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Transitioning from Newborn to Baby

Transitioning from Newborn to Baby

by Chani Stewart OTR

You and your baby have made it through the first few weeks of life! The perpetual exhaustion of parenting a newborn is ready to be replaced with smiles and new motor milestones. It is just so exciting to watch your baby continue to grow, develop, engage, and learn new skills.
What milestones can you expect to see as your baby (2-5 months) develops?

2 months:

At two months of age, babies begin smiling and eagerly engaging with others in their environment. Although not yet grasping, they also begin to engage with toys by swiping and visually focusing on an object at midline and moving the head and eyes to follow it. Babies also begin to bring their hands to their mouths when positioned on their stomachs and backs.

3 months:

At three months old, babies begin to play! Peek-a-boo is the game of the month, and you may even begin to hear your baby giggle. Engaging with your baby in this way opens up an entire new world of play through childhood. Learning what your child enjoys playing and meeting him/her there to play is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your baby. During independent play time on his back, your baby will also begin reaching for dangling objects. Tummy time continues to be of utmost importance. By participating in tummy time your baby is working on strengthening his/her neck, back, shoulder and arm muscles. S/he is also learning coordination of vision and movement. Visually, your baby is now able to track you or toys in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal directions. When holding your baby upright s/he will begin pushing some weight through the feet.

4 months:

During the fourth month of life, babies demonstrate significant growth in the area of supine play and skill development. Babies develop many supine skills this month, or skills that they perform when positioned on their backs. On his/her back your baby will bring hands together at midline, hold and shake a rattle, play with his/her fingers, bring a toy to his/her mouth while holding it with two hands, and use hands to touch his/her knees. It may be helpful to have various rattles handy for your baby to play with as s/he explores holding and sucking on them. Another big milestone this month is that babies are now able to roll from stomach to back! This is an exciting new trick that is perfected with ongoing practice. You’ll want to be sure that your baby is rolling over both right and left sides equally. Some babies have difficulty with rolling toward one side if they have torticollis, a shortening of one of the neck muscles that alters neck/head positioning. This is something that therapy can easily help when addressed at this young age. When your baby is rolling, continue to make sure that you help him/her roll back to the stomach during tummy time so that s/he can continue to work on all of the important tummy time skills that tummy time facilitates.

5 months:

Your baby is now 5 months old and beginning to demonstrate his/her first skills related to speech! This month, babies begin babbling and repeating sounds. They also vocalize laughter in the most delightful way. Babies continue to develop more strength and movement skills as they begin “swimming” on their stomachs and rolling from back to stomach. They will prop sit with a side base of support and take almost their full weight when you hold them upright in a supported standing position and begin bouncing up and down as well. Your baby is a professional at transferring items between his/her hands and will help during feeding by placing both hands on a bottle. When positioned on his/her back, your baby will reach for his/her feet. This is a fun time to experiment with playing feet-games like, “This little piggy went to market.”

There is nothing like the sheer joy of experiencing the miracle of development with your baby. If you have any questions regarding your baby’s development or reaching milestones, it is recommended to bring up your concerns with the pediatrician and follow up with therapy. Early intervention is key and a little education about positioning and facilitation of movement go a very long way.

About the Author

Chani Stewart OTR

Chani Stewart OTR

Occupational Therapist

Chani Stewart is an occupational therapist who received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Touro College and her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from New York University.
Chani has a special love for pediatrics and a special interest in sensory integration. She has worked with children of all ages who have difficulty with processing and integrating sensory input. Chani has varied pediatric experience working in outpatient clinics, inpatient hospital settings, public school systems and providing education workshops for doctors, teachers, parents, and other therapists.  Chani has worked extensively with children who have rare medical conditions, genetic disorders, neurological injuries, orthopedic conditions, and cancers.

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