The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Something has got to give. I’ve been up with Jack approximately 27,000 times in the past few nights. I’ve seen every single hour flashing on the clock for too many nights straight. It’s been like having a newborn all over again: Jack wakes up every hour or so… I nurse him…he falls back asleep…we do it all over again…and again…for the rest of the night. He finally settles down a bit around 6 or 7 a.m., just in time for Charlie to wake up.
Though you may expect your baby to start talking at about a year, communication starts much earlier, with the first social smile at around 6 weeks. Then comes cooing, that soft sound that’s music to new parents’ ears, usually between 2 and 4 months of age. Next is babbling. “This starts between 4 and 8 months with the easier consonant sounds combined with vowels, such as ‘buh-buh-buh’ or ‘dee-dee-dee,’ ” says Julie Masterson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Missouri State University in Springfield.
I think everybody should take probiotics. These microbial supplements boost the “good” bacteria in our intestinal tracts, improving our gastrointestinal health and enhancing our overall immunity. Current thinking is that even babies can benefit from them; ask your
doctor what she recommends.
Because the influenza virus can be dangerous, the American Academy of Pediatrics and virtually all other official medical groups recommend the flu shot every fall or winter for children 6 months of age and older. I almost never recommend getting the shot; I just don’t think it’s that effective. (Each year, the vaccine is formulated for the particular strains of influenza virus health experts think will strike that season, and it often misses the mark.) Instead, I believe the more important approach is to keep people from getting sick
in the first place by staying healthy.
Feel silly talking to your newborn? You shouldn’t. “Exposure to intonational patterns, as well as the repetition of common words, helps infants learn to communicate,” says Mellisa Essenburg, M.S., C.C.C.-S.L.P., a speech pathologist in San Diego. Chatting with your baby won’t help her talk sooner, but it will support her ability to say words when she’s developmentally ready (around 1 year). It’s also a great way to bond with your baby from Day One. Convinced?
Here are some fun ways to help your child develop the gift of gab:
As exciting as new milestones can be, they also can present new challenges. “Around the age of 5 or 6 months, when your baby has mastered rolling over, she’ll want to explore and see what’s going on, not stay still,” says Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and co-author of 2007’s Baby 411. “This can make diapering a chore.” Try the following mom-tested strategies to keep a busy baby still—and you clean—while cleaning a messy bum.
1. Keep a favorite toy nearby.
For many men, breasts represent their young male desires and turn-ons. For women, too, breasts epitomize our sexuality and sensuality. However, as we approach motherhood, many of us begin to feel differently about our breasts. They now serve an evolving, biological purpose. So it’s no surprise that both men and women can have an ambivalent response to breastfeeding.
Most babies learn to walk at around 12 months of age, but depending on your child’s development and personality, those first unassisted steps can happen anywhere from 9 months to 15 months.
Laid-back tots may be on the latter end of the spectrum, while “search and destroy” types might be chomping at the bit much earlier; bigger babies may also lag a bit compared to leaner types.
Don’t wait. A good occupational therapy evaluation will give you a lot of information and can be fun for your son. As often as not, this type of visit is not only 100 percent reassuring, but you’ll also get tips for encouraging and recognizing normal growth and development. If there is a problem with your son’s motor skills, early diagnosis and therapy can make a huge difference.
At first, your newborn will likely fall asleep whenever and wherever he wants. “His governing factors are sleep and hunger, and they override everything else,” says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night (2005). You won’t get him on a nap schedule yet, but you should make sure he wakes for feedings every few hours during the day. When he’s 3 months old, you can start to get serious about snoozing.
Many parents view crawling as such a significant milestone that they experience great excitement when it happens—and great worry if it seems to be delayed.
But a small percentage of children never crawl at all and move right on to walking, and this is perfectly normal, according to Marilyn Bull, M.D., F.A.A.P., a professor of pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
Research shows that skipping crawling has no effect on a child’s development; but if your baby hasn’t begun moving by 11 months and you’re concerned, talk to your pediatrician.
* Cover her up. Dress your baby in pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a hat with a tight weave—the clothes should let in little light. If you’re outdoors a lot, you may want to invest in sun-protective apparel (see “Duds That Deliver,” above right).
* Watch the time. Ultraviolet light is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so enjoy your early morning hikes or dinner (not lunch) al fresco. And always shade your baby under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy—this will help protect against overheating as well.