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Your baby's firsts

The whole area of babies and development can be very confusing as there is just so much information available, some of it misleading. And then there’s the guidance from well intentioned grandparents and friends…

Recognising mom and dad 

During the first 8 weeks your baby is working very hard at developing her eye muscles. These muscles are required for focus and clearness of her vision. The muscles surrounding her eyes are required for coordinating the eye muscles. This development is needed to help your baby watch a moving object, enjoy patterns and begin to watch and focus on people if they are within her line of vision. If you hold your face close to your baby’s face she will begin to recognise your face and stare purposefully at your features. When you hold your face close to your baby’s face, exaggerate your facial expressions and this will encouraging your baby to focus and attend to what you are doing. Try sticking out your tongue. If your baby is over 6 weeks, you will find your baby may try to copy you.

Baby’s first smile

At about 6 weeks your baby will smile with purpose, sometimes this can happen a little earlier when it is not wind bubbles. However, if your baby has not smiled by 10 weeks, it is important to seek medical opinion as smiling is a good indicator of how your baby is developing.

Baby’s first ‘words’


Your baby loves sounds, so when you hold your face close to your baby’s face smile and make sounds such as ooh and aah. Your baby will try to copy your sounds. When you say the sounds, stop and wait. Your baby will possibly try to make the little throaty noises. The early beginnings of babbling!

She will also try to copy your facial expressions and tongue gestures another important component of language development. Continue with encouraging your baby to babble, copying sounds until at around one year one to two words with meaning develop.

It is important to note:

  1. All babies progress at their own pace within a broad time frame
  2. Your baby’s development may vary at different times. One week your baby may be starting to hold her head up and then the next week she may lose her head control. This is perfectly normal and is called ‘Competition of Skills’. As different skills develop, they compete for the brain’s energy and so the focus of the brain energy shifts to the new skill.
  3. The brain needs to consolidate acquired skills. So while it may appear to us adults that there is nothing happening with our baby, the brain is working away very hard at building and strengthening important foundations in preparation for the next stage of development.
  4. Each stage of development and the milestones which are acquired are needed for the next higher level of developmental milestones. So by the time your toddler goes to preschool, the skills they have, such as drawing, taking turns, running etc, actually started when your toddler was a baby. It is really important your baby does not skip a developmental milestone, as this may be an indicator of your baby struggling at a later stage with more academic, behaviour based tasks when reaching preschool and school age.
For more information on your baby’s development, speak to our expert.

About the Author

Fiona O’Farrell is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, specialising in baby development, premature babies and is an experienced sleep consultant, validated by the department of health. For information on workshops and sleep consultations visit fionaofarrell.ie or Facebook. Call Fiona on 0879144323

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