Cognitive and Motor Development
Right from birth, your baby demonstrates physical and mental milestones that are a result of brain growth and development. The first weeks will be taken up by sleeping (12 - 20 hours per day), eating (every 2-4 hours), crying and making involuntary reflex movements in response to stimuli, such as:
Rooting: Touch or stroke your baby's cheek with a finger or nipple. He will turn his head and open his mouth to follow and “root” in the direction of the stroking. This helps the baby find the breast or bottle to begin feeding.
Sucking: When something touches his lips or the roof of his mouth, your baby will begin to suck. This triggers swallowing and also calms him. Babies also have a hand-to-mouth reflex that goes with rooting and sucking and may suck on fingers or hands.
Startling: You experienced his first startling reflex movements as kicking in the womb. These sudden, jerky motions and cries in response to loud noises or quick movements disappear in 5 - 6 months.
Stepping: When you support your baby with one foot flat on a firm surface, he'll “walk” his other foot forward. This reflex generally disappears by the second month.
Grasping: Put your finger in the palm of your baby's hand, or on the underside of his foot and he'll grasp it, tightly. A newborn's strength can be surprising.
Reflex movements help identify normal brain and nerve activity and can last for several weeks or several months. Furthermore, when placed on his stomach, he will start to pick up his head for a few seconds as his neck control improves.
Why is Nutrition Important?
Solid, balanced nutrition is a key factor to help your baby develop key milestones. The essential nutrients found in a well-balanced diet drive healthy growth and development and are especially important in the first stages of life. If you are breastfeeding, remember that the quality and quantity of your breast milk depends upon your sound nutrition intake, so it is vital to eat a balanced diet that consists of adequate amounts of nutrients no only for your health and wellbeing, but also for the positive development of your baby. Infants who are not breastfed should be given a formula that is iron-fortified with Vitamin D plus DHA and ARA (sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats) for the first 9-12 months. Vitamin D contributes to the healthy formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. DHA and ARA are nutrients naturally found in breast milk that support normal brain and eye development as well as healthy growth. Experts recommend that all non-breastfed babies should receive a DHA-enriched formula with a DHA level of at least 0.2% of the total fatty acids. Enfamil A+® has a DHA level of 0.32%. Enfamil A+ is closer to breast milk than ever before and its nutrient blend helps support normal brain and eye development and normal growth.