- Rooting reflex — This reflex helps a newborn find her mother’s breast. If you stroke your baby’s cheek, she’ll turn her head toward your finger and open her mouth. This reflex helps encourage a baby to latch and promotes healthy feeding.
- Sucking reflex — When a nipple (breast or bottle) is placed into your baby’s mouth and touches the roof of her mouth, she automatically begins to suck, promoting healthy feeding in young babies.
- Tonic neck reflex — As your baby lies on her back and turns her head to one side, her arm on that side will extend while the opposite arm bends, all intent to regain her balance. This reflex helps her become aware of her body positioning and the need to strengthen muscles to ensure stability.
- Grasp reflex — When you place an object in the palm of your baby’s hand, she’ll wrap her fingers around it. She’ll eventually learn she can choose to grasp what she wants, and let go of what she doesn't.
- Munching reflex —Babies jaws will move up and down when something solid is placed into their mouth. This simple reflex helps them practice their chewing skills for later.
Growth & Development
Growth & Development
A newborn's reflexes
Your preemie's growth and development
Know how they grow
Since your little one was born before they were completely ready for the world, it may take them extra time to reach certain developmental milestones. It’s totally normal, so don’t sweat it if they’re not progressing at the rate you were expecting. Of course, no two preemies develop at exactly the same rate, so your baby’s growth and development should be monitored closely by your pediatrician.
With all the extra progress they’re making, your preemie needs lots of rest. Extra sleep gives them energy to catch up. Your little one will probably sleep more than full term babies by taking more naps throughout the day. While they’ll spend a lot of the day catching Zs, it’s still important to encourage sleep at night. When you think of sleep environments, light and noise may seem like no-nos, but some of that might be good for your little one. Preemies tend to get used to the bright lights and noises of the NICU, so try a dim light and some soft music at bedtime until your itty-bitty feels at home without it.
Crying is your baby’s way of communicating their needs. All babies cry, but preemies usually cry more. It takes a little longer for them to learn how to soothe themselves, so your baby may be harder to calm down. If they’re crying more intensely or longer than normal, check with their doctor just in case. Overall your preemie development may have a few more surprises than you were expecting, but just pay attention to what’s working for your baby’s own needs, and you’ve got this!
Here’s the real deal on what goes down in the diaper.
Your Supported Sitter's impressive progress
Rev those motor skills
Your baby’s got moves, and you’ve got a front row seat! Supported Sitters build their motor skills and muscles by lying on their tummies and sitting up with support. Kiddo can push up while on their tummy, sit up, turn their head and look around. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby's development.
Getting a taste of solids
Now that they’re starting to control their mouth, your Supported Sitter may be ready to start some yummy solids. Before, their tongue could only push food out. Now it can move from front to back to swallow (they still might push food out, though). Your baby’s gag reflex is getting better, so they can control what they swallow. Supported Sitters can recognize the plate and utensils, so try using the same ones to get them excited for yummy foods. For more information check out "Learning how to eat."
Your baby’s learning that you’ve got stuff to say, and they want to join in on the fun. Right now, their interactions mean lots of crying, but that doesn't mean they aren't listening to you. They'll start to understand that different cries can mean different things at around 4 to 6 months. Then, when your Supported Sitter babbles, they’re imitating your sounds, pitch and rhythm. Try supporting their sounds with words that include the same noises. So, when they say “da,” you say, “daddy.”
Seeing the world
You could probably stare at your baby all day, but they’re actually just starting to make out what you look like. At four months, your baby can see a few feet away, different colors and some depth. Their vision is important for their motor skills and brain development as they start to follow objects with their eyes. They’ve gone from holding things involuntarily to choosing to hold things on their own. They’re getting ready to grab those toys!
Your Sitter’s developing digestive system
What else affects digestion?
In most cases, breastmilk or formula provides enough fluid so that you don’t need to offer any bottles of water into his diet
Your baby’s stomach is small. Feedings are less frequent now with six feedings being the daily norm for most infants at the Sitter stage.
Fewer dirty diapers
As your baby gets older, the number of bowel movements will usually decrease. Between 6 and 12 months of age, your child will eventually get to about two stools a day. If you continue to breastfeed or use a 100% whey protein-based formula, bowel movements will tend to be softly formed.
Is spitting up a problem?
A certain amount of spitting up is normal, especially during the first six months. Nearly half of all healthy infants under one year of age spit up two or more times in a day. Formula-fed babies are more likely to spit up than a breastfed baby. This is usually because the person feeding encourages baby to “finish the bottle.” If you suspect overfeeding might be the cause of spitting up, then try more frequent smaller feedings and always watch for fullness cues.
If your baby has a strong tendency to suck, it can cause him to swallow too much air and spit up.
Burping might help
If your baby is spitting up often, try burping him during and after feedings. Pediatricians often suggest burping over the shoulder or having your baby sit on your lap with head slightly forward and his head resting on one of your hands. With your other hand, gently rub or pat (no heavy movements) his back with your other hand.
Exploring the world with hands and mouth
At the Crawler stage, your baby is learning all about how to eat different foods. Baby food made for the Crawler stage is thick and lumpy, so your baby can feel it in their mouth without needing to chew it too much. Though they’re getting better at controlling food, it’s still too early for anything sticky, small or round—so make sure the foods you're giving your baby are developmentally appropriate.
Moving all the time
Whether they’re sitting up or lying down, your little one’s moving in their own way. They’re looking around, wiggling, and grabbing their little toes. It’s all helping to make them strong enough to crawl. Since arm muscles are better developed than legs, don’t be surprised to see them pushing backward instead of forward. If you haven’t already, now is the time to baby-proof your house.
Encouraging their crawling
One of the most exciting parts of the Crawler stage is watching your baby figure out how to really get around. Once they’re on the move, you can encourage them by:
- Placing objects just out of reach.
- Putting soft objects, like pillows or cushions, in front of them. It teaches them how to crawl over and around things. It’s also a great for peek-a-boo!
- Block access to stairs for now to keep your little one safe. They’ll climb those soon enough.
Your baby won’t be crawling for long, though. Once they can pull themselves up, they’ll take a few steps using furniture to keep their balance. A lot of times, babies go from their first steps to walking on their own within a few days or weeks. Eventually they’ll zoom right past you.
Cups for Crawlers
There are a variety of cups to choose from:
Hourglass-shaped cups are easy to pick up and set down without tipping.
Insulated cups keep drinks cool.
How to offer a cup
Hand a cup to your child with a small amount of water and help them bring the cup to their mouth. Slowly tilt the cup for your baby, and after a lot of these cup trials they will be able to do it on their own. You will notice your baby has an incomplete lower lip seal, so a cup with a spout can help control spills. If you continue these steps and have your little one watch you drink from a cup, they will be on her way to drinking only from a cup.
Quick cup do's and don’ts
- Do have a variety of cup shapes so your baby continues to learn.
- Do choose easy-grip cups, those with handles are great options too.
- Do use a regular open cup too. This works different mouth muscles, helping your little one hone yet another skill.
- Don’t let your child carry the cup everywhere they go.
- Don’t put your child to bed with the cup, to avoid them drinking too much or getting cavities.
Baby on the move
Roll a soft ball toward your baby while he is sitting up, and watch him grab and squeeze it. If he is rolling or crawling, he can chase after the ball as it moves along the carpet.
Turn your living room into a playground. Place pillows, cushions or boxes on the floor for him to navigate around. Play peek-a-boo for some giggles, and encourage him to keep moving by leading the way through the maze and placing toys just out of reach.
Toys to consider
Continue to give baby toys that challenge and stimulate:
- Push or pull toys.
- Stacking toys.
- Wooden or soft blocks.
- Toys that make a sound when he pulls a string or pushes a button.
- Busy boards with parts that move and spin.
Your Toddler's eating skills milestones
Improving eating skills
You’ll see a big change in eating skills and behavior in your Toddler between the ages of one and two.
Toddler development to expect at 12-18 months:
- He’s experimenting with utensils in different ways, using spoons for dipping and trying to scoop up food with his fork.
- First-year molars have come in and he’s getting more practice chewing.
- Tilts a sippy cup backward with both hands because his wrists can rotate.
- Excited to sit at the table. Social time with the family is as important as the food.
Toddler development to expect at 19-24 months:
- Less predictable eating habits mean he may eat lots one day and hardly be interested the next.
- He may hesitate as new foods are introduced, so it may take several tries before he accepts them. Never insist that he finish what’s in his bowl, but rather allow him to rely on his hunger and fullness cues.
- Your Toddler may exaggerate the chewing action, opening his mouth wider than necessary and causing some food and saliva to dribble out. But that’s to be expected and is perfectly okay.
- He’ll prefer the familiar routine of mealtime—seeing the same bib, bowl and utensils is comforting to your Toddler. His larger height and weight will usually mean that a high chair is no longer needed as he takes his own seat (or booster seat) at the table.
Toddler on the go
Follow the leader
Make funny faces or quack like a duck and flap your arms. Your baby learns from copying your movements and sounds.
Take a cruise
Place pieces of furniture close together so she can cruise from one place to another. While she’s cruising, hold your arms out and call her to you—but be there to catch her if she loses her balance.
Toys to consider
Toys to try that encourage imagination and activity:
- Lift-out puzzles.
- Digging toys.
- Cars, trucks, trains.
- Board books.
- Shape sorters.
Your Preschooler's big gains
The biggest physical change is that his body is transforming from a baby to a child. Here’s what you can expect to see:
- Body and legs are more in proportion to each other.
- Percentage of body fat peaks at age one, then decreases.
- Muscle tone and posture improve, so he appears longer and leaner.
- Face becomes less round.
Because his growth has slowed down, your child may be eating less than before. Just continue to offer healthy foods and encourage well-rounded eating habits. Early eating behavior helps set the stage for life-long habits and can influence his health throughout life.
Learning how to be social
You’ll see a lot of different sides of your child’s personality now. There are times when he cares only about what he wants, doesn’t share and prefers to play alone. Then, suddenly, he’s playing pretend, taking turns in a game and imitating what other people say and do.
Understand that he’s learning important social skills:
- Appreciation for how others feel is part of his emotional maturity.
- Role-playing helps him prepare for future social situations, as it helps him understand how others will respond to his actions.
This learning process will be a reminder of what a valuable role model you are for him. He’s watching and listening to your every move.
His thinking grows up
You’ll notice a few key changes in his intellectual development that signal a more mature way of thinking. Gone are the days when he learned only by touching and listening. Here’s what you can expect from your child now:
- He can form mental images and work some problems in his head.
- He’s beginning to understand relationships between objects. Sorting similarly shaped toys and easy puzzles are something he can handle.
- He understands cause and effect. Flip a switch and the toy turns on. Wow!
- His play makes more logical sense and has a flow. Putting his teddy bear to bed means first putting on the bear’s pajamas, then tucking him in and covering up with a blanket.
Kitchen safety tips for your Preschooler
Cooking with care
It’s never too soon to teach safe food-handling skills.
- Washing hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds (sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice) is the first rule before touching food. Hands should also be thoroughly washed after touching any raw fish, meats, poultry, or eggs.
- Begin teaching about cross-contamination. For instance, the spoon he uses to help stir an uncooked food can’t be used to stir a prepared food.
- Avoid burns by teaching him not to touch hot pots or the food that’s in them.
Precaution pays off
Thinking ahead about storing certain items safely will help keep accidents from happening:
- Store toxic items, such as cleaning products, in a high cabinet out of reach. If they are under the sink, ensure the doors automatically lock when closed through safety locks.
- Keep sharp tools, such as knives and scissors, separate from other utensils and in a locked drawer.
- Unplug appliances when not in use and don’t let cords dangle.
- Turn the handles of pots and pans on the stove inward, so your child cannot reach up and grab one.
- Make sure the knobs on your stove are child-resistant, or put knob covers on.
- Remove small magnets from the fridge door to avoid them going into your child’s mouth.
Kiddo in the kitchen
Here are a few ideas to get your child excited to help prepare meals and eat them.
- Kids can help pick out foods at the store for cooking.
- They can help unpack groceries into refrigerator or pantry.
- Kids can help wash or rinse foods before preparation.
- If the food is very soft they can use a butter knife to try to slice.
- They can rip lettuce/spinach leaves.