by: Meredith Stedham, RN, LPC, Educator

As an educator at The Motherhood Center, I am often asked questions by parents about their infant’s development and milestones. In this new year, I have decided that we will journey together through the weeks and stages of infant development by following my fictional child. I always tell parents who attend our Newborn Care Classes that I do not yet have children of my own, but I hope to have several one day… therefore “Baby Hope” is the name I have given the baby doll I use to demonstrate newborn care when I teach classes, and she will be our example in this ongoing blog series during the next 12 months.

Baby Hope was born on 01/01/12 and we are so excited to welcome her into the world! She is now almost 3 weeks old and loves to be held close and cuddled. She loves to eat, sleep, and provide frequent diapers that need changing. Her vision is still fuzzy, but improving and she likes to see objects that are roughly 8-12 inches from her face, especially faces. Baby Hope’s eye muscles are still immature, and therefore her eyes will often get crossed, or drift outward, or upward, or any combination of eye movement you can imagine. These eye movements are considered normal for her age and will correct over time. We have noticed that she has all of the newborn reflexes we learned about, especially the startle reflex when she hears a noise or when we lay her down on the changing table. Her breathing patterns tend to change depending on which sleep cycle she is in. Sometimes she breathes very even and shallow and is completely still; then in her active sleep her breathing becomes irregular and she moves her body and eyes more (this sleep is called REM or “Rapid Eye Movement”). She has become very effective at communicating her needs through different types of crying, but she also has a variety of sounds, grunts, and sometimes growls that she makes during her awake times and also during her sleep. Her umbilical cord stump fell off when she was about 10 days old, and she is now able to graduate from sponge baths to a tub bath, which she seems to enjoy.

At this age and stage of development for Baby Hope, we are mainly focusing our time on meeting her physical needs, spending lots of time bonding and holding her (you cannot spoil a newborn!!), and being in awe of how amazing and cute she is. We are glad that we listened to the advice of friends and had her newborn photos taken at The Motherhood Center right away, because she started developing infant acne a couple of days ago, which the pediatrician assures me will resolve with time. So far she is tolerating tummy time, which we practice for 3-5 minutes a few times a day to help develop her shoulder and abdominal muscles, and to gain control of her adorable “bobble” head.

This has been a wonderful, but exhausting few weeks. Becoming a parent is beautiful, but the sleep deprivation is challenging. Baby Hope’s sleep is mainly following her feeding schedule, which is constant and around the clock. We chose to have the grandparents help during the day, and also have a Baby Doula from The Motherhood Center, who has been a great help at night and given us the opportunity to get more rest. I will admit there have been many moments that I have shed tears of joy, of exhaustion, and also for no particular reason… the OB/GYN says that the changes in hormones during and after pregnancy can cause the “baby blues” for a few weeks.

Overall, Baby Hope seems to be developing and growing well and we love her!

Continue to follow our blog each week to track Baby Hope’s growth and development.