The First Year with Your Baby
You’re a parenting pro now. You’ve mastered nightly feedings, figured out an amazing baby bottle disinfecting system and even completed two loads of laundry this week. Your baby is safe, comfortable and occasionally sleeping four hours at a time. The biggest hurdles feel like they have been surmounted and conquered.
But don’t get too comfortable.
Kids change year over year, but babies change day over day, hour over hour, minute over minute. What will she be surprising you with in the coming months? Here’s a basic guide to help you know what to look for and when. And remember, because every baby is different, yours may not conform to a single one.
Welcome to parenthood!
When babies are first born, they haven’t quite mastered what to do with their little faces, so smiles likely won’t appear often. Anywhere from the 6- to 12-week mark, look for the first signs of an intentional smile to appear. It may be something as simple as a little gas in the tummy that causes those perfect little lips to curl up. Or maybe a flash of lights from a toy brings out a grin. Just be prepared for it to completely melt your heart.
Baby smiles are fantastic, and once they’re here, laughter is just around the corner. At around 4 months, don’t be surprised if you make a funny face and Baby erupts with giggles. Once you hear it, you’ll be hooked. Thanks to the miracle of cell phone cameras, you easily can catch your baby’s first laughs on video to enjoy later when she’s not so happy about taking a bath.
Rolling is one of the most exciting developments to witness, because it’s a very visible sign your child is growing and learning. Rolling is also the last stop before true mobility—so enjoy it while you can! If you’re encouraging tummy time once or twice a day for two minutes each time, you can expect tummy-to-back rolling around the 4- to 5-month mark. Back-to-tummy rolling will follow in subsequent months, but you can anticipate rolling both ways by the eighth month. If your child is working on her own schedule, don’t push the panic button just yet. Speak with your pediatrician to make sure everything is developing properly and then relax. The time will come sooner than you can imagine.
Social media is wonderful for sharing pictures, stories and videos. It’s also a constant reminder that your baby isn’t crawling yet. As a new mom, nothing made me feel more left behind than when every other child my son’s age seemed to be crawling at 7 months. I felt like something surely was wrong. The truth was, my son was a big kid and had significant weight to move around. It wasn’t until the 10th month that he finally got around to crawling—and I realized I’d worried for nothing. As a parent, look for crawling any time from months 7 to 12. Even then, your baby may skip crawling and head straight to walking!
Yet another debate in the mom community is when teeth should come in. Like everything else mentioned, teething varies case by case. Some babies sprout their biters at 3 months, while some don’t see any pop through until month 10 or even 14. Of course, as the chompers start to break through, your baby might experience some discomfort, diarrhea or even a fever. An icy cold teething ring can help soothe the pain, while some moms choose to administer a small amount of Tylenol to ease their little one through the transition. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to come up with the best strategy.
Picking Up Food
Once the teeth are in and Baby has had enough of pureed peas, he will be ready to start picking up and chewing up food on his own. Around 9-12 months, start letting your baby pick up tiny pieces of food and feed himself. The word to remember here is “patience.” Babies take time to learn a new skill, and this type of hand-to-mouth coordination won’t happen after one or two tries. Food will drop and spill, but trial and error is part of the process. Remember, at this time your baby will assume everything is edible. Baby-proofing the house and keeping an eye out for choking hazards are essential.
Just like everything else, walking will happen when your baby decides it is time. First will come standing without support for a few moments. Then, walking around while holding onto furniture. Then, one magical day around the 12-month mark, the first steps will happen. They will be wobbly, so stay nearby to help prevent face plants, but ultimately, falling down is part of the process. Soon your little one will be cruising all over the house, leaving you to wonder, “What happened to my little baby?”
Babies experience so many changes in their first 12 months of life. Don’t feel bad if you can’t remember the exact day your son sat up for the first time or your daughter slept through the night without waking. The best way to recall these amazing moments is to truly experience them. Take a step back and breathe it in. These special moments may pass quickly, but they will live in your mind forever.
Three Ways to Document Baby’s First Year
- Embrace technology. Create an email address for your new baby. Give the address to friends and family and encourage them to email pictures and stories. When your child is old enough, he will have a treasure trove of emails from loved ones (some of whom may have passed on) to enjoy.
- Celebrate the milestones. Every time your baby hits a big milestone, put a small amount of cash in an envelope. When your child starts to learn about money, years down the road, show her the envelope and take her to the bank to open a savings account.
- DIY: Take a photo of your child every day (or as close to every day as possible) for one year. When you get to a day that a milestone hits, make a note of it. Even if you never do anything special with the photos, you always can go back and see what your baby looked like on the day something special happened.
Kim Antisdel is a freelance writer and interior design sales rep for KC and surrounding areas. She lives in Liberty with her husband, two stepdaughters and toddler son.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.