Can everyone remember how it felt to step into high school or college for the first time? Or better yet, remember the first time they fell in love and were certain that they would be the one eternal love? There is usually a sense of achievement whenever we get to do something for the first time, regardless of how big or small it is, especially if we were looking forward to so long to do it.
Everyone has a first time for doing something, and in some of the most significant "first times," society has a way of celebrating people. Such celebrations are not only to encourage people to push further to greater heights, but they also encourage other people to follow suit. People also celebrate when they do something for the last time, as is the case with graduating from a learning institution and into the real world.
Arguably, newborns experience some of the most life-changing first-time experiences out there, because as soon as they are born, literally everything changes. Although none of us have a recollection of our experiences in the womb, an unborn baby usually feels as if their mother's womb is their home. However, a time comes when the womb is no longer the place for them, and they have no choice but to exit and go through their first life-changing experience called birth. Here are 20 "firsts" that are life-changing experiences for newborn babies.
20 Their First Breath
As soon as babies are born, they start learning how to adjust to life outside the womb and one of the first things they learn is how to breathe. This is arguably the biggest life-changing experience they undergo. The first breaths are usually shallow and irregular because they are adjusting to breathing on their own.
The liquid in the lungs comes out and air immediately replaces it as the baby catches his or her first breaths. To help this process to go on even more smoothly, doctors can encourage the baby to start crying, and as a result, this helps to open up the lungs for air even better. With each breath, air is inflating the lungs and breathing becomes easier and regular.
19 Seeing Light
After birth, newborns start to process what is going on in their surroundings through the sense of sight. Seeing for the very first time is definitely a life-changing experience since they were used to the darkness in the womb. Most babies are born with their sense of sight somewhat developed.
Newborns have the ability to see light, but their vision is abuzz, because of all they get to see as soon as they're out of the womb. Newborns are able to see objects within a radius of about 8 to 12 inches but are not able to differentiate between things just yet. They usually squint when put under a lot of light and mostly open their eyes in low light.
While in utero, babies get to exercise their sense of touch through experiencing the softness of the womb, because they could hardly see anything in there. Therefore, when they get out into the outside world, the different surfaces, shapes, and objects they get to touch are simply life changing for them. Doctors encourage parents to practice skin-to-skin contact from birth as a way of bonding and communicating a sense of trust and security.
Touch is one of the most life-changing experiences they encounter and probably one of their most developed sense at birth. In the womb, they were used to feeling warm and protected and now they have to adjust to experiencing a wide range of feelings in the outside world.
A newborn's sense of hearing develops while he or she is still in the womb, so at birth, a baby can already hear most of the noises around him or her. However, outside the womb, they get to experience a new kind of hearing, which is very different from what they were used to. In the uterus, the amniotic fluid and their mother's body offer the baby several protective layers that keep sound, among other things, outside.
Even though their hearing will continue to develop as they grow, newborns get to experience sound, from birth, in a loud and clear way. However, babies are able to distinguish their mother’s voice from all other voices, and as they grow, they learn how to distinguish other voices around them.
Smell is also one of the life-changing first experiences newborns get to experience as soon as they get out of the womb since in there the amniotic fluid makes it impossible for the baby to smell anything. Therefore, when they come to the outside world they start to experience smell for the first time.
The first smell babies learn is that of their mothers and this is because they spend a lot of time around their mothers especially during breastfeeding sessions. Newborns feel safe and secure when they can smell familiarity since someone with a smell they are familiar with holds them close when they are fussy, chances are they will calm down.
15 Feeling Hungry
Soon after a baby is born, he or she will experience getting food through their mouth for their very first time. This is certainly life-changing for them because they were used to feeding through their umbilical cord, and because feeding is a new experience, they usually take time to learn how to latch onto a nipple.
In addition, newborns get to experience hunger and thirst for the first time and because they do not know what these feelings are, they start crying. When a mom places a newborn on her chest and her nipple in his or her mouth, newborns will naturally start to suckle, though it might take them some time to get it right.
14 First Bowel Movement
A newborn's first bowel movement is also known as meconium. It usually occurs within the first 24 hours after birth but some babies might experience it while still in the womb. During labor, a baby can get upset and end up pooping in the womb. It is still the first experience for them but if it happens in the womb, it is very dangerous and doctors have to consider other channels of getting the baby out of the womb.
Meconium is usually composed of things the baby ingested while in the womb like the amniotic fluid, lanugo, and mucus. It is not like any other bowel movement. It is very sticky, has a very dark olive green color, and it doesn't have an odor. The color gets normal after a few bowel movements.
13 Seeing Color And Patterns
Immediately after birth, newborns cannot differentiate between colors or patterns, since it takes them about four to five months for them to start seeing color. They only see black and white with shades of gray. So seeing color for the first time is definitely a life-changing experience for them.
Their eyes also start seeing depth by this time, which is one of the reasons colorful toys and objects will always attract babies. Red, blue, and yellow are the colors newborns get to notice first, and after a few months, their sense of vision improves and they start seeing all colors. Almost the same time, they start recognizing different shapes and patterns, which fascinate them as well.
12 First Smile
After weeks of tending to a newborn's needs and not getting any reaction from them, the very first time they smile usually melts anyone’s heart. Babies are born with a reflex smile that is not intentional and can be mistaken for a real smile; however, the first real smile occurs in their second or third month.
It will take at least that long for their nervous system and vision to develop enough to see well and produce an intentional smile as a response. Smiling is one of the baby’s first social skills and one of the precious life-changing experiences he or she goes through. When babies smile, it is a sign of emotional growth.
11 Clutching For Things
Babies go through many milestones and clutching things is one of them. Soon after birth, this is a reflex and is in most cases involuntary. This reflex helps them because they are too young to control their limb movements in the same way older children can. However, soon after the reflexes disappear their muscles develop and they gain control.
At around four months, they become more active and soon they start reaching out and picking up large objects around them with their tiny little hands. This is a life-changing first experience for them and a small step towards being independent. With time, they are able to able to pick up even smaller objects with little effort.
10 Tummy Time
Newborns usually lie down on their backs most of the times; however, when tummy-time begins they lie down on their tummies. Tummy time is the time the baby spends on his or her stomach while awake and a supervisor is present. The first tummy-time experience is life-changing for them. They might fuss or cry which is okay for a few minutes.
Tummy time is usually important for newborns, as it is a prequel to other major milestones like rolling over, sitting up, and eventually crawling. If the baby is well and healthy, tummy-time should start as early as possible. Parents should aim for two to three session in a day for three minutes each. A supervisor must be present in the tummy time sessions to prevent any incidences that might arise.
9 When They Independently Support Their Head
When babies are born, they have little control over their heads and require extra support from caregivers. This is because their neck muscles and motor skills are still very weak, making their heads very heavy for them. However, by the end of the first month, the baby will be able to lift his or her head up unsupported for a few seconds.
By month four, the baby will be able to move his or her head easily from side to side but the most life-changing experience is when the baby finally supports his or her head with no help for the first time. This happens between the fifth and sixth-month mark. Babies learn to use their neck muscles by practicing just like learning to walk.
8 First Tooth
Teeth buds begin to develop when the baby is in the womb. The time and age at which the baby will grow his or her first tooth largely depend on family history. However, most babies generally sprout their first tooth as early as four months and as late as eighteen months old.
Mothers really enjoy this life-changing experience when they see the first incisor coming out. However, babies don’t enjoy this at all, the teething process is uncomfortable for them, they can get a runny nose, diarrhea, and in some cases experience a fever due to gum inflammation. These symptoms disappear when the tooth finally breaks out.
7 Rolling Over
It is always a big deal when the baby is able to roll over for the first time with no assistance from anyone. Once the baby has head control, they learn how to sit on their own as well as to roll over. They learn how to flip over from their back to their tummy and vice versa.
Babies are able to kick themselves over to another position by their fourth month but by the sixth month after gaining full head control, they can roll over back and forth. Rolling over depends on the baby’s weight, their muscle development, and level of activity; therefore some babies can take longer to do so. Tummy-time plays a crucial role in helping them learn to roll over.
6 Sitting Up Unsupported
Sitting up definitely gives the baby a new perspective of his or her environment. They were used to seeing the world while lying down and now get to go through this life-changing experience while seated. Babies achieve this milestone after they master how to support their head and to roll over.
Babies learn how to sit down between the ages of five and ten months. Watching them gain such independence is exciting for any parent. Tummy time plays a big role in helping them sit up. It is how they gain the muscles needed for sitting. They also do not sit for a long period at once without toppling over.
5 Baby’s First Crawl
Crawling is the first way babies learn how to move themselves independently from one place to another, and this is definitely a life-changing experience for them. Some babies move with their stomachs on the floor, others on all fours, while others don’t crawl at all they just start walking.
Babies begin to crawl from the age of six to ten months. Once they are strong enough and they have the coordination to move, they start crawling. Some babies learn to crawl faster than others do. Crawling is a huge milestone because it's a baby's first step toward independent mobility. Although it's a great thing for babies to start crawling, parents will, however, start to face the difficulty of trying to keep up with them.
4 Day One Of Weaning
Starting to feed on solid foods is a big transition and a life-changing one for all babies. Before six months, all babies should only drink milk exclusively which means that the only taste they know is that of milk. However, from six months, they get the opportunity to make use of their taste buds by eating other foods for the first time. Since substituting breast milk with solid food will surely be strange for the baby, weaning should be gradual.
Some babies lose interest in nursing as early as four months while others never lose interest but by month six, caregivers should have started weaning them. From six months, babies need more vitamins and minerals that they won't get from just milk. However, mothers should continue to breastfeed their babies until they hit the one-year mark.
3 Standing Up
Between eight months to a year, babies are strong enough to support their weight using their legs. This, of course, is a life-changing experience for them and a prelude to walking. Standing up requires coordinating almost all of their major muscle groups at the same time; this is definitely a major achievement.
Babies learn to stand-up when they get many free-range playtimes. They practice by holding on to things around them and after several falls, they let go of the support and stand up on their own. Their first instances of standing up usually last a few seconds and they stay for longer with time.
2 Sleeps All Night
This is perhaps the most varying baby milestone but a life-changing one for both the baby and the parents. When a baby can sleep throughout the night, the baby, as well as the caregivers get to rest well and ends up being less grumpy the next day. Some babies learn to sleep throughout the night as early as two months old, while others take a little longer.
Many things can cause babies not to sleep all night with the leading causes being not feeding well, a soiled diaper, or a sickness. Newborns should nurse every two to four hours; therefore, they need to wake up at least twice at night but by four months, most babies can sleep throughout the night. The first night of sleeping is usually a major victory for the parents.
1 Baby’s First Flu
This is one of those life-changing first experiences parents don’t look forward to. Newborns usually have very weak immune systems, since this system develop as they grow. Therefore, before their immune systems are strong enough, some end up with the flu. No parent likes to see his or her baby struggle with a disease at such a young age.
When they catch a cold, they may have a runny and watery nose, which might be thicker with time. They might also develop a fever in the process. The only good thing about getting a cold is it helps to increase a baby's immunity. A cold or the flu is not dangerous but a caregiver must do everything to make sure it does not escalate.