Learn, cool, fun and fascinating facts about your brand-new bundle of joy’s amazing growth!

As soon as their little one arrives, parents are always eagerly awaiting their mini-me’s next developmental milestone such as when they will say their first word or start walking.

Nor do you have to wait too long, especially since many parents lament that their babies grow up in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, they have started crawling, babbling and even grasping objects with their tiny hands!

As parents, you really treasure these magical moments, given that bubba will so will become a toddler in no time. You might also be curious as to how exactly your baby grows during the first year of life.  

Here are fascinating facts about your baby’s development.

1. Their brains grow while they are still in the womb

A little-known fact is that brain development starts even before you deliver your little bundle of joy.

Explains National University Hospital paediatrician Dr Khadijah Abdul Kader, “Babies’ brains start to grow while in the womb, and taking nutritious foods during pregnancy can help to support brain development. Exposure to certain drugs, alcohol and smoking adversely affects a baby’s brain development, too.” 

To reduce the chances of having a baby with neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spine), pregnant women are also encouraged to take folic acid and get vaccinated against preventable diseases.

“Rubella, hepatitis B and chickenpox vaccines should be taken before getting pregnant, and influenza and pertussis vaccines are recommended during pregnancy,” Dr Khadijah advises.

“Healthy term babies weigh between 2.5kg and 4kg at birth, and usually double their birth weight by 6 months and triple it by 1 year.”

2. They don’t have perfect eyesight at birth

At birth, your little one’s vision is still developing. “They may be able to see shadows and moving objects, but they are unable to perceive beyond that at this stage,” notes Dr. Khadijah. “They may close their eyes when shown bright lights too.”

In the first four months, a baby’s eyesight begins to improve, and they can fix and follow moving objects across a room.

 “Their favourite objects are the faces of their loved ones, and they will also be able to see objects in front of their faces and try to grab these,” Dr Khadijah observes.

As your baby gets older, they'll have the ability to see things further away, and can judge depth and perceive things better in 3D as well. 

3. They gain weight really fast!

Given their speedy weight gain, it’s no surprise that your bub is constantly outgrowing their clothes and shoes!

“Healthy term babies weigh between 2.5kg and 4kg at birth,” states Dr Khadijah. “They usually double their birth weight by 6 months and triple it by 1 year.”

Dr Khadijah notes that premature babies usually weigh less, depending on the number of completed weeks (gestation) at birth.

4. They start adjusting quickly to life outside the womb

Whilst most people see babies as fragile, they are in fact extremely adaptable and resilient.

For one, most cry immediately after birth, and this helps with the expansion of their lungs.

Dr Khadijah says, “The lungs start to work to help with gas exchange for babies outside the womb. In the womb, this function is performed by blood exchange via the placenta.”

Babies are also born blue and rapidly pink up in the first five minutes of life as a result of increased oxygen levels in their blood.

They start to search for milk soon after birth too, by turning their heads towards the mother’s nipple. “Most babies are able to feed immediately and get their nutrients from breastmilk, while previously they got their nutrients via the placenta,” says Dr Khadijah.

5. They are smarter than we give them credit for

Babies are capable of understanding what we say to them even when they are only a few months old,” notes Dr Khadijah. “As such, parents should speak to them clearly and read to them this helps with their speech and cognitive development.”

In fact, the most rapid period of brain growth happens in the first three years of life. This means that babies are constantly absorbing knowledge and information from their environment.

Developmental milestone checks are usually conducted every one to three months in the first two years of life, then 6 months to annually subsequently to ensure that children are developing appropriately.” Dr Khadijah adds. “Some children may require early intervention to help them achieve their full potential, and parents can speak to their paediatrician to understand more.”

6. They don’t have an innate ability to swim

Contrary to popular belief, babies aren't born with natural aquatic abilities.

As Dr Khadijah explains, the “diving reflex” which helps them stay underwater longer than adults is a survival mechanism meant to preserve their lives. It’s present in all babies between the ages of 2 and 6 months, but they lose this ability soon after.

Dr Khadijah elaborates. “When a baby is submerged underwater, the face and nose become wet this triggers bradycardia (lowering of the heart rate), apnea (cessation of breathing) and increased peripheral vascular resistance to redistribute blood to the vital organs.”  

She adds, “Bradycardia reduces the work of the heart and unnecessary oxygen consumption. The “diving reflex” occurs to preserve oxygen stores during accidental submersion.”

We may have more taste receptors for bitterness than we do for sweetness, and this may be nature’s way of ensuring babies get calorie-dense (sweet) foods and avoid poisons or rancid foods (bitter).

7. They naturally prefer sweet tastes

Children and adults aren't the only ones with a sweet tooth! Babies are naturally inclined towards sweet tastes, too.

“They can also perceive sour and bitter tastes at birth, whilst a taste for salt develops around five to six months of age,” Dr Khadijah says.

She adds, “Interestingly, we may have more taste receptors for bitterness than we do for sweetness, and this may be nature’s way of ensuring babies get calorie-dense (sweet) foods and avoid poisons or rancid foods (bitter).”

8. Though they can’t speak yet, they’ll let you know that they are hungry

In the first week, babies require at least eight feeds a day and are usually fed on demand, says Dr Khadijah. “If your baby cannot settle after feeding and is always crying, they may still be hungry and need to be fed additional formula milk. By the end of the first week, babies can be taking around 60ml to 80ml of milk per feed.”

Besides crying, other feeding cues include licking or smacking their lips, opening their mouth and increased arm and leg movements.

Their urine is also an indicator of whether they’ve been fed enough. “Clear urine in the diaper and transition of stool colour from dark to yellow signifies adequate feeding,” explains Dr Khadijah. “Orange or pink stains on the diaper is a sign of inadequate feeding.”

9. They spend around 20 hours a day sleeping in the first few months

Babies are a lot like koala bears ― they’re cute, cuddly and they sleep a lot!

Notes Dr Khadijah, “In the first weeks of life, babies sleep most of the day, and usually only wake up for feeds. They don’t have a regulated sleep pattern as yet, and can spend around 20 hours a day in slumber.”

From 2 to 6 months, babies start to develop more regular sleep patterns, as they are able to feed more efficiently.

When they start developing new skills at around 6 to 12 months of age, they may want to sleep less, and we may even find them awake at night practising their newfound skills, says Dr Khadijah.

Of course, they still take naps when they require rest. The timings of their naps vary from infant to infant. However, on average, they nap around one to three times a day and nap for 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Photos: iStock

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