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Post Childbirth: Caring For And Interacting With Your Baby

Mother and baby

There is no one right way to interact with your baby. Your baby has his own rhythms and personality and will to some extent develop in his own way. Much of the first 6 months is reasonably basic in terms of encouraging good cognitive development but we’ve put together a few basic suggestions which may help you on your way.

Months One & Two
You may think your little one isn’t aware of much during his first few weeks but in fact he’s learning a lot, and rapidly, about the new world around him. New babies are usually particularly fascinated with faces, so hold him close when you talk and sing to him. Don’t worry if his eyes cross when he looks at you though – that’s pretty normal. His eyesight is still developing (in fact he won’t have what we think of as 20/20 vision for a good few years yet) and he can only focus on images that are about 8 to 12 inches from his face.

Some experts think that newborns tend to prefer black and white objects, rather than the pastel coloured soft trinkets adults favour. In line with that, some mums choose to buy black, white and red mobiles with geometric designs, circles or faces. Place these coloured toys about six inches from your baby’s face to help stimulate her development. Don’t be surprised if she stares at them for moments at a time, but don’t push it either. If she begins to look away or to get upset, that’s her way of saying she’s had enough stimulation for the time being.

While it’s important for you to place your baby on her back to sleep to cut the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), he should have some time on his tummy every day as it helps strengthen his neck, chest, head and arm muscles. Playing on the floor with your baby is good for the bonding between the two of you and it helps him exercise as well.

You may well be lucky enough to get a smile out of him at around six weeks!

Months Three & Four
By the time your little one is three or four months old, she’ll most likely be smiling and giggling a lot. Interact with her as much as you can throughout the day as she’ll love it just as much if not more than you – and it will really help her development. Don’t forget to talk to her a lot too – it will stand her in good stead for when the time comes for her to do her own talking!

Your baby’s eyesight is developing and she will enjoy looking at a broad spectrum of bright colours. By now you should be reading to her from brightly coloured books. Her hand to eye coordination is developing rapidly and you can stimulate this by showing her age-appropriate brightly-coloured educational toys. You might want to try holding them just out of her grasp and let her try to reach for them. She’ll begin by batting at them, which is one step towards being able to grasp them herself.

She still needs plenty of time on her tummy. You may even see her flip from her front to her back – some babies are able to do this from as young as four months. Obviously you should always still place her on her back to sleep though.

Months Five & Six

Baby being fed

While your little one may not be actually crawling yet per se, you’ll notice he’s becoming more and more mobile and he may now be able to move or slide across the floor. Some babies never actually crawl, but instead scoot backwards or forward using their hands to pull or push themselves.

As exciting as baby’s increased movement is, you’ll probably have to keep more of an eye on him than ever! Sometimes a baby can wriggle off a changing table or sofa fairly quickly, so be mindful.

Your baby may now be able to sit up if assisted. You might want to put a U-shaped cushion around him or several pillows to help protect his back and sides. You could also put a few colourful toys within his grasp so he can play sitting upright.

Sometime around now your medical practitioner will probably be advising you to start introducing solids into your baby’s diet. It’s usually a good idea to wait a few days in between introducing a new food to try to make sure he’s not allergic.

Interact with your baby as much as you can to help build his verbal and cognitive skills for the future. Play games with him, sing to him, read to him and just talk to him every day.

And finally, as stressful as it can be right now and as bombarded as you probably feel with information and suggestions, try to go easy on yourself and have fun with your baby. After all this hard work, no one deserves it more!