Growth & Development

Growth & Development

Growth & Development

Your little one is growing all the time, whether they're still in the womb or have been welcomed to the world. With the right nutrients you can help keep their development on track. We're here to guide you, and make sure you both get help you need to navigate the first 1000 days of babyhood, from pregnancy until age 2.

By milestone
By preferences

Weeks 1-5

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Weeks 6-9

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Weeks 10-13

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Weeks 14-18

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Weeks 19-22

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Weeks 23-26

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Weeks 27-31

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Weeks 32-36

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Weeks 37-40

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Baby's development during the first three months

It's so much fun to watch your little baby get bigger during their first months of life, but some of the most important changes are the ones you can't see. From your little one's developing brain, to their immune system and tummy, here are a few things to keep in mind to help support healthy growth during the first 3 months.
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A newborn's reflexes

All healthy babies are born with reflexes that eventually give way to conscious movements. Reflexes are nature’s way of protecting your baby. Find out more about a few that your baby will demonstrate at birth.
  • 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.
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Baby’s poop: what’s normal and what’s not

As a new parent you might be surprised by how much you think about—and clean up—your baby’s poop. It seems once you’ve figured it out, it changes again, and worry can set in when you don’t know what’s normal. Here's what you need to know about your baby's stool from birth to 4 months.
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Your preemie's growth and development

Your teenie preemie was so excited to meet you that they came early! Of course you were excited to meet them too, but it can be a little scary when things with your baby don’t go exactly as planned. Now that your baby is home from the NICU, they may take longer to develop some skills. After all, they’re playing catch-up, and we’re here to help them along.

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.

Sleepy baby

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.

Cry, baby

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!

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Here’s the real deal on what goes down in the diaper.

Baby Poop Infographic

Your Supported Sitter's impressive progress

Whoa, baby! Your little one has enough muscle control, strength and balance to sit up with support. When they can sit up with your help, we call them “Supported Sitters,” but they’re doing much more than sitting on their tushies.

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."



Chatty baby


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!

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Learning how to eat

Your baby is learning so much about the world, and becoming more interested in exploring new things. Spoon-feeding is one of the many steps they’ll need to understand to enjoy baby food, as you add it to their diet. Teaching your baby how it's done is also a great way to bond and learn more about your child's eating cues.
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Your Sitter's incredible growth and development

From their first tooth and budding sense of taste, to their new found motor skills, your Sitter is making huge leaps in their growth—though they may not be literally jumping up and down quite yet. Here is some important info you need to know about your little one's amazing growth and development.
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Your Sitter’s developing digestive system

Your Sitter has probably had his first taste of solid food by now, but he’s still getting the main source of his nutrition from breastmilk or infant formula. Infant cereals and pureed baby foods are helping to develop his eating skills. Previously his digestive system was too immature to digest the proteins and carbohydrates in infant cereals and pureed baby foods. As he matures, your Sitter’s digestive system has begun to produce more of the enzymes and digestive juices needed to properly digest the foods on his expanding menu.

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

Stomach size

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.

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Building self feeding and eating skills

Your Sitter’s hungry for more—literally. They’re probably ready to try all sorts of new foods, and different food combinations. Their motor skills are getting better and better as they mash food and learn how to use their tongue to swallow. Here's what you should know about their skills now.
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Exploring the world with hands and mouth

They may have trouble reaching stuff, but once your little one gets a hold of something, it probably goes right into their mouth. It’s just one of many ways they’re exploring the world. They may also start recognizing people, which means they could become more clingy towards you, and wary of strangers. Or the opposite, your baby might also be pointing, waving, and playing fun games like “peek-a-boo,” even with people they don’t recognize. Here's what you should know about how your baby is learning about their environment.

Exploring food


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.

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Refining the art of eating

Learning how to eat food is a whole (messy) process. Your baby sees you eating and wants to join in on the fun, but they can’t quite yet. They’re still learning how to mash their food, hold a spoon and tell different foods apart. It’s a lot to take on, but we've got the tips to help make the process a little easier.
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Cups for Crawlers

By the time your baby becomes a Crawler, they're likely to be honing their cup-holding skills. Offering cups of varying shapes and sizes for practice can help your little one improve their cup skills even quicker.

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.
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Baby on the move

To help build baby’s strength and coordination, keep playtime active. Around this time, your baby may be ready to try these activities:

Roll play


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.



Obstacle course


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.
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Toddler feeding tips that work

Toddlers love to move and they need nutritious foods to fuel their learning and growth. Can you catch your bundle of energy for a nutritious balanced meal? Here are some tips to help.
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Your Toddler's eating skills milestones

Toddler development brings the ability to use more refined finger movements, which means your child may be easily picking up his food with two to three fingers instead of his entire hand. He’s exploring how to eat with utensils as he begins to hold a spoon and fork. He’s still learning how to drink from an open cup and sometimes uses a straw. All of these advances make your little guy think he can do it all himself. All babies progress differently, but if you are concerned that your child isn’t keeping up with others his age, talk to your pediatrician.

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.
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The independent eater

There’s nothing quite like watching your tot grow, and mealtime is is a great moment to take it all in. Not only are your little one’s eating skills developing, but their brains and taste buds are too. Your kiddo is also starting to use his words to be able to tell you when they're full.
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Toddler on the go

At this time, your toddler may try “cruising”—walking while holding onto furniture. She’s also starting to imitate gestures as part of her cognitive development. Stimulate her playtime with these activities:

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.
  • Crayons.
  • Dolls.
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Your Preschooler's big gains

Around two years of age, your child’s physical and motor skill development slows down, but he’s making tremendous gains in his emotional, social and intellectual skills. His vocabulary expands, he’s more independent and he will start to gain some self-control.

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.
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Eating like a grown-up

Your little one is excited to eat just like you. Their molars are in, and they’ve gotten even better at chewing. They know an apple slice means that they need to chew differently than they do for scrambled eggs. They also know to open wider for bigger foods, and to lick their lips when crumbs get there. Here are a few things you should know about the way your child is eating now.
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Kitchen safety tips for your Preschooler

The kitchen is typically a center of gathering and activity, and your 2-years-and-older Preschooler will want to be in on the action. Getting him involved in meal planning and preparation is a great way to bond together. Before you get started, teach him some basic kitchen rules.

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.
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Preschooler Balanced Diet

Preschooler Balanced Diet

To better understand young children's eating habits we've been committed to the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) for 17 years now at Gerber. In partnership with leading pediatric experts, we’ve surveyed 10,000 parents and caregivers about the foods they feed their infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Because by knowing what Preschoolers are really eating, we can better guide their food choices.
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Did you know?
A healthy full-term baby will typically double their birth weight at 6 months and triple it at 1 year.
Did you know?
Supported Sitter development includes learning how to move food from the front to the back of his mouth to swallow—a new and important feeding skill.
Did you know?
Iron is critical to help support learning ability. Getting enough iron each day helps prevent iron deficiency, which may compromise learning ability.
Did you know?
Use two spoons when teaching your baby how to feed himself—one for each of you so he can follow your lead.
Did you know?
When your Toddler is eating, be patient and let her practice her self-feeding skills rather than jumping in right away to help. Remember to let her know and encourage her when she’s done a good job.
Did you know?
Advancing motor skills, like stacking pieces of food, helps engage a child’s interest in eating.


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