During the second month, your baby becomes a much more interactive little being. This is the month when the long-anticipated first smile emerges. Not a mere flutter during sleep, this is a true grin that conveys her amusement at your antics or joy upon seeing you.
To keep those adorable, toothless smiles coming, all you have to do is smile back. Babies at this age are attuned to their parents’ moods; a playful mom or dad will elicit more of the same from baby.
At this age, your baby will still be highly focused on her primary caretakers. Siblings, grandparents, and other people may not be able to get her attention, let alone win one of her smiles. Your baby isn’t being antisocial — she just has her priorities. Before you know it, she’ll be extremely interested in all of the people in her life.
For now, she has good reason to focus on you. You’re the one who feeds her when she’s hungry, changes her when she’s wet, and comforts her when she cries. As you consistently respond to her cues, she begins to develop an association between her actions and your response. This month, she is able to anticipate nursing, being held, or getting out of a wet diaper. You may notice that when you hold your baby in the nursing position, she will stop crying or fussing before she latches on. If her signals are misread and she is offered a nap instead of the expected diaper change, she may become even more upset.
This evolving relationship between the two of you (the three of you if you have a partner) is built on trust. Your baby can’t be spoiled at this age. Meeting her needs will just make her well-adjusted and comfortable. On the other hand, regularly ignoring your baby’s cues can breed mistrust.
In addition to her physical needs, your baby now has a desire to be entertained. And now that she’s growing more attached to you, looking at your face is an especially fun pastime. Hold her upright about 10 inches from you to play. Although she can see farther now, things are most clearly focused at this distance. Try these face-to-face games:
- Baby mirror. Watch your baby’s expressions and mimic her facial movements in an exaggerated manner. This game helps develop a baby’s self-awareness.
- Monkey see, monkey do. Entice your infant to copy you by slowly sticking out your tongue or opening your mouth wide. Repeat the same movement several times. While she may not be able to copy you exactly, she will usually move her tongue a bit or open her mouth to some degree.
- If your baby looks away, yawns, fusses, or stares blankly during the game, don’t take it personally: She is probably tired or over-stimulated. Stop for a time and try again later when she seems alert and interested in communicating with you.
- Your baby will also love to hear the sound of your voice. Talk to her often, especially when she’s in her quiet-but-alert mood. If you use real words instead of baby talk, she’ll be well prepared to use real words of her own when she’s ready.
The second month of your baby’s life is a time when her emerging personality begins to shine. You’re about to learn more about her temperament, her likes and dislikes — everything that makes her a true individual.
Sears, William and Martha. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two. Little, Brown and Company.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five. Bantam Books.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Baby Bouncer. Second month: Parent-baby learning game. http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/current/CHFD-E-39-02.html