Infant Development

Many of the ways you can help baby's early growth and development are actually part of your everyday routine, but they are crucial to a newborn's early weeks.

Take the time to learn your baby's rhythms and understand her newborn senses.

If you are concerned about her progress, contact your pediatrician or the Child Development Clinic at St. Luke's Hospital.

  • Before heading home from the hospital, your baby's hearing will be tested by a nurse or technician using auditory brainstem response - a quick, non-invasive method. If a slight hearing loss is detected, it may be related to middle-ear fluid, which can be treated by your doctor. It is highly unlikely that your child has severe hearing loss at birth. Statistics suggest the incidence is about 1 out of 1,000.
  • Don't let a baby cry. Crying is baby's early way of communicating - and responding to it helps baby feel safe and secure. You can't spoil a newborn because his brain is not developed enough to be able to manipulate his parents through crying.
  • The current recommendation for sleeping by the American Academy of Pediatrics is to put baby down on her back to avoid the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. That means baby will spend lots of time on her back. Make sure she spends part of her day on her tummy by occasionally placing her on her belly on a clean blanket on the floor next to you. This will help baby lift her head, bring shoulders and arms forward and legs in crawling position.
  • Limit the number of visitors for baby during her first few days at home since new smells, voices and noises can be overwhelming for her.
  • The faces and voices of mother and father are the most powerful stimuli for baby. But initially it may be difficult for him to focus for long on your face or objects.
  • A baby tells you whether he is enjoying a particular activity by his patterns of movement, looking and expressions. If your baby is quiet, looks at you and becomes focused on your face, he may be inviting you to smile and talk softly to him.
  • Your baby may be telling you to stop talking and hold him if he looks away and becomes agitated.
  • You may notice that baby does certain things to calm himself, like sucking his fingers, making sucking movements with nothing in his mouth or bracing an arm or leg against his crib. Recognizing such self-regulating activities decreases the guesswork in responding to his needs.
  • As your baby grows and stays alert for longer periods of time, you can play quiet face-to-face games that development experts call reciprocal interactions. For example, when baby babbles, you speak back at her.
  • Avoid or limit use of a walker or jumper since each requires baby to be placed in an upright position before she is ready.
  • Help baby develop head control, coordinated eye movements and reaching skills by placing your face or colorful objects in front of her. Rotate the objects to keep her interest and include ones that make a noise when moved to teach baby the idea of cause and effect.

Links & Resources


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Children under 12, other than siblings of the infant, are not allowed to visit.

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