The arrival of a newborn baby is an exciting time for the parents. It is also the beginning of long sleepless nights and days, endless nappy changes, burps, barfs, and the onset of an amazing journey of tracking milestones and watching the baby transform from a helpless tiny being to an independent individual. It may seem normal for babies to be doing certain things, but there is a timeline for everything as far as the baby's emotional and physical development is concerned. Doing it too early or too late are both matters that demand a closer look. This doesn't actually mean that there is something wrong, but they can be indications of future problems if remedial actions are not taken.
Most websites and child development books give a chart or tracker which have indicators to outline the normal milestones of a baby as he or she grows. Caregivers may refer to these charts to understand what the child should be doing at a particular age; keeping in mind that each child reaches his or her milestones at his or her own pace.
Parents may get excited to see some milestones conquered early and panic if some others are delayed. Most babies reach their major milestones on time and according to their growth chart. However, some others come with a mind of their own; they arrive with solid plans and targets which obviously beat all clinical studies and research. It is always safer and advisable to discuss your baby's development with his or her doctor.
Here are 15 extraordinary things babies do, which are actually a cause for concern:
14 Rolling Over Before 3 Months
It's exciting to know that your baby rolled over from his back onto his tummy on his own. This is a milestone which should be conquered by 4-6 months. If the one who did this is anywhere between 0-3.5 months, then it is not a conquered milestone but a stunt!
A newborn's neck, hand and back muscles are not strong enough to roll him over. If this happens in his sleep, it can be dangerous for his health.
It is always best to lay a newborn baby to sleep on its back. If you have noticed that your baby tends to roll over often, then it is best to swaddle him. Some babies do not want to be swaddled and would like their hands and legs to be free. These babies need pillows around them to stop them from rolling over.
13 Has One Favorite Toy
Babies don't actually play with the same toy for ages. A 2-month-old baby gets bored or becomes fussy if the activity they're presented with doesn’t change. That's a normal part of cognitive development, so if the baby is happy with the same thing for a long time, then this may not be normal brain development.
She learns from doing things over and over again and you may need to repeat an action or activity several times before she starts enjoying it. You may see your little one cooing and squeal with delight as you repeat an action because she knows what is coming next. Repetition is the foundation of learning at any stage in life. As a toddler, you may need to repeat an action or activity hundreds of times, but as the child grows and learns, the number of repetitions may reduce.
But if you notice that the toddler is not interested in connecting with others or gets bored and irritated soon or would rather play by himself, repeating activities like banging hard objects or hurting himself, you may be observing the early signs of autism spectrum disorder. Don't be too quick to come to that judgment though. This could be a temporary phase where the little fellow is trying to figure out the world around him. You can try to draw his attention to the regular activities and see how he responds. You could also discuss this with his doctor and seek his advice.
12 A Wobbly Head
When a baby is born, he hardly has any control over his head as his neck muscles and motor skills are weak. This will gradually develop around 4 months and the muscles would be steady around 6 months.
All babies develop differently and if a baby still has a wobbly head at 4 months, you don't have to get panicky. He could just be laid back and may need lots of tummy time, which encourages him to lift his head. During this time, his pediatrician will be keeping a close watch over him. Research shows that a head lag could be an early warning sign that the nervous system of the baby may not be developing correctly.
The goal is to identify a child with a head lag as early as possible so that therapy (if required) can be started.
11 Babbles Incoherently
That's fine for a 6-month-old, but at 12 months they should be able to say “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”. If not, it may indicate a language development delay.
Baby talk is universal the world over, they babble and coo, playing with sound and it's during this time that the speech development actually happens. While keenly observing parents and other adults, most babies start understanding and attempt to form simple words at around 12 months. The baby's vocabulary expands rapidly around 36 months and the parents play a vital role in their child's speech formation and development.
Early detection is the key in case there's a speech delay. Getting a hearing test done, visiting a speech-language pathologist, and considering a developmental screening in case of a behavioral disability are some of the corrective measures taken when there is a delayed speech development. Encourage your child with your frequent cooing, babbling, talking and singing.
10 Grabs Chunks Of Cereal
Hardly a couple of months before her 1st birthday, your baby is a mobile, vocal and very enterprising adventurer. At 9 months, she is an expert crawler and is able to hold a toy at the same time. She is improving her fine motor skills, has more control grasping and has better coordination of both hands. With these new skills, they are always experimenting and exploring.
If your 18-month-old is still struggling to pick up things with their fingers, it could be a red flag.
It is a crucial time for brain development as tiny connections that form lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Her fine motor skills are developing and by 12 months she may be able to pick smaller and finer things. You can start a game of sorting beads according to colors or sizes, or picking up cereals or nuts from one bowl and dropping them in another. These activities also help in developing and building her analytical skills.
9 Holding A Toy In The Same Hand
By 9 months, babies should be able to transfer toys from one hand to the other. Toddlers, from a very young age, cling on to 'comfort' objects for them such as stuffed toys, blankets, pillows, small toys and so on. This is very normal behavior for a young child as it provides them with a sense of comfort or security. They get fixated with all sorts of peculiar-looking patterns, which, for the young child, is meaningful.
They may start picking up objects of desire as early as 12 months, initially in one hand and later shifting it to the other hand and maybe grab toys with both hands later on. The child will eventually discover that she can hold more toys by squishing them against the body.
Some children are peculiar though and can get attached to some weird things which can be a huge embarrassment for parents. This can be anything from carrots, a piece of dry spaghetti, a pet potato, a nut on a piece of string, a can opener, step stool, plastic spoon and so on. Weird, isn't it? Kids are weird anyways and such behavior does not come as a surprise as long as it puts them at ease. Some kids may want to hold that object or toy all the time, not putting it down even once as they play with other objects or toys.
Getting attached to non-toy items could be one of the red flags as far as Autism Spectrum Disorder is concerned, but don't write that off yet. There are numerous signs and symptoms one must look for before coming to that conclusion.
8 The Cooing And Crying Sound
You've heard that cooing noises made by babies are really delightful. If your 2 to 3 weeks old baby is making baby noises that you think is the 'cooing', you are mistaken. Newborns mostly communicate by crying or making occasional grunting noises. A baby won’t start really cooing until about 8 weeks old.
A 1-month-old's communication is usually loud and clear - crying, and almost everyone near or around him gets the message. But it is up to you to decode that communication correctly to stop that crying. It could mean anything - hunger, a tummy ache, a wet diaper, poopy time, sleep time, or just being plain tired. This is a good start and it will help you connect with your baby.
If the baby cries for more than 2-3 hours every day and for more than 3-4 weeks, you should consult your doctor.
Your baby may be in pain or may be suffering from colic and need medical attention. In case your otherwise "happy baby" is crying non-stop and has vomiting and nausea, consult the doctor immediately. The baby could be suffering from a medical condition called intussusception. It is an emergency which requires immediate treatment.
7 Doesn’t Respond When You Call Them By Name
That one surely is a teenage trait! However, if you see this trait in a toddler, you may need to look into a few things here. Normal language and communication development in a baby means that by 6 months of age, they have a solid recognition of their name. If he cannot recognize his name by then, it's time to get a little concerned.
How many names does your child have?! In case of first or single babies, you may notice that the child is addressed by different names by different relatives - Honeybun, munchkin, sweetheart, honey, coochie-poo, cutie-pie.... and the list goes on... and somewhere in that long list of names is the real name of the child!
Imagine the plight of that poor child!! What name should he respond to? It's lovely to see people showering their love on your little angel, but why confuse him like this?! Keep one or at the most two names for the child and encourage all the uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents to call him by those names only. Let the child hear his name again and again. Teach your child to respond to his name when there are few distractions. The pediatrician would have screened your baby at birth to check for any hearing disabilities. However, if you still feel concerned, talk to your baby's doctor.
6 A Fearless Baby
By the age of 12 months, babies display fear in some situations. He cries when mom or dad leaves and is afraid of strangers. This is normal cognitive development in a child.
A fearless baby sounds great but is bound to take risks that can get him injured.
A newborn baby normally has two fears: loud noises and falling. Babies have a very immature nervous system that grows rapidly in the initial two years. If one is not gentle while handling a baby, like making abrupt loud noises or setting him down too fast, his natural reaction is to cry out loud. With a fast maturing nervous system comes new fears and they slowly start to understand that things disappear and still exist. Therefore when mom or dad leaves the room, the natural instinct for the baby is to cry.
Now, while fears are a natural part of childhood, what happens when your child is fearless? This is a parent's nightmare and your utmost priority should be SAFETY. Sometimes, simple changes can help create safety thereby eliminating the danger. Let your child try out things on his own. His fearlessness and our willingness to let him figure out his limits go a long way in ensuring his safety.
5 Squirming And Wriggling
Is your 12-month-old squirming and wriggling when you try to dress her? By 12 months the little ones cooperate with dressing by putting out an arm or leg to help. If there is no indication of such cooperation, this can mean problems with social development.
Have you caught yourself thinking "it used to be so simple earlier, why is it getting so difficult now?" The answer is simple - your 1.5-2-year-old baby is growing and wants to have some control. You can make life easier by involving her in this activity. This will help you get through this chore with ease.
To begin with, buy clothes which are easy to slip in and slip out of. Allow her to choose from 2-3 dresses. After she has made her choice, help her put it on. If she says that she can do it herself, allow her. Kids like to think that they are in control. Do offer to help if she needs to put on a hook or a button. With practice, she will get there by the time she is 3-3.5 years old. Toddlers do not really know how to express discomfort or pain. If your baby puts up a fight and cries a lot while or after putting on a diaper or dress, check for rashes.
4 Spills From His Cup
What do you expect when you give a cup of milk to a 12-month-old baby? Of course, he’ll spill it! Actually, you're wrong! By 12 months of age, babies start to use things correctly such as drinking from a cup or attempting to brush his hair.
If the baby has no coordination while drinking from a cup, this can indicate a developmental delay.
It a big step when the baby starts weaning from the bottle and moves to cups. You can introduce cups as early as 6 months, but most babies cannot handle an open cup and they will spill. It's absolutely normal. It would be very exciting for the baby if you give him a regular unbreakable cup with some water in it and allow him to imitate you. Babies love to imitate adults! If you want to use cups as a regular alternative to bottles, sippy cups may be a good idea.
Most toddlers master the art of holding a cup steadily between 18- 24 months. By the time they are 3 years old, most of them do not need help. However, if you notice that your preschooler is still clumsy with cups, food, toys etc., a visit to the occupational therapist may be quite helpful.
3 Can't Swing At Hanging Toys
Is he still swinging his hand trying to swat the hanging mobile toys? By normal development standards, he should be able to catch it properly by now.
At 6 months, your child is undergoing a multitude of changes. Motor skills develop rapidly and one's sense of touch is getting exciting. They learn about cause and effect at this age and toys play a major part now. There is the development of hand-eye coordination and your baby will want to grab and hold toys. The eyesight is improving vastly and he is able to distinguish between colors and shapes. With the improvement of eyesight, babies become fascinated by faces, including their own, and safe mirrors can provide entertainment. The sense of touch is also improving around this stage.
Hanging rattles and mobiles are perfect toys at this time. Babies will be entertained by simple toys and anything that makes noise when poked, pushed or prodded. This is also the ideal time to introduce your child to music. Hanging rattles and mobiles are perfect toys at this time. Your baby should be able to swing at or grab those toys. If you notice that your little one is not showing any interest in these things or is not trying to reach out to touch or grab them, you may want to discuss this with his doctor.
2 Curious At 8 Months
Yeah, that does sound like a normal baby, if he is about 4 to 6 months of ages. But if he is starting to reach for things out of his grasp at 8 to 10 months, he may be lagging behind in his cognitive and physical skill development. At 4 months, your baby is on an exploring mission and he will love discovering how objects feel and sound. He gets distracted easily and hence feeding may become tricky. He will enjoy looking at brightly coloured objects as his vision is also improving. He will enjoy playing as he can reach out and grab things with both hands.
Anything bright or musical should grab his attention. A baby who does not seem to be interested in objects or toys near him, requires to be observed closely. You may be looking at the initial signs of autism.
Each child is unique and so is their development which happens in spurts and plateaus. Some children are late bloomers. If there is a concern about late development, do bring it to your pediatrician's notice.
Early detection and timely therapy can go a long way in helping your child lead a happy and healthy life.
1 Flashing A Smile
Just like the earlier point of recognizing danger, babies become shy or nervous with strangers from around 6 months of age. A baby who is smiling and jovial with a stranger may have problems with recognizing danger signals. Stranger and separation anxiety are normal, healthy, protective mechanisms in children that help keep them safe until they are old enough to actually understand such scenarios.
An over-friendly child can be a threat to herself. Running and hugging absolute strangers or anyone who smiles at them can be a serious security concern. By 2 years, a child makes major gains in physical growth, emotional and social development, cognitive abilities, language skills and sensory and motor development. This is an exciting time for parents as there is more emotional bonding and their personalities and temperament become more defined.
Stranger anxiety is a natural phase of development involving not just babies, but toddlers too. It can be quite embarrassing for parents when there is an anxiety threat to the toddler from a close relative like an aunt or a grandma. On a positive note, this also signifies that the child has a healthy bond with the parents.