1-2 months: newborn development

1-2 months: newborn development

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Newborn development at 1-2 months: what's happening

Around this time, most babies might cry and fuss more - this is a normal part of development and will pass in time. Every baby is different, but crying and fussing usually peaks around 6-8 weeks and starts to settle at around 12-16 weeks.

Your baby has made a strong bond with you already - she recognises you and responds to your voice and smile. She has even started smiling herself from about six weeks old.

Your baby can see objects about 45 cm away. He'll watch you move around now, following you with his eyes from side to side as well as up and down.

Your two-month-old is more alert to sound and will look at you when you talk to her. She's also more vocal, gurgling and making single vowel sounds like 'a' or 'o'.

You might not realise it, but your baby is getting better at moving. When he's on his tummy, you might see him lift his head and turn it from side to side. Your baby might even lift his chest off the ground.

Your baby has also discovered she has fingers and hands! By now she'll have her hands open half the time and can hold onto a rattle when you put it in her hand. Your baby might also hold both hands together.

When it's time for a feed, your baby might open his mouth when he sees the breast or bottle.

Helping newborn development at 1-2 months

Here are a few simple things you can do to help your newborn's development:

  • Smile at your baby: when your baby sees you smile, it releases natural chemicals in her body. This makes her feel good, safe and secure. This also helps her brain develop and builds attachment to you.
  • Spend time together: reading to your baby, sharing stories, talking and singing are all ways to enjoy time together. Doing these things every day also helps your baby get familiar with sounds and words. In turn, this helps your baby develop the language and communication skills he'll need when he's older.
  • Play with your newborn: this helps your baby's brain to grow and helps her learn about the world. It also strengthens the bond between the two of you.
  • Tummy time: spending 1-5 minutes playing on his tummy each day builds your baby's head, neck and upper body strength. Your baby needs these muscles to lift his head, crawl and pull himself up to stand when he's older. Always watch your baby during tummy time and put him on his back to sleep.
  • Baby massage: baby massage is a great way to connect with your baby. It can also be relaxing and soothing if your newborn is cranky. Try it in a warm room after baby has had her bath.

Sometimes your baby won't want to do some of these things - for example, he might be too tired or hungry. He'll use special baby cues to let you know when he's had enough and what he needs.

Responding to crying
Sometimes you'll know why your baby is crying. When you respond to crying - for example, by changing your baby's nappy when it's wet or feeding her if she's hungry - she feels more comfortable and safe.

Sometimes you might not know why your baby is crying but it's still important to comfort him. You can't spoil your baby by picking him up, cuddling him or talking to him in a soothing voice.

But lots of crying might make you feel frustrated or upset. If you feel overwhelmed, put your baby in a safe place like a cot, or ask someone else to hold her for a while. It's OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Try going to another room to breathe deeply or calling a family member or friend to talk things through.

Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.

It's OK to ask for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for your baby, call your local Parentline. You might also like to try our ideas for dealing with anger, anxiety and stress.

Parenting a newborn

Every day you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. As your baby grows and develops, you'll learn more about what he needs and how you can meet these needs.

As a parent, you're always learning. Every parent makes mistakes and learns through experience. It's OK to feel confident about what you know. And it's also OK to admit you don't know something and ask questions or get help.

Your own physical and mental health is an important part of being a parent. But with all the focus on looking after a child or baby, lots of parents forget or run out of time to look after themselves. Looking after yourself will help you with the understanding, patience, imagination and energy you need to be a parent.

When to be concerned about newborn development

See your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your two-month-old has any of the following difficulties.

Seeing, hearing and communicating
Your child:

  • is crying a lot and difficult to soothe and this is worrying you
  • isn't watching faces or looking you in the eyes, even for a short time
  • isn't responding to bright light or can't focus her eyes on something
  • isn't hearing things - for example, isn't startling to loud sounds or turning her head towards sounds
  • isn't making sounds like gurgling.

Behaviour and movement
Your child:

  • isn't feeding well
  • isn't sleeping well
  • is very tired or sleeps a lot more than expected - that is, more than around 16 hours a day
  • isn't beginning to smile
  • isn't moving his arms or legs.

You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.

Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you're worried about whether your child's development is 'normal', it might help to know that 'normal' varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn't quite right, see your child and family health nurse or GP.