The following information will help you learn what behaviors you may see in your baby. Depending on how sick your baby is, the baby may not show the expected age-appropriate behavior until he/she is feeling better. We also give suggestions for dealing with your other children at home. We hope that you will find this helpful as we start our journey together with you and your baby.
Before Your Baby Is Born
- Your baby is gaining weight.
- The body, arms and legs are filling out.
- Breathing, sucking and swallowing movements can be seen.
- Eyes open and close.
- Bones are fully developed.
- Lungs are developing.
Babies born at this age may require some specialized care in the NICU.
- Your baby appears well formed.
- Skin is smooth and soft.
- Your will see thinning soft, fine hair that may cover the face and/or body. This is called lanugo.
Tone and Posture
- Muscle tone is improving. Arms and legs are a little bent at rest.
- Your baby begins to hold arms and legs close to the chest and abdomen.
- Neck muscles are weak. Head control is poor.
- Movements are becoming smooth and more controlled.
- Your baby may be seen bringing his/her hand to mouth, sucking fingers, swinging arms and legs, or wiggling body.
- May be seen lying still with eyes open.
- Blinks and closes eyes to light. Will keep eyes closed until light is removed.
- Able to focus on objects 8-12 inches away.
- Your baby will start to focus on an object and follow it. Has poor control of eye movement.
- Eye movements may be jerky.
- Eyes may move separately or cross. This stops as your baby gets older.
- Makes and maintains eye contact for very short periods of time.
- Likes different patterns and colors.
- Likes simple patterns and faces.
- May startle with loud noises.
- May be able to turn head toward sound.
- Knows mother's voice.
- May block out sounds that are frequently heard.
- The patterns of suck, swallow and breathing needed for bottle or breastfeeding are stronger and becoming more coordinated.
- Your baby may tire quickly when feeding and not be able to finish the feeding.
- Many babies will require feeds by a feeding tube that goes through the nose and down to the stomach.
- The gag reflex, which keeps the baby from choking, is now present and working.
- The rooting reflex is becoming strong. This is seen when your baby turns their head toward anything that touches his or her cheek.
- A gentle stroke may cause your baby to awaken.
- Your baby may stay awake for several minutes.
- Your baby may pull away and cry from things that hurt.
- Your baby may bring hand to mouth or clasp hands or feet together.
- Your baby spends a lot of time asleep, but is able to wake on own and stay alert for brief periods of time.
- Alert periods of time get longer as your baby gets older.
- Your baby may make eye contact and focus on faces or colorful toys.
- Social behaviors are beginning. Eyes may open with touch.
- Your baby may have periods of fussiness.
- Your baby may cry when uncomfortable.
- When your baby is tired or upset, he/she may have heart rate or breathing pattern changes.
Things to Do For Your Baby
- Use your baby's signals (Approach and Time-Out signals) to guide touching and holding.
- Position or hold your baby with arms and legs tucked close to chest and abdomen.
- Hold your baby wrapped in a blanket or skin-to-skin (Kangaroo care).
- Support your baby's head when holding.
- Position your baby's hands up close to his/her mouth or face whenever possible.
- Learn how to nest your baby in his/her bed. This involves placing blankets or rolls around your baby to create boundaries. This helps your baby feel safe and secure.
- Shield your baby's eyes from bright light.
- Encourage eye contact for short periods of time.
- Hold your baby 8-12 inches away in a face-to-face position when stable.
- Know that babies prefer to look at faces.
- You may provide pictures or toys for your baby to look at as well.
- If your baby becomes tired or irritable, stop contact and give him/her a rest period.
- Talk or read stories in a low, quiet voice.
- Record your voice talking or reading to be played to him/her when you're not with your baby.
- Offer a pacifier.
- Use only one form of interaction at a time with your baby, like speaking, rocking or touching.
Babies born at this age are capable of brief periods of social contact. These behaviors may mean your baby is ready to interact with you.
- Awake and quiet.
- Focused attention (looking).
- Bright and shiny eyes.
- Hand near mouth.
- Face, arms and legs relaxed.
- Sucking movements.
- Fingers curled.
- Turning toward sound.
These behaviors may mean your baby is stressed and needs to rest.
- Change in breathing pattern, heart rate or color.
- A worried face.
- Arching posture.
- Limp posture.
- Looking away.
- Frantic movements.
- Widening of fingers (splaying).