Physical Development and Parenting
Human infants are among the most helpless creatures alive. When they are born, babies cannot pick up their own heads, turn over, or move on their own. In fact, it takes a surprising amount of time for a baby to learn that those fluttery things in front of his face are his own hands and that those hands can be used to grasp and hold objects. In the beginning, your baby will sleep most of every day. (Nights may be another matter, unfortunately!)
Life with Baby
Can you remember the first time you saw your son's face? No matter how red and wrinkled he appeared, you undoubtedly fell in love at first sight. You may have dreamed of these early days and weeks together. Sometimes, though, the dreams fade a bit in the presence of reality. Your baby may cry endlessly, sleep when you're awake, wake up when you're longing for sleep, and dirty his diaper or burp up his breakfast at the most inopportune moments. You may find yourself sifting through the piles of shower and baby gifts, wondering what a receiving blanket is for and which end of the onesie to put on first.
A good pediatrician is a must in these early months; be sure you feel comfortable asking your doctor questions because you will have lots of them. It can also be helpful to have family and friends who have raised children before and who can be your consultants.
A rule of thumb about physical development is that babies grow from the inside out and from the top down. The first parts to be fully developed are your son's heart and lungs; the last skill he acquires is fine motor control. He will be able to pick up and move his head before coordinating his arms and legs.
No one is born knowing how to be a parent; learn all you can and don't hesitate to ask for help. As a general rule, the first few months of life with your baby boy are not a good time to worry about keeping your house spotless, entertaining your gourmet club, or landscaping your yard. Keep your life as simple as possible. Your baby will need a great deal of your time and attention, and you should make sleep and caring for yourself a priority.
Parenting in the First Months of Life
Infants are not little adults; they are astonishingly resilient and are born wired to grow and learn, but they are not able to reason, remember, or practice self-control the way you can. Never leave your baby unattended, unless he is in his crib, infant seat, or other secure place — and then only for a few moments. Many parents have had the unsettling experience of leaving a baby on a sofa or bed for “just a minute” and returning to discover that their baby chose just that moment to turn over for the first time — right onto the floor.
Many new moms experience the common mood swings known as the baby blues. But approximately one in ten mothers develops postpartum depression, which can interfere with her ability to bond with her baby. If you feel angry, exhausted, irritable or ashamed, don't want to be around friends or family, or feel that you may harm your baby, ask for help right away.
Even the happiest baby will do a fair amount of crying. Not surprisingly — crying is a baby's only form of communication. He will cry when he is tired, lonely, hungry, thirsty, too hot, or too cold. Sometimes he will cry just to soothe himself when he's overwhelmed with stimulation. (Remember, boys tend to cry more frequently and can be harder to soothe than girls.) With time and practice, you will learn to decipher your son's cries and will be able to give him just what he needs.
It may seem in these first few months that everything in your life revolves around your baby, and in fact, it's probably true. By the time an infant is three months old or so, however, he usually will have settled and will have a more predictable routine. There are many resources available to help you decide about feeding, sleep habits, and physical care. No matter how overwhelmed you may occasionally feel, don't forget to take time to enjoy your son. These early months will be gone before you know it.