For new mothers: The first year checklist to monitor your baby’s health

New to parenting, are you dear mommy? Look out for these developmental milestones in your little one and know how to monitor your baby's health.
tummy time
If your baby hates tummy time, lay them on your chest.
Dr Paras Kumar J Published: 14 May 2023, 12:00 pm IST
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Becoming a new parent is undoubtedly a happy and exciting experience, but it also brings a unique set of challenges. Many new parents, especially mothers, struggle to navigate the first few months after their child’s birth, experiencing anxiety and physical exhaustion. They may find it difficult to manage aspects such as breastfeeding, identifying signs of distress, and coping with constant crying.  Along with this comes the challenge of handling newborn baby problems.

These issues can be overwhelming and cause significant stress for new parents. It’s important for new parents to seek support from family, friends or professionals during this time to help them navigate these challenges and ensure the health and well-being of both the parent and the child.

The first few weeks of breastfeeding: How to be prepared?

One of the most crucial aspects for any newborn’s health is breastfeeding. The most challenging period for any mother is the period after the birth of the child. During this time, women may face multiple physical and mental challenges that can make breastfeeding difficult. To help new mothers establish healthy breastfeeding habits, sessions with a lactation consultant are crucial. New mothers should proactively seek out credible information about breastfeeding and why it’s essential for their newborn’s health. Sessions with a lactation consultant during antenatal visits can greatly assist mothers in learning healthy breastfeeding habits, including how to put the baby on the breast within an hour of life. This way, new mothers can feel confident and well-prepared for their breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding is important
Breastfeeding is important for a newborn’s growth and development. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Different phases of a newborn child’s development

Developmental milestones during the first 30 days

During the first 30 days of your baby’s life, it is typical for them to experience a slight decrease in weight. Do not worry! This is entirely normal and is often followed by a return to their birth weight by day 10 or during the second week of life. Ensuring that your newborn is adequately fed through breastfeeding is crucial during this period to promote optimal health and support their overall development.

When it comes to sleep, newborns tend to sleep for an average of 18 to 20 hours. As every baby’s needs are different, practising demand feeding and allowing them to rest as much as possible is highly recommended.

Developmental milestones during 2-4 months

As the days progress into the first 60 days, consistent weight gain and the formation of a strong emotional bond between mother and child are vital developmental milestones to keep an eye on. These first few months of life are a critical time for a baby’s overall health and well-being.

Between 2 to 4 months, be prepared to witness a remarkable phase of rapid development. New milestones seem to emerge during this period, with the first significant one being the ability to recognise and smile at their mother. By two months old, babies can recognise their mother through smell and touch, and shortly after, they will begin to smile socially. During this time, their vision also rapidly develops, allowing them to see objects up to 30 centimeters away.

Also read: From diaper rash to summer skin woes, follow these tips for baby skincare

Baby sleeping in peace
Your child may begin showing signs of smiling and social interaction. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Around 2-3 months, babies typically begin to reach for and bring their hands to their mouth, which is a developmental milestone. However, some mothers may misinterpret this behaviour as a sign of hunger and end up feeding the baby unnecessarily, even if the baby is not crying or showing signs of hunger. It is important to note that putting hands in the mouth is a common milestone for babies between 2-4 months and should not be confused with hunger.

At 3 to 4 months, babies should be able to partially or fully hold their neck up and lift it above shoulder level when placed on their tummy. By 4-5 months, babies should have complete neck control and can roll over. They should also develop a stable back and be able to sit for a short period of time with support. During this period, their neck and back should be stable, enabling them to achieve these physical milestones.

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Also read: Know the red flags in your child’s development milestones

Vaccinations to know about for a newborn child

* At birth, babies receive three vaccines – BCG, Hepatitis B, and Polio drops.
* From 0-6 months, babies receive 29 vaccines in total.
* At 6, 10, and 14 weeks, babies receive a set of vaccines, including Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Haemophilus influenza B, Hepatitis B, Pneumococcal vaccine (against pneumonia), and Rotavirus vaccine. These eight vaccines are given three times.
* At six months of age, babies receive the flu shot and the typhoid shot.

Mother handling newborn
A newborn baby’s health is in your hands, dear parents. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Things to remember while caring for a newborn child

It is recommended to visit a paediatrician regularly to ensure the baby’s optimal health and development. Vaccination visits are scheduled at one and half months, two and half months, three and half months and six months of age. Additionally, during every visit, a milestone checklist is done to assess the baby’s progress such as smiling, recognizing the mother, neck holding and more.

Parents should pay attention to certain signs in their baby’s development, which require prompt medical attention.

If the baby doesn’t recognize the mother or doesn’t display social smiles by the end of three months, it can indicate a developmental delay. Additionally, if the baby has inadequate neck support by the end of four months, or is unable to locate sound and light sources by four months, parents should seek the advice of a pediatrician without delay. Early intervention is crucial to ensure the baby receives timely and appropriate medical care.

The first year of a baby’s life is an exciting time for parents, full of new experiences for both the baby and the family. Parenting styles may vary, but with access to the right information and support, parents can navigate challenges with confidence.

While the internet can be a helpful resource, it’s important to seek out credible sources of information and consult medical professionals to ensure that appropriate measures are taken for the baby’s health and well-being.

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About the Author

Dr Paras Kumar J is a renowned neonatologist in Bengaluru. With over a decade's experience, he has worked as a Newborn Infant Specialist. He currently practices at SPARSH Hospital for Women and Children, Infantry Road, Bengaluru. ...Read More

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