babies are fascinated by faces so use yours as much as possible.  Funny noises and funny faces are a great game.  Watch your baby as you do this so that he can see your face clearly.  Now, you can start moving your face and his toys in and out of his vision and watch his interest spark.  It’s a good time to start talking to him at both sides of his face so that he can begin to recognize your voice coming from another direction.

Eight Weeks Old (2 months)

What your baby can do

Your baby will be smiling more and more.  He will also show a much more active interest in objects, staring at them intently.  He will also look at the direction where sounds are coming from.

What you can do to help

Help your baby’s growing interest by propping him up on a safe and comfortable pile of cushions so that he can see around the room and not just what is above.  Continue to offer him brightly colored soft toys.

Twelve Weeks Old (3 months)

What your baby can do

Your baby will now be reacting by smiling, squealing or moving his head and body to follow sounds and voices.  It is around this time that he starts to become aware of his own body and may look at his hands and move them by choice.

What you can do to help

Help your baby to relate to his own body with games like tickling his feet, gently bending his knees or arms, or holding his hands.  He will now be holding objects so toys with varying weights, textures and sounds will help build further associations and promote learning.

Sixteen Weeks Old (4 months)

What your baby can do

Your baby is now becoming increasingly curios about what is around him.  He can now recognize his favorite toy and understands routines like changing or feeding.  He may well be laughing too!

What you can do to help

Feed that curiosity by continuing to prop him on cushions and giving him a good variety of toys to play with.  Concentrate on sizes, shapes, textures, colors, different sounds and weights.

Twenty Weeks Old (5 months)

What your baby can do

Your baby will really begin to have fun now – understanding the concept of enjoyment.  He will be turning his head towards noises to see where they come from.  He may move his arms or legs to get your attention.

What you can do to help

Make bath time fun and include lots of laughter.  When your baby works to get your attention, respond to him to cement to concept of inter-reaction.  He will also be reassured that you are there when he needs or wants you.  It’s a good time to introduce people that he hasn’t met before.  Start using his name as much as possible.Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo

Twenty Eight Weeks Old (7 months)

What your baby can do

Now, your baby can recognize his own name.  He will reach out his arms to ask to be picked up.  He may start to try and feed himself and start showing food preferences…and dislikes!  He may also show some emotions such as fear.

What you can do to help

Now that he can copy simple actions and can recognize and expect repetition, try simple games like rolling a ball to him and getting him to push it back.  Giving and taking games are good because they teach him how to make things happen.  He will also enjoy seeing his face in a mirror, so have fun with that too.

Thirty Six Weeks Old (9 months)

What your baby can do

He will now be able to understand the meanings of simple words.  He may move towards objects that he wants – that are out of his reach.  Luckily, he now understands the meaning of ‘No’!  He will be able to recognize familiar rhymes and songs and will expect to perform the simple movements that go with them.

What you can do to help

Now’s the time for endless songs and games.  Put things just out of his reach and encourage him to ask for them.  Talk to him all the time, explaining what you are doing step by step, as you go along.  He will also love noisy toys now.  These don’t need to be expensive.  A wooden spoon and a saucepan are great as long as you make sure it is a big one that he can’t get stuck on his head…and as long as you can stand the noise!

Forty Four Weeks Old (11 months)

What your baby can do

Although his concentration is still short, he may be able to say one word and understand what it means, so be prepared to hear it over and over again!  He may point to things in a book and may understand simple concepts such as in and out.

What you can do to help

Help to increase his concentration with very simple, short stories especially if they can involve him clapping or doing actions.

One year old (12 months)

What your baby can do

Your baby will be very interactive by now.  He will have favorite stories or songs.  He can understand simple questions and may shake his head and understand that he means no.  He will love to repeat actions that make your laugh and will be showing more different emotions.

What you can do to help

Make actions for your baby to copy and praise him when he does so.  Encourage him to show affection to others and to his toys, with kisses and hugs.  Continue to describe everything that you do with him as this will help to build his vocabulary and his association of words with actions.  Speak the name of objects that you hold and the parts of his body as you touch them.

This is such a magical time!  Babies grow so very fast and when you think how far they develop in a year – physically, emotionally and mentally – it is quite breathtaking.  Spending valuable time with your baby is so rewarding as you actually get to see the results!  Have fun!

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