Every newborn baby has varying temperaments and developmental patterns. The newborn stage only lasts three months, and as she grows, these personality traits will become more pronounced. While normal developmental patterns vary from one baby to the next, there are some developmental growth stages that healthy newborns will all go through.
Babies are born with a number of reflexes, including the startle reflex, which causes him to startle, arching his back and extending his arms and legs when he hears a loud noise. Also, the Babinski reflex causes the babies big toe to bend backward when his sole is stroked, the step reflex in which he appears to take steps when his feet touch a solid surface, and the tongue thrust reflex, in which he pushes his tongue out when something is placed on it.
Within a few days of being born, a newborn is able to lift his head briefly when positioned on his tummy and move his arms and legs on both sides. Babies are born nearsighted, so their eyesight is fuzzy. Around one week they can see things clearly when placed about eight to 10 inches from their face. Even at this stage, babies recognize faces and gestures and can sometimes imitate them.
By this time, your newborn might lift his head briefly when lying on her stomach. Keep in mind that babies should only sleep on their backs, but supervised tummy time is important for developing neck muscles. Additionally, babies might begin to soothe themselves through the use of a pacifier or their thumb or fingers when you’re not around.
By the end of her first month, your newborn will begin to look or stare at your face, as well as focus on objects 8 to 15 inches away. She will probably be able to hold her head up for a few moments when placed on her tummy and might even be able to coo, smile and bring her hands together.
By the end of two months, your newborn should be able to smile in response to your smile, respond to a bell in some way, vocalize in other ways besides crying, such as cooing, and lift her head 45 degrees from the ground for a few moments when on her tummy. She might even be able to hold her head steady when sitting upright, raise her chest when positioned on her stomach, roll over, squeal or laugh out loud.
By the time a baby reaches 3 months of age, he will be able to lift his head at least 45 degrees and will probably be able to laugh out loud or squeal. He should also be able to bring both hands together and follow an object that is held 6 inches from his face when moved side to side. He might additionally be able to roll over, grasp a rattle, bear some weight on his legs, reach for objects and make silly sounds, such as razzing noises.
- Mayo Clinic: Infant Development: Birth to 3 months
- “What to Expect the First Year”; Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway; 2003
- Baby Center: Your Newborn’s Development
- “Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide”, Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley and Anne Keppler; 2001