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Development

When do babies start to smile?

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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
Development

When do babies crawl? 5 important steps you should learn.

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If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that babies love to get around. And more importantly, we can agree that they’re not very good at it. That’s why as a new parent, babysitter, or anyone really, it is necessary to understand the why’s and the how’s of babies’ movements.

According to child development experts, one of the most common questions they get is: at what age do babies crawl? While there is no definite time mark, the first time a baby will try to move on its own could be anywhere from six to ten months. However, some babies may start earlier or later than others. This does not always mean that there’s something wrong with your baby; sometimes they’ve just got places to be!

The first thing we have to understand about crawling is – it’s not exactly a programmed part of a baby’s development. In fact, some babies will skip crawling altogether. Before their legs are strong enough to hold them up, babies will experiment with different ways of moving. So while some babies will crawl like we’re used to seeing, others may prefer alternative movement methods like: scooting, rolling or cruising. So if your baby is not crawling, don’t panic as long as they keep it moving. However, if you’re insistent on crawling, there might be a way to teach them to do this.

How to Teach Babies to Crawl

Teaching babies to crawl is not something most parents or child development specialists may ever get to do. In most cases, your baby will figure it out on their own; however, a few babies might need a nudge. If you’re looking to give your baby the nudge, you’re in luck because I have a few tips that could help.

First things first, teaching a baby to crawl is less about teaching and more about giving them room to learn on their own. Also, before you start teaching, you have to ensure that they are ready. You can do this by asking and answering the following questions:

  • Can your baby support their head on their own?
  • Can they roll over on their own?
  • Can they sit up on their own?

If the answers to these questions are yes, then we can assume that your baby is ready to get moving.

With babies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the academic information out there. Sometimes, the most reassuring information comes from those who have done it before – I’m talking about other parents. That’s why in this post, we’ll be discussing tips as shared by other parents.

On his YouTube channel, Dad’s Dad talks about tips and tricks that were effective in teaching his baby to crawl.

Now let’s get right to it.

  1. Let your baby have as much floor and tummy time as possible. In order for babies to develop the necessary motor skills, they need to spend as much time on their tummies as possible. At first this might be uncomfortable for them because they won’t be able to control their bodies in this position. You’ll have to introduce it to them in little doses. You can start with a few minutes daily. Over time, they’ll build the necessary core strength to hold themselves up. They’ll start figuring out how to lift and support their heads. To help them further, try to make floor and tummy time fun for them. You could place toys on the floor around them, pat them softly or even get down to their level. All of this will help your baby develop muscles in their back, arms and legs to help them crawl.
  2. Motivate them with toys. Like we earlier discussed, babies will not instantly fall in love with tummy time. You have to figure out how to motivate them and toys are a great way to do that. When we say toys, it could be anything from a soft foam play mat to everyday items that your baby finds interesting. For example, if your baby finds the covers of plastic jars interesting, you could leave them around during tummy time. Just keep an eye on them so that they do not injure or arm themselves.
  3. Make the most of nursing pillows. Nursing pillows are simply horseshoe-shaped pillows that provide support during breastfeeding. The pillows are placed around the mid-section and then the babies are placed on the pillows. This will help to bring the baby to the right height for breastfeeding as well as provide support to your back. Now according to Dad’s Dad, nursing pillows can be used for so much more. By simply placing the pillow on the floor and tucking the baby in the pillow, you are teaching your baby to get comfortable in that position. The pillow provides them with the support they need to hold their bodies up. With time, your baby will figure out that they can hold these positions even when the nursing pillows are absent. You might even notice them trying to climb over the pillows after a little while.
  4. Try different locations. Although this one might seem tricky, it is really helpful as long as you’re supervising them. So instead of restricting tummy time to just the floor or play mat, try the bed or even the changing table. To make this easier, dress them in long sleeves and pants. Clothes on any smooth surface would make scooting easier and inspire them to get around. You could also switch things up by making a game out of it. During the next tummy time, try creating a pillow fort around your baby. As they attempt to crawl over the fort, they’re building strength and learning to explore.
  5. Encourage your baby. The one thing most of us do not know is that babies are actually more intelligent than we give them credit for. They pick up on our actions, our reactions and they can always tell when something is going well or not. When you show excitement at your baby’s crawl attempt, they would be encouraged to keep trying. So cheer them on whenever they try to move (even if they’re not exactly good at it). You could get other family members to join in too. You could even play their favourite song whenever you notice them trying to move. The constant encouragement will let them know that they’re doing something right, and even if they’re not, that’s okay too.

While you go on to try these tricks, always remember – safety first. While you’re letting your baby explore movement, make sure they are minimum risk of danger. Baby-proof your house if you need to, keep your floors clean and dry, and most importantly, do not leave them unattended.

When Do Babies Start to Crawl

Okay, so we’re all caught up on how to get them to crawl. Now let’s talk about the different crawling stages that you should look out for.

The first one is the rollover. This usually starts at around four moths and it involves rolling from side to side. Most babies will go through this stage as they learn to roll from their tummies to their back and vice versa. Before your baby masters the full rollover, you will notice them rocking from side to side. This is the foundation for rolling as they are learning their bodies and how to use it.

The next stage is the frustrated swimmer. If you’ve been around a few babies, you’ll notice them trying to move their bodies forward by flailing their legs and hands. You should also notice them express some frustration at failing delightfully at this. But that’s okay, at the end of the day, we’re all human.

After a couple of weeks, they would start to enjoy tummy time. It no longer feels uncomfortable for them and they’re finally getting the hang of things.

At about five months old, they should start getting comfortable on their tummy. Once they are comfortable, they will begin to explore getting on their knees. You may also notice them pushing up on their elbows when placed on their stomach. At this stage your baby has figured out how to support their head on their own. They are now building the strength to support their weight on their hands and knees.

Once they get comfortable on their knees, you should notice them trying to shuffle from place to place. This almost looks like crawling but slow down, they’re not there yet. This is more belly and elbow movements than it is crawling.

At around the six month mark, you should notice them doing what experts would call “the horse”. They simply get on their hands and knees and hold that position. Soon enough they would start rocking back and forth or side to side. You should be getting excited at this point because it means that your baby is almost ready to crawl.

Now that they’re comfortable on their knees, the next step is holding up their weight. Every now and then, you would see them holding a plank or a push up position. This is just them getting used to supporting their weight on their own. The moment your baby has mastered how to support their weight, they are ready to go!

All of these stages could occur anytime between six and ten months; but once they start, they never stop. Once your baby masters the art of crawling, you need to pay extra attention to safety because these little creatures are always on the move. Also, you have to ensure that their hands and knees are always protected from injury. I’m talking onesies, long pants, long sleeves, clean floors, anything to make sure that crawling does not cause them injury.

When Should I Be Worried?

As we’ve earlier discussed, some babies will start crawling later than others and some may skip crawling entirely. So just because your baby is six months old and still not crawling, doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. As long they’re showing signs of progress in their motor skills, they should be fine. However, if by the 12 month mark, they have shown  no signs of movement, you may need to call your paediatrician. More importantly, nobody knows your baby like you do. If at any point you feel like something is wrong, you should probably schedule that appointment. If there’s a problem, the earlier it is detected, the sooner it can be figured out.

 

 

Categories
Development

How to burp a baby

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How to burp a baby. What do you do when baby won’t burp? If you have ever pondered on this, please read on.

During feeding, babies often take in excess gas along with their milk. This results in gaseous bubbles stuck in their stomach.

While your baby may be unable to express their feelings explicitly, crying and/or squirming after feeding are common pointers.

If you notice any of tell-tale signs of discomfort after feeding your baby, consider a burp. This helps your baby to release gas bubbles.

Common Ways to Burp Your Baby

Sometimes, your baby may burp naturally. However, it’s common practice to want to help out. While there are several ways to achieve this, here are four conventional techniques to help burp your baby:

On Your Lap

  • Allow your baby lie, belly-down, across your laps.
  • Ensure their head rests sideways on one lap and belly-flat on the other.
  • Hold the baby securely with one hand and repeatedly pat her back gently with the other.

On Your Chest

  • Sit or stand upright and place your baby on your chest with their chin resting on your shoulder.
  • Hold your baby firmly with one hand and pat with the other.
  • Rocking your baby gently may increase effectiveness. A rocking chair would do.

Arm Hold

This works best for smaller babies:

  • Put an arm beneath the baby’s back. Allow them to rest on your forearm. This is already a typical feeding position.
  • Turn the baby’s body carefully and make them rest belly-down with their head positioned in your elbow’s crook. For stability, put your hand between your baby’s legs.
  • With your second hand, pat or rub the upper back carefully.

Sit-up

  • While seated, allow your baby to sit on your lap, back to you.
  • Allow your baby tilt slightly forward.
  • With one arm, try to support your baby at the chest and head.
  • Gently rub or pat with the other hand.

Why is it important to burp a baby?

Burping is one of several skills every parent – both fathers and mothers – should learn. Your baby may need burping until they become self-sufficient.

While more mature children can better position their bodies for an easy burp, babies can’t since they have no control over their body positions.

Talking burping, each baby is different. While some may require a burp after practically every meal, some eat without the need to burp. You may want to discuss reflux with your healthcare provider if your baby has too much gas or spit-ups.

Burping your baby after midnight feeding is an ideal routine, regardless of how much they burped during the day.

Indeed, it can be tiring to hold up your baby to burp at such wee hours. Well, you’re up already – just make the time worth it. A long, peaceful sleep often trails a midnight burp.

Make attempts to burp your baby after every meal. Remember, the air in their tummy makes them full and uncomfortable quickly.

Hence, attempt to burp your baby after every meal and avoid overfeeding.

Do breastfed babies need to be burped?

Although babies retain more air through bottle-feeding, breastfed babies may need burping as well.

But it depends.

Babies whose mothers’ breasts supply abundant milk or those who fuss while nursing tend to gulp more gas while they feed. These babies may need burping for comfort.

Remember, our babies feed differently.

So, what works for one baby may not work the same way for another. It’s important to understand your child’s unique condition. If you notice your baby cries uncomfortably after feeding, a little burping may help them.

Whether bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, making your baby sit upright may help reduce the air swallowed in the first place.

So while your baby may not always need a burp, pay attention to the signs they give. After nursing or if you notice some discomforting signals in your baby, they may need a burp.

When do you stop burping your baby?

It depends. Babies’ digestive systems develop and mature as they get older. Hence, the need to burp becomes less necessary as they age.

Typically, babies may no longer need burping anywhere between four to nine months. At this stage, they may have started out on solid foods.

That said, at any point your baby still feels gassy, keep up your burping. Soon, you’ll naturally feel the need to stop burping your baby.

How long to burp a baby for

A minute or two of patting is typical. In some cases, you may only need to position your baby upright for a burp to occur. Other times it may not be as easy – it may take a little longer and perhaps involve extensive back-patting.

A helpful tip is to ensure your baby sleeps in their cot while nursing. If you notice them almost dozing while breastfeeding or on the feeding bottle, pause and burp them for a while.

After burping for a minute or two, put them in their crib to sleep. The earlier you form this routine, the more easily it becomes a habit.

Depending on the individual baby’s reflux, they may have to maintain an upright position for as much as 30 minutes after feeding.

If your baby’s discomfort persists, discuss this with a pediatrician.

How to burp a baby when sleeping

Too often, babies doze off while feeding. As soon as they get filled, they become reassuringly calm and may quickly drift off.

But even when your baby seems satisfied and ready to drift off, you may make further attempts to burp them before placing them in their crib for a doze.

There isn’t much difference between burping a sleeping baby and an awake baby. However, you may go slower and more subtly for sleeping babies so as to not disrupt their sleep. For this, some positions work better than others.

Logically, using the sit-up position isn’t recommended for burping a sleeping baby. Since the baby does not feel relaxed, it’s challenging to maintain a good sleep in that position.

The on-the-shoulder position and the on-your-lap positions work best for burping a sleeping baby.

It’s good to have your baby poop after feeding. But, if this isn’t common, make sure to change their diaper before night feeding so you won’t have to disturb their sleep in the event they doze off while feeding.

My baby won’t burp

It’s completely okay if your baby won’t burp.

When it comes to burping, the experience differs among babies.

Do not expect a burp at every attempt. If, after a couple of minutes, your baby has yet to burp, you could try another position. If nothing changes, it’s okay.

You can put your baby down or proceed with the feeding. However, watch out for any suspicious signs. If your child’s moves suggest discomfort, position them for another bump attempt.

What if burping fails?

Sometimes, easing your child’s discomfort goes beyond burping. If you suspect excess-gas-induced discomfort, some other options may come in handy:

Massage

Baby massages may help the digestive and circulatory systems of infants. Although scientific evidence is limited, a light massage should help alleviate constipation and excess gas.

Research regardless, it’s common knowledge that massage can bring calm for babies – and even adults. That mild touch can do a whole lot.

Change bottles

There are no particular best bottles for eliminating reflux or reducing colic, spit-ups, and gas. However, some brands are specially made with venting designs and for optimum air control to prevent swallowing too much gas.

Or, change the bottle’s nipple flow

For bottle-feeding, the size of the nipple may be too big, which could cause your baby to take in excess air. Too narrow or too wide nipple holes could also cause excess air intake.

Adjust the nipple size to suit your baby’s need.

Legs Pedaling

Lay your child back down. Move their legs as with bicycle pedals. This may help exert pressure on the tummy to pass out unwanted gas. You may expect a poop with this formula.

Additional baby burping tips

Here are extra tips for a successful baby burp:

  • To prevent getting messed up, place a bib or clean napkin anywhere between the baby’s mouth and your clothing.
  • Have an extra piece handy in the event your baby spits up.
  • Getting your baby to burb may require a mild but repeated pat. However, you may need some patience with other babies.
  • When patting the back, focus on their left side. That’s the location of your baby’s stomach.
  • If your baby fusses while feeding, it could be a pointer to excess gas. The more your baby protests, the more air they gulp and the worse the discomfort. So, you may pause your feeding a bit and burb your baby to see if they’ll release some bubbles.

Wrap up

Babies burp differently. While some may require an extended upright time after feeding, others require a treatment plan for acid reflux.

Yet, some release the bubbles even before you attempt to make them burp.

So, there’s no one-technique-fits-all way to burp your baby – or to stop burping them.

Pay attention to your baby’s unique signals and, over time, you’ll know what works best for your little bundle.

That said, ensure you discuss things with your doctor if anything feels odd.

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