The Basics of Newborn Parenting

First-time parents are often nervous about bringing their precious newborn baby home. Every parent will have different approaches to parenting and the specific manner they will provide care for their child. Read on for some expert tips on the basics of newborn parenting.

Determining your Parenting Style

Every parent has a different personality, life experiences and different ideas on what makes a good parent. Most people will tend to fall back on the basic parenting techniques and style that their own parents portrayed to them when young. Some new parents are determined not to repeat the same mistakes that their parents did.

Child developmental psychologists have narrowed the many characteristics and traits of parents into 3 main parenting styles along with 1 more that was added later.

These parenting styles include:

  • Strict Authoritarian Parenting
  • Authoritative Involved Parenting
  • Permissive Parenting
  • Uninvolved or Neglectful Parenting

Out of these 4 main types of parenting styles, most parenting and child developmental professionals urge parents to strive for the authoritative involved parenting style. Children tend to do better and grow up happy and assured of their worth and personal accomplishments when they perceive their parents as loving and fair.

Child Development (Cognitive and Motor Skills)

Healthy children go through various stages of child development. In the first year of life, your baby will mostly be developing his/her cognitive and motor skills. Babies grow and perfect new skills rapidly.

Cognitive Skills First Year

Jean Piaget identified the 4 cognitive stages in child development that begins with the sensorimotor state.

Sensorimotor Stage: Birth Through About 2 Years

The sensorimotor stage begins at birth and continues through approximately 2 years old. Babies begin to learn about their world through their senses. They also begin to manipulate objects and their environment.

Sensorimotor skills in newborn babies to 3 months include:

  • Begins to anticipate – a bottle or breastfeeding by trying to suck a nipple and displays rooting
  • Develops visual acuity at a distance of about 13 inches
  • Turns head towards sounds & begins to determine pitch and volume changes
  • Begins to focus on moving objects in environment especially caregiver faces
  • Starts recognizing different colors
  • Makes different facial expressions in response to their environment
  • Start to discern different tastes – sour, sweet, bitter or salty

At 3 to 6 months:

  • Begins to imitate facial expressions
  • Shows a reaction to familiar sounds
  • Will begin to recognize parents, siblings and other familiar people
  • Show responses when people make facial expressions

At 6 to 9 months:

  • Looks intently at something unusual – dust bits sparkling in sunlight etc.
  • Begins to understand inanimate and animate object differences
  • Figures out object size relation to distance
  • Discerns different photos of objects and numbers

At 9 to 12 months:

  • Responds with sounds and gestures
  • Shows interest in picture books, certain toys etc.
  • Will manipulate objects like stacking them, turning something over etc.
  • May imitate basic actions & gestures
  • Learns object permanence – object/person doesn’t disappear when out of sight

Motor Skills First Year

Babies from newborn infants to age one develop their motor skills rapidly. A basic schedule of your baby’s first year follows.

Developmental Milestones Motor Skills

At 0 to 1 months:

  • Displays reflexive grasps at birth
  • Neck muscles not developed yet – needs proper neck support

By 3 months:

  • Gains control of neck and head
  • Begin putting your baby on stomach while supervised to build more neck/head strength

At 4 to 6 months:

  • Your baby begins to improve purposeful movement & balance at a rapid rate
  • Will begin building upper and lower body core strength
  • May begin to roll over as larger muscle groups control are mastered
  • May be able to sit with arms in front for short periods of time
  • Reaches & grabs for objects

At 7 months:

  • Rolls from back to tummy & from tummy to back
  • Can sit unsupported relatively well
  • May do push-ups attempting to move forward

At 9 months:

  • Gets in/out of sitting position
  • Begins to scoot, crawl or creep
  • Picks up objects with thumb/finger pincher grasp
  • May stand with support
  • Looks for hidden objects & imitates well
  • Begins to communicate vowel/consonant sounds
  • Mimics plays patty-cake or peek-a-boo
  • Starts to understand no

At 12 months:

Continues to develop motor skills. May begin walking.

Skin-on-Skin Bonding

Newborn infants are comforted by skin-on-skin bonding touches. This is the normal snuggling touch motions most parents display when holding their little one. Let your baby feel your cheek or lay him on chest for skin contact. This is thought to improve brain function and encourages nursing.

Soothing your Newborn

Newborns are extremely sensitive to unexpected and loud noises. Parents can calm their infant by speaking in hushed tones. Try using a soft background sound machine when baby is resting. While keeping noise level down is necessary at times, your baby should get used to normal sounds of your household too.

Sleeping Basics

Infants sleep a lot at first. Provide a comfortable sleeping environment. Begin a bedtime routine by bathing baby then holding him/her awhile. Try singing or playing soft music, reading a short book, dimming lights and/or rocking your baby before bed.


Every new parent is nervous at first. Relax, and enjoy these cherished moments that’ll seem to go by too quickly.

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