Becoming a father is one of the greatest experiences in life. Nothing can adequately prepare you for how you will feel when your newborn baby reaches out his little hand to hold your finger. The breathtaking and terrifying journey called “parenthood” has begun. Perhaps at this point you find yourself thinking, “What happens now?”
First of all, you are not alone. There are many people around you who are willing and able to help. The baby’s pediatrician or family doctor will be one of your greatest assets. Be sure that you are taking your baby to a doctor whom you trust. If you have doubts or problems in any way, seek out a new physician.
Bringing your baby home from the hospital may cause you to have mixed feelings. It is wonderful to have him home, but let’s face it – all new parents at some time or another think to themselves, “I have no clue what I’m doing!” Understanding what milestones and firsts to expect will help to ease your mind.
Let’s look at the first year – firsts you can expect from your baby.
In the first few months, your baby will spend a lot of time sleeping. Take the time to cuddle and bond with him. He will feel more secure if you respond to his cries and that will help him to feel that he is safe in the world. Your baby will learn how to lift his head and move it from side to side. He also will bring his hands to his mouth and turn his head when he hears a familiar voice. He will begin to smile in the second month and laugh in the third month. It is important for babies to spend time playing on the floor, either on their backs or their tummies. They often don’t like to be on their tummies at first, but try to do at least a few minutes of tummy time each day. While your baby is playing on his back or tummy, he will begin to reach for toys.
By the end of the fourth month, your baby may be able to lift his head while he is on his tummy. This will help him to be able to roll over, usually from his stomach to his back first. A difficult time for you and your baby is when he begins teething, which may start around the sixth month. Also at this time, your baby may be able to sit by himself and roll over both ways. If he is bottle-fed, your baby may be able to hold his bottle by himself. This is also a good time to begin to introduce solid foods. If your baby rejects it the first few times, don’t worry about it. He has learned how to use his tongue for nursing or using a bottle; he will have to learn how to use his tongue a new way to eat food.
By month seven, your baby can start trying to feed himself finger foods. He may also start to play peek-a-boo. By eight months, he should be able to sit by himself and also begin trying to crawl. By about nine months, watch out! He is getting more mobile by learning how to get to a sitting position from his tummy and eventually standing from sitting. Now is the time to baby-proof!
The last two months of your baby’s first year will bring many exciting changes. Around ten months, he will be able to transfer a toy from one hand to the other. He also may pull himself up to stand and even stand by himself while holding onto something. Your baby might learn how to wave and clap his hands. By about one year, your baby could be taking his first steps! Before you know it, your baby becomes a toddler!