The First Six Months: Big Changes - Month Two

May 24 19:05 2017 Sally Michener Print This Article

This article covers the following topics: The Second Month: Big Smiles, The great Imitator,  Visual Development, Eyes and Head move together, Sees farther, Eye-catchers, What Babies Like to Look At, Sit me up to see my world, Become an eye watcher, Guessing Your Baby's Eye Color, Babies First Smile Makes It All Worthwhile, Engaging Behaviors,  Feeding Behaviors, Two-Month Talk,  Tips for Talking to Your Baby, Two-Month moves.  There will be four more parts to this article.  Be sure to keep an eye out for them.

The Second Month Big Smiles

During the first month babies seldom make enough major changes to write grandmother bout. It is a stage of becoming organized,Guest Posting discovering to whom she belongs, and learning to fit into her new home. It is a time for parents to recover from birth, survive on less sleep, and adjust to life with a new baby. In the second month you are, in the words of surviving parents, "over the hump."

The second month is baby's social debut -- the coming out of herself. She opens up her hands to greet people. She opens her vision to widen her world and her mouth to smile and make more noise. The feeling of rightness and trust developed during the first month opens the door for baby's real personality to step out.

The Great Imitator

Baby's intense interest in your facial gestures prompts her to mimic your changing facial expressions. Like a dance -- you lead, baby follows. Nothing can entertain a baby like a face. Walt Disney capitalized on this observation by creating cartoon characters with big and exaggeratedly round eyes, nose, cheeks, and ears. The best of these, Mickey Mouse has survived the longest.

When your baby is in the quiet alert state, try this face-to-face game: Hold your baby within best focusing distance (around eight to ten inches/twenty to twenty-five centimeters) and slowly stick out your tongue as far as you can. Give baby time to process your antics, then repeat two to three times a minute. When baby begins to move her tongue, sometimes even protrude it, you know you've registered a hit. Try the same game with opening your mouth wide or changing the contour of your lips. Facial expressions are contagious. You may catch your baby mimicking your yawn, or vice versa.

Mom, the mirror.
In playing face-imitation games you mirror your newborn's expressions back to him. When a newborn frowns, opens his eyes or mouth wide, or grimaces, mother instinctively mimics her newborn's expressions and exaggerates them. Baby sees his face in his mother's. Infant development specialists regard mirroring as a powerful enforcer of baby's self-awareness.

Visual Development

The fleeting glances of the first month evolve into ten or more second of engaging eye-to-eye contact that captivates caregivers and mesmerizes babies. These penetrating stares and facial-welcoming gestures seem to say, "Hi, mom and dad!" In the first month baby mostly scanned your face; now she studies your face in more detail.

You will probably realize that when baby is looking at you, he scans your face very methodically and systematically. He seems to be studying my face. He will start out looking at my eyes and from there he will look up to my hairline and follow the hairline all the way around, then come back to the eyes, down to the mouth, up to the hairline and back to the eyes. He will study my face like this for long periods of time.

Eyes and head move together.
As you begin to walk away, notice baby's eyes can now follow you for a few moments. Unlike the asynchronous eye and head movements of a newborn, baby's eyes now move more smoothly, and head finally catches up with her eyes to move together. She's more able to track your face or a toy moving side to side, perhaps even a full 180 degrees.

Sees farther.
Last month baby showed little interest in the world beyond her reach. She could not see it clearly. This month brings about an increase in her intimate space, and more of her ever-widening world is now in focus.

As if given a better camera at two months baby becomes interested in many of the goings-on elsewhere in the room. She studies your face for a while, shifts her gaze to focus on something in the background, scans the room, pausing momentarily as if to snap the pictures she likes, and then shifts back to peer at your face -- still her favorite picture.

Eye-catchers. To spark the interest of a curious two-month-old, here are the sights that most delight. During the early months babies like black and white better than a rainbow of colors. The prefer patterns that contrast with each other rather than soft colors that blend together. Even two-month-olds have selective visual tastes. Rather than synthetic patterns and pastel designer wallpaper, they prefer the colors of nature: bright flowers in the garden, reds and yellows of changing autumn leaves, and bare tree branches silhouetted against a winter sky. Babies often get bored indoors. Take her outside where the rhythmical movements of trees, clouds, flowers, and even automobiles open the eyes of everyone.

What Babies Like to Look At

* your face - always the favorite
* contrasts (mainly black and white)
* black-and-white photos: glossy eight-by-tens of mom's and dad's faces
* broad stripes, approximately two inches (five centimeters wide
* black dots, one inch in diameter, on a white background (the younger the baby, the wider the stripes and the larger the dots)
* checkerboards and bull's-eyes
* silhouettes (for example, plants in front of a window)
* mobiles, especially with black-and-white contrasting designs
* ceiling fans and ceiling beams
* fires in fireplaces

Sit me up to see my world
Want to see more of those bright sparkly eyes? Get baby off her back. Babies seem to be less interested in using their visual or motor skills to relate to their environment when lying on their backs. Perhaps the reclining position reminds them too much of sleep. Instead of letting your baby lie in a crib staring at a mobile, sit her upright in an infant seat or in your lap or carry her over your shoulder.

Become as eye watcher.
Your baby's eyes are the window to her feelings. Wide-open sparkly eyes are invitations to play. Slowly drooping eyelids signal that sleep is coming. An intense look reflects interest, while a blank expression indicates boredom. Glazed may mean sick. If your baby turns away from eye-to-eye contact, she is telling you that she is losing interest and it's time for a change. Raising and frowning eyebrows add another clue to baby's early eye language Eyes do mirror moods.

Guessing Your Baby's Eye Color

Place your bets on future eye color now, but all the pigment of the iris may not cross the finish line until a year or two of age. During their baby's two-month check-up, parents invariably as, "Doctor what do you think her eye color will be?" Here are some hints on how to play the odds and perhaps be able to guess correctly what the color of your baby's eyes will be.

Darker eyes, brown or dark green, usually stay dark, especially in darker-skinned races: African American, Indian, and Asian. Lighter eyes (blue, gray) are less predictable, often going through many color changes in the first three months before settling on a color direction by three months and darkening to their final color by six to twelve months. When in doubt, look at you and your husband's eye coloring. If both parents have brown eyes, guess brown (75 percent chance of being right): if one has brown eyes, still guess brown (50 percent right): if both blue, guess blue (but baby may still turn out brown-eyed), though parents' genes primarily determine eye color, even Great-grandma may leave her mark. Curious brown triangular or round specks on the iris are often a distantly inherited trait. Add eye color to the many fleeting changes of the early months. Photo capture it while you can.

Baby's First Smile Makes It All Worthwhile

Here it is, the sight you've been longing for -- real smiles. A baby's smile develops through two stages, the smiles of last month were reflex smiles, automatic reactions to an inner feeling of rightness. They were fleeting, limited to the muscles of the mouth, and usually appeared only for a few seconds as baby drifted off to sleep or after a feeding. Those were the "I think they're smiles but I'm not sure" grimaces. Now there is no doubt. These are returned social smiles in response to your smiles and facial gestures. The whole face lights up. Baby's eyes are wide open and, if she is really into it, crinkled up at the corners. Dimples appear in baby's chubby cheeks as she flashes her pearly gums and toothless grins. These facial smiles often escalate into total body smiles as baby wiggles with pleasure during a smiling game.

Remember, smiling is a two-way communication between smiler and smilee. Reinforce your baby's smiles by smiling back. Jazz up your smile to intensify baby's smile. Sometimes this smiling game will escalate into a chorus of mutual total body language: Parents exaggerate their facial gestures and babble a barrage of baby talk while baby wiggles with delight and spurts out her first coos and squeals, sounding like her first laugh. After you have both come down from the high of your first laugh together, you melt into a comforting cuddle. This first smile is such a powerful enforcer of parenting behavior that you momentarily forget the sleep you are losing and the rest of your social and professional life that is now on hold.

Engaging Behaviors

Remember those helpless feelings when you didn't know what baby needed, and how frustrated you were when you couldn't stop her cries? In the previous month, except for a cry and a few decodable "Pick me up" signals, you often didn't know where you stood. Now the two-month-old is easier to read. The smiles are opener to relate and play. The cries take on a more purposeful pattern. Around two months, babies show a set of interesting cues we call engaging behaviors -- social signals that show you how they feel and what they need.

Notes: Baby now lets me know when he's hungry, and he knows that I usually hold him cradled in my arms for feeding. He knows that I fiddle with my blouse and unhook my bra to get ready, so already during this ritual he is letting me know that he anticipates a feeding. He starts to nibble a bit, to rev up his breathing patterns, and to turn toward me in an expectant sort of way. He has already told me that he is hungry, and now he is telling me that he expects to be fed.

Anticipation and protest behaviors.
By two months of age your baby may begin showing trust-in-parent signs; the earliest of these is anticipation. After rehearsing the cue-response script of "I cry -- I get picked up and nursed" (meaning breast, bottle, or comfort) for two months, baby is now ready to show the audience that she understands her lines. Likewise, if her opening lines are misread, she show protest behaviors.

Notes: If I miss baby's early cues, he protests. He pounds my chest with his tiny little fists in a desperate kind of way and bobs his head band and forth. One day as I was preparing to feed him, I decided to hand him over to dad so I could get one more thing done before I actually sat down for a prolonged feeding. He immediately started to howl. This was the opposite of what he was expecting and wanting. He was angry and very upset and wouldn't settle down until I satisfied his anticipation and fed him.

You will find it much more pleasant for both you and baby if you respect his anticipatory behaviors. When he has given me a cue that he is hungry and you respond immediately he is a wonderful sigh. If you miss his hunger cues or try to delay a feeding, he may cry for a period of time and his mouth will be very tight and his lips pursed. During the feeding he will continue to be upset. His sucking movements will be tense and his face will be quivering. Disappointing his expectations produces feelings of mistrust which are reflected in his sucking patterns and are not good for either of you. Because of this, response time should be consistently getting shorter.

Catching your moods.
Moods are contagious to attached babies and their mothers, and around this stage a mutual mood sensitivity begins. When mother is upset, baby is upset. It has been noticed that babies who are most sensitive to their parents' feelings are the ones who have the most trust in their parents. Naturally, a mutual sensitivity develops when two people grow close to each other.

Feeding Behaviors

Scratch the schedule. By two months of age, if not sooner, you will realize that feeding schedules are an illusion of writers outside of the inner circle of baby feeders, especially with breastfeeding babies. Some breastfed babies, for example, like to cluster-feed, bunching several feedings into an hour or two, then going three to four hours without feeding. Shun the rigid term "schedule" and think in terms of feeding harmony: reading your baby's cues and not the clocks' and being more flexible in response to your baby's individual temperament and your lifestyle. The more flexible term "cue feeding" to the "demand feeding" label attached to the hungry little field general is preferred.

Two-Month Talk

Your baby's sounds give you a clue to what mood she is in. Cooing sounds are baby's earliest attempts to communicate delight. Remember, language is made up of both sounds and gestures. Notice the amusing sounds that accompany your baby's smile. The initial part of the smile (the mouth opening) is often accompanied by a brief "ah" or "uh," followed by a long sighing, cooing sounds as the smile widens and grows. During the second month baby's vocalizations range from brief one-syllable squeaks and squeals to prolonged expressive sounds: "eh, ah, oh?" Toward the end of the second month baby's throaty, grunting sounds become higher pitched, more vowel-like and musical, including coos, squeaks, and gurgles. Sounds produced during sleep both amuse and worry parents. Baby's breathing may sound rattled as the air moves through puddles of saliva in the back of the throat -- the same sound that produces the normal chest rattle that you may now feel.

How Mothers Talk to Babies

Many times during the early months you will wonder how much of what you are saying really gets through to your baby. Research confirms what parents have long suspected -- when mother talks, baby listens.

Let's try a home video experiment. When your baby is in the quiet alert sate, capture an eye-to-eye fix and begin your natural mother talk while your husband tapes the scene. When you play back the tape, you will see baby's and mother's body language are in synchrony. If you play the videotape in slow motion, you will notice that the listening baby's head and body movements seem to dance in time to the rhythm of mother's voice. You really are getting through to your baby, although imperceptibly.

Natural baby talk.
You don't have to learn how to talk to your baby. You're a natural. Mothers instinctively use motherese -- upbeat tones and facial gestures -- to talk to their baby. They raise the pitch, s-l-o-w the rate, and e-x-a-g-g-e-r-a-t-e the man syllables. Notice that you put your whole face into the act by over widening your mouth and eyes while talking. The quality of mother's speech is tailored to the baby's listening abilities, slowing down and speeding up according to baby's attention. To make sure baby gets the message, mothers instinctively draw our their vowels -- "Gooood baaaby." How mother talks is more important to a baby than what she says.

Taking turns.
Mothers talk in slowly rising crescendos and decrescendos with bursts and pauses, allowing baby some time to process each short vocal package before the next message arrives. Though you may feel that talking to your baby is a monologue, you naturally speak to your baby as if you're imagining a dialogue. Video analysis of the fine art of mother-baby communication shows that mother behaves as if she imagines baby talks back. She naturally shortens her messages and elongates her pauses to exact length of time that coincides with the length of the imagined response from the baby, especially when she is talking to the baby in the form of a question. This is baby's earliest speech lesson, in which mother is shaping baby's ability to listen. The infant stores these early abilities away and later recalls them when beginning to speak.

Tips for Talking to Your Baby

The preceding research findings on speech analysis show that every mother naturally receives an honorary degree as her baby's speech teacher. Following are some more tips to help your early communication get off to an even better start.

Look at the listener.
Capture baby's eyes before beginning your conversation, and you will be able to hold her attention longer and are more likely to get an appreciative response.

Address baby by name.
While baby may not associate the name with herself for a few more months, hearing it frequently triggers a mental association that is a special sound she has heard before and signals that more fun sounds will follow -- much as an adult perks up to a familiar tune.

Keep it simple.
Use short two- or three- word sentences and one- or two-syllable words with lots of drawn-out, exaggerated vowels: "Preeetty baaaby." As when composing a telegram, avoid cluttering your dialog with "the" and "a." Drop the pronouns "I" and "me." They have no meaning to baby. Refer to yourselves as "mommy" and "daddy."

Keep it lively.
Say "Wave bye-bye cat" as you direct your waving bye-bye at the cat. Babies are more likely to recall words that are associated with animated gestures. Give your speech some spark with inflections at the end of the sentence. Exaggerate cue words. File away which sounds the best audience reaction. Babies become bored easily especially with the same old sound.

Ask questions.
"Anthony want to nurse?" "go bye-bye?" Talking in questions will naturally amplify the sound at the end of the sentence as you anticipate baby's response.

Talk about what you are doing.
As you go through your daily maintenance tasks of dressing, bathing, and changing baby, narrate what you are doing, much like a sportscaster describing a game" "Now daddy takes of the diaper . . . now we put a new one on . . ." It's normal to feel a bit foolish initially, but you are not talking to a stone wall. There is a little person with big ears processing every word she hears, sorting it on an endless memory record.

Watch for go signs and stop signs.
Wait for your baby to show engagement cues (smiling, sustaining eye contact, and hands-out gesturing) as if to say, "I like it, keep on talking." Also, observe stop signs of disengagement (vacant staring and turning eyes and head away from your face) that say, "I've had enough of this chatter, let's change gears."

Give baby a turn.
When asking a question, give baby time to answer. As when you talk to another person, pause frequently to give baby a chance to get in a little coo or squeak. Baby is likely to tune out a steady commentary.

Give baby feedback.
If baby responds or when baby opens the conversation with a smiling total body giggle or a charming coo, imitate her vocalization and replay it back. Mimicking her language adds value to it and reinforces baby's attempts to continue to get her point across.

Read to baby.
Babies love nursery rhymes and poems with an up-and-down singsong cadence. Reading aloud can help you satisfy two persons with the same story. Reading to a toddler while holding and sometimes breastfeeding your new baby may hold both busy babies' attention. There will be days when your adult mind needs more than Mother Goode. Read your favorite magazine or book aloud to baby, pepping up the story for a baby's ear.

Say it with music.
Infant researchers believe that singing affects more the brain centers for language than do words without music. Even if you are not an opera star you will at least have an admiring audience of one. Babies at all ages love familiar songs, either self-composed or borrowed. File away baby's top ten favorites and reply them frequently. A desire for parents to repeat their entertainment is a forerunner of the incessant encores to come: "Again ... again, Mom (or Dad)."

Two-Month Moves
Loosening hands and arms.
The tight fist and body-clenched arms of the first month loosen a bit during the second month, as if the reflexes that kept baby's muscles flexed tightly inward were overruled by the maturing brain's saying, "Loosen up and enjoy the world." Baby's tightly clenched fingers unfold one by one to fan out into an open hand. When you place a rattle in the palm of baby's hand she will tightly grasp the toy and hold on to it awhile. But don't expect her to voluntarily reach for the rattle until next month. Baby's tightly clenched fist doesn't eagerly release its treasured toy. Stroking the back of baby's hand may persuade the tight fist to loosen its grip.

First reaches.
Baby's first attempt to reach out and touch her world seems totally aimless, but there is a bit of directionality in her punches. The short little jabs in the general direction of a tangling toy score more misses than hits. But practice makes perfect.

Safety tip: Always stay with your baby while there is a mobile within reach. Even though her waving hands seem aimless baby's finger, or worse, her neck, can get caught in the dangling strings -- which should be no longer than eight inches (twenty centimeters).

The opening of eyes, voice, and hands during this second month is a prelude to the social person to emerge during the next month.

There will be more articles on infants, breast or bottle feeding and other related topics to follow. So please keep an eye out for more of my articles.

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Sally Michener
Sally Michener

Here at ring sling baby carriers we know your baby is precious and worth keeping close. Our ring sling baby carriers help you make the most of life while making the most of your baby's. Please visit our website ring sling baby carriers to see our broad selection of Hotslings adjustable pouch, Rockin Baby pouch, Rockin Baby ring sling, Seven Every Day Slings and Lil Cub Hub convertible sling baby carriers and find the right print and style for you and your baby.

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