Babies need a lot of care, and as parents, you make sure you do everything possible for maintaining your baby’s good health and overall well-being. But babies cannot talk and tell us their situation, and this puts parents in a difficult situation. But if you are observant, then you may notice various signs that show you that your baby is healthy and also doing well. In the following article, we shall talk about some signs that every parent must know to establish the well-being of their babies.
Even if you fear you don’t know the first thing about newborns, after a few weeks with your little darling, you start to hear a difference between his hungry and tired cries. You know how he prefers to be rocked and burped. You grow more confident about your parenting skills. If it weren’t for the exhaustion and the hormonal overload, you’d feel like you have everything under control.
But all it takes is a small, paranoid thought — Is my baby eating enough? Is all this crying unusual? — and you can easily fall into a spiral of anxious concern. You seek out friends and ask, “Does he look okay to you?” They say yes, but still, you can’t help but worry.
So you Google a million things and read comforting, vague phrases: “Healthy babies exhibit a wide range of behaviours, appearances, and temperaments.”
The question is, how do you know that your baby is happy and developing normally? To help reassure you, we’ve assembled a list of indicators to watch for that prove an infant is doing just fine.
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Signs of a Healthy Baby
Your presence calms your baby
You must realize that before he/she started breathing in this world, your baby spent nine months in closed quarters and your voice was a big part of her existence back then. So if you find that your newborn pays attention to every time you talk to him/her, it means that he/she recognizes your voice and is a clear indication that your baby’s emotional growth is on track. This calming effect can also be observed when you try to calm your newborn with your voice while he/she is crying. At that moment, you are simply mimicking the surroundings that your baby used to enjoy when he/she was in your womb, and that soothes him/her.
Your baby spends nine months in your womb and all this while your voice had become an important part of your baby’s existence. After your baby’s birth too, he may listen and respond to your voice, and this is a hint that your baby is on the right track of emotional development. If you are able to soothe your crying baby or he pays attention whenever you talk to your baby, it is evident that your baby is hale and hearty.
Your baby requires frequent breastfeeding
Babies are born with a built-in sucking reflex, which is triggered as soon as something is placed in their mouth. If your newborn sucks strongly and feeds frequently, it is a sign of a healthy appetite and normal digestive system development. If your baby makes a swallowing sound or action while feeding, it means that he/she is getting enough milk and is feeding normally. A healthy baby also appears quite content during and post-feeding and usually, falls asleep while feeding. This habit of falling asleep should happen less often, though, as the baby grows.
Babies are born with an innate sucking reflex, which means that as soon as you get anything to close your baby’s mouth, he may begin sucking it. If your baby has a good sucking urge and asks for frequent feeds, this means that your baby has a good appetite and a good digestive system. If your baby makes a gulping sound when he swallows milk, this means that he is feeding well. A baby who feels satiated may sleep post the feeding session.
You change 4-6 wet diaper a day
All healthy newborns, whether being breastfed or formula-fed, should be wetting four to six diapers in a day. It is a sign that he/she is getting enough milk and is properly hydrated. Also, he/she must register continuous and visible weight gain during the first few weeks. A young baby who wets fewer diapers or does not show significant gains in his/her weight over time, might not be getting enough milk in her diet. Dark urine is also a sign of your baby being dehydrated (or underfed) and that his/her bowels are not moving well enough.
Yes, your baby’s pee and poop also define how healthy he is. No matter whether your baby is breastfed or is on formula milk, on an average he should be wetting 4 to 6 diaper in a day. This is a clear indication that your baby is not only feeding well, but he is also properly hydrated. Your baby will also show a considerable weight gain in the first few weeks after birth. However, if your baby is wetting fewer diapers in a day or not showing substantial weight gain, this means he is not feeding well. Also, darker coloured urine indicates dehydration in babies.
Your baby seems to have become quiet and attentive
Once your baby approaches the 1-month mark, he/she will appear to be more quiet and attentive to her surroundings (especially you). Contrary to the first few weeks where all he/she did was cry, feed and sleep, your baby slowly begins to quiet down and appear more alert when awake. This is the time when your baby has begun to gain control of her eye muscles and is learning to focus on a particular object (you mostly!).
Your baby reaches appropriate height (and weight) level
According to mayoclinic.org, babies grow 1/2 to 1 inch and gain 5 to 7 oz per week during the first six months of their life. A healthy baby should be almost doubling his/her weight every five months, and by the time he/she reaches the 1-year mark, the weight should have tripled! Registering the suggested growth rate is a confident sign that your baby is getting good nutrition and is in good health.
Every time you take your baby to the doctor, your doctor measures your baby’s weight and height. In the first six months, your baby grows fast, and on an average, your baby may gain 5 to 7 oz of weight and ½ to 1 inch of height every week. If your baby is approximately twice his birth by five months and thrice his birth weight by the time he is one year old, this means he is healthy. You may ask your doctor about your baby’s ideal weight and height.
Your baby responds to new sounds
Despite being able to hear right from the beginning, babies are only able to distinguish the meaningful sound from white noise much later during their growth period. At first, they will begin to find certain sounds to be more interesting (such as a burst of hysterical laughter or a loud burp) than others (such as the dull noise of water flowing from a tap). Eventually, they will learn to appreciate the sound of music, whether it comes from a toy or a TV. When you can see your baby reacting to a sound and turning in its direction, you can be assured that his/her hearing system is developing fine and he/she is growing curious about what is happening around him/her!
Your baby is able to hear before birth, which means he is aware of various sounds and noises when he was in your womb. However, babies are not able to recognize sounds, but as your baby starts growing, he may develop a better understanding of various sounds around him. You may notice him reacting to the sound of music, television and even sound from the toys. Whenever your baby may hear a new sound, you may see him react, which is a good sign of healthy development.
Your baby recognizes patterns, colours and tracks movement.
Believe or not, your baby lying still in your lap looking blankly at the rotating ceiling fan is also a sign of his/her progress! When born, they have poor eyesight of about 20/100, which improves with growth. By the time they are two months old, babies can track movement in front of them and recognize various colours and patterns lying around. However, they do not possess depth perception or a perfect colour vision, which is why they tend to get more attracted to highly contrasting colours.
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Your baby makes eye contact and smiles(!)
Usually, babies learn to maintain eye contact by the end of 1 month, and they are able to smile by the second and by the time they are four months old, they can laugh out loud (lol!). All these interactions are mini-milestones that show that your baby is connecting with you and is becoming aware of his surroundings. Interestingly enough, by the time he/she reached five months of age, a baby will almost always smile back (whether or not he/she wants to) when someone smiles at him/her. And when you find that your baby has begun to make cooing sounds and babbles, it is him/her preparing to speak her first words!
Your baby is able to look at you and make eye contact by the time he is one month old, your baby may smile at you by the time he is two months old, and he may giggle out loud by the time he is four months old. By the end of five months, your baby may smile back at you. As soon as you register your baby-making cooing and babbling sounds, this may mean that he is all set to speak his first words. These small milestones are indicative of the fact that your baby is growing healthily, and he is also aware of his surroundings.
Your baby cries little and sleeps regularly now
The first glimpses of a routine being developed in your baby’s life are the result of his/her nervous system maturing. Look out for the emergence of multiple naps during the day and stretches of four or more hours between feeding at night. Four months is the usual time babies take to reach this stage, but if your baby is older than that and is still showing no signs of settling into a habit, try making his day a bit more strictly scheduled.
Your baby can support her weight
When they are a month old, a lot of babies (not all) are capable of lifting their heads ever so briefly! By the 3-month stage, they are capable of doing it more often and easily and are also able to lie down on their tummy and push on their legs when placed on a flat surface. These are the signs of him/her learning to flex the growing muscles responsible for making movements. Six months old babies are known to be able to roll over both ways and sit up at times and by the end of the first year, expect them to crawl, pull him/herself to a stand and walk with support! However, some babies are known to show an ability to walk quite late (up to 2 years), even though they are perfectly fine health-wise. A good, long duration of tummy time during the early months is key to preventing this delay.
When your baby is one month or older, he may be able to lift his head briefly, and by the time he turns three months, he may be able to lift his head for a longer time by lying on his tummy. This is a great indication that your baby has control over his muscles and thus trying to make various movements. By six months of age, your baby may roll on both sides, sit with support and by the time he is one year old, he will be able to crawl, stand and walk with support. These all are indicators of a healthy baby.
All babies are born with the sucking reflex, which triggers sucking when anything is placed in the mouth. Newborns suck strongly and frequently feed due to their small stomachs. Healthy breastfed babies should feed every one to three hours, and formula-fed babies should feed every two to four hours, according to Medline Plus. Hearing your baby swallow after one to two sucks is a sign that your little one is feeding normally and getting enough milk, reports AskDrSears.com. A healthy baby should appear content during and after feeding. It’s normal for younger babies to fall asleep during feedings, but this should happen less often as a baby grows. Healthy babies are usually ready to try solid foods for around six months.
According to the Academy of Pediatrics, all healthy newborns — whether breastfed or formula-fed– should be wetting three to four diapers in a 24-hour period. A young baby who wets fewer diapers could be dehydrated. After the first month, a healthy baby’s diaper should appear wetter and contain the equivalent of 4 to 6 tablespoons of water, according to AskDrSears.com. Pale urine indicates that a baby is adequately hydrated; darker urine can be a sign that your baby isn’t drinking enough milk. Breast milk has a natural laxative effect, so healthy breastfed newborns may produce a stool with each feeding, which is a sign your infant is getting enough milk. The frequency of bowel movements tends to decrease as a baby moves beyond the newborn stage.
Your baby’s doctor will check your infant’s growth at well-baby visits to be sure your little one is growing at a healthy rate, but the usual pattern is for babies to grow 1/2 to 1 inch and gain 5 to 7 ounces per week from birth to 6 months, according to MayoClinic.com. A healthy baby typically doubles his or her weight by five months. Expect your baby’s weight to triple by age 1. MayoClinic.com notes that your baby’s position on your doctor’s growth chart isn’t as important as the overall trend. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor if you have concerns about your baby’s growth.
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Developmental milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, standing and walking, can occur at different rates in healthy babies. Still, the March of Dimes’ guidelines state that 3-month-old babies can usually raise their head and chest when lying tummy-down and push on their legs when placed on a firm surface; 6-month-olds can typically roll over both ways and sit up. By age 1, expect your baby to crawl, pull herself to a stand, walk holding on to furniture and possibly take a few steps without support. About half of all babies can walk by their first birthday, but it’s normal for a baby to start walking anytime between 9 and 16 months. However, some healthy babies may not walk until they’re close to age 2. The March of Dimes notes that the timing of developmental milestones can vary widely between healthy children, even brothers and sisters.
All the above are excellent pointers to ensure your precious little darling is perfectly healthy and normal in every sense of the word. So sit back and relax and enjoy your newborn. Spending a few weeks with your little one will help you differentiate between his hunger cries and the ones when something is wrong. You will also get pro at knowing how your baby prefers to be rocked and burped. You will gain more confidence in your parenting skills.