Newborn Baby Development and Milestones

Newborn Infant in Mother's Arms at Hospital.

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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 they 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, uncoordinated movements that are sporadic and out of their control. If it seems like your newborn is pushing away your breast as you tried to feed them, do not assume they means anything by it. Movements in those early, early weeks are not intentional.

However, as they reach their 1 month birthday, you will begin to notice a little more control over their body. Movements will still be jerky, but you might see them begin to bring their hands to their mouth with a little more intention and control.

1-Month Movement Milestones

You can be watching for the following milestones during this first month.

  • Arm movements appear jerky and shaking
  • Raises hands to within range of eyes and mouth
  • Will turn head from side to side during tummy time
  • Head will flop back when unsupported
  • Clenches hands into fists often
  • 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 their eye movements. As they age, they will grow out of this somewhat comical behavior, and you will be able to get some nice newborn photos that do not make them look like the nursery class clown.

Here are some milestones you should see for the development of sight and hearing.

  • Focuses on an object about 8-12 inches away from their face
  • Gaze wanders frequently, or eyes cross
  • Preference for black and white or highly contrasting objects
  • Prefers to look at faces rather than objects
  • Hearing is fully mature
  • 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 them and you! Some milestones for the development of a newborn's smell and touch are:

  • A distinct preference to sweet smells versus acidic or bitter smells
  • Recognizing the scent of their mother and her breastmilk
  • Preferring soft fabrics to coarse materials
  • Being calmed by gentle, meaningful touches rather than jerky, unexpected handling

Red Flags to Bring to a Doctor's Attention

So maybe you're wondering what you should do if your baby misses a milestone. Your pediatrician is your partner—never be afraid to call your 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.

Call 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
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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Developmental Milestones: 1 Month.