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Barwon Health / Maternity Services

(03) 4215 2060

Your newborn baby

Babies are born helpless but they learn to respond and communicate very quickly. Your baby is born with the ability to taste, smell, hear, see and feel. Very soon after birth they show recognition of their mothers voice and can see faces when they are no more than 30cm from the face. Within weeks of birth babies will copy simple activities like poking out their tongue or opening its mouth wide.

Though babies are not born with words they do give us messages of their needs.Some messages are obvious like crying for hunger, discomfort, boredom. Rubbing eyes for tiredness, lots of eye contact for attention and avoiding eye contact when tired. Babies have expressive faces and use their expressions to respond to situations that bring them pleasure like seeing a parents smiling face and gentle voice or displeasure like a loud sudden noise.

You will also be able to gauge how your baby is feeling by its hands and body movements. When relaxed your baby will have relaxed hands and body whereas when not happy your baby will have closed fists and its arms, legs and body may be tense.

As your baby grows and develops stimulation will become important. Types of stimulation that will give your baby pleasure are;

  • Holding your baby close while talking to your baby.
  • Music
  • Bright colourful things to look at
  • Objects to see and touch
  • The sounds of conversation and family life.
  • There is a balance with stimulation though. Babies require quiet time to facilitate sleep. Feed, followed by play, followed by sleep provides a balance for babies.
  • You will know when it is time to stop the play when your baby may start to cry, stop responding to you or simply goes to sleep.

From birth babies are learning their social skills. By about six weeks your baby will respond to you with smiles. When you return the smile your baby will show pleasure and continue to smile. Babies are very sensitive to their parent’s emotions. When your baby is quiet and alert it is a good time for parents to be looking face to face, smiling, talking, singing, cuddling and kissing.

When babies are born vaginally their skull bones can become moulded as a result of the baby being squeezed through the birth canal. Your baby’s head may be elongated or lopsided. The part of your baby’s head that was pressing on the cervix may be swollen. This is called caput and will quickly resolve. The baby’s face may be squashed or swollen and the nose could be flattened. A long labour, assisted birth using forceps or vacuum extractor will also potentially cause bruising or abrasions. This too will heal within 1-2 days.


Last Modified: Thursday, 25 July 2019