In the first few months, your little one would have grown at an incredible rate in both height and weight. They continue to grow at this rate, gaining about 2.5cm – 3.5cm every month with a weight gain of 900g. While it is incredibly easy to focus on the size and weight of your baby, it is important to note that the absolute value is not as important as the growth they have achieved, with a steady upswing according to growth charts meaning that he or she is on the right track.
At 6 weeks your baby is likely to have a growth spurt which will make them fussier as they want to eat more than usual. The 6-8 week time frame is also usually accompanied by a set of vaccinations making your baby even more irritable. The fussiness and irritability usually make this a very tough stage for most parents as although your baby is likely sleeping better through the night, and spending more time awake in the day, crying will tend to peak during this period especially in the evenings.
So let’s delve into what changes your baby might be experiencing.
Fine Motor Skill Development
Your baby will likely have discovered their fingers and hands at this point. While able to grasp things independently, they may have trouble letting go. Your little one is likely to be more playful with their hands and will potentially suck on their fists to soothe themselves.
While your baby’s hands are spending more time open, he/she may close her hands about objects placed in the palm of her hand. At this stage it is less of a reflex and more of an exploratory conscious decision to grasp new things.
Continue to work on their digit strength by placing objects which they can grasp against their palm. Differently textured objects will allow them to begin to stimulate their sense of touch starting the process of learning to differentiate between objects.
Gross Motor Skill Development
The jerkiness of previous arm and leg movements will start to look more controlled as your baby’s strength and muscular development increase. Both arms and legs should move equally well. The little ones legs and arms are straightening out with arm strength and leg kicks being much stronger. Your baby is likely to be very wriggly and may even be able to roll themselves over so don’t leave them alone on a raised surface as they may roll off.
Where previously your baby might have moved very little, they will start to move around a lot more as they test out different positions. Strength and coordination will start to show and encouraging additional movement will advance the development of these muscles.
With the additional muscle strength, wobbliness in the neck will reduce and your baby will lift their head and move it from side to side. While most babies won’t be successful in pushing themselves up, they will begin to attempt this with the use of their arms and some might have the ability to push their chest off the ground.
Continue making ‘tummy time’ an important part of their schedule – increase the time spent this way gradually. Tummy time should be restricted to 1-5 minutes. This will continue to work arm and neck muscles. You can place safe toys in front of your baby, moving them to and fro which should encourage additional neck movement.
Speech and Language Development
Very little will have changed from 6 weeks to 2 months regarding speech and language – you baby will continue to coo in response to you and will cry to indicate they want or need something. What will have changed is their sensitivity to sound, so your baby is likely to turn their head towards you when speaking, seeming to listen to you and talk back to you.
While the type of sounds may still be the same or very similar, although their gurgling will have a bit more verbalisation of the vowels ‘a’ and ‘o’, the quantity and variety of noises you baby makes will increase.
You baby may begin to bring their hand to their head, suck on their fingers or turn their head away from you when they have had enough stimulation. Pay attention to what your baby needs and respond through singing, cooing or talking to them when they encourage it and stop when they want you to stop.
Spend a lot of time reading, singing and talking to them – this will develop their language skills as they will get used to sounds and words.
Your baby’s senses will be developing quite fast and they are beginning to put two-and-two together. Their hearing will continue to be sensitive and loud noises will startle him/her. Significant improvement in eyesight will be apparent – where they may have been crossed when they tried to focus previously, their eyes will move together most of the time now.
With your baby’s improved eyesight, they can follow moving objects with their eyes perhaps as far as 180 degrees around. They will also be able to focus on the direction of a particular sound allowing them to focus on you during interaction, showing clear recognition of you and displaying the ability to follow you with their eyes. They will show recognition of familiar people at a distance.
Because of the new development of their eyesight they will like looking at objects with complex patterns and colours. Consider hanging a mobile above their bed or play mat to continue this development.
Make sure you smile a lot as they will also love looking at you. This will also have the byproduct of releasing ‘feel-good” chemicals which will help your baby feel safe and secure. You should consider giving your baby a massage to relax them as they will be experiencing so many stimuli all at once.
Play with your baby using a variety of brightly colours objects with a variety designs, colours and shapes.
Social and Emotional Development
Your baby is developing into a social butterfly – be prepared for a lot of ‘oohs’, ‘aahs’, cooing and gurgling as he/she starts to interact with you.
From 6 weeks your baby will have learned to smile at you. This is a key interaction as your little one is inviting you to play with them every time they smile. The main differentiation in interaction will be smiling and crying but pay attention to their body language as well as they will be conveying cues through their body too.
Your baby is starting to develop their personality which is an exciting experience for new parents. Since your baby will also be sleeping for longer stretches through the night, and for some lucky parents sleeping throughout the night, they will be more alert during the day as well which gives parents significantly more time to spend interacting with their little angels.
Remember it is not a race to each milestone but their are things that you can do to encourage development. Keep in mind though if you see a number of milestones not being reached or the opposite occurring, i.e. lack of sensitivity to sound, raise your concerns with your doctor as they will be able to guide you further on next steps.