Lyndsey Garbi, MD, is a pediatrician who is double board-certified in pediatrics and neonatology.
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
When caring for babies, parents have endless kisses, cuddles...and questions. Is your baby getting enough to eat? Are they developing normally? How do you deal with diaper rash? Will your baby—or you—ever sleep through the night?
While your gut is usually your best teacher, not all aspects of caring for newborns are intuitive. Learn the best tips and tricks for feeding, soothing, and keeping babies safe so you can worry less and bond more with your little one.
Your baby may begin teething as early as 3 months, even though their first tooth probably won't start to poke through their gums until at least a few months later. Signs of teething include drooling more than usual, gnawing on things, waking more frequently, or being fussier than normal.
Most babies have started some version of crawling by around 9 months, but some may take a little longer, and that's common. Your baby's crawl might look unconventional: they might roll, creep, push themselves backward, or "army crawl" with their arms. Some babies pull themselves to a standing position without much crawling and start cruising.
Around 6 or 7 months, your baby may start repeating words and sounds they hear often. But it's not until they are closer to a year old that babies attach meaning to the words they use. Around their first birthday, your baby might be saying one or two words with purpose, and their language will grow quickly from there.
By around 6 or 7 months, most babies can roll over in both directions (front to back, back to front). You can encourage this skill by placing your baby on their belly for frequent tummy time when they are awake.
To make sure their joints develop properly, practice hip-healthy swaddling, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America:
Although 12 months is the average age for babies to learn to walk, it's normal for children to start walking as early as 9 months or as late as 17 or 18 months. Once your baby starts pulling themselves up to stand, holding onto something for support, they are getting ready to take their first steps.
The cells that determine your baby's eye color are still undeveloped at birth. These cells become active over baby's first year, which is why a child may have blue eyes at birth and brown eyes by their first birthday. Eye color transformation often slows down around 6 months but usually isn't established until about 12 months.
Babies can often sit without support at 6 months. Bolstering them with pillows or holding their hands while sitting helps them practice this skill. It may take a few months more for them to be able to be steady while sitting and playing with a toy at the same time.
Rubbing your baby' back, burping them, encouraging them to suck on a pacifier, or changing their position (sitting to prone, for instance), can help get rid of infant hiccups. But you don't need to do anything. Newborns spend a lot of time—about 2.5% of their day—hiccuping, and it bothers them less than you may think.
Babies can (and should) start having a few sips of water during mealtime when they start solid foods, around 6 months. Between 6 and 12 months, they should still receive breast milk or infant formula as a primary beverage. From a year on, water should be children's go-to drink.
A baby's first tooth usually erupts between 6 and 10 months. That first tooth will most likely be a lower central incisor (one of the two middle teeth on the bottom). The upper central incisors and then the teeth on either side of those will usually come in closer to their first birthday or just after.
Some lucky parents have babies who sleep through the night starting around a few months old, but night waking is common through the first year. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of 6-month-old babies are unable to sleep at a six-hour stretch. By their first birthday, however, 72% of babies are sleeping through the night.
Smiling is one of the earliest social milestones for babies. Many infants start to smile at people around 2 months. By 4 months, babies smile even more, often in an effort to mimic caregivers. Smiling at your baby often will help encourage this skill.
Babies can get COVID-19. Some newborns have tested positive shortly after being born. Fetal transmission has been proven, meaning that it is possible for babies to get the virus from their mothers before or during birth. They can also get it after birth. Although they are at lower risk for contracting the virus than older children, infants are more likely to pass along the virus along once they have it.
Gentle pats with a slightly cupped hand on your baby's back usually helps bring a burp up. You can do this while holding your baby to your chest with their chin on your shoulder, sitting them upright with one hand supporting their chin and chest, or laying them on their belly over your lap.
Inconsolable crying—for more than three hours per day, more than three days a week, for longer than three weeks, specifically—defines colic. Between 10% and 40% of babies have colic, and luckily, most of them outgrow it by 3 to 6 months of age. Colic's cause is still unknown, but some likely triggers include intolerance to cow's milk protein or lactose and gastrointestinal immaturity or inflammation.
On average, it costs about $12,680 each year to care for a child from birth through age 2. Your costs may be on the higher side if you need to use child care, which ranges from around $5,000 to $24,000 annually depending on your location. Other expenses include diapers, clothing, and food (if you opt to formula feed them and/or once they start solids). While you're expecting, research medical insurance, which can help control costs for your baby's hospital delivery as well as visits to a pediatrician and dentist.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is common in babies, affecting one in four children. In babies, eczema usually appears as a rash on their head or face, often the cheeks. Using fragrance-free cleansers and helping your baby avoid common triggers, like sweat or pet dander, can help.
Your child is born with 20 still-hidden baby teeth. These teeth will come in between 6 and 33 months. Between ages 6 and 12 years, they'll lose these primary teeth to make way for permanent teeth.
In baby-led weaning, parents follow their infant's cues when introducing solid foods. This usually means skipping the traditional method of spoon-feeding pre-packaged purees and instead letting babies use their hands to sample small pieces of foods the rest of the family is enjoying. Research shows that baby-led weaning does not put an infant at higher risk of choking.
Baby sign language refers to the act of communicating with babies using certain gestures. There are helpful websites where can help you learn the signs. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting with these words: airplane, baby, ball, bird, blanket, book, cat, cup, cold, daddy, diaper, dog, done, drink, eat, go, good night, happy, help, hot, hurt, I love you, milk, mommy, more, nap, no, outside, please, sit, sleep, star, thank you, up, water.
Doctors define colic as inconsolable crying for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week, for longer than three weeks. The causes of colic are unclear. You can try to treat it by controlling for suspected triggers, like avoiding dairy products when you are breastfeeding, but many babies simply outgrow it by a few months of age.
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes that's normal in newborns, especially preemies. That's because their livers are still developing to process bilirubin, a yellow substance in the blood. Jaundice is usually noticeable when the baby is 2 to 4 days old and usually goes away within 2 weeks.
Triggered by hot temperatures and sweat, heat rash appears suddenly as small, itchy, red bumps. It's more common in babies than older children and can be relieved by taking your infant to a cool location, removing layers of clothing, or applying a cold compress.
Oral thrush (oral candidiasis) is a yeast infection in the mouth. Look for cracked skin in the corners of your baby's mouth or stubborn white patches on their lips, tongue, or inside their cheeks. It's most common in babies 6 months or younger since their immune systems are still developing.
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