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Newborn Development

Developmental Milestones to Expect by One Month

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Newborn growth and development

Putting hands to face is an common aspect of newborn development.

Bill Davenport

It really is amazing how much your baby will grow and develop in just the first month of life! In the beginning it may seem that all he does is pee, poo, eat, cry, and sleep, but gradually week by week you will see growth in the newborn development of your baby. How is your infant progressing on this list of newborn developmental milestones?

Newborn Development in Movement

In the beginning, you will notice that your baby uses jerky, uncooridinated movements that are sporadic and out of his control. If it seems like your newborn is pushing away your breast as you tried to feed him, do not assume he means anything by it. His movements in those early, early weeks are not intentional. However, as he reaches his 1 month birthday, you will begin to notice a little more control of his body. His movements will still be jerky, but you might see him begin to bring his hands to his mouth with a little more intention and control. Additionally, you can be watching for the following milestones during this first month.

  • Arm movements appear jerky and shaking
  • Raises hands to within range of his eyes and mouth
  • Will turn head from side to side during tummy time (Wondering about the When, Why, and How of Tummy Time?)
  • Head will flop back when unsupported
  • Clenches hands into fists often (Find out how your baby's grasping skills develop
  • Has strong reflex and startle movements

Infant Development of Sight and Hearing

More than a time or two, I have heard some many parents freak out that their newborn's eyes keep crossing. Let me just say that this is one of the completely normal aspects of newborn eye development. Your baby is still learning to control his eye movements. As he ages, he will grow out of this somewhat comical behavior, and you will be able to get some nice newborn photos that do not make him look like the nursery class clown. Here are some milestones you should see for development of sight and hearing.

  • Focuses on object about 8 to 12 inches away from his face
  • Eyes frequently gaze wanderingly or eyes will cross
  • Likes to look at black and white or highly contrasting objects
  • Prefers to look at faces rather than objects
  • Hearing is fully mature (Find out about Infant Hearing Screenings
  • May recognize some sounds or turn to familiar sounds or voices

Development of Smell and Touch

One thing that I have found is that using smell and touch sensations are a remarkable way to calm your fussy baby. Certain smells and touches that are familiar to your newborn have a way of soothing him and you! Some milestones for the development of a newborn's smell and touch are:

  • Has a distinct preference to sweet smells versus acidic or bitter smells
  • Recognizes the scent of his own mother and her breastmilk
  • Prefers soft fabrics to coarse materials
  • Calmed by gentle, meaningful touches rather than jerky, unexpected handling

Red Flags to Bring to a Doctor's Attention

So maybe you are wondering what you should do if your baby misses a milestone. Your pediatrician is your partner. Never be afraid to call you doctor if you have a concern. Below is a list (not a comprehensive one, however) of times you definitely will want to talk to your doctor. If after day 3 or 4 you notice any of the signs of a developmental delay in these areas, be sure you get in touch with medical help.

  • Sucks poorly or has difficulty feeding
  • Fails to blink at a bright light
  • Cannot focus on a nearby object that moves side to side
  • Does not often move his arms or legs or appears stiff
  • Appears to be floppy and lacks muscle tone
  • Lower jaw trembles frequently, even when not crying, cold, or excited
  • Fails to respond to loud sounds

Find out what monthly developmental milestones to expect during the first year.

Read the new AAP policy on newborn circumcision.

Resources: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics
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