Growing babies

Watching them grow

There is nothing in the world more fascinating than watching a child grow and develop. At first you think of it as just a matter of growing bigger. Then, as the infant begins to do things, you may think of it as "learning tricks". But its more complicated and full of meaning than that. The development of each child retraces the whole history of the human race, physically and spiritually, step by step. 

Babies start off in the womb as a single tiny cell, just the way the first living thing appeared in the ocean. Weeks later, as they lie in the amniotic fluid in the womb, they have gills like fish. Toward the end of the first year of life, when they learn to clamber to their feet, they're celebrating that period millions of years ago when our ancestors got up off all fours. It's just at that time that babies are learning to use their fingers with skill and delicacy. Our ancestors stood up because they had found more useful things to do with their hands than walking on them.

Children in the years after 6 give up part of their dependence on parents

They make it their business to find out how to fit into the world outside their family. They take seriously the rules of the game. They are probably reliving that stage of prehuman history when our wild ancestors found it was better not to roam the forest in independent family groups, but to form larger communities. Then they had to learn self-control, how to cooperate with each other according to rules and laws, instead  of depending on the eldest of the family to boss them around.

As you watch your own baby grow, love and enjoy her for what she is - that's how she'll grow up best.

Your appreciation of your child's development will be increased by reading such books as "Childhood and Adolescence" by L. Joseph Stone and Joseph Church and "The Magic Years" by Selma H. Fraiberg. They tell not just what a child will probably do at different age periods, but  something about what it means. Understanding  what children are up to is the first step in learning to get along with them.

Babies can see, hear, and smell from early on

Parents ask, "When does he begin to see?". We now know that babies can begin to see much earlier than we used to think. They can tell the difference between faces and other objects in the first few days of life. In fact, careful experiments have shown that most babies will actually imitate different facial expressions within the first few days of life. In the early months, they can't coordinate their two  eyes very efficiently and often are cross-eyed momentarily. We also know that newborn babies hear and smell much better than we used to think. For example, a baby may startle all over when he hears a loud voice. And by one week of age, he can tell his own mother's nursing pad by its smell.

He smiles early, because he's a social being

Somewhere between 1 and 2 months of age, your baby smiles at you one day when you are talking and smiling to him.  It's an exciting moment for you. But think what it means about this development. He knows little at this age; he can't use his hands or even raise his head very well. And yet he already knows that he's a sociable being, that it's nice to have loving people around, that he feels like responding to them. And if he's handled with plenty of affection and sensible firmness, he'll go on being friendly and reasonable just because it is his nature.

Text source: Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care -Beanjamin Spock and Michael Rothenberg