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Categories
Teething

Building good habits for Healthy Teeth

Care and cleaning of your child’s teeth is a collaboration between you and your pediatric dentist, but there really is a lot you can do on your own to prevent potential oral health problems before they occur.

Teething

There is a wide variation in the age that babies cut their first teeth, but the first teeth usually appear between five and seven months. Teething often causes problems like sore and painful gums, which may make babies cranky and irritable, reduce their appetite, or even cause diaper rash. Since so many teeth are cut during the first two years, there may be many trying times.

A baby often has an elevated temperature during teething. A fever of lOO°F (38°C) or higher, however, requires a call to the pediatrician. If feverish, give your baby plenty of liquids. It is important to get the fever down as quickly as possible, but do not give him any medicine without your pediatrician’s advice. If your baby has diarrhea, cut out fruits and fruit juice until symptoms have disappeared, but do not eliminate or decrease breast milk or formula. Plain, pureed boiled rice can also be helpful.

For babies, rubbing the gums with a clean finger may ease some of the discomfort, and clean and frozen washcloths or terrycloth may be nice for them to chew on. Your baby may try to put hard objects in her mouth, so be careful that the object is not something she might choke on. Extra love, patience, and cuddling will be needed at this time.

For toddlers, frozen berries, fruits, and some vegetables (cut into small pieces to prevent choking) and other cooked and frozen foods like mini waffles are popular during periods of teething, as they soothe swollen gums. If you feel your child might need medication for relief, ask your pediatrician.

Cavity prevention

A balanced diet is not only important to infants’ and toddlers’ general health, but also for their dental health. Baby and toddler tooth decay had until recently been blamed primarily on baby bottle tooth decay syndrome, cavities developed from allowing a child to drink from bottles of juice or milk while falling asleep, which can cause the liquid to pool in the mouth. A broader viewpoint now includes the following other causes of tooth decay and methods of prevention:

  • Start early with good nutrition, eating habits, and oral hygiene.
  • Don’t dip pacifiers in sugar, honey, or juice. (Never give honey to a baby less than a year old under any circumstances.)
  • Limit fruit juices to’/2 cup (120 ml) daily.
  • Do not offer juice or other sweet liquids in a bottle-only in a cup. If you must give your baby something to suck on at bedtime for comfort, use only water or a pacifier. 
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, wet washcloth to remove harmful bacteria.
  • When your baby has a few teeth, either brush them with a soft-bristle brush or wipe them off after meals with a wet piece of gauze.
  • Pay an early visit to a pediatric dentist.

Between six and twelve months of age, your baby will generally cut about eight teeth. These primary teeth are important for chewing food, speech, and good appearance. Baby teeth also help reserve space in the jaws for permanent teeth-all significant reasons for keeping them healthy. As soon as the teeth break through, clean them daily with a damp cloth, gauze pad, or soft baby brush. Use only fresh water, no toothpaste. Daily cleaning is essential, as this is the time when solids and juices are added to the diet.

Oral bacteria feed on sugar and starches that are left on the teeth for more than 20 minutes, producing acids that destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. Foods that tend to cling to baby teeth include sugary foods and high-starch snacks, such as dried fruit crackers, breadsticks, and teething biscuits. Eating Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Swiss cheese immediately after sugary and high-starch foods may counteract some of the negative effects but not as thoroughly as cleaning the teeth.

If your water supply is not fluoridated and the natural fluoride content of your water is low, your pediatrician may prescribe a fluoride supplement around six months. By your baby’s first birthday, visit a pediatric dentist and ask for a demonstration and information on proper brushing techniques.

Toddlers are not developmentally ready to brush their teeth by themselves yet, but between eighteen months and two years, start teaching your toddler to spit out toothpaste. So long as it is not swallowed, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush and guiding her hand, help her brush her teeth.

Training toothpaste without fluoride, which is safe to swallow, is also available for toddlers. 

Fluoride

Fluoride, a trace mineral present in varying concentrations in soil and water, plays an important role in the maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It contributes to the growth of new enamel and also strengthens it, making the teeth more resistant to decay.

According to the American Dental Association, research shows that fluoride reduces children’s cavities by up to 50 percent. As a direct result of water fluoridation and over-the-counter fluoride products, half of all children entering first grade today have never had a single cavity, compared with 36 percent in 1980 and 28 percent in the early 1970s. Note that research in areas where the drinking water is naturally rich in fluoride has confirmed the safety of fluoride in the water supply. Virtually all major health organizations endorse and support the use of fluoride as an important tool in promoting dental health.

Last, try not to give your child sugar-rich foods that stick to the teeth, such as mints, lollipops, or hard candy. Avoid soft, sticky sweets such as toffee, fruit leather, and dried fruits (unless soaked and cooked). Instead of sweet snacks, offer cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or fresh fruit. Variety, moderation, and attention to healthful between-meal snacks will benefit oral and general health.

Categories
Development

When do babies start to smile?

Table of Contents

One of the magical moments many parents can’t wait to have is to see their bundle of joy smile.

Seeing your baby smile for the first time is a moment you may want to capture in a photograph. That toothless grin can melt a bad day away and make you the happiest person on Earth.

Their first smile is the first indication that they are developing and have started to recognize human behavior. Seeing your baby smile will motivate you as a parent to be the best you can be for your growing baby.

If you’re curious as to when you might see your little one flash a gummy grin, read further to find out when this magical moment can happen. There are also tips on how you can encourage your little bundle of joy to smile.

What is Reflex Smile?

Did you know babies start smiling even when they are in their mother’s womb? Many doctors say that infants start smiling between 25 to 27 weeks of gestational age.

However, this smile is not what we would call a real smile or intentional however it is actually a reflex action. A reflex smile can start happening while the baby is still growing in the womb and can continue  until the baby is born and reaches the age of 2 months.

How to tell the difference between a reflex smile and real smile?

The most prominent difference between real and reflex smiles are that a real smile reaches the eyes and brightens your baby’s whole face. You can see the cheerfulness in the eyes and notice just how authentic the smile actually is.

On the other hand, a reflex smile happens only for a few seconds and at random moments like when a baby is sleeping, peeing, passing gas, etc. A baby will show its real smile when they hear or see something stimulating, like the face of their parents, the voice of older siblings, his favorite toy, and more.

When do babies first smile?

As your baby grows and starts to learn new things in this world , you will see his full real smile replacing the unresponsive reflex smile. This change typically happens between 6 and 12 weeks or one and a half to two months.

However, this can vary from child to child as every child is unique and may take different time to learn these new things. Don’t worry if you do not see your little one showing its toothless smile even after 2 months. Your little one may need a little longer than others. Try to give the baby some time and encourage it to smile often with toys and other stimulations.

Initially, your baby may choose to only show this magical smile only to the people closest to them like mommy or daddy. You may notice the baby smiling more when you are singing its favorite lullaby, laughing, smiling or playing games like peek-a-boo and others. As your baby practices it’s smile more and more, they will start showing this heartwarming toothless grin even to strangers.

With time, your baby will start smiling at funny noises. At around the age of 5 months, your baby will not only have the ability to smile but also to laugh out loud at whatever they think is funny in the moment.  

The connection between Baby’s Smile and its development

The smile on a baby’s face does not only exhibit a happy mood but also gives parents an idea of how much their baby has grown since birth. When a baby starts smiling at things that make them happy, it shows they have started learning more about human behavior, emotions, and the connection of a smile with happy moments. Your baby will become aware of their feelings being mattered and that this is a means that they can use to communicate with you and those around you.

A smile also tells us a lot about your baby’s vision. If your baby smiles when you make funny faces, this can be an indicator they have a clearer vision and can now differentiate between different faces and objects.

Similarly, a smile indicates that your baby’s nervous system is developing in a healthy way considering they replaced their reflex smile with a real smile in only a few months successfully. This also means their mind is maturing and they know that through this smile they can express happiness, contentment, and get the attention of those they care about.

You can also use these techniques to encourage your baby to smile more often and help them grow into a sociable person.

How to encourage babies to smile

While some babies naturally do not like smiling often, you as a parent have the responsibility to encourage your little one to become the best they can be. For that, the following are a few ways you can promote the habit of grinning, smiling, or even laughing in your child.

Interact with your little one

There is no denying that parenting takes lots of effort and time. Making time to encourage your baby to smile is essential for the sake of your child’s development. Studies show that babies who spend more time with parents who interact with them often, talk to them, and hold them close, tend to have a more developed brain, and can grow into a more sociable person.

Don’t be embarrassed, talk to your baby and sing lullabies (don’t worry, they don’t care if you can’t sing). While talking, make sure you bring your face close to theirs. As the vision of a newborn is not the same as the vision of a grown up child. Keep your face at a distance of around 10cm to 13cm so they can see your features better.

Share jokes with your baby and laugh at your own jokes to inspire laughter. Babies tend to copy their parents. Pretty soon your baby will become your number 1 fan. Do not underestimate the power of the physical touch with your baby. Place them on your belly while talking, tickle their small belly while changing their clothes and give them small kisses all over.  

Play games and make playful noises

Games and playful noises are a great way to excite babies and earn their heavenly smile in return. Games like the peek-a-boo surprise babies and encourage them to not only smile but make giggling or playful noises as well.

Other than making noises, you can use different sounds like doorbells to get a reaction from your baby and make them smile. While playing games, clap your hands to get their attention. The more you interact or encourage your baby to smile the better and earlier results you will see.

Smile, cuddle and make eye contact, and smile some more.

Read also the article Here’s why you should smile at your baby – a lot

The more you smile at your baby, the more your baby will try to copy you. While smiling or talking make direct eye contact with your baby. Do not let any other distractions like a mobile phone get in between you and your baby. This way your baby will learn that they are special and have value in the lives of people around him. It will also boost their self-esteem and they will soon begin to learn skills like body language.

Excite baby through different colorful toys

Use toys that make noise to encourage your baby to smile more. You can buy animal toys that make animal voices or any other toy that excites your baby. This way your baby will not only learn to smile but will also start recognizing the sounds you are playing. Silly, funny faces can also bring a smile to your baby’s face. Each baby is different, but one thing is for sure, baby’s love lots of attention.

Tips to keep in mind

Here are a few handy tips that will help you during this learning period and make things easier for you and baby.

  • Play with your baby when he is full and in the mood. A sleepy or hungry baby will never appreciate playfulness, in fact you may get a cranky baby. Find which time of the day is their favorite when they are full of energy and ready to play.
  • While playing, bring the baby to a room that has natural light or is well lit. This will boost their mood and deter sluggishness if there is any.
  • Let your baby spend time with family members daily. They will learn new faces and noises faster. This way he will not only smile after seeing his parent’s face but will also encourage being in the presence of other family members as well.
  • No doubt that parenting is taking lots of your time and efforts, do not forget that you are a human and not a robot. Spend some time on your own self as well. Reconnect with your partner and share the ideas you have in mind to make parenting less tiring.  

What does baby’s smile mean?

A newborn takes months to learn to talk. Even after one year, a baby can speak only a few words. So, an expression like a smile is what babies use to communicate with their parents and others around them.

So a baby will smile at you in the morning (you can call it a good morning smile) to show you their genuine affection. The baby will smile at the funny faces to get engaged and show that they like getting attention that way.

Another meaning behind a baby’s smile is they are trying to get attention. As through this smile, the baby earns ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ from mommy or daddy. So, they feel more confident when being encouraged to smile.

Baby not smiling? Here is what It could mean

If your baby is 3 months old and still has not started smiling, do not be alarmed. Every baby is unique and has his or her own personality. Unlike a jolly cousin or sibling who started smiling just after 2 months, give it time, your newborn should begin to smile any moment.

Many parents become worried when they find the answer to questions like ‘when do babies start to smile’ because their baby did not start smiling even after 6 to 12 weeks. Parents start relating it to a symptom of autism spectrum disorder. No doubt, it is one of the signs of this disorder but it is not the only sign.

If your baby hears you and responds to your actions without smiling then he may not have this jolliness in his personality. Do not worry just because of this mere symptom alone. However, not smiling at a funny face or a laugh even after 4 months of age may mean your baby has a vision or hearing issue.

If you have any concerns related to your baby’s smile, reach out to your pediatrician.

When do premature babies start to smile

As premature babies are born smaller and lighter in weight they take a little more time than normal babies to start smiling fully. Not only smile, but they may also develop slower during the early months but do not worry they will catch up as they get older.

Remember that every child is different from the other. Not even siblings have the same habits. If your premature baby takes a longer time to smile than you expected, do not feel hopeless. Be patient and encourage your baby to smile without disturbing his sleep and comfort.

When do babies start to smile – conclusion

When it comes to answering our big question, when do babies start to smile, know that the ideal time is  between 2 and 3 months for most but not all.

Do not worry if your child develops this trait slower than others. Believe it or not babies have different natures and abilities just as we adults do. Give it time and your baby will begin to smile and even laugh while sharing happy moments with mommy and daddy.

For now, get your camera ready to capture the most precious smile in the world and store these heartwarming moments to keep the memory alive always.

Categories
Fetal development

13 early signs of pregnancy

Table of Contents

If you’re tired of protection and want to get pregnant, chances are you’re eager to get some good news. If that is the case, read on and learn about some very early signs of pregnancy.

How soon can you experience symptoms of pregnancy?

The very early signs of pregnancy appear a few days after conception, or one or two weeks before your scheduled upcoming periods. [1] Even though it’s typically during the ovulation phase after your last menstruation (10 to 15 days after your last period) that you conceive, your first day of pregnancy is denoted by the first day of your previous menstrual cycle. [2] Your delivery date is estimated as per your last menstruation date.

Early signs of pregnancy

  1. Cramps and spotting. After the egg is fertilized, it implants itself into the walls of the uterus. This process of implantation occurs anywhere between four to eight weeks and may be marked with light bleeding. Research shows that this is accompanied by stomach cramps in 28% of women. The episode generally lasts for about three days and doesn’t need treatment. [3]
  2. Elevated body temperature. Your overall body temperature increases when you conceive. However, the body temperature also rises easily while exercising and during hot summers. It might go unnoticed, so you have to keep track of your body temperature to observe this change. You should also make sure to drink a lot of water during this time. [4]
  3. Fatigue and tiredness. Your progesterone levels will elevate during pregnancy, making you feel fatigued and sleepy. Other factors such as low blood sugar levels, lower BP, and increased blood production may all contribute to tiredness. When you feel too tired, you should rest a lot and get enough sleep. [5]
  4. Elevated heart rate. There are a lot of new changes to which your body needs to acclimatize. This includes the flush of hormones which, along with the increased blood flow, causes an increased heart rate. Some physical exertion can also cause palpitations. [6]
  5. Early mammary changes. One of the prominent early signs of pregnancy include breast changes. Such changes occur due to hormonal changes and result in swollen, tender, or tingly breasts about one to two weeks after conception. The area around the nipples, called the areola, also darkens and widens. [5]
  6. Mood swings. Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone lead to rapid mood swings. These can cause repeated episodes of excitement and euphoria accompanied by periods of depression, weeping, and irritability. Also, this will make you more reactive to situations that normally wouldn’t pull a reaction from you. Try to keep calm and remind yourself to take deep breaths. [7]
  7. Hyper urination and incontinence. The inflow of hormones lead to increased blood flow in the body during pregnancy. This results in a greater supply of blood to the kidneys too, meaning processing more fluid than usual. As there’s more urine production, there’s an increased amount of fluid in the bladder causing pressure and incontinence. Prepare yourself to need easy access to the toilet to prevent leaking. Also, drink a good amount of water to prevent dehydration. [8]
  8. Constipation and bloating during early pregnancy. Bloating is experienced during early pregnancy, similar to that which occurs during the menstrual cycle. This change is due to hormone inflow, particularly progesterone, and reduces intestinal motility. This results in constipation and, in turn, adds to bloating. To ease this symptom, eat foods rich in fiber, drink a lot of water, and exercise appropriately. You can also consider talking to your doctor if this condition worsens. [5]
  9. Morning sickness. Morning sickness is marked by nausea and vomiting. The severity of the condition may vary and the number of vomiting episodes per day differs from person to person. Regardless, morning sickness is probably the most irritable early symptom of pregnancy. The term is also slightly misleading as it can occur at any time throughout the day. The exact reason for morning sickness is unclear, but hormonal changes are considered to play a role. Nausea and vomiting continues from the start of pregnancy throughout the first three months. It might worsen with the progression of the first trimester, but it generally relieves as you enter into the second trimester. You can take measures to keep morning sickness to the minimal. Keep healthy snacks such as nuts and crackers at your bedside and eat a few whenever you feel nauseated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and consult your doctor for medication if your condition becomes too severe and/or unbearable. [9]
  10. Food repugnance and sensitivity to smell. There have been self-reported events of odor sensitivity or disgust by many pregnant women. However, there’s little evidence behind why this occurs during the first trimester. Still, it’s important to consider as sensitivity to smell may instigate episodes of nausea and vomiting. Hypersensitivity to certain smells and foods may generate food aversions throughout the period of pregnancy. A literature review explored the relationship effect of pregnancy on smell sensitivity. It was reported that odor perception is stronger and more intense in pregnant women. [10]
  11. Dizziness and high BP. Blood pressure changes are accompany the onset of pregnancy. You can experience low blood pressure due to the dilation of vessels thanks to hormones like progesterone. As a result, you may experience dizziness and lightheadedness. On the other hand, symptoms of high blood pressure may also occur; this can be due to a family history, first conception, obesity, smoking, or alcohol. Your doctor will keep track of your vitals at every appointment, so make not to miss a single one. Ask your physician about the diet you should follow to keep your BP at normal levels. Stay hydrated and snack regularly. Also, try to stand up and change posture slowly to avoid sudden blood pressure changes [11].
  12. Heartburn. Hormones may result in the relaxation of the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus. This can lead to the regurgitation of acids from the stomach causing heartburn. You can minimize this by eating small portions of meals instead of a single larger one. Try to stay in an upright position by either sitting or standing for an hour after having your meal. If heartburn becomes unbearable, talk to your specialist about safe use of antacids.
  13. Skin changes during early pregnancy. You might have seen those experienced aunts figuring out your pregnancy before you’ve even gotten a positive test. The pregnancy glow enables them to do the guessing by just looking at your skin and eyes. The flow of more blood into your skin and the flush of hormones startle your sebaceous glands. This gives your skin a certain glow which isn’t otherwise there. Women who are prone to acne may also experience unusual acne breakouts.

how early signs of pregnancy

How can I tell if I’m pregnant after one week?

When you’re one week pregnant, you can’t actually tell whether you’re pregnant yet – because you’re not! If you’re experiencing any odd symptoms like headaches, bloating, or lower back pain, they’re likely due to your upcoming menstrual cycle. The duration of these symptoms may vary from person to person and can last from three to seven days.

As per gynecologists’ terms, your pregnancy count starts from the first day of your previous period. However, since ovulation occurs later, one week in pregnancy terms means you haven’t actually conceived yet. The average time to conceive is 2 to 3 weeks after your last cycle.

If you’re hoping to be pregnant at one week post-cycle, a good idea is to prepare your body for a baby. You should follow a healthy diet, take vitamins, folic acid, and other supplements, and – most importantly – avoid smoking and alcohol. Also, limit your coffee and tea intake to one cup per day! Keep track of your menstrual cycle to make use of your fertile days. [12]

Can a pregnancy test be positive at one week?

Generally, the first positive test comes out at 2 weeks of pregnancy. This is when human chorionic gonadotropin (hcG) has started to produce after conception. Even with the more sensitive tests, one won’t be able to confirm pregnancy until about 8 days after conception.

At one week, your uterus hasn’t yet received the mature egg follicle and the previous month’s uterine lining is busy being shed. This way, it will prepare itself for acquiring the fertilized zygote.

However, there are some pregnancy tests that can estimate the time of conception depending on the level of HCG in your urine. [13]

Pregnancy symptoms

Generally, the early signs of pregnancy are categorized as per the trimesters. There are three trimesters of pregnancy, the first being the most difficult to handle in terms of symptoms. By the time you’ve your missed your period, your pregnancy tests will also turn out to be positive. The intensity of symptoms, however, may be different for each person.

The first trimester

In general, the early signs of pregnancy are aggravated and increase in severity as the first trimester progresses. Extreme nausea and, at times, vomiting kick in, particularly when on an empty stomach. Frequent urination, heartburn, and breast tenderness also worsen, while a faster heartbeat and acne outbreaks become more common. Gaining a lot of weight isn’t a common feature of the first trimester, but the risk of miscarriage is highest during this time. So, extra care and caution should be practiced. [14]

The second trimester

Some of the symptoms of the first trimester usually fade away or completely vanish by the beginning of the second trimester. That is to say, from the fourth month onwards your nausea and vomiting should ease out a lot. However, other issues like constipation, heartburn, and breast changes will continue, while shortness of breath, fatigue, and tiredness seem not to want to leave ‘til the end. Gum bleeding, nasal bleeding, and stiffness are also some unwanted pregnancy symptoms during the second trimester. However, there’s some good news! One thing that every mom-to-be is excited about is the start of fetal movement. This begins in the fifth month.

By the end of the second trimester, there may be some improvement in the shortness of breath. Leakage of colostrum from your breasts and onset of Braxon-Hicks contractions (minor practice pains) may start to occur in some women. This will gradually develop and continue ‘til the end of pregnancy. [15]

The third trimester

The expanding uterus is the major sign marking the beginning of the last trimester. With the increasing size of the fetus, back pain is also inevitable. Some symptoms from the previous months continue, but dizziness may ease out a bit. Difficulty breathing is a common complaint as uterus enlargement occurs.

Varicose veins (swollen veins) occur most commonly in the legs. This can also take the form of hemorrhoids if varicose veins occur at the rectal region. Hemorrhoids can cause itching, become painful, and bleed. Stretching of the skin may cause stretch marks and Braxton-Hicks contractions, constipation, and heartburn may continue to strike from time to time.

Incontinence of urine may also occur while sneezing, coughing, or laughing because of uterine pressure. Nevertheless, don’t be dismayed! Pregnancy also adds to your beauty; one of its good features is fuller, stronger, and healthier hair due to benevolent hormones. The symptoms of the last trimester generally continue ‘til the end. [16]

The last month

Around the end of your pregnancy journey, your fetus drops into the lower pelvis – a process called lightening. This eases shortness of breath and improves your backache. However, hyper urination and incontinence continues and pressure on the bladder remains.

All of this being said, before actually confirming your pregnancy through a pregnancy test, you can watch out for the symptoms and early signs of pregnancy. These start way before you get a missed period. So, if you find it hard to wait for the confirmatory tests, here are the signs you should look for. Cervical dilation occurs which causes sharp pains before you actually step into labor. [17]

Categories
Connect with your unborn

Benefits of talking to your unborn baby

Table of Contents

Talking to your unborn baby! How and why?

Motherhood is a beautiful, life-long affair that will bring light and joy into your life. In the nine months where your baby slowly matures in the comfort of your womb, you will experience and observe daily changes and growth. As your baby continues to develop, the sounds from the surroundings of the womb will create a familiar environment for the baby. About 25 weeks into the pregnancy, babies will begin to interact with these noises through increased movements or giving kicks and nudges as their brains become capable of processing and hearing sounds.

As agreed upon by many mothers, a kick from your baby in response to your voice is one of the most exciting things in the world. Your baby bump is likely to already be showing and you probably can’t wait for your child to be born. At this stage, you’re likely to have heard of parents talking to their unborn babies and may be wondering what effects that could possibly bring. Pre-birth bonding can be instrumental in forming a connection with your baby and helping you ease into motherhood. As one of the most popular methods being adopted for early bonding, interaction has been scientifically proven to bring about a plethora of benefits for your little angel.

Early Language Development

Speaking and interacting with your bump in the third trimester of pregnancy has been found to soothe your baby, with contemporary studies showing that unborn babies are able to form memories and remember what they hear inside the womb. Thus, you can create a calming effect on them by exposing them to familiar songs. Babies are able to calm down and experience a lowered heart rate after hearing your voice, which can be instrumental in the formation of primary bonds between you and your child; your voice is naturally being associated with that of a soothing presence.

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that unborn babies are able to respond positively to distinct word patterns such as nursery rhymes, with the effectiveness of their response increasing with the familiarity of the rhymes. Hence, feel free to put on tunes such as You Are My Sunshine or Happy to brighten up your lovely little one’s day. Apart from experiencing physiological changes, babies are capable of remembering what they hear, which can serve as important stepping stones for their language development.

Additionally, speaking to your unborn baby can allow them to become exposed to languages, which will become extremely beneficial for the development of speech when they are born. This is because, while babies typically begin to respond to words and phrases at an age of six months, your baby can show signs of understanding language earlier if they’re spoken to in the womb. Differences have been found between babies spoken to in the womb compared to those not having been spoken to, whereby the former group of babies are able to earlier recognize the unique characteristics and features of a language much quicker.

Enhancing your little one’s sense of hearing

The sense of hearing is developed through a few stages during the pregnancy term, where the cochlea – which are responsible for the translation of soundwaves – are fully formed by the 15th week of pregnancy and become fully developed by 20 weeks. The sound transmitters in the cochlea then eventually connect to the brain between weeks 24 and 30, which allows your baby’s brain to process sound and begin ‘hearing’. While your baby will not start hearing you until the third trimester, they will already be exploring what life has to offer inside the womb through his senses of smell and touch. Interacting with your bump will introduce them to the outside world and to your voice, which they will get accustomed to and grow to love inside the womb.

Scientifically

As your baby’s hearing is developed, the sounds that they will be hearing the most would probably be that of the inner workings of your body: your heartbeat, entry of air into your lungs, and the gurgles of your digestive system. Your voice will become the most distinct and familiar sound that they will hear in the womb. Furthermore, they will also be able to hear sounds that are emitted close to the womb, which can expose your little one to the happenings of your daily life.

They can become acquainted with sounds such as your favorite music and the individual voices of other members of the family. Among all, your voice will be the most soothing and familiar. The effect of your voice will last throughout their growing years, as they find solace in you primarily when in need of support and are. During birth, your baby will need time to adjust to their new surroundings; being in an environment of familiar voices will help them adapt even quicker.

Your angel’s first memories

Studies have shown that, through talking to your bump, you can create your baby’s very first memories. When observing fetal heart rates, the babies in their mother’s wombs were found to respond in a different manner when exposed to the same stories and songs over and over again as compared to when they hear something new. Their heart rates start to relax when hearing content that they recognize, thus helping them to calm down and reduce anxiety.

Memories of babies were found to be exceptional, as they were found to remember words spoken from the outside world even after weeks have passed between readings. The findings became more peculiar, as similar reactions were observed even when a different person read the same stories to them. After being born, the babies could still retain memories of these familiar stories and reacted positively to them, as they did in the womb. Thus, by constantly reading or singing to your bump, their very first memories will be formed.

How you can start talking to your baby effectively

As you settle into the third trimester of your pregnancy, you can create a collection of you and your partner’s preferred stories; set aside some time to talk to your baby bump at least once a day to help with their development. A great way to do this is to create a comfortable space where you can thoroughly relax and enjoy time with your little one. It’s also extremely important to reduce stress as much as possible, as stress can have a negative impact on your baby’s immunity. Hence, reading time can be a stress-reliever for you as well.

During the interaction with your baby, you can try to take note of any different behaviors exhibited by your baby. A typical response of babies reacting to your voice is a notable decrease in movement in the womb, as they become calmer and less restless than before. Get your family to join in to talk to your baby as well, where you may just see the baby responding differently to each and every unique voice heard.  One of the best tips provided by other parents is to decide on a name for the baby or use a placeholder name for the bump. This will allow you to speak more naturally, which creates a much more fulfilling and smooth interaction with your bump.

Other ways of interacting with your bump

Some mothers may find it awkward and unusual to talk to their bumps, as there’s no visual response unlike typical conversations. There are also other ways of ‘talking’ to your bump and interacting with your baby. For instance, instead of perceiving it as talking to your baby, you can regard the act as reading aloud. When you’re reading articles, poems, forums posts, or social media texts, you can read the words out loud. This can be done at any time of the day and is a very convenient method of introducing your baby to your voice; they will be able to hear you and become acquainted with the language and vocabulary you use. This aids in their future development.

An all-time favourite: singing

You can also play music and allow your baby to listen along with you. Experts recommend that the music should be played sufficiently loud, such that the baby can hear the music but are not startled by the loudness of the song at the same time. Mothers who expose their children to music have commented that their babies respond differently in terms of the way they move in the womb to different genres of music. The consensus of researchers is that babies typically prefer classical music, with pieces by Mozart being found to be the most effective in eliciting a positive response. Traditional world music came in second in terms of causing the greatest reaction and can be used for your baby as well.

For a more personal touch from you and your partner, you can sing a song to your bump together. The most popular songs sung to babies are nursery rhymes and lullabies. You can even sing them your personal favorites so they will know what mommy’s favorite songs are! This also provides an additional opportunity for the baby to hear your unique voice again and recognize what you sound like.

Read the article Sing for your unborn baby

Creating a connection with your baby

Apart from developmental benefits, talking to your little one can aid in creating a bond between you and your baby. This is very important for the baby’s development after being born, as the baby will feel safe in an environment of familiar faces and voices where they know that they’ll be protected. When babies knows that they’re being well taken care of, they will be able to lower their guard and fully devote themselves towards exploring and learning about the new world around them. Being able to engage with the outside world without fear of danger or uncertainty will help babies to develop faster and fuller, allowing them to grow up more healthily.

It’s also common for mothers to be uncertain about their bonds with their baby. Some mothers may feel detached or some may feel awkward about creating an attachment with their baby. Pregnancy can create anxiety and an agglomeration of feelings that will leave you confused sometimes. You may not have an instant connection with your baby, but the daily interactions with your bump will help greatly in building up a strong bond which will only be intensified once they’re born.

If you worry

Some new mothers may also worry about not feeling like they have the parental instinct that’s widely referred to or brought up in popular culture. Unfortunately, you cannot learn how to be a parent from anyone else. You will develop parenting skills and instincts through the upbringing of your child; you can get a head start on the building up of these skills by talking to your bump. It will help for both parents to also get a deeper look into themselves and allow them to ponder whether they have been taking actions in the best interests of the baby. For example, you can take the time to see if you’ve been eating well or sleeping well and consider making a change to your lifestyle for the benefit of your baby. Ultimately, the actions you take will define the types of parents that you will be and will steer you towards becoming loving parents.

Conclusion

To conclude, your baby – which is almost ready to be introduced into the outside world -already has a fully developed sense of hearing that can allow them to respond to sounds from outside the womb. Any form of sound interaction between the baby and the people on the outside of the womb will provide huge benefits in terms of early development and the formation of bonds. As such, interact with your baby as much as possible and, before you know it, your baby will be born into a world of love and care. Then, you will embark on a whole new journey of motherhood that will be truly rewarding and filled with happiness.

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Fetal development

Fetal development – week by week

Table of Contents

How’s My Baby Growing? – A fetal development week-by-week review 

For a lot of women, pregnancy and childbirth will be a defining moment in their lives. Some people who have been through this might even say that it was one of their most rewarding experiences. As a mum to be, I can tell that you’re curious – believe me, it’s normal. You’ve bought the books, you’ve watched the videos; you’re even reading this article right now. I get it – you can’t wait to meet your little one and you want to be ready when they arrive. Well, it’s a great thing you’re here! In this post, we will be discussing the different stages of fetal development on a weekly basis.

Prenatal Development

Prenatal development describes the entire baby development process, from the menstrual age, to fertilization, up until they’re born. Prenatal development occurs in three stages: The germinal stage, the embryonic stage, and the fetal stage.

The Germinal Stage

Fetal development begins with the germinal stage. That counts from the day of your last menstrual period and lasts for about three weeks. In case you didn’t already know, conception is not the beginning of your pregnancy; all the work your body has done to make fertilization possible has to count for something. While pregnancies are usually reported to last about forty weeks, in reality you’re only pregnant for thirty-eight of those weeks. This is because your pregnancy starts to count from the first day of your last menstrual period. Now let’s look at this more closely.

Week 1: You see your period. This is your body shedding off the lining of the uterus and preparing to begin a new menstrual cycle. By the end of this week, your period is coming to an end and your body starts to produce more hormones.

Week 2: Your estrogen and progesterone levels are all the way up and this prompts your uterine wall to thicken. While this is happening, your ova are “ripening” in fluid-filled sacs commonly referred to as follicles. Around the time week two is coming to an end, your body will release another hormone (lutrophin). This hormone causes the follicles to rupture, thus releasing the ovum/ova (or egg/eggs) into the fallopian tube to make its way to the uterus. The process we have just described is what you have always known as ovulation. (It is important to note that, although ovulation commonly occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, this is not always the case. Ovulation can occur from any time between nine to twenty-one days from the first day of your last period).

The egg usually takes between one to two days to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. While it’s on the way to the uterus, if one of the numerous sperm cells released during ejaculation is able to penetrate the egg, then fertilization occurs. Within the next 48 hours, the sperm cell fuses with the egg and their DNAs are combined to form a zygote

By the end of week 2, the zygote continues its journey from the fallopian tube to the uterus. While it’s on its way, it will continue to divide into hundreds of identical cells. In about two days, the zygote (which is now a blastocyst) will attach itself to your uterine wall. The end of week two also marks the end of the germinal stage.

The Embryonic Stage

The embryonic stage lasts for about eight weeks after fertilization. This stage is very important in the development of brain function. It is therefore important to get your nutrition right in this stage.

Week 3: It is from this week that you are likely to get a positive pregnancy test. The blastocyst will continue to divide and burrow further into your uterine wall. The inner cells of the blastocyst will grow into the embryo while the outer cells will grow into the embryo. The outer cells will begin to produce the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), also known as the pregnancy hormone. The pregnancy hormone is what is detected when you pee on a stick. This hormone also tells your ovaries to stop releasing eggs and progesterone.

Week 4: Now your little embryo is about the size of a poppy seed. The inner cells will further divide into three more layers. The first layer will develop into the digestive and respiratory system (the stomach, lungs, bladder, etc.). The middle layer will develop into the circulatory, muscular, and skeletal system, while the outer layer develops into the nervous system, the eyes, tooth, skin, and nails. Before the placenta is fully formed, the embryo will receive nutrients and relieve waste through a yolk sac. Later on in your pregnancy, the placenta will form and take over from the yolk sac.

Week 5: Around this time your baby’s heart and nervous system have started to develop. You should start taking folic acid at this stage because it can prevent a condition called spina bifida in your baby. Spina bifida is a condition in which your baby’s spine and spinal cord are underdeveloped, such that there’s a gap in the spine.

Week 6: At this stage, the embryo looks like it has a tail. Your baby’s heart is still developing, while their little arms and legs have also started to grow out as buds.

Week 7: Now your baby is about 10mm long and the brain continues to develop rapidly. Their inner ears and eyes have also started to develop. The limb buds will get longer and start to form cartilage which will develop into the limb bones.

Week 8: Now your baby is about the size of a kidney bean and they weigh about 1.13 grams. Still tiny, right? I know. Although the lower limbs are getting longer, they’re not yet distinct. Your baby now has toes and fingers and their respiratory system continues to develop. The 8th week is the end of the embryonic stage. After this week, your pregnancy is moving into the longest and final stage; the fetal development stage.

The Fetal Stage

The fetal stage is the longest and probably the most dramatic stage of prenatal development. When fetal development begins, cell differentiation is complete and the baby is no longer referred to as an embryo, but a fetus. We will now discuss this more extensively by looking at development by week.

Week 9: By now your baby has almost all their essential organs and they look like a really tiny human. All the chambers of your baby’s heart have formed and their tiny baby teeth started to grow. By week 9, the placenta is almost fully developed and ready to take over from the yolk sac.

Week 10: Your baby is now about 3.5 mm and their outer ears have started to develop. The canals between the inner and outer ears are also forming. Jaw bones are developing and your baby’s heart is fully pumped and beating. Although the eyelids are starting to form too, they are sealed shut until about the 27th week. Around this time, the placenta should be fully-formed and the yolk sac shrinks until it is fully resolved. In some people, the placenta may not take over even up to the 20th week.

Week 11: Your baby is now the size of a fig. The bones of their face are formed and the outer ears are starting to look more like ears now. Their fingers and toes are separating and their external genitalia will start to develop around this period.

Week 12: You are now coming to the end of the third month and your baby is about the size of a lime. It is now 57mm long and weighs about 14 grams. Your baby has started to develop reflexes and they can now curl their toes. The intestines are fully formed and enclosed in the abdominal cavity now. The external sex organs should be well developed alongside all other organs. Now all your baby has to do is grow.

Week 12 is the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. The most critical period of your baby’s development has been completed and you are less likely to miscarry after this period.

Week 13-15:  This is the beginning of the second trimester. Your baby’s heartbeat can now be heard. Their fingers and toes are well-defined and their bones have become denser. Around this period, eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, and toenails are formed. Now your baby can stretch, yawn, and even make faces. By the end of the 15th week they’re about 152 mm long and 113 grams heavy. Their external genitalia is fully formed and you can now tell the sex of your baby via an ultrasound scan.

Week 16-19: If you haven’t already told them yet, I’m sure your friends and family can already tell you’re pregnant. Your baby is now developing muscles and you may feel them move as they exercise these muscles. Your baby is covered with vernix caseosa, which is a white cheesy substance that protects them from elongated exposure to amniotic fluid. Don’t fret, they’ll shed this coating just before they’re born. By now, your baby should be about 25.4 cm long and about 250 grams heavy.

Week 20-23: You’re coming to the end of your second trimester. Congrats! You’re almost there. Your baby now has fingerprints and you can see their veins through their translucent skin. Those little movements from earlier have become full-fledged kicks.

Week 24-29: This is the beginning of the third and final trimester. Now that their hearing is fully developed, you may want to sing to them every now and then. They can also respond to stimuli, so you might notice them changing position frequently in response to light or sound. It is around this period that the amniotic fluid starts to diminish. Their eyelids also open up around this period. By the end of the 29th week, your baby should weigh anywhere between 900g to 1.5kg.

Week 30-35: Your baby starts to develop reserves of body fat. They can see, they can ear, and they’re kicking more now. Their brain and all internal organs are almost fully developed. Their lungs, however, still need some time to mature fully. Now you baby should be weighing in at about 2kg.

Week 35-40: This is it! You made it this far, your baby is almost here. The lungs develop fully and their reflexes are better coordinated so they can close and open their eyes, turn their heads, and even grasp items. As you approach your due date, you may notice that your baby has started to move less. Don’t be quick to panic, there’s just less space for that now! As you approach week 40, your baby starts to position itself for delivery. It’s head is facing downward and it drops into your pelvis. Now your baby is about 3kg and ready to be born!

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