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Newborn and Infant Care Information

Congratulations on your new baby! As your child grows from a newborn to an infant, many changes will occur. Whether you are a first time parent or have been down this road before, you want to make sure your child is healthy and happy.

Your Child’s Development

Milestones are developmental events that occur in a predictable order. Since each child is different, milestones occur at slightly different ages for each child, but always in the same order. Parents play an important role in helping their child reach each milestone. During the first year, here are some things to look for and activities to help your child to master new skills:

At Birth

Your baby

  • Responds to sound by becoming still
  • Recognizes parents’ voices
  • Sees well at 6-12 inches from a person or an object
  • Prefers to look at the face of another person
  • Follows slowly moving toys part way to the right and the left
  • Needs support of the head and neck when being moved
  • Loves to be held closely and touched gently

You help your baby when you

  • Massage the baby gently all over with unscented lotion or baby oil
  • Hold the baby closely
  • Look into your baby’s eyes and talk with the baby in soft, moderate tones
  • Read books with your baby
  • Rock and walk with your baby

At 2 Months

Your baby

  • Uses a big smile to attract you for play and care
  • Follows you or others with his or her eyes as you move
  • Has better head control but still needs your help with support
  • Opens his or her hands about half the time
  • Turns to where a sound comes from
  • Is awake a lot more often and is interested in things around him or her
  • Coos and makes throaty sounds

You help your baby when you

  • Give the baby tummy time when the baby is awake, making it a fun time
  • Talk and read to the baby often
  • Imitate the baby’s sounds, taking turns with the baby
  • Give the baby changes in toys and objects to look at each day
  • Take the baby to new locations in your home or outside your home each day
  • Cuddle and rock your baby often
  • Give the baby things to touch that are soft or hard, smooth or fuzzy

At 4 Months

Your baby

  • Laughs and chuckles
  • Makes a wide variety of sounds
  • Lifts his or her head and chest by pushing up with the arms when on the stomach
  • Bring his or her hands together
  • Reaches for and holds toys and objects
  • Rolls front to back

You help your baby when you

  • Give the baby safe toys to reach for and hold
  • Hold the toys still for the baby to reach for them rather than moving them
  • Let the baby explore safe toys with the mouth
  • Read to your baby every day
  • Take turns with the baby imitating your baby’s sounds
  • Tell your baby about pictures and objects, and people the baby sees
  • Make sure the baby’s play area is safe and the baby cannot fall

At 6 Months

Your baby

  • Babbles a lot!
  • Sits with good head control when you support his or her hips
  • Rolls back to front
  • Moves objects from one hand to the other hand
  • Wants to feed her- or himself cookies or crackers
  • Shows interest in your food
  • East from a spoon without using the tongue to push food out
  • Prefers parents for care

You help your baby when you

  • Read books every day with your baby
  • Tell the baby names for how he or she feels
  • Describe the things in your baby’s life, giving words for what the baby sees and hears
  • Make sure the whole house is a safe place for your baby to explore
  • Give your baby a chance to feed him- or herself even when it’s messy
  • Take the baby to different places inside and outside the home to vary what the baby sees and hears
  • Give the baby a range of toys to play with that differ in color, sound, and feel

At 9 Months

Your baby

  • Knows his or her name
  • Loves to play simple games with you such as peek-a-boo
  • Makes recurring sounds such as “Da-da” and “Ba-ba”
  • Sits without the need for support
  • Crawls, or scoots and may pull up to stand
  • Uses thumb and index finger to pick up objects
  • Uses index finger for pointing and poking
  • Feeds self with fingers, begins to use cup
  • Love affair with toys
  • Is afraid of strangers
  • Does not want to be away from parents

You help your baby when you

  • Give your child a soft toy or blanket, a “lovey,” to hold and be comforted with whenever the baby is upset
  • Say goodbye and are calm and reassuring when you leave the baby
  • Read with your child every day
  • Follow the baby’s interest in toys and activities
  • Give the baby a chance to feed him- or herself and learn to use a cup, even though it is messy
  • Give the child a variety of toys that make sounds, flash lights, or move when your child plays with them
  • Do not force your baby to deal with things that are scary, such as clowns
  • Make sure the play areas inside and outside your home are safe enough for the baby to play with as little need to say “No!” as possible

At 1 Year

Your baby

  • Waves bye-bye
  • Say mama or dada – and know it means you!
  • Walks holding on to your hand or objects or by themselves
  • Picks up objects with thumb and first finger
  • Has at least three words you know when your baby speaks
  • Throws a ball forward
  • Can stack two cubes
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Feeds with spoon, spilling about half
  • Searches for hidden objects

You help your baby when you

  • Read books with your child every day
  • Give the baby the chance to point to things in the book the baby knows, such as a cat
  • Teach the baby the names of animals and the sounds that they make
  • Give the baby lots of time to play hard walking running and climbing
  • Give the baby toys that the baby has to control to make them work
  • Make the baby’s play areas inside and outside the home as safe as possible so that you seldom have to say “No!”
  • Give the baby words for the new feelings a one-year-old has, such as anger and frustration
  • Give the baby the chance to feed him- or herself with a spoon and cup

Your Child’s Immunizations

One of the most important ways to keep your child healthy is to make sure your baby gets vaccinations or “shots” on time during the first two years of life. Vaccinations the baby needs include:

  • Hepatitis B (Hep B)
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)
  • Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV)
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Pneumococcal disease (PCV)
  • Influenza (flu shot)
  • Varivax (Chicken Pox)
  • Rotovirus
  • Hepatitis A (Hep A)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a handy color-coded schedule that gives time periods for your child’s vaccinations.

Other Tests for Your Child

Newborns are required to have several tests done prior to leaving the hospital for the first time. Each state has different requirements. For example, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s Help Me Grow Program, there are 30 different disorders that newborns are screened for at birth, including sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis. Your health care professional will tell you the test results by the two-month well child visit. If any of the tests are positive or the results unclear, the Ohio Department of Health will contact you as soon as possible. To learn more, visit the Help Me Grow website.

Your child may need blood lead testing if you live in an older home or have other risk factors. At 9-12 months, most children have their hemoglobin level tested to make sure there is no anemia. If you live in an area that is considered high risk for tuberculosis or if a family member has the disease, your child will need testing. Hearing and vision screening may be requested by your healthcare provider based on your child’s physical examination, family history, medical conditions, or your concerns.

Keep Up with Check-ups!

Make sure to keep up with your child’s check-ups and inform your child’s pediatric health care professional if you notice any changes in your child’s appetite, behavior, appearance, or sleeping patterns. By establishing a good relationship with your pediatric healthcare provider, you can work together to keep your child happy and healthy!



Pocket Guide to Good Health For Children (AHRQ)

Burns, C.E., Dunn, A.M., Brady, M.A., Starr, N.B., & Blosser, C.G. (2004). Pediatric primary care: A handbook for nurse practitioners.

Graham, M.A. & Uphold, C.R. (2003). Clinical guidelines in child health (3rd ed.). Gainesville, FL: Barmarrae Books.

Green, M. & Palfrey, J.S. (2002). Bright futures: Guidelines for health supervision of infants, children, and adolescents. (2nd ed. rev.). Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health.

For more information:

Go to the Newborn and Infant Care health topic.