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Infant - Week #6

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Newborn Week Six

By Angela Sawinski, edHelperBaby

           Did you know that your baby might not even have tears yet? It is true! Babies do not develop actual tears until one to two months of age. The tear ducts are not fully developed at birth and are not capable of shedding real tears. Try to take notice next time your baby cries to see if the tears are developed yet.


Focus Factor
           By this point, your baby can probably focus on and track moving objects. Try giving this new skill a workout by slowly passing a toy in front of his face or slowly walking back and forth in front of him. Or even have a staring contest with your baby. Watch how his eyes lock with yours and follow along with your movements. The ability to track moving objects is a small stepping-stone to developing good hand-eye coordination, which will come later in life.


Flat Heads
           A flat head is medically referred to as positional plagiocephaly. This occurs when a baby's head develops a flat spot or becomes asymmetrical due to some kind of external pressure. Many babies are born with an abnormally shaped head as a result of the pressure exerted on them during birth, but most babies' heads will correct themselves within about six weeks. If your baby's head remains asymmetrical beyond age six weeks, or if you start to notice a flat area after six weeks of age, you'll want to see your baby's doctor for referral to a specialist.       

       Another increasingly common reason that some babies develop a flat spot is that they spend so much time on their backs. Starting in the early '90s, parents were told to put their babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. While this advice may have saved thousands of babies' lives, experts have also noted a fivefold increase in the incidence of misshapen heads since then.       

       Babies are born with a soft, pliable skull, and when they sleep on their backs every night, their heads can develop a flat spot where it presses against the mattress. This happens most often in infants who are born with a common form of torticollis, a condition in which a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck causes the head to tilt to one side. Premature babies are particularly at risk.       

       A baby may also develop an abnormally shaped head if development in the womb is constricted somehow. This can happen when there's more than one fetus, if the mother's uterus or pelvis is especially small, or if there's too much or too little amniotic fluid. It can also happen to a breech baby whose head gets wedged under the mother's ribs.


Q - Why Do Babies Jerk And Twitch?
           Newborns have more connections in their nervous system than adults do which makes them more sensitive to their environment. This is the main reason why newborns startle and twitch so easily to sudden movements or loud sounds. Young babies also have increased muscle tone in their bodies. If you extend your baby's leg, it will likely jerk back into a bent position. This heightened muscle tone will decrease over the first nine months of life when the motor coordination improves. This will allow your baby smoother movements as he grows.


Pacifier or No Pacifier?
           Sucking is a natural instinct. Some babies can be seen on an ultrasound sucking a thumb in utero. Many continue to have a strong need to suck after birth; even after a feeding, they are still eager to suck.

       Whether or not you use a pacifier is up to you. Some parents swear by them, finding them a handy way to calm a fussy baby and lull her to sleep. Others object to pacifiers on aesthetic grounds and prefer not to bother with having to pick them up and clean them. You can guide your baby's hand to her mouth for self-soothing, or slide in your own clean pinkie. Keep those nails trimmed!

       There's no medical reason not to offer your baby a pacifier. Some tips if you do:

       If you're breastfeeding, don't introduce a pacifier until your baby has learned how to latch onto your breast and your milk supply is constant, which should have happened by now. When a pacifier is introduced in the first week, a baby can have a harder time learning to breastfeed since the mouth motions needed to suck a nipple and a pacifier are slightly different.

       Avoid going to the pacifier first. Feed, burp, change, rock, snuggle, and respond to your baby's basic needs when she fusses rather than popping a pacifier in her mouth at the first sign of distress. Your child will be less likely to become dependent on a pacifier as a toddler if you use it judiciously now. It should be used to help her relax, not as a substitute for feeding or cuddling.

       Don't worry that a pacifier will affect the way your child's teeth grow. Adult teeth don't come in until age five or six, and by then, your baby's pacifier will be just a memory. Children who suck their thumbs, in comparison, may have a harder time breaking the habit by the time they lose their baby teeth, possibly leading to future dental troubles.


Try This
           This game will help your baby learn about sounds. Choose a time during the day when the baby is awake and alert to play this game. Shake a rattle on one side of the baby's head and then on the other. Alternate between shaking the rattle fast and slow. Your baby will search for the noise with his eyes. When you see him responding to the sound, you should praise him. Say something like, "Good boy, there it is!"


Dayvian's Experience
           Dayvian and I really enjoyed this game. I chose to do the game after he had gotten out of the bath and was dressed. I used a brightly colored rattle. It was orange with yellow, green, red, and blue tiny balls inside. The ball of the rattle was clear so that the colored balls could be seen. I began by shaking the rattle slowly and softly on the right side of his head. His eyes looked toward where he had heard the sound. I said, "Alright, Dayvian, you found it!" This caused him to look back at me. I shook the rattle again on the same side but this time a little louder and faster. He again looked toward the sound. "Good boy!" I said. This time, I softly shook the rattle on the left side of his head. He looked to the direction of the noise with a confused looked on his face, almost as if saying, "How did it get over there?" I love when babies do that with their eyebrows - it's priceless! We continued to play this game for 15 - 20 minutes. He continued to follow the noise with his eyes, and I praised him afterwards.


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