Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Babies’ Development from 6 to 8 Weeks: Changes, Challenges, and Social Smiles

For most parents, getting through the first 6 weeks with a newborn is one of the most physically and emotionally challenging experiences of their lives. Time seems to almost stand still as a cloud of distracted half-awareness descends over day-to-day routines. Around six to eight weeks, things change, at first almost imperceptibly and then with lightning speed. After those grueling early months, parents begin to see a unique person emerge from the mass of needy newborn reflexes. Their tiny babies begin to become much more predictable, social, and a lot more fun!

Social Development

For most babies, social smiles appear around 6 to 8 weeks of age. These smiles are all the more welcome because babies’ crying also peaks around the same time. Some 6-week-old babies may cry for 2 hours a day, often in short spurts with one longer spurt in the late afternoon. For more about why this happens, read our prior posts about crying and persistent crying. Fortunately, as babies get closer to 2 months of age, their crying tapers off and parents have a better idea about what to do to calm them. When they aren’t crying, babies are working harder than ever to interact with the adults around them, smiling, imitating, and vocalizing, whenever they can. Remember, social activity is hard work for babies. Watch for disengagement cues and slow down or stop interactions whenever they show signs that they need a break. Remember that babies can’t be specific about what they might need the break from, so if it isn’t obvious, pay attention to what might be going on around you that might be bothering the baby. As the erratic behavior common in the first 2 months starts to fade, babies’ unique temperament and likes and dislikes begin to emerge. Some babies love noise, lights, and active play while others can handle only a little stimulation at one time. Some babies seem to be quick to calm, while others take more time to relax.

Cognitive Development

By six to eight weeks, babies show clear signs that they can predict what will happen during feeding, social, and naptime routines. They will move their legs and arms and coo excitedly when they anticipate food or fun and turn or arch away when they know something not so fun is about to happen (like a diaper change for those who don’t like them). Babies more obviously recognize their favorite people and are less interested in strangers. They’ll enjoy looking quietly at objects and listening to noises for longer periods as they try to learn more about them.

Physical Development

Newborn reflexes start to fade as babies begin to gain more control over their bodies. Many babies will have an easier time moving their heads from side to side, picking up their heads when placed on their tummies, and moving their hands towards their mouths. Nearly all babies of this age will flail their arms and legs at people and objects that they want to play with. Reaching and grasping is right around the corner! With so many possibilities for movement, it is very important to never leave babies unattended in places that are not perfectly safe. Never leave a young baby on an adult bed, couch, or high surface. You won’t believe how far they can move, long before they can roll or crawl.

Part of the wonder of being a new parent is to watch your baby’s unique personality emerge and develop. After the first 6 to 8 weeks, babies begin to change so quickly that you’ll find that there is something new to share everyday.

Next time: We’ll continue our series on infant development.

15 comments:

  1. just found this blog and i find it filled with great content, grounded very well in reality. our newborn is 6 weeks old and i used some of the info on this post on my own blog, via blockquoting. hope you enjoy :)

    http://www.corrupt.org/blogs/frank_azzurro/family

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is the 6-week mark counting from the date of delivery or the estimated due date? In our case, our son was born two weeks before the estimated due date.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Typically, it is best to start counting from the estimated due date. When babies get their check-ups, doctors often use "corrected age" for their expectations for babies' growth and development. That way babies who come early have a little more time to catch up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's good to hear!
    My baby came exactly a month early (third child, second VBAC and first "large preemie" (as his pediatrician called him) and I have been wondering about when and what to expect.

    Paulina.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Does the 6-8 week rule apply if a baby was born premature (say 35-36 weeks)?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nvm, wasn't reading the previous comment, lol!

    ReplyDelete
  7. my 2 month old daughter moves her head from side to side she always has an she is rubbin the back of her haif off... does this mean somethin is mentally wrong with her.... the only time she dont do it is when she is asleep..

    ReplyDelete
  8. Whenever you are concerned about your baby's behavior, you should see your baby's doctor. Your doctor will be able to tell you what is going on. Best wishes from all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Found this blog so interesting, I have a 7weeks Old baby and by this post I can understand the changes I am seeing. Thank you for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. To anon my daughter had the exact same habit - nothing mentally wrong with her.

    Sounds like you are a little over anxious but do talk to your doctor - get some reassurance.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love my son he is 5 WEEKS and 3 days and I love his company. I'm 23 but I love to learn about him each and everyday. He likes his tummy time I ten to leave him on his tummy couple of times a day for about 2-3min

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is so true! My son is just starting to get fun! Everything he does, the faces he makes, and the sounds he makes are all wonderful and it is great to know that he is right on time with his development. I do have to pay more attention to his disengagement cues, though.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have almost seven week old b/g twins they were born at 38.1 weeks and I wanted to know some fun ways to enjoy fun time with both of them

    ReplyDelete
  14. It exactly is happening in the 7th week, with my grand daughter."Flail of arms and legs" wonderful!
    But legs are almost zeroing in kicking ,at my hand or palms....at the same spot,without seeing! Witnessing a miracle. Thanks for the people behind the blog.

    ReplyDelete