Baby's growth week by week
She's done it - successfully looked after your little person for nine months, now delivered safely to the big wide world. You can look forward to all those firsts - football match, day at school, ride without stabilisers, boyfriend/girlfriend... But there's the first few months, not to mention years, to get through. Here's what you can expect in the average baby. Yours isn't average of course, so some of these things may happen a bit earlier, some a bit later.
During the first week, Baby is likely to
- Be sleeping and feeding, sleeping and feeding. And then, by way of a change, feeding and sleeping, feeding and sleeping. Obviously important, but all totally random and not, in truth, very exciting. Except to Baby.
And will be able to
- Focus on objects between 25 and 30 cm away - about the distance of mum's face when she's feeding.
- Engage in amusing little head-butts when being held comfortably on your shoulder.
- Instinctively cling when put down quickly or moved suddenly, which, by the way, is not recommended.
By week two, Baby
- Can already recognise your voice, but won't have the faintest clue what you're talking about.
- Will probably fall asleep when rocked gently. Ah, if only life were always that simple.
- Will be able to follow an object through a very small arc in its field of vision, especially if it's a nipple.
- Will be gaining about 200 grams a week from now on, at your expense. Get used to it.
By week three, Baby
- Will study your face carefully when being held, especially when you smile. Or grimace, or poke out your tongue. They really can't tell the difference.
- Might enjoy looking at a mobile if it's about 25 cm away and moving (obviously).
- Might get upset if passed around by too many visitors, especially if there are no nipples involved.
By week four, Baby
- Will be able to lift its head briefly while lying on its tummy, but won't yet respond to "drop and give me twenty".
- Might start settling into a pattern of feeding and then longer sleeps; sadly, the feeds can be at any time of the day or, especially, night.
- Might start to listen with great interest to your voice, but still won't have a clue what you're talking about.
- Will be able to follow an object through quite a wide arc and up and down in its field of vision, again especially if it's a nipple - even yours. Or you could try something less confusing to Baby, like a teddy.
- Will be able to hold up its head for a few seconds when being held comfortably on your shoulder, before attempting to deck you by head-butting your ear.
- Might start suffering with colic. This is when Baby cries without stopping, gets very distressed and goes red in the face, and it's not funny. Your doctor will probably prescribe a sedative, but for you, not the baby. There's more advice in the article on crying [link to 3.5]
By week five, Baby
- Might be able to find one hand with the other one by touch alone and without the aid of satnav.
- Might find the human face more interesting than other objects, depending, of course, how interesting the face is compared with the other object.
- May be able to smile at you. Very often this will be to lull you into a false sense of security before throwing up its last feed all over your new t-shirt.
- Could laugh, but only if it's very funny. Generally though at this age they don't get jokes.
- Might start making “Ooh” and “Ahh” noises, especially if a nipple is involved.
By week six, Baby
- Might be searching the immediate surroundings for interesting things to look at, like shoes (girls) or the TV remote (boys).
- Might be more predictable day-by-day than before (like the 7am nappy is reliably disgusting instead of just possibly so).
- Might be able to hold up its head for a few minutes when being held comfortably on your shoulder without head-butting you, unless you really deserve it.
- Might have smiled at you (obviously wants a favour).
- Might be settling into longer periods of sleep - if you're very lucky, during the night.
By week seven, Baby
- Is probably discovering how interesting its hands are, what they're connected to and the other bits of the body that are good to play with.
- Might smile back at you (thinks: "Smiling is a good way to get what I want").
- Might be able to follow moving objects with the eyes.
- Might laugh when amused (but don't be too subtle).
By week eight, Baby
- Is beginning to check out new stuff, especially things with strong patterns (like that shirt the mother-in-law bought you. Will probably be thinking: "I can't believe you're actually wearing that shirt").
- Has probably started cooing and gurgling, just as a way of pleasing visitors.
- Might be making sounds in response to you talking - not words of course, but anyway the very beginnings of conversation.
- Might have got enough strength in the neck muscles to balance the head clear of your shoulder.
- Might start taking an interest when you show them brightly coloured, simple pictures like in Baby's Big Book of Team Strips (never too early).
By week nine, Baby
- Might be taking the odd side-swipe at a toy (or the cat, when you're not looking).
- Might be able to roll onto its back.
- Will be enjoying playing with mobiles and activity centres - anything that needs reaching out and grasping for (so careful with open beer cans).
- Might be starting to try standing up. Now there'll be trouble.
By week 10, Baby
- Might seem to be in permanent motion when awake, with the waving about of the arms and legs. Wa-hay!
- Is learning about squealing in excitement and pleasure. Wa hay! Eek!
- Might be able to raise the head 90 degrees to check out what's on TV.
- Might be able to raise one hand towards a desired object. Now there'll be trouble.
By week 11, Baby
- Might be fascinated by the contrast between black and white (although it's rubbish for snooker and colour's obviously better).
- Might be starting to laugh out loud and smile without any apparent cause. Unnerving, isn't it? Is that baby laughing at me?
- Will start watching you as you move about the room, especially if you're behaving suspiciously.
- Might be learning how much fun it is to blow raspberries, especially at the cat, which doesn't like it.
By week 12, Baby
- Might be doing mini-push-ups.
- Is probably able to roll from back to side.
- Might be doing lying-down cycling.
- Is obviously ready for gym membership.
By week 13, Baby
- Might start seeing things in perspective. (But not what you think - you'll have to wait until after the teenage years for that). We're talking literally - they'll start being able to tell whether something is in front of their nose or on the other side of the room.
- Is probably holding the shoulders steady, as well as head and neck. Still too early to tell them to "sit up straight at the table" though.
- Might be able to smile, burble, kick and wave all at once. Can you do that? Thought not.
- Will probably have grown out of the first baby clothes and will probably need a new car seat and maybe a bigger buggy.
Weeks 14 to 16
By weeks 14 to 16, Baby
- Will probably start holding conversations with you, without any proper words obviously, but you'll just know that you're being told stuff of real importance.
- Might start crying when you're out of sight (probably because you promised some food and where are you?)
- Gives you their biggest and best smiles. It will all suddenly seem worth the sleepless nights.
- Might be particularly alert and awake during one period of the day (possibly the middle of the night)
Months 5 to 6
By months five to six, baby
- Might laugh at the funny faces you pull (might just be humouring you of course).
- Might raise their arms when they want to be carried.
- Might splash in the bath, especially when you tell them not to.
- Might listen to your words and try to imitate them - so be careful.
- Might be sitting if supported. Supported - ha! They should know the half of it.
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