The Second Month: Parent-Baby Learning Game!

by Don Bower

During the first year of your baby's life, she will change and grow more than at any other time. Her second month of life includes many developments.

Baby's Development

Your baby's wrinkles have begun to smooth out as more fat develops beneath her skin. Her forehead and eyes are large, but her nose and chin are small. Her abdomen is probably well rounded.

Expect Your Baby to:

  • Sleep about six hours at night
  • Begin to lift her head and chest off the mattress
  • Follow objects or people with her eyes
  • Shed tears when crying
  • Cry slightly differently when she wants food or is uncomfortable or excited
  • Pause when nursing. This is the beginning of will power, and pausing may come at regular intervals by the end of this month.
  • Help your child learn to talk now! One way is by talking to her often. Don't get in the habit of using baby talk only, because your baby will learn more quickly (a few months from now) by imitating correct sounds.

    A bell securely tied to her bootie or a wind chime hung in the nursery are good aids to your baby's listening development. A radio, music box or other pleasant sounds will be helpful, too. The beat of classical music is often soothing and seems to stimulate brain development.

    By now your baby may be able to hold her head erect for a very few seconds and should be able to turn her head in the direction of voices. However, she will probably hold her head to one side almost all of the time. This is called the tonic reflex and disappears about three months after birth.

    Your baby is beginning to learn and may be bored when left alone. Bright colors and light reflecting objects give her something to watch. Mobiles will bring your baby hours of enjoyment. They should be hung 12 to 15 inches over the baby's face and to the side that the baby faces most. Mobiles may be purchased or made. Babies also like to look at themselves in mirrors -- just make sure the mirror is safe and made for infants. Crib-side safety mirrors should be securely attached and easy for baby to see. Changing your baby's lying position occasionally will also make her happier. Recent research, however, shows that babies should not sleep on their stomach (face down) because of increased chances of suffocation.

    Your baby may begin to make "oo," "i," and "m" sounds during this month. And you may be in for a big treat . your baby's first smile!

    Parenting Tips

    Parent-Baby Learning Games

    Hold a toy that will make a sound about 12 inches from your baby's eyes. Does she look at it when you shake it? Now move it slowly in an arc from one side of the baby to the other. Can your baby follow it with her eyes?

    Baby's Health

    You need to begin thinking about immunizations for your baby. Leaving her unprotected against disease is a risk you don't [may not] want to take. Children in the U.S. should be vaccinated against 10 diseases, and 80 percent of these should be given within the first two years of life. Your baby's first immunizations are given at two months of age. Ask your doctor or health department about your baby's oral polio, DPT -- diphtheria, pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and tetanus -- Hib and hepatitis B immunizations. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines are typically received at about 1 year of age, with a follow-up later. Check with your local health department for the current immunization schedule.

    A fluoride supplement may also be needed [recommended], depending on where you live. Check with your doctor or dentist.

    Diapering

    Diaper rash is one of baby's first problems. To help prevent it, change diapers before and after feeding, after bowel movements, and whenever baby seems to be uncomfortable because of a wet diaper. Don't disturb her sleep just to change her, however. The buttocks and genitals should be cleaned each time the diaper is changed. If you are using cloth diapers, it's a good idea to run diapers through the rinse cycle of your washer first, and then wash in hot water and detergent. Chlorine bleach may be added to disinfect and deodorize. If you use disposable diapers, dispose of them properly. In public places, sealing the dirty diaper in a plastic bag will help reduce odors. Always discard them in closed trash containers.

    Should diaper rash occur, try one of the following:

    • Boil diapers 10 minutes every time they are washed
    • Add a diaper antiseptic to your final rinse water
    • Use disposable diapers

    Baby's Clothing

    During the first days at home, you probably discovered whether or not the clothing in baby's layette was enough and the type you preferred. Don't be surprised to find yourself running to the store to buy more shirts, sleepers, etc.

    Now you know your baby's size, so it is easier to choose the right size clothing. Avoid clothing with long strings that can catch or wrap around baby's throat. Also, pass up cute outfits with buttons, zippers or snaps that may dig into baby's skin as she sleeps or complicate changing outfits for you.

    Resist dressing your baby too warmly. Her hands and feet are not as warm to the touch as the rest of her body. If you dress her so that her hands are warm, the rest of her body may overheat. Choose the same amount of clothing for baby as you are wearing. If you are comfortable in short sleeves, baby probably will be, too.

    Baby's food

    At the beginning, your baby may want to eat (breast or bottle) every three to four hours [or more often] all day and all night. Babies need to eat frequently because they are growing rapidly and they have small stomachs. Have patience. When their growth slows down, they won't wake up to eat at night.

    If you are breast-feeding, you may wish to introduce a bottle of expressed breast-milk occasionally. This is a good way to involve other caregivers or siblings in feeding time and give Mom a well-deserved break! Never lay a baby in the crib with a propped bottle. She needs to be cuddled when being fed, and milk or sweet liquids left standing in her mouth may cause tooth decay later.

    Baby's Temperament

    Your baby usually cries because she is uncomfortable and needs you. Some babies are born more quiet and easy; others are more fussy and demanding. At this point in her life, you cannot "spoil" your baby, so always go to her when she cries. Babies who don't cry much still need to be cuddled regularly. Your child will learn to trust you and associate you with warmth and security if her needs are met consistently and promptly.

    Safety Tips

    To safeguard your baby, be prepared for the unexpected. Never leave baby alone in an infant seat, on a table or in the tub! Also, don't leave your baby alone with a pet, even one that seems well-behaved.

    Baby's Bath

    Bath time can be one of the most enjoyable times for you and your baby. Bathe your baby at regular times when you will not be interrupted and will not have to hurry. You may want to take your phone off the hook if you don't have an answering machine. The room temperature is best between 75° and 80°, and the water should be about 100° (comfortable to your elbow). Place a small towel on the bottom of the bathtub to soften the tub and minimize slipping. Never leave a baby alone, especially around water! When possible, it's nice to wait until another adult is home to help bathe the baby. It can be such a pleasant time for all three of you.

    Health Problems

    Regular medical check-ups for your baby are very important in discovering possible health problems. Some birth defects, such as cleft palate or club foot, will be noticed when your doctor first examines your newborn at the hospital. Problems related to hearing and vision may not show up until a few months later. Many defects can be completely corrected if they are noticed early. For this reason, your baby's doctor is trained to check baby's development.

    Parents play a key role in making sure problems are noticed and discussed. Be sure to keep appointments for baby's monthly checkups, even if baby is not sick. Also, answer the doctor's questions openly and honestly. If you think your baby may have a problem, talk to your doctor about it. Make a list of your questions as they occur to you, and take the list with you to your next doctor visit.

    If a problem is suspected, your doctor may refer you to a specialist such as a neurologist or orthopedist. Other resources include county health departments, clinics and hospitals. If your community does not provide the services you need, a nearby city or medical center usually can.

    Buy Lines: High Chairs

    Choose a high chair that has a wide base for stability, safety straps that are not attached to the tray and a tray that remains properly latched even with pushing. Do not use a high chair with rough edges or sharp points. As with cribs and other painted baby furniture made before 1978, older high chairs may have lead in the paint and should not be used.

    Reprinted with permission from The University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service.