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Month-to-month overview of baby development

Many children will develop skills in the same order. However, it’s not a question of days or weeks – children will develop at their own pace. Some development characteristics are inherited, such as speech. Some children learn to talk earlier, others later. If you’re worried about your child’s development, talk to your doctor or contact the parent advisory centre in your canton, where you can receive advice free of charge for the first three years of your child’s life.

1st month:

  • Head up: Your baby’s neck muscles are getting stronger and he can sometimes even hold and turn his head for a few moments when lying on his stomach. However, you should continue to support his head, because he can’t hold it alone for longer periods.
  • Exploring arms and legs: While exploring his body, your baby will realise that his arms and legs are part of him. He’ll discover his hands and feet first.
  • Sucking: Sucking is very important for babies. They need it for self-regulation but also to calm down and relax.
  • Hearing: Newborns hear very well from birth, enabling them to recognise the voices of their mum and dad.
  • Producing sounds: At one month, your baby may gurgle, squawk, grunt or hum to express his feelings. If you gurgle, squawk, grunt or hum in return, your baby will be delighted to “chat” with you in this way. Some babies start squealing or laughing at an early age.
  • Recognition: Your baby will be able to hold eye contact with you for longer now. Although he’s actually been able to recognise you since he was a few days old, he’ll only be able to demonstrate this recognition towards the end of the first month. Around half of all babies show signs of recognition at this age by responding differently to their mum and dad compared to strangers. Your baby may quieten down and make eye contact with you; some babies even smile when they see their parents.
  • Listening to music: Now that your baby is awake for longer phases, you can use the time to stimulate his senses. You can sing lullabies or play music – but don’t overdo it. Even the sound of wind chimes or a ticking clock will fascinate your baby.
  • Increased attention span: Once your child has learnt to focus with both eyes, he can now follow moving objects with his eyes. He can be completely fascinated by a simple rattle shaken gently in front of his face.  Or try moving your face slowly directly in front of your baby’s face – watch how his eyes follow yours.
  • Physical contact: Physical contact helps your baby feel safe and secure. One great way to ensure plenty of physical contact is to carry your baby in a sling.

2nd month:

  • First real smile: This month, you’ll witness your baby’s first real, bright, toothless smile – without a doubt one of the most deeply moving experiences to date with your baby!
  • Bright patterns and colours: Up to the age of 2 months, your baby will prefer two-coloured, simply structured objects. Then she’ll start to show an interest in detailed and complex patterns, colours and shapes. It’s a good idea to give your child a wide range of different objects to look at and touch.
  • Longer spells of sleep: Most babies at this age aren’t yet sleeping through and still want to be fed in the middle of the night, sometimes even several times. This is completely normal – sleeping through the night is the exception at this age. However, you’ll be happy that your baby is now sleeping for longer and stays awake for longer periods, too. Most babies have two to four longer periods of sleep and are awake for around ten hours.
  • Controlled movements: The jerky arm and leg movements of a newborn have given way gentler, more controlled movements. She’ll now be able to consciously grip chosen items; the ability to let go at will comes later.

3rd month:

  • Head up: Lying on his back, your baby can hold his head off the floor for a few minutes. Lying on his stomach, he may be able to raise his head and shoulders off the floor to do a mini push-up. You can encourage these movements by sitting and dangling a toy in front of him.
  • Improved arm, hand and leg coordination: Your baby can now wave his arms and kick his legs. If you place his feet on the floor, he should be able to press down with his legs. He can also bring his hands together and open his fingers, although he’ll probably still hit out at moving objects with clenched fists. You can encourage the development of hand coordination by holding out toys to your child until he grabs for them.
  • Sleeping habits: Sleeping patterns vary widely from child to child. Most babies adopt regular sleeping patterns in the 3rd or 4th month. Some manage to sleep through the night, waking only occasionally to eat, while others still find it hard to sleep peacefully through the night.
  • Recognising mum and dad: Your baby will feel a close connection to you now and will recognise your face with ease. Although he’ll still smile at almost every stranger, particularly if they flirt with him or look directly at him, he’s slowly starting to differentiate between people and showing a preference. The parietal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for hand-eye coordination, is now developing rapidly. The temporal lobe, which is actively involved in hearing, speaking and smelling, is also becoming more active and receptive to outside influences. That’s why if your baby hears your voice now, he’ll turn directly towards you and answer with a gurgling sound.
  • Early language development: It’s in this phase that your baby becomes aware of the significance of language. When you talk to him, he saves the information in his fast-growing memory, but can’t reproduce it yet. If the parents are bilingual and want their child to learn more than one language, each parent should speak in their own native language.
  • Sense of touch and physical contact: You can stimulate your baby’s ever-growing sense of touch by exposing him to all kinds of materials. When you touch, carry or massage your child, he’ll relax and begin to understand her own body. Physical contact also strengthens the bond between you and your child. Why not try massaging your baby – your midwife can show you how.
  • Interaction: Your baby is very receptive and is continuously taking stock of the world around him. He will listen attentively to your voice. You can encourage him to express himself by playing with and talking to him. Your baby is now more communicative with other people and shows increasing willingness to interact with them.
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