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Newborn Developmental Milestones

by Becky Swain

The first few months of parenthood can be dizzying. Stepping into the role of parent is exciting enough, but parenting a tiny individual that seems to change almost overnight compounds the challenge. Although most newborns reach developmental milestones at certain times, variations are normal. Newborn development proceeds at a rapid pace, with each newborn developing differently, so relax, and enjoy your precious newborn’s developmental journey.

Not Off and Running - Yet

It may appear that your newborn expends every ounce of her physical energy crying to be fed or changed, but don’t be fooled. From birth to 3 months, your tiny newborn achieves milestones in the physical domain of development that enable her to learn about her environment. Your newborn may attempt to reach for dangling objects, raise her head when lying on her stomach and make a fist. Don’t be surprised to see your newborn practicing the same body movements over and over again, reports PBS.org.

Your newborn’s achievements within the cognitive domain validate her growing interest in her world. Within the cognitive domain of development, your newborn may pay close attention to familiar faces such as yours, and respond to boredom with cries or fussiness, reports the Centers for Disease Control. You may observe that your newborn can recognize you from a distance and track objects with her eyes. A newborn may indicate that she recognizes her parent’s voice with smiles, vocalization or body movement, much to the parent’s delight.

Although not yet a social butterfly, your tiny newborn exhibits achievements within the social-emotional domain of development that underscore her keen interest in people and a desire to interact with them. For example, you may observe your newborn smiling at people for the social purpose of motivating a person to smile back at her. She may attempt to self-soothe when she becomes distressed, as evidenced by sucking on her fingers until a parent can intervene for her.

Expect your newborn to reach some developmental milestones later, and some milestones earlier than expected. That’s okay. A delay in reaching milestones can be influenced by factors such as chronic disease, infection, emotional health and inadequate nutrition, reports the National Institutes of Health website, MedlinePlus. Red flags that signal problems include a poor response to noises or bright lights, failure to lift the head when lying on her stomach, no head control and little weight gain. Follow your instincts, and contact your newborn’s pediatrician if you have concerns about her development.

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