Looking For and Building Up Fine Motor Skills In Your Baby

There’s just so much to take in throughout baby’s first years. They will change so much from month to month that you may even feel as though you don’t recognize your little one on certain days. They grow leaps and bounds just within a given week. They accumulate new skills and traits all the time, leaving you marveling at all that they can do.

It seems that almost overnight your little newborn baby who is more of a blob than anything else turns into this charismatic little person that has more personality than you can believe. Babies are truly marvelous in all that they accomplish, and many of these milestones happen right in front of our very eyes. When it comes to fine motor skills, this is something that you want to be tuned into in terms of your baby’s development. You want to be on the lookout for it and you want to help foster and develop it as a parent, as it will provide great benefits later on.

What Can You Look For?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that this is not something that you want to force. You don’t want to push your baby as they won’t reach any milestones until they are ready. If you push too hard you may get the opposite reaction. However, you do want to keep tuned into their fine motor skills as this is something that they will utilize their whole life through. See if baby is reaching for things, grabbing for items, sucking on her hand, or discovering things such as their own body parts. These are all good examples and exhibit a sense of fine motor skills that are rather important for baby’s development. These are important to ensure that they keep on track, and they are actually things that you can facilitate on your own.

You want to watch for these things in the first few months of your baby’s development. By five months as an average, baby should be trying to reach for things or at least be interested in things. It may take some time and encouragement from you as a parent, but the simple act of reaching or grabbing is a great sign that baby is doing what they are supposed to do. Every baby will work on their own timetable as some babies start grabbing or reaching far sooner. Others may skip over this phase and then move onto the next. This all shows possible coordination and shows that baby understands what to do to get what they want. All of these things are important for fine motor skills and the development of your baby overall.

How Can You Facilitate It?

This doesn’t mean that you should be shaking a rattle in front of your newborn relentlessly every day. It does mean though that as your baby grows and shows signs of readiness, that you are on the floor playing and interacting with them. Introduce different toys such as puzzles and different colors of toys. Things that are interesting to them will help them to reach and grab, and eventually pull items towards them. The point is that you as a parent can set up an environment that doesn’t force but encourages your baby to develop these skills and build upon them as they get older.

Understanding the Crawling Milestone for Your Baby

The one thing that you will learn early on as a parent is that no two babies are created equal. You will quickly learn that just because one baby is doing something at a certain point in their development doesn’t mean that every baby will do it the same way. Even amongst siblings, developmental patterns can be totally different. This is an important lesson to learn early on as a parent so that you ignore the urge to compare your little one to others.

If you’re in a playgroup or have friends with a baby about the same age, then you may be tempted to look from their baby to yours and wonder why the milestones are happening as they are. It’s natural but it can be a destructive behavior! Understanding how the milestones work is a good idea, particularly when it comes to one such as crawling.

Is Your Baby Crawling On Time?

You will hear experts say that the typical baby crawls anywhere between six and ten months. This is an average and therefore not something to be taken as anything but a guideline. There are some babies that will crawl far earlier than that, and then some babies that will crawl far later than that. Some babies may not even crawl at all because they prefer scooting and can get to where they want to be using this method. Add to that the fact that some babies will skip over crawling altogether. They may roll or scoot and get what they want until they one day get up and start standing and walking.

So as you start fearing that your baby is behind, know that there is no real set time limit. If you are ever in doubt or concerned, then by all means talk to your pediatrician. Know though that every baby handles this rather large milestone in a totally different way.

They All Do Things Differently

Babies get mobile in the first place to get to items that they want. They see something across the floor that they want and then they go for it. As you can see even experts such as Dr. Greene are reluctant to give true time limits to crawling. If the baby sees something that they want, then they will start off by rolling to get to it. This can quickly evolve into crawling, though it usually does take time and has a process involved with it.

If you see your baby “army crawling”, that is using their forearm to move them along and bringing their bottom half up behind, then they may be getting close. They may use these alternate methods solely as it’s easy for them to get around. So be sure not to put any pressure on your baby or your expectations because they are still doing what they are conditioned to do.

Ignore the myths that say if a baby avoids crawling or is late to crawl that they may not be as coordinated. This is simply not true and if your baby is moving around and doing everything else that they are supposed to do, then they are right on track. It’s easy to get caught up in measuring the milestones, but remember that every baby is different and that crawling is an activity that is quite different for everyone.

Your Baby: The Third Month

In the third month, you will start to see your baby’s personality emerging. Along with this new insight into who this little person is, you will also watch her strength and interaction with the world around her grow by leaps and bounds. As routines become established, the early sense of chaos a new baby brings will subside, and life with baby will become a little smoother.

Growth and Feeding

Rapid growth continues into the third month of life, but you may find that your baby isn’t waking as often at night wanting to eat. As your baby gains weight, she is able to sustain herself for longer periods of time without needing food. Night feedings will continue however, as she isn’t ready to go all night without eating yet.

Sleep Patterns

Your little one should have her days and nights straight by this point, and is starting to understand that night is for sleeping. Daytime sleep will settle into a routine in the third month as well, and you will be able to predict more accurately when your baby will need to take a nap, and when it’s safe to head out of the house. Encourage the sleep routine by sticking to the schedule as much as possible. You might find that disruptions to the routine will result in a very cranky baby.

Physical and Cognitive Development

In the third month your baby will gain muscle strength swiftly. He may be able to support his weight on his feet with your assistance, and will also be able to sit up with support. Neck control becomes much better; although when upright you will probably notice his head wobbling and when tired he may lose control and drop his head down on your chest or shoulder.

Your baby will discover a new favorite plaything sometime this month: his hands! You may see him waving them around before his eyes and putting them in his mouth. He will also use his newfound tools to hold objects and move them about. In the third month your baby will really start to enjoy brightly colored toys, especially if they make noises. Different textures will also fascinate him, and he may hold items and squeeze them, exploring the way they feel. Mirrors are another great toy at this age, as baby will be utterly fascinated by his own reflection.

Because your baby is able to stay more upright, he may show more interest in books at this age. Choose sturdy board or cloth books with contrasting patterns and large, colorful images. As you turn the pages, he may reach for the book or even vocalize in response to certain images. A familiar book will begin to elicit even more response. While the instinct might be to keep the book out of baby’s reach while you read, go ahead and let him touch and explore. You may never reach the end of the book, but he will be learning nonetheless.

Vocalizations will increase this month as baby adds new sounds to his repertoire. He may even try to imitate sounds that you make. At this point you may also be able to differentiate between different types of crying that indicate different needs. Your baby is beginning to understand better how to use his voice to communicate with you.

By the end of the third month, you may feel you don’t even recognize your baby anymore! The tiny newborn has been replaced with an active and interactive infant who is ready and willing to take on the world.

Your Baby: The Second Month

In the second month of your baby’s life, great things will begin to happen. Your baby will begin to interact more with you, move around more, and you will likely even see that first smile.

Growth and Feeding

Throughout the second month, your baby will continue to require around the clock feedings to keep growing. And growth is still going strong this month, as your baby may gain another 1-2 pounds. You will also notice he is getting longer. Although babies gain in length in the first month as well, this will become more evident as the second month passes and he starts to stretch his legs more, allowing you to see him at his full length.

Sleep Patterns

While sleep will likely still be erratic, you can expect some longer stretches of sleep at night in the second month. Developing a bedtime routine and sticking to it will be greatly helpful at this stage, as he starts to learn the difference between day and night. Your baby still needs 15-16 hours of sleep a day, but towards the end of the second month he will start to get more of that sleep during the night hours and be awake more during the day. A simple bedtime routine consisting of a bath, feeding, and a song or story will help him to understand when it’s time to go to sleep.

Physical and Cognitive Development

Your baby is making great strides in the second month! She will be able to hold her head up at a 45 degree angle when placed on her stomach. Regular ‘tummy time” throughout the day will help her to develop the neck strength necessary to do this, as well as for future endeavors such as pulling up and crawling. She will start to wiggle around a lot, kicking her arms and legs. If you hold a toy out to her, she might reach for it or bat at it, and may even hold it and shake it around a bit.

As eyesight improves, your baby is starting to take in the world around her. She will follow an object with her eyes, and will also start to respond to your facial expressions. When something tickles her just the right way, you will be rewarded with a smile. While you may have seen baby smile in her sleep previously, you will now be seeing responsive smiles. Your baby is truly starting to interact with you!

This interaction will also start to extend to baby’s vocalizations. During the second month, you will hear her make some new sounds to get your attention. While crying is still the main way of telling you she needs something, she will now start offering coos and vowel sounds as well. Responding to these sounds will encourage your baby to continue vocalizing and develop these early language skills.

While all this new interaction is very exciting, remember that your baby is still very young and can become over-stimulated easily. Watch for signs that baby is tiring, such as breaking eye contact, becoming fussy or crying, and pulling away. When you see any of these signs, it’s time to switch to a quieter activity.

Now that your baby is stronger and more alert, you will probably want to start taking her out to explore the world. At this age baby will enjoy riding in a stroller or front carrier and being able to take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors. Be sure to dress her for the weather to keep her warm but not overheated.

The second month is filled with exciting milestones and a new type of connection with your baby, and you will start to see the world in a new way as you see it through your baby’s eyes.

Your Baby: The First Month

The first month of your baby’s life is a special time of bonding, cuddling, and adjustment to the major changes that have come into your home along with this new little person. While mom and dad learn to function on a lot less sleep, baby is doing more than it might appear.

Growth and Feeding

Shortly after birth, your newborn will lose up to 10% of her body weight. This is perfectly normal, and soon after she will get started on a newborn’s main task: gaining weight and growing. It’s not unusual for a baby to gain up to two pounds in the first month of life. In order to accomplish this task, your baby will eat frequently, and need to feed around the clock. Her small body requires regular nourishment, and that includes feedings in the middle of the night!

Sleep Patterns

In the first month of life, your newborn has not yet developed circadian rhythms. Simply put, she just doesn’t know day from night. Your baby will sleep and wake at what might seem to you to be strange and in some cases downright unpleasant hours. Some babies are often fast asleep much of the day and wide awake come nightfall. Most newborns sleep a total average of 15-16 hours per day, but this is usually broken up into 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, with wakeful periods in between. As your baby grows, her stretches of sleep will become longer.

Physical and Cognitive Development

Some babies are able to briefly lift their heads from birth, but most will slowly develop the necessary strength. Over the first month of life you will notice your baby’s increase in strength as he starts to lift his head for longer periods, especially when placed on his stomach. Newborns have limited eyesight, and see best from a distance of about 8-10 inches. Hearing is well developed and your baby will respond readily to the sound of voices, especially those that are the most familiar to him. He is already able to tell the difference between voices, and knows the sounds of mom and dad. He will start to respond to the sound of your voice by turning his head towards you and seeking for your face.

Much of your baby’s behavior at this point is instinctive. Hands will generally stay in a clenched fist, but he will grasp at a finger or object placed in his palm. The fetal position remains the most comfortable to a newborn, used to the confinement of the womb. This is why newborns often find swaddling to be comforting. Newborns startle easily, and your baby may jump at sudden noises or even in his sleep. This is called the Moro reflex, and he will grow out of it in time.

Newborns cry reflexively to communicate their needs, and your baby will probably cry fairly frequently in the first month. Soon, he will come to understand that crying elicits a response from mom and dad, and will begin to do it with more awareness. Towards the end of the first month, your baby will begin to understand that you will be there to fill his every need, and he has only to cry to get your attention. This is the beginning of trust and security.

The first month is a time to settle into life with your newborn, and to begin the bonding process. Enjoy this special time of cuddling and getting to know your little miracle, who wants nothing more than to be in your arms.