Baby Calendar Week 3Baby Development
This week you may feel like you're starting to know this new little creature who's taken over your life and home. The cries are getting a bit clearer to you, the schedule (if you can call it that) is a bit more settled and you've probably diapered in the dark or with your eyes closed by now.
While it may be tempting to buy all sorts of cute and colorful toys to stimulate your baby's interests and brain power, it's really unnecessary. Baby finds you the most fascinating toy of all. Research has shown that by this week baby not only knows her parents but prefers them above other faces, and would rather see them than any fancy toy, no matter the bells and whistles. You don't have to do anything special, just the regular interaction of caring for the baby and sharing the day is enough to stimulate baby's brain.
All five senses are powerful to baby, and while you don't have go out of your way to help baby experience them, being aware of how much baby enjoys the sights, sounds, textures, smells and tastes can help you both bond in your shared sensory experiences. So go ahead and breathe in the sweet baby milk breath, nuzzle that fuzzy little head, stare deeply into those big baby eyes and know your baby finds it all pleasurable, too.
Crying, Pacifiers, and Time Outs
Of course, not all moments are so pleasurable. The average newborn can cry up to four hours a day. In mommy math, four hours of crying adds up to an exhausting and overwhelming forever, or so it seems.
What to do if your baby is inconsolable? One bit of advice; try a pacifier. New findings indicate giving baby a pacifier at naps and bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and three weeks is an ideal time to offer the pacifier, as nipple confusion isn't likely at this point. Be careful to choose one that is right for your newborn, and buy a few different kinds, as baby may reject one but latch right onto another type. If the pacifier is not soothing enough at some point, and your baby is on a real crying jag, you may feel beyond your capabilities as a new parent.
It's not unusual for novice and seasoned parents alike to be reduced to tears or extreme frustration by a wailing infant. If you have tried every trick you've learned to ease baby's cries and nothing is working, don't feel bad for putting baby down in the crib and taking a time out. The baby will not suffer long term damage because of crying unless baby is not comforted and cared for regularly. The occasional time out for Mom or Dad will not harm baby. However, a harried or frustrated parent or caregiver may in a moment's time do something tragic. Shaken baby syndrome kills or seriously injures at least 1200 babies in the US each year. If you need a moment to gather your thoughts and calm down, take the moment. If your baby is particularly fussy, certainly talk to the pediatrician to see if there is any physical cause for baby's crying. If you just have a temperamental little one, then enlist some support to make certain you get adequate breaks. However, generally the warnings about "spoiling baby," are misguided. You cannot spoil a baby. The more that we learn about how babies brains develop, we see that when babies are comforted the neurological pathways are built up so that the child in later years will be better able to cope with stress.
Babies are put on their backs to sleep, for safety sake to prevent SIDS, so it's important to baby's physical development to get some tummy time everyday. Put baby on a blanket on his tummy and let him try to lift his head. Right now there will be lots of wobbling at best; that's OK. Motivate baby to hold up the head by getting down on the same eye level, or using a toy that is distracting and attractive to baby's attention. Tummy time strengthens baby's neck and head as well as baby's upper body muscles. In the beginning you might want to place a rolled up towel under the chest to give some extra support. You can start with just a few minutes a day and extend tummy time a bit more each week. Eventually you can put toys within baby's reach and encourage more physical exercise with reaching and grasping while on tummy.
Next week you may be seeing the doctor for baby's next well baby visit, so to prepare start writing down any concerns or questions you may have. This week is a typical time to start seeing colic, if your baby is going to develop this problem. If you are having any breastfeeding issues, perhaps with sore or cracked nipples, you might call a lactation consultant. The hospital where baby was born may have a consultant, so call and check. Otherwise, find a local La Leche League and talk to someone for some practical advice and help. Most nursing moms find the first month the most challenging, and if you get support for any problems right now, you might find things get much easier soon.
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