What can you expect during baby’s first year? It seems that everyone in the world loves telling new parents horror stories. From the baby who didn’t sleep for a year to the newborn who cried for three months, we’ve all heard a few crazy urban legends about inconsolable babies.
While there’s no denying that parenting a newborn is challenging, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be impossible. Your baby really can sleep through the night, and you really don’t have to spend the first year exhausted. Understanding how your baby develops through the first year of life can help you care for her in the best way possible.
Up until about three months, babies don’t automatically sleep at night. Instead, parents need to help them understand that nighttime is for sleeping. Some other sleep developmental milestones you can expect include:
- Between birth and two months, babies sleep about 18 hours a day, and typically take several two to three-hour naps.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that babies should sleep in a bassinet in the parents’ room until they are four months old.
- Some babies begin sleeping through the night in their second month of life, and most babies are able to sleep through the night by five months. By six months, your baby may no longer need a nighttime feeding.
- At six months, babies need about 12 hours of sleep per night, plus about two two-hour naps per day.
The best food for your baby is one that works for your family, but we all know that breastfeeding is the best option if you can do it. Some eating milestones you can expect during the first year of life include:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and continue nursing until at least 12 months.
- Babies under six months can get all their nutrition from breast milk or formula. Your baby doesn’t need cereal or solid food before he’s six months old.
- Newborns eat very frequently, with some eating as frequently as every hour. As your baby grows, she’ll eat more in a single feeding, but will need to eat less frequently.
- Between six months and a year, your baby should be getting a mix of healthy foods and breast milk or formula. Steer clear of peanut butter and honey, which some studies show are dangerous and cause allergies.
When it comes to talking, every baby is different. Some are babbling up a storm before they can even sit up, while others are silent for months. The very best thing you can do to help your child talk is to talk to him as much as possible. Try narrating what you’re doing or telling your baby about your day. I’m a HUGE advocate for baby sign language as I’ve seen babies as young as 3 months be able to ask for milk when they’re hungry. It’s simply amazing!
Some talking milestones you can expect include:
- Most babies start gurgling and cooing between two and five months, and once they start, they tend to make progressively more noise!
- Babies can understand a few words between six months and a year.
- Between six and 12 months, most babies say their first words. That’s a big span of time, and it’s because there’s such variation between babies. If your baby talks a little late, don’t worry! Just keep talking to her.
So much of what parents do with their babies depends on what the babies are capable of. Understanding your baby’s development can help you relate to him better, which means less stress, fewer sleepless nights, and a chance to enjoy the pure bliss that parenting can be!