In your baby’s second month, his world grows much larger. He is still drawn to familiar faces, and he sometimes holds eye contact for as long as 10 seconds. In addition to your face, baby’s top 10 list includes high-contrast mobiles, black-and-white pictures of familiar faces, ceiling fans, checkerboards, silhouettes, and black-and-white designs.
He may also be able to start following a moving object with his eyes. Notice how his head moves along with his eyes as he stares at his mobile or a passing animal. He might even be able to track a whole 180 degrees.
You don’t need any fancy toys or gadgets to help your child reach his full visual potential. The world around him provides all he needs. If he gets bored, take him outside for a change of scenery. Squirrels, trees, flowers, and birds are all stimulating to your baby — after all, everything is new to him.
Most of the reflexes your baby had at birth are starting to fade, and his movements are becoming more controlled and purposeful. His fists have likely relaxed into open hands and his legs have straightened out. If you place a light toy in his palm, he will hold onto it for a while. He’ll try to reach for things, so never leave him unattended with a mobile that is close enough to reach; little hands can get caught in the string. A mobile hanging 12 to 15 inches above his head will be both safe and fascinating.
At this age, his head control has improved. If you lay him down on his tummy, he can now lift his head and even turn it from side to side. He might also be able to lift his head for a few seconds when you hold him upright. He can’t roll over on purpose, but he just might do it by accident. For this reason, he shouldn’t be left alone on a table or the edge of the bed.
It takes a lot of food — and a lot of feedings — to keep a newborn going. Don’t worry if his feeding patterns are irregular. If you are responding consistently to his cues, he is getting exactly what he needs. Some babies like to snack frequently throughout the day, while others tank up at regular intervals. Some even nurse several times in a couple of hours and then take a break for several hours. Many babies nurse for comfort as well as nutrition. For many mothers this is a sweet bonding experience, but if your baby’s frequent comfort nursing leaves you exhausted or irritable, a pacifier can serve as a substitute once the nursing relationship is well established.
Because of his newfound visual prowess, your baby may begin to get distracted while feeding, popping on and off the breast or bottle while checking out the scenery. If this is driving you crazy, try feeding in a quiet room in low light away from family members and other distractions. When you’re breastfeeding while out and about, try putting a shawl or sling over your baby’s head to block the visuals.
This month, your newborn adds coos and squeals to his vocal repertoire. To help get him “talking,” use a high-pitched voice and slow, exaggerated words, leaving pauses for him to respond. If your baby has initiated the conversation, try imitating his noises; this validates his efforts and elicits more of the same.
Babies often make sounds in their sleep. Many parents are alarmed to hear a rattling, wet breathing sound while the baby naps. This sound is perfectly normal, however; it is caused by the saliva that pools at the back of the throat when he is lying down.
Overall, your baby’s physical progress is still fairly subtle in his second month, but he’s laying the groundwork for some huge advances in the months ahead.
Sears, William and Martha. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two. 2003. Little, Brown and Company.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five. 2009. Bantam Books.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Baby Bouncer. Second month: Parent-baby learning game. September 2000. http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/current/CHFD-E-39-02.html
MedlinePlus. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Infant Newborn Development. February 2009. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002004.htm
Nemours Foundation. Breastfeeding FAQs: How Much and How Often. http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/food/infants/breastfeed_often.html