Your newborn -- baby's development, behavior and milestones

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by Julie Snyder

sleeping newbornCongratulations! Your newborn's home and your newest family member is making their presence known!

You notice just how soft, cuddly and helpless your wee one is as you cradle him or her in your arms.

How does she communicate her needs? When is he ready to play? What helps her learn and develop? Don't miss a juicy detail!

Social and emotional development

That tiny, newborn is primed to interact with other people. She already has distinctive cries for hunger, anger and pain and is aware of emotions in others. She prefers people's faces to all other visual stimulation. Are you frustrated that she keeps her eyes closed when you'd like to play and make eye contact? Raising her from lying to sitting will bring her to an alert, bright-eyed state.

Language development

He cries at loud noise and listens to speech. He's able to make throaty, grunting sounds as well as demanding cries. He may turn toward familiar sounds and voices. Your baby's already learned much about his native language. This facility for imitating the underlying makeup of adult speech gets incorporated into babbling in just a few months!

Cognitive development

He's able to imitate facial gestures, trying to form his mouth into the same shape as yours or stick out his tongue when you stick out yours. Most behavior, such as grasping is reflexive. He remembers and prefers familiar songs and books he has heard in the womb. He's already begun to anticipate that his cries will be followed by comforting. He's beginning to learn to trust.

Large motor development

lifting headYour baby's motor skills development is a top-to-bottom process. She masters movements of the head, then the trunk, and finally gains control of her legs and hands. Your little one is able to turn her head side-to-side. She may be able to briefly lift head when on stomach. Most of your newborn's movements seem jerky and random. As she spends time in a quiet, alert state, these jerky movements become less random and more rhythmic.

Fine motor development

Her hands stay clenched most of the time. She's unable to reach for toys or consciously hold onto a rattle, but she has a strong grasp reflex. To demonstrate the grasp reflex, put your finger against the palm of her hand, starting at the pinkie side. She wrap her fingers tightly around yours. While holding your hand, her heartbeat will slow, down suggesting that she calms and feels more secure when firmly grasping her mother.

Note: These milestones may first appear this month. It's normal for them to happen later. Worried your little one isn't developing normally? Check out these developmental red flags.

The big picture

These first few weeks of life are an adjustment period for your little one as he settles into his body. He doesn't need a lot of things like toys and won't make huge strides in motor development. Hold him a lot, love her a lot, talk with him and respond to her cries for help.

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