Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
Marley Hall is a writer and fact-checker who is certified in clinical and translational research. Her work has been published in medical journals in the field of surgery, and she has received numerous awards for publication in education.
Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation. As you feel your baby moving and growing inside of your body, you'll likely wonder about how they are developing—when they will begin to hear your voice, when hair will grow on their head, and if they can taste flavors that you eat. But it can also come with anxieties and concerns. Learning about what to expect during your OB/GYN appointments can help you understand how your baby is doing and if they do have a developmental issue, help you prepare to meet their needs.
The first three years of life are considered the most important age for child development. These are the years when input from the world around children has the greatest effect on their development.
For example, a child whose parents are loving and attentive will come to see themselves as worthy of love and attention, and a child whose parents read to them may develop an interest in books. Likewise, a child who has plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors may grow up to be generally curious and interested in learning.
Early signs of developmental delay in babies include poor neck and head control, floppiness or odd posture, being slow to meet milestones, or delayed speech. Babies with developmental delays may tire out easily or seem to be extra stiff in their movements.
If you are concerned that your baby seems to be growing and developing slower than other babies their age, reach out to your pediatrician. All babies develop at their own pace, but developmental delays are possible.
The exact length of each stage of development varies from child to child, but children generally pass through the same three stages. Early childhood lasts roughly seven years, middle childhood is about five years, and adolescence lasts about four years.
The rate at which each child develops depends on many factors, including genetics, the child's sex, and environmental factors.
Babies can start drinking water when they are 6 months old. Before this age, babies should only drink breastmilk or formula. They need the nutrients found in breast milk or formula for proper development. Giving water to babies under 6 months may also lead to early unintended weaning.
After they reach 6 months, water is optional and babies should not have more than 4 to 8 ounces per day. By age 1, they should be drinking 8 to 32 ounces of water per day.
The parent who has the most influence may be different in different families. Parents who are involved in their child's lives have the most influence on them. Though research on the subject sometimes indicates that mothers have more of an influence than fathers, the study subjects are mostly traditional two-parent families. This makes it hard to say whether the results apply to families overall.
Parents can help develop their children's character by setting a good example and by explicitly teaching about virtues. Talk about character traits such as kindness or responsibility and use examples to teach kids what good character looks like. Modeling positive behaviors yourself, such as using good manners with salespeople or keeping public places as clean as you find them, is a powerful way to help shape your child's character.
Cortical dysplasia occurs when the outermost layer of the brain, called the cerebral cortex, does not form properly while your baby is in utero. This may lead to developmental delays, language delays, or non-treatable epilepsy. Cortical dysplasia's severity varies and it is generally identified during childhood after seizures occur.
The umbilical cord allows nutrients to pass from your blood to your baby while they are in utero. Waste materials also pass back out through the umbilical cord.
After you give birth, your healthcare provider will clamp and cut the cord, and your baby will be left with a stump that will fall off within a few weeks. Until then, it's important to keep the stump clean and dry to prevent infection.
An abnormal ultrasound means that your healthcare provider noticed something on an ultrasound that needs to be investigated further. For example, the baby may be growing slowly, have physical deformities, or there may be too little amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.
It does not necessarily mean that something is wrong with your baby, but it can mean that your baby might have a health condition. Understanding the results of your ultrasound can help you plan ahead to meet your baby's needs.
A baby is considered breech when it is positioned feet or bottom down in the uterus. The breech position is considered problematic after about 36 weeks gestation because of the risks associated with giving birth while the baby is breech.
There are several ways to try and turn a breech baby. Some babies can be manually turned with a non-invasive process called external cephalic version. If this is not possible, you may be advised to have a C-section.
Fetal heart rate refers to the speed of your baby's heartbeat, which will generally be from about 110 to 160 beats per minute. Your healthcare provider may measure fetal heart rate during your pregnancy or while you are in labor. They may use an external ultrasound device, or later on during labor, they may use an internal device for a more accurate reading.
Gestational age describes how far along a pregnancy is. It is calculated starting with the first day of the last menstrual period you had before conception. That means that at the point of conception, you are already considered about 2 weeks pregnant.
If your period is not regular or you do not know the date of your last menstrual period, your provider will use fetal measurements taken at your first ultrasound to estimate your baby's gestational age.
California Department of Education. Ages and stages of development.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Is your baby's physical development on track?.
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Early and middle childhood.
Office of Disease Promotion and Health Prevention. Adolescent health.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Choose water for healthy hydration.
World Health Organization. Breastfeeding.
Lara L, Saracostti M. Effect of parental involvement on children’s academic achievement in chile. Front Psychol. 2019;0. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01464.
Live Science. How a mother’s love changes a child’s brain.
US Department of Education. How can we help children learn about character? -- Helping your child become a responsible citizen.
Subramanian L, Calcagnotto ME, Paredes MF. Cortical malformations: lessons in human brain development. Front Cell Neurosci. 2020;13. doi:10.3389/fncel.2019.00576
March of Dimes. Umbilical cord abnormalities.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Umbilical cord care.
March of Dimes. Ultrasound during pregnancy.
National Health Service. What happens if your baby is breech?.
John Hopkins Medicine. Fetal heart rate monitoring.
American Pregnancy Association. Calculating conception.
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