Baby's second month: development, medical and sleep
There are several reasons babies cry
Your baby will express happiness or pleasure by smiling by the second month, as well as gurgling and cooing at things and people around her in her first attempts to communicate. Two month old babies love the sound of themselves and are experimenting with their vocal abilities and combinations of throat, tongue and mouth actions.
Babies are developing their senses – hearing, taste, smell, touch as well as sight. By taking your child out into the world with you, you are providing an opportunity for them to take in their surroundings from the pram, car seat or baby sling and are nurturing him mentally.
Babies become disturbed by sensory overload in the form of too much light, noise or activity so by taking them somewhere calm and quiet, they may stop crying.
Early experiences are significant in shaping babies minds. A baby can begin to communicate as early as two months and will be able to smile and coo although crying is still his main form of expressing their needs.
Crying is now becoming your baby’s primary way of communicating her needs in addition to grasping your finger, staring intently at you or interrupting breastfeeding, as she starts to understand how different cries will draw different responses from you.
There are seven main reasons why a baby most commonly cries. They are:
- Hunger – As a parent, if you feed your baby whenever he is hungry, after a while you will be able to anticipate his hunger and your baby will cry less for this reason.
- Pain – Try and find the source of the pain such a bruise, but if you can’t see anything try cuddling and soothing and seek medical attention if he continues crying for an extended period.
- Discomfort – This could be caused by wet or dirty nappies, scratchy, prickly or tight clothing or being too hot or too cold.
- Loneliness – Babies become insecure when left alone. Let them sleep near you or in a sling around your torso.
- Overstimulation – Babies become disturbed by sensory overload in the form of too much light, noise or activity so by taking them somewhere calm and quiet, they may stop crying.
- Boredom – Lack of stimulation can also cause tears.
- Frustration – Babies who are repeatedly attempting to do something without success can become emotional.
Each of these cries is elicited to draw a specific response from you and you won’t spoil your baby by offering attention, cuddling or feeding on cue. Babies whose cries are answered and whose needs are met, grow into more stable and secure children than babies whose needs are ignored and who are left to cry. Furthermore, controlled crying is ineffective at this age as babies are not old enough to teach themselves how to sleep.
Some babies cry more than others – and are referred to as “high needs babies”. But generally if cries are high-pitched and close together, the baby is more likely to be distressed.
Physiological development is usually better with two month old babies less inclined to hiccup or posset. Your baby will also hold her head up higher and longer when placed on her tummy, resting on her forearms, and she will also raise her arms above her head when awake and on her back, which is the first step towards symmetrical arm posture that is necessary for reaching. She may also be able to hold her head steady for a few seconds when against your shoulder. Change your baby’s position throughout the day from their tummy to sitting with support from you and on her back to encourage physical development of all muscles and head control. Don’t worry if your baby acquires a skill and then stops doing it – babies learn skills one at a time and may temporarily abandon one skill while trying to master another.
Babies still tend to reach and look to the side rather than directly in front of them, although they can now see up to twice the distance they could as a newborn and can follow objects with their eyes as they move side to side or up and down when in their field of vision, and will be intrigued by colours and light but will usually lose interest when it is out of their immediate focus. Visually both eyes work together and a baby can track an object with one eye movement rather than series of stares. She can hold eye contact but this is because she is drawn to the dark and light contrast of the eyes.
She will be fascinated by nearly everything around her and may be become distracted during feeding times. Placing her baby in a supported back position such as on your lap, in a pram or baby chair allows her to observe the world.
Your baby will notice a variety of noises, such as voices, music or the telephone, although not everything will elicit a reaction from her. But she will stop moving to focus on listening when she hears noises with variations in pitch, intensity and tone, and will also respond well to people who speak to her in the same way. Auditory experiences combined with visual experiences can sometimes lead to over-stimulation in a two month old baby, and this is evident when she repeatedly turns away, closes her eyes and frets.
Colic can also develop in the second month. A baby with colic is likely to cry for long periods due to the extreme discomfort she feels and while she may not feed well during this time, she is likely to bounce back and thrive once the colic has passed. In this instance, leaving a colicky baby who has been crying for hours on end, to take a break for a few minutes, is not incredibly harmful, if you usually respond to their cries on cue.
This is also the month your baby needs his first round of several immunisations including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, haemophilus influenza b, a second shot of Hep B (first shot is given at birth), Pnuemococcal conjugate and the rotavirus vaccines. It is important that you find a doctor you like and feel comfortable with administering your child’s shots.
Your doctor will generally like to conduct your baby’s first check-up at six weeks and will ask questions about eating, sleeping and bowel movements and measure their length, weight and head circumference as well assessing their hearing and vision, overall movement and behaviour, as well as checking the fontanelles (the soft spots on your baby’s skull where the bones are yet to fuse together that need to be handled carefully). Be sure to share any concerns you may have and record all the information to help you monitor your baby’s progress.
Most babies will also have gained about several more kilograms and will be sleeping for longer periods of 3-5 hours and managing to stay awake more during daylight hours, although she is still likely waking to be fed at night.
Between one and two months of age most babies will continue to wake every two-four hours both during the day and during the night and will be able to remain awake longer than he did in the first month. Baby will sleep for around 16 hours but this can fluctuate between 12 and 22 hours. Around the six week mark some babies will sleep for 5-6 hours straight but this usually occurs in the third or fourth month.