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.
Although obesity rates among U.S. children have doubled in the past 20 years, most parents don’t think twice about a little baby fat. But new research says they should. A Harvard University study found that babies who weighed the most at 6 months old were 40 percent more likely to be overweight or obese at age 3 than those who weighed the least. Researchers believe that multiple factors, including the parents’ weight, genetics and a lack of activity, play a role in determining a child’s weight.
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:
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.
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.
Looking forward to the time when your baby can sit up and take in the sights like a big person? Here’s what to expect:
4 Months: Most babies can be placed in a supported sitting position for a short time, says Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., professor emerita in the Child and Family Studies program at Syracuse University. “As long as she has firm head control, your baby is ready to sit in a safe place, propped up by pillows,” she says.
There is no doubt that finding time for sex can be tricky with a baby (of any age) at home. But this is when it becomes even more important to use your time wisely. When you know your baby is asleep, make your move. If you can arrange for someone to care for your baby for a few hours, go out and have a romantic date—or you can skip the dinner or movie and head to a hotel instead. If your baby has a regular sleep routine, plan around that. Set the alarm a little early and have sex in the morning, or in the shower, even on the bathroom floor.