A Journey Through Infant Development: The First 12 Weeks
By: Michelle VanderHeide, BSW
I am currently enjoying the amazing experience of having newborn development right under my nose. My son is now 12 weeks old, and I see such amazing differences in him on a daily basis. It’s incredible how much children grow and develop in only a few weeks time. No wonder babies sleep so much given the amount they are learning each day! We would all have to sleep that much if we were processing and learning everything for the first time! As my little guy is growing, I’ve taken some time to reflect on what I’ve seen so I can share this information with him when he’s older. Here are my notes to my son about his early development:
2 weeks old: You are growing so much! I just love to cuddle with you on the couch as you sleep, but it doesn’t happen often with two older sisters in the house. I treasure the time I spend with you in the middle of the night when the house is dark and quiet. I’ll be happy to sleep through the night again, but I know it won’t be long before you are awake more often during the day and will be more interested in other things than cuddling with your mom.
4 weeks old: You are starting to be awake more now. You are eating more, which is helping you sleep longer stretches at night. You’re vision is obviously getting clearer, as you are beginning to notice our faces. I can’t wait to see you smile for the first time. I know it’s coming soon!
6 weeks old: What a difference two weeks makes! You are now smiling, but it’s not without effort. It makes you very tired to figure out that beautiful facial expression. I’ll start talking to you with a smile, and you’ll respond with your lips out, then a kick, then your head turns to the side, then your arms flair out, then a yawn—and then, for one precious second, you’ll give me a smile while looking right at me. That second passes quickly, and you’ve done all you can for the time you are awake. Another yawn and you are ready to rest. I’m ok with that, because I know there are more to come when you wake again.
8 weeks old: You smile all the time now! It’s amazing how easily the smile comes compared to two weeks ago. When your dad walks near you, your arms and legs start moving and a big beautiful smile radiates across your face. We can’t get enough of that beautiful smile, and yet already we are pushing for a little giggle. It’s starting to come now. I hear a little grunt, and I can tell you want to giggle but aren’t quite sure what those funny sensations of a tickle are yet. We love the beginning sounds of your giggle, and are anticipating you laughing soon.
10 weeks old: You have been nick-named ‘guy smiley,’ because anytime you see someone you give a big radiating smile. You are now giggling easily, and your sisters love to make you laugh. You are following a typical developmental path, as it’s already evident that you enjoy the dynamic world. What once made you giggle (other than tickles) is no longer as funny; we have to work harder or try something new. It’s the new, unexpected things that make you giggle. It’s amazing to me how you are already picking up on patterns in your life and anticipate the continuance of something you enjoy. Your dad was tickling you the other day, and when he would pause before he tickled you would giggle in anticipation. It’s so fascinating to see this already!
12 weeks old: You are now visually scanning and tracking what’s in the environment all the time. Lying down is getting boring because you can’t see what’s going on around you. You love to sit in your exersaucer and watch your sisters play, but you do get tired quickly in it as you are still developing head and neck strength. It won’t be long before you’re bouncing up and down in it. You are also beginning to notice toys, which is new this week. You like the black and white visual contrast, and are more interested in toys with faces than toys without. You are also starting to vocalize, and you love to play with the intonation of your voice. The baby babble is so cute!
If you are the parent of a child with autism, reading about the developmental progress I’m noticing in my infant may be difficult for you. It may cause you to stop and reflect on the fact that some of these developmental milestones are not yet in place for your child. To me, this is one of the most important reasons to choose Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)® as your primary treatment approach. You will learn to guide your child to develop these critical developmental milestones that occur in the early months and years of life. You will receive guidance to understand your child’s development in a new way, and to begin building the foundations necessary for more advanced communication and relationships. Is your child missing some of the milestones I’m seeing in my son? If so, CORE Approach can help you fill in those gaps so that you and your child can get back on the neurotypical pathway and have a second chance at development.