Your newborn is a unique person with a distinct personality from the first hour after birth. You and your baby will begin to learn about each other by spending time together. Your baby is born with a number of skills, including the ability to hear, to see and to communicate. He is influenced by a number of reflexes which influence his movements. She begins to learn to communicate with you by crying. It is an exhausting time for parents and may be a little scary but soon things will smooth out as you get to know each other.

Milestones (More or Less, milestones are a guideline. Each baby is unique and will reach these skills at their own pace. Milestones looks at the average.)
How your newborn moves.
  1. Newborns tend to be flexed, arms and legs are bent up towards their tummies.
  2.  Most movements are reflexive. For example, if you touch your babies cheek, especially if she is hungry, she will turn her head towards your hand. She is responding to the touch.
  3. Babies make big movements related to where their head is resting.
  4.  Most newborns can lift their head enough to clear their nose if they are on their tummies. A few can lift their heads higher. This is a skill they need to practice.
How a newborn uses hands
  1. Newborn hands are usually fisted.
  2. If you put your finger on your newborn's palm he will grasp it. If you try to pull it out, he will grasp tighter. (People with long hair, if the baby grasps your hair, do not try to pull the hair out of her hand. Gently bend the wrist forward towards inside of wrist and the fingers will open. Then you can extract your hair.)
Your newborn's senses
  1. Newborns can see but their focus point is about 10 inches (25cm) from their face, about the distance to your face when you hold them in your arms.
  2. Newborns can see color but not well. Strong contrasting colors draw attention more than pastels.
  3. Newborns prefer geometric shapes and faces to other patterns
  4. Newborns have been able to hear from before birth.
  5. Newborns can distinguish smells. Taste buds are developed at birth and you may notice your baby responding differently to breast feeding based on something you ate.
Thinking and learning
  1. Baby can shut out disturbing sounds or sights
  2. Baby is alert about 3% of the day.
  3. Baby shows interest in sounds, people and pictures by quieting and appearing to pay attention for a few seconds.
Newborn language skills
  1. Babies are predisposed to communicate. Newborns tend to have limited vocal sounds, including throaty gurgles and crying.
  2. Newborns learn that crying gets a response and this is their first way of telling you they need something.
  3. Early on there is a difference between hunger crying and pain crying, as when they have an ear infection or tummy ache.
  4. Newborns listen attentitively and direct their attention to someone who is speaking to them.
  1. Every baby is born with a unique personality. If this is not your first baby, you know that. This child responds differently than the first one from the start.
  2. Babies respond positively to eye contact, especially with parents. They try to focus on parent's face but are not always successful for long.
  3. Newborns show signs when they are overstimulated or stressed. Some turn their heads away, others close their eyes. If the stimulation continues, the baby may start fussing or crying. Being aware of your babies early indicators will help you know when to back off the stimulation and let baby process it.
Activities for newborns.
  1. New borns should sleep on their backs for safety reasons (see NICHD back to sleep campaign)
  2. During waking time, newborns should be in other positions.
  3. Carry your newborn in a sling or device designed to give you hands free carrying. The movement is good for babies and it allows the baby to be in different positions. You can learn how at the following web site.  or you can buy a commercially made carrier.
  4. Practice tummy time. At the newborn stage, the best way to do this is for you to lie on the bed or couch with your head propped at about 45 degree angle and place the baby on your chest on his tummy. Make sure his nose and mouth free. Talk to him and encourage him to look at you but he may not get his head up at first. That is ok. He will be practicing.
  5. During diaper changing, if your baby is in an alert, happy state, play with her feet and arms while talking to baby. Gently move the leg up and down or just rub the feet or arm gently.
Sensory, thinking and learning
  1. Present large pictures with simple designs in strong contrast for your baby to see. Be sure they are not too close or too far away.
  2. Look at your baby when he is in your arms.
  3. Rhythmic, even sounds are calming, irregular contrasting sounds are alerting. Try to match baby's mood with sounds around the environment.

Language and Social.
  1. Talk to your baby when she is awake and looking at you.
  2. Answer his cries. This is is first experience with communication.
  3. Make eye contact, especially during feeding. OK maybe not at the 2 am feeding when your eyes are barely open but most of the time.
  4. Learn your baby's stress signs and pay attention to them. Decrease stimulation, when she appears to need a break.
  5. ENJOY YOUR BABY. Don't worry that you are not doing everything perfectly. By enjoying your time with your baby, you are doing everything perfectly.