After four weeks of new parenthood, tons of questions, and getting to know your little guy, you should be feeling a tad more confident with your parenting skills. Your kid switches from a totally puzzling creature to a baby who follows more predictable patterns for eating, sleeping, and playing. Armed with your new knowledge and your little one's routine, your workload lightens up a bit. As you watch your child grow and develop each day, you should see new skills cropping up almost overnight. Make sure that your babe is on track so you know what to expect and how to help him grow.
Starts Smiling. Being a parent can be a thankless job during those first few months. You're up at all hours, and you're responsible for the care and feeding of a really demanding tiny human—but all of that work starts to pay off when your baby finally cracks his first gummy smile. Babies start to grin on purpose at about two months of age, so you'll have his happy face to look forward to.
- Give your little one a ton of different facial expressions to observe. He loves looking at faces, so you'll probably get a grin back when you show off your pearly whites, frown, open your mouth wide, or laugh.
- Experiment with stuff that could get your baby beaming. Surprise him with a game of peek-a-boo, a finger dance, a lip-syncing session to a favorite tune or a noisy toy. Grins are contagious, so keep a camera close for some snap-worthy moments with mama!
Gets Vocal. During the first month your baby's voice box is mostly limited to crying. But during the second month, he'll start trying other methods of vocalization on for size. A two-month-old starts combining smiles with jabbering, according to pediatrician Tisa Johnson-Hooper. Expect your baby to start "developing a social smile, respond to a smile with a smile, and start open mouth vocalization," notes Johnson-Hooper.
- Encourage all that cooing, jabbering, and noise with sounds of your own. Dr. Johnson-Hooper notes that talking and singing to your baby are excellent ways to encourage your little one to make noise on his own.
- Mimic sounds back to your baby when he coos. It's great for him to hear the sounds he's making back, and he'll be more likely to parrot the noises again in a game of sound ping-pong.
Gains Control of His Head. We all know that the right way to hold a baby is to cradle his head and neck, and while you'll still need to be super-gentle with your little one, you'll notice that he starts to control his head on his own during this time. For some babies, it simply means resisting against a supporting hand, or lifting his head up when laying on his tummy.
- Keep up with the tummy time exercises. You should be sneaking in three five-minute spurts each day. Just make sure you're always supervising when your babe has tummy time, and rescue him when he seems unhappy—it has to be a positive experience for him to be willing to do it repeatedly.
- Continue supporting his head when you're holding him, giving baths, or allowing older siblings to take part. While your baby has better head control, his neck muscles aren't strong enough to hold his head up altogether.
Starts Using His Hands. If you were disappointed that your little one wasn't interested in his new rattle, don't worry; his hand control should be kicking in now. While he won't be actively playing just yet, he can grasp safe items that you hand over, prompting him to check out his hands like they're brand-new!
- Offer toys that have slim handles. Babies find it way easier to grasp onto something that they can hold with their entire fist. Just make sure that whatever you hand over is safe; no small pieces that could fall off, and nothing so big and soft that it could cause a suffocation hazard.
Enjoys Routine. After the complete chaos of the first month, your baby will have settled into a self-led routine that becomes more predictable each day. And guess what? He loves that routine. You should be able to clearly tell the difference between your baby's moods based on the time of day; he'll have alert time, sleepy time, and even cranky time like clockwork.
- "Create a flexible feeding and sleeping routine. Not a minute-by-minute schedule but a sensible framework," says Irene Gouge, a pediatric sleep consultant. "The predictability is calming for a baby, and will help you get better at reading your baby's signals and clues."
- If you can't detect a pattern just yet, grab a notebook and start recording notes about your baby's day. After two or three days, you should clearly be able to see your child's natural routine, which means you can plan around fussy times.
Starts Self-Soothing. A newborn baby lacks a lot of the skills to keep himself calm, which is why you're often woken in the night to wails. But a 2-month-old will start to soothe himself, giving you some much-needed rest. Older newborns can take a pacifier, suck on their fingers, or even use certain scents to keep calm.
- Give your little guy a safe lovey to take to bed. Whether it's a thin, small blanket, or a small, soft toy, it can carry your scent and help your baby feel calm while hanging out in his crib or while out and about. Avoid heavy blankets, pillows or large stuffed animals—they can pose a suffocation risk.
- Offer your finger or a pacifier when your baby gets fussy. Sucking is a calming reflex for babies, and it can usually help him settle down when he's upset or tired. While you might be worried about pacifier dependence, they're totally fine during the first year, so plug away!
Gets Better Eyesight. In the first month of life, your baby's sight is limited to about three feet in front of him. Each day means better eyesight, and by month two, he should be able to see up to six feet around the room. Add that to his new head control, and he'll be turning his head and using eyes to locate sounds and find you in the room.
- Give your baby plenty to look at during the day. He loves bright colors and patterns, so flipping through a board book with simple pictures can help you bond and give him some eye exercise.
- Grab a noisy toy or a set of keys and jingle them on one side of your baby's head. Then, move them to the other side of his head. Your little guy should track the object with his eyes, or if he's laying on the floor, move his entire head to find the source of the sound.
Way to go for making it through the second month! You're probably feeling like an old pro by now, and you might not even remember what life was like pre-baby. It's OK; it just means that you're now a bonified, card-carrying member of the parent league. Next up, the minivan!