Baby Milestones : Your one month old baby’s development

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Congratulations! You have just started this beautiful journey called parenting. It is a journey that is as rewarding as it is exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming as well. But with a bit of guidance, blended in with lots of instinctive parenting, you will be all comfortably taken care of.

With each month passing, your bundle of joy, as much helpless or innocent, she may look, will start gaining strength and control over her body and mind. She is already turned into a one month old baby. In the beginning, she may need help with everything, but gradually, once she starts to assimilate the information around her and process it in her brain, she will grow into an independent person. To help parents to know whether her progress is moving fine or not, experts have come up with a grading scale known as developmental milestones or baby milestones. These milestones are divided into 4 main categories:

Development Milestones

1- Motor skill development: this includes everything related to the physical movement of the baby–her holding her neck up straight, supporting herself, crawling, walking etc.

2- Cognitive development: Cognitive development is a crucial element of a child’s mental development and growth. It includes skills such as thinking, learning, exploring and problem-solving. The process through which a child learns a language, perceives the world, remember things, and carries out physical actions–are included in cognitive development. Our child responding to the affection shown, the way she throws things down and then looks for them or the way she expresses her happiness or sadness are all examples of cognitive development.

3-Language and communication development: This is not just about speaking but also about hearing and responding. How the baby receives information or stimuli from the environment, how she processes it, and what action she takes post the processing of it, all comes under her communication development.

Researchers performed memory tests with babies, and found that the babies better remembered shapes that were introduced with happy voices and faces. Past studies have shown that babies are very tuned to emotions, including the emotions of animals.

Infant Behavior and Development

4-Social and emotional development: Human beings are social creatures. We are not meant to live in isolation and during our interactions with other human beings we pick and hone our interactive skills also known as social skills. These are skills which, in baby’s context, relate to her interaction with the people in her environment–how she perceives them, how she will react to their presence and how she will eventually relate to them. Also, an important aspect of this development is the emotional development of the baby–how she feels about the stimuli in the environment and how she responds to it–for eg: being attached to her mom or a toy, willing to share her laugh with a grandparent–all this comes under the social and emotional development of the baby.

It is very important to understand the baby milestones that start of 1 month, to acknowledge the future development of your child. But it is equally important to note that these are just generic developmental milestones and each child is different who grows at her own pace. Some children will be forward in catching up with the specified milestones, while some may be lagging slightly. But even the late ones will eventually catch up a few weeks here and there to balance it all out. Also, some children might be ahead in communication while others maybe ahead in motor skills and so on. Therefore treat these developmental milestones guidelines as generic recommendations and not specific to your baby.

So, let’s discuss your one month old baby’s

  • Motor and cognitive skills development, including her reflexes
  • Communication and Social Skills development
  • Baby sleep and nutrition schedule
  • Sensory development as part of baby development
  • one month old baby activities that you can do to enhance child development
  • Hygiene and baby care 
  • When to consult the doctor

Developmental Milestones of one month old baby

Motor development

The newborn baby is literally too little to be able to do much at this stage except sleep, feed and poop. But since all these activities are happening so it means there is some physical or motor development happening with your baby. She may surprise you by moving her hands, legs randomly. Her fists though will always be clenched. Some other motor developments happening would include:

  • Within a month your baby would be latching well for breastfeed. Since this is integral to her development, this is one of the first motor development skill she learns on her own.
  • Randomly she will be able to bring her hands to her face. It will mostly be unintentional and she can end up scratching or poking her eyes with her nails, so keep them trimmed or covered in cotton mittens.
  • Some babies would be sucking their thumbs.
  • During tummy time–laying the baby down on her tummy– she would raise her head/turn it slightly and briefly.
  • She will kick out her legs when laid down on a flat surface. Treat this as an exercise of her limbs and let her indulge in it. So, don’t keep her swaddled all the time. This will boost baby development.
  • She would also try and focus on a face especially the mother’s.

Environment, physical activity and motor development are tightly interwoven during childhood. Research suggests that less time spent outdoors can lead to lower motor competence.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, June, 2019

Cognitive Development

Your little one is fast absorbing information from the environment and processing it in her brain even as a one month old baby. She is also reacting to all this in her own subtle ways showing fast growth in her cognitive abilities. Generally speaking, at one month, your child will be dealing with:

  • Reflexes–rooting, sucking, palmar, moro–would have kicked in to support her development.
  • She will respond to loud noises and even to sneezing or coughing by a startle, involuntary shrug and even crying.
  • She will watch you keenly when you sing or make baby talk.
    But the most profound reactions at this stage deal with reflexes. Here’s something more on it.
Reflexes as part of baby development

These are some quick, spontaneous reactions to any stimulus, that is found in a one month old child which shows the correct growth of the nervous system. Some of the essential reflexes found are:

  • Rooting reflex- If you touch the corner of the lip of the child, she turns her head towards the stimulus. This helps in getting close to the source of food. (Check out our video here to see how to boost the rooting reflex).
  • Moro reflex- Any loud noise makes the child extend her arms and legs with turning her head towards the stimulus.
  • Sucking reflex- When you touch the upper palate of the mouth, the child will try to suck (take in ) the source of stimulus (i.e. finger, nipple, bottle) inside mouth immediately.
  • Tonic reflex- If your child is made to turn on the side with the help of a stimulus like a sound or noise, she will turn her head, stretching her arms out towards the stimulus, and fold the other hand.
  • Grasp reflex- When the palm of the child is stroked, she grasps the object immediately by making a tight fist.
  • Stepping reflex- When the child is kept with tummy down position, she tries to move her legs like walking in the air.

Communication Development

As of now crying is her only source of communicating her needs to you. She will cry primarily for three or four reasons: hunger, diaper change, discomfort due to clothing, heat, cold, or insect bite or pain. (Read our blog here to know why the baby cries and how you can deal with it.) From high-toned wailing of a few days old baby, she will graduate to more deeper tones of crying. But while that is her way of speaking out, there is much that she is picking from her environment, vis-a-vis language and communication. She will stare at you when you talk to her and is storing all the information in her head. She will also delight you with some gurgling once in a while.

Social and Emotional Development

You are your little one’s world at this point. You are what she wants and demands and cries for. The presence of others comes in later in her life. Your baby will find comfort in her mother’s arms and may cry out for you. She will start to get comfortable with other caretakers within a few days. She will show keen response or interest towards an older sibling if any who plays with her, interacts or moves around her. Since she has not experienced stranger anxiety or separation anxiety, she may not mind being held by other people but large crowds will over stimulate and exhaust her to the point of being fussy. So, it is best to limit visitors initially.

A host of studies have established a positive association between sleep, memory, language, executive function, and overall cognitive development in typically developing infants and young children. 

Nature and Science of Sleep, PMID, 2017

Baby Sleep and Nutrition Needs of a one month old baby

Sleep and feed pretty much all that your newborn will be interested in this stage. One month old babies can typically sleep about 15 to 16 hours per day broken up into smaller nap times. These naps depend on the baby and can vary from baby to baby, but little ones can sleep for 1.5-2 hours after being awake for 1.5 to 2 hours each time as part of healthy baby sleep pattern. At this stage there is no concept of day and night yet, so at a gap of every 2 hours they may wake up for a feed.

Feeding is limited to breastmilk for all its advantages. It boosts baby’s immunity, brain development and has all the nutrients the baby requires. No top feed or even water is suggested. The baby may need to be fed every 2 hours or on demand, suckling each time for half hour to 45 minutes. This makes it atleast 10-12 feeds per day approximately.

Sensory Development of a one month old baby

Hearing– Your baby starts responding to the sounds, voices she hears near her. Mostly she loves to listen to her mother’s voice.

Vision– Usually, the baby has a bit of hazy vision. By the end of the first month, they start to see objects clearly.

Touch-The newborn reacts to the mother’s touch only and is very sensitive to it. Through your touch sensation, she recognizes when she is in stranger’s arms and finds it safe or unsafe.

Smell– Babies learn their mother’s smell early in life, wiring the scent into their brains, research shows ( University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Some experts also believe they know the smell of the breastmilk as well and therefore can identify top feed from breastmilk.

boosting developmental milestones of 0-3 month old baby

Activities to boost baby development

Your baby though still very young is learning very fast. A little bit of positive reinforcement from you–in terms of simple, fun activities, can help her meet her developmental milestones faster and more effectively. Here are some ways to try:

1.  Give her ample tummy time to boost her motor skills. During tummy time, the baby is forced to use her muscles to lift herself–treat it as an exercise for her.

2. Get silly–make faces, converse, sing to her. This will boost her communication skills since she will pick up both verbal and non-verbal means of communication.

3. Be available to her when she needs you. Hold her when she cries. Bond with her to not only make her feel secure but boost her development as well. Even playing with her by swinging her gently will boost her development. Watch the video here to know how.

5. Always respond to her gurgling sounds to boost her communication skills and boost baby development.

Hygiene and Baby care in the first month

Your little one is too little for any experiments, so ideally stick to the doctor’s advice. Bathing her everyday is not essential, though changing clothes, keeping the diaper area clean and wiping the folds of the skin–neck, throat, fingers, underarms–etc is. For complete bath routine as baby care regimen, read here. Avoid using baby powders since doctors believe that they get stuck in the folds of the skin of the baby and cause abrasive actions. Since, the baby can sometimes regurgitate milk keep a clean napkin handy always to wipe it off. Any residue if collected in the baby’s neck folds can lead to bacterial infection. Give a gentle massage with a light organic oil to help the baby relax and also strengthen her muscles. It will also help her sleep better.

Since, her umbilical cord still has to dry and fall off, avoid messing with it at all. Just keep the area dry, with an antiseptic powder, if advised by the doctor, or let it be. Do not bring water in contact with the umbilical cord. Once it dries up–ideally within a week of the baby being born–it will fall off on its own.

Keep changing diapers frequently as an integral part of baby care. You can use cloth nappies since they are skin friendly during the day time, and diapers when going out or at night time. This will depend on your convenience totally. It is best to wipe her bottoms, post a motion, with warm water and clean disposable napkin or cotton. Avoid wipes, or adding disinfectants to the water since they can be harsh on the baby’s skin.

Some people believe in wiping inside the mouth of the baby, her eyes, and inside her nose as well as gentalia, but this is not recommended at all. If you notice any discharge, or unhealthy odour or feel something is wrong, contact your doctor.

When to consult a doctor

Besides regular health concerns and vaccination needs as part of baby care, you may want to check with the doctor if

1- your baby doesn’t give any reactions to sounds, loud thuds, and banging.

2-if the baby sleeps for stretches without waking up for feed.

3-if the baby doesn’t cry or cries too much; doesn’t kick her legs or arms, doesn’t try to raise her head during tummy time

4- if you feel the baby is too listless or very agitated

But inspite of all the concerns remember that your baby is a precious gift, to be nurtured and loved by you, right from the start. The journey to childhood begins from this stage. Happy parenting!

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