Your Baby's Development: Month One
It's early days, you have probably never handled something so precious, and they seem so frighteningly fragile at this age. Your newborn will need you to provide support for their head at all times, unless they are lying down somewhere safe. Their head is very heavy and their neck muscles are not sufficiently developed to support it themselves, but this will come in time. By the end of this month your baby may be able to lift their head off the floor for a short while when lying on their tummy.
Your baby's eyesight is still developing, and you may notice that their eyes don't always seem to be coordinating properly, this is normal, but by the end of this month you might find that your baby can focus on something held at a distance of about 8-10 inches from their face - usually your own face!
Social and Emotional Development
You will probably find that your baby can often be soothed quite quickly just by being held. Skin to skin contact is really beneficial for the bonding process between a mother and her baby, but it is important for fathers too. Even if you are not breastfeeding, try to make sure that you have plenty of skin to skin contact each day, and encourage your partner to do so too. Having a bath with your baby is a great way to do this.
One of the early behaviours that your baby may demonstrate is that of surprise, and maybe even fear. This is usually as a result of a loud noise - a slammed door or Daddy's sneeze. It may cause your baby to give a startled reaction (jumping or crying) in response.
Speech and Communication
Crying, crying and more crying - it's all they have at this stage in terms of asking for your attention. Your baby's crying can be confusing in these early days, not to mention stressful. Crying usually means that your baby is either hungry or tired, that they have a wet or dirty nappy, that they are uncomfortable, or that they want a cuddle. Or it may be that they are too hot, too cold, a bit frustrated or just lonely. Helpful? Not really, but in time all of these things will become easier, not only because they will get through fewer nappies and feeds each day, and become better at regulating their own body temperature, but also because they will become easier for you to read. It may seem hard to imagine at this stage, but long before words or pointing come into play, you will begin to interpret their different cries - how they sound when they are hungry will probably be quite different to how they sound when they have trapped wind or are over tired.
On the food front, it's milk, milk and more milk for the first 6 months. Whether you choose to breastfeed your baby or to use infant formula, there is no need to introduce other foods until they are six months of age. Phew! That's one thing kept simple for the time being!
So it might be a little early for ball games and action songs, but that doesn't mean your baby won't enjoy being entertained from this young age. Talk to them as you go about your day with them, tell them what you're doing and sing gentle songs to them. They won't understand the content of what you're saying and singing just yet, but they will enjoy the familiarity of your voice and in time the songs will become familiar too, making them both comforting and entertaining.
Be Careful Of...
...Wriggly babies. You shouldn't expect your baby to get rolling and crawling for some months yet, but many a new parent will agree that babies do travel - seemingly more so the minute you turn your back. If you lay your baby on a play mat or in a cot you are sure to notice that sometimes you look back to find them in a different place. Kicking and wriggling helps them to (unintentionally) move across the floor or whatever surface they are lying on. Sometimes the wriggling can be so energetic that they roll, it might be entirely by fluke and the only roll they do for the next four months, but it does happen and it means that they can fall off raised surfaces. Another way in which accidents can happen is when babies are able to 'kick off' something. A baby laid with her feet against the back of the sofa can kick themselves backwards all the way to the edge if they kick off hard enough, and as so much of their body weight is distributed to their head, once their head starts to fall their body will be taken with them very quickly. So be vigilant from the beginning. It is never going to be safe to leave your baby unattended on a bed, a changing table or the sofa, whether they are 3 weeks old or 8 months old, there is always the risk that they will fall off.
All parents find themselves in situations where they find themselves short of something at the changing station - the nappy cream is in your bag, the wipes are behind you in the cupboard. Don't be tempted to leave your baby out of arm's reach, not even for a second. Whilst you might think that the chances of a fall are small, the consequences of a fall will probably not be, and it is just never worth the risk.
The most obvious solution is to always be well prepared, have all the things you need set up at each changing station (it is often helpful to have more than one in the house during the early days). Having a young baby though tends to have an impact on your organisational skills, so if you find yourself caught out, either find a way of taking the baby with you or move them down onto the floor. Provided the floor is clean, they are not lying directly on a very hard, dirty or rough surface and there is no danger of other people standing or falling on them then they are safer there than anywhere else.