Baby’s First Year

Secular lessons for a newborn doesn’t put much emphasis on morality or citizenship, but rather the exploration of their physical surroundings.

This is a continuation of my Secular Lessons for Kids.

I figure it makes the most sense to start at age 0–baby’s first year of life. Check out my about page to understand my level of expertise: I’m not a pediatrician or an expert in child development. My knowledge is largely driven by the fact that I have a son, and he is now 1. His first year is still pretty fresh in my mind.

Baby’s first year is full of major physical changes. You can literally see your kid growing from month to month (in pictures). They are insane growing and learning machines! You obviously can’t teach your kid any abstract lessons like the U.S. Capitals, or even what the color red is, BUT–they are great observers. How does one observe? Through the senses.

The five major senses are touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. But wait, there’s more! Other senses: pressure, itch, temperature, pain, thirst, hunger, direction, time, muscle tension, awareness of body, awareness of balance, stretch receptors and finally, chemoreceptors. For those last two, see this article.

So it goes without saying that the secular lessons for an infant doesn’t put much emphasis on morality and citizenship, but rather the exploration of their bodies and their physical surroundings.

Make them feel at home in this big scary world. And congrats on your baby! Eeee! So excite!

Week 1 (One Month Old)

  • Hunger: Baby is rooting. Learn to breastfeed baby (that is, if you choose to breastfeed. Anecdotally, I had lots of fun breastfeeding my baby! I did a ton of research before he was born, and breastfeeding comes with its pros and cons. Honestly I just don’t care what the cons were anymore because it was such a wonderful bonding experience with my son.)
  • Sleep. You and the baby. (Yes, babies learn while they sleep.) Here’s a little tip. Buy a red lightbulb for your living room or nursery. I found that it illuminated the room perfectly without ruining my night vision or being too harsh. Fun fact: Sea captains use red lights for looking at their maps at night so that they can go back out to the helm with their night vision intact.
  • Social. This is baby’s primary method of communication. Babies need to know that when they speak they are being heard. I will acknowledge that babies make a lot of funny noises at this age. I’m a bit of a special case because I am hard-of-hearing, but I think that was to my advantage. I didn’t freak out at every weird gurgle my baby made, and I think that’s okay! However, when the baby makes clear crying sounds, it’s time for you to help.
  • Touch: skin to skin contact. Never stop doing this with your child. Touch is so important for children.

Week 2

  • Sight: Smile at baby.
  • Smell: Baby can smell mom’s nipples!
  • Taste: Hopefully by now your milk has come in. Keep up with skin to skin and nursing.
  • Touch: Have baby grab your fingers.

Week 3

  • Awareness of Body: believe it or not, you can train your baby to go potty on cue. This is a strange concept for modern/western sensibilities. However, this idea is regularly practiced in most 3rd world countries, and China! Dudes, this is what humans used to do before diapers were invented. I started with my son at about this age by simply following the instructions of the Facebook community: Elimination Communication. If you plan on being a stay-at-home mom or dad, you have a distinct advantage because you don’t have to disrupt the habit. I had my son fairly well-trained at the end of my maternity leave, but he fell out of habit when I went back to work three months later. Read up on this practice if you’re interested (Google search: Elimination Communication); it could save you diapering costs, and teaches your baby a skill! Please keep in mind that your child’s training on EC is dependent on the pace of the child, mom’s consistency, and time (12 months minimum). Don’t be frustrated if it’s longer; just go with the flow. My son is one now–I like to say he isn’t “potty trained”, but he is “potty acquainted”. When it comes time to start the training in full-force he won’t be completely bewildered. He’ll just think, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen this before but it seems to be with more urgency and pressure now.”
  • Sight: Let baby study mommy’s and daddy’s face.
  • Touch: By now the umbilical cord should have fallen off and you can have some fun in the bath with baby! Warm water and tickley bubble are a sensory paradise. Jump in the tub with baby and enjoy your bath together. I recommend buying a little bath chair for baby if you haven’t already.

Week 4

  • Sight: Hang a mirror by baby’s crib so they can practice looking at faces.
  • Sound: Talk to baby. Reply and imitate every gurgle or coo you can! Keep this up all throughout your baby’s first year. I babble back and forth with my son all the time. I have no idea what he’s saying, but I imitate him. He know’s I’m listening to him.
  • Touch: Swaddle baby. They are comforted by a tight blanket. It reminds them of the womb they became so familiar with.

Week 5

  • Awareness of Body: Your baby has the instinct for walking. If you put a newborn’s feet on a solid surface while supporting their body, they’ll appear to take a few steps.
  • Smell: Bake cookies! I know baby can’t eat them, but don’t they smell amazing?
  • Touch: Carry baby in a body carrier.

Week 6 (Two Months Old)

  • Awareness of Body: Baby can hold their head a little steadier while lying on their tummy or being supported upright.
  • Sound: Read to baby. You can read baby books to them, but don’t be afraid to read adult books too. They don’t really care what you’re reading, they just want to listen to you.
  • Touch: Massage your baby.

Week 7

  • Awareness of Body: Lay baby on their back and allow them to move freely and kick.
  • Sight: Hang toys near and over baby’s head to bat at.
  • Sleep: By now baby should be easing into a fairly regular sleep schedule.

Week 8

  • Awareness of Body: Help baby support their upper body with arms while lying on stomach.
  • Sight: Move around the room and let baby track your movements.
  • Sound: Soothe your baby with white noise, like a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, or a fan.

Week 9

  • Smell: Check out some of the spices in the spice cabinet. What do they smell like?
  • Sound: Sing songs to baby. The voice they love most is yours. It doesn’t matter what you think about your singing.
  • Taste: If you opted for breastfeeding, baby can pick up various flavors in your milk. Try lots of new and interesting foods for your baby!

Week 10 (Three Months Old)

  • Social: Introduce baby to other babies and more family members.
  • Sound: Practice echo location, have your partner clap somewhere in the room and let baby find where the noise is coming from.
  • Touch: Play in the grass or in the leaves.

Week 11

  • Awareness of Body: When holding your baby, allow baby to push down on a firm surface with their feet.
  • Sight: Take baby for a walk. See some new things in the neighborhood!
  • Sound: Strap a bell to your baby’s ankle during playmat time. They love the aural response as they learn to kick.

Week 12

  • Coordination: Place toys around baby to practice grabbing them and putting them in their mouth.
  • Sound: Listen to mom and dad’s favorite music. Children’s songs are nice too, but babies enjoy all music.

Week 13

  • Sleep: When baby cries out at night, wait a 30 seconds before going into the nursery. Baby might be able to fall back asleep on their own. When you do go help baby, stick to the essentials, feed and change baby and put them right back to bed. Nighttime isn’t the time for playing.
  • Social: Baby should begin matching your smiles. Discuss with your pediatrician if you think that your baby isn’t smiling back at you.
  • Sound: Encourage baby to babble, they should start making cooing sounds like “ooo” and “ahh”.

Week 14 (Four Months Old)

  • Sight: Give baby a water bottle with a little water inside. Sit by a sunny window for best results! Watch the water slide around.
  • Social: Enroll in a mama’s club or a daycare. Let baby start playing with babies their own age.
  • Sound: Give baby a capless water bottle. They make an amazing crinkling sound! The cheaper the water bottle, the more crinkly.

Week 15

  • Awareness of Body: Give baby lots of floor time. Help your baby learn to roll from side to side.
  • Sound: Call baby by their name. When baby responds reward them with hugs and kisses.

Week 16

  • Sight: Partially cover one of your baby’s toys under a blanket and ask them where it is. Place the blanket over your head so only your nose and mouth are showing. See if they will tug it off.
  • Taste: Let baby try their first bowl of rice cereal.

Week 17

  • Awareness of Body: Baby can sit up now with support. Use a c-shaped pillow or a bumbo to help them develop their core.
  • Cause and Effect. When baby drops something you pick it up. Baby will eventually drop things just to play a game with you!

Week 18

  • Touch. Give your baby lots of textures to play with. Buy some touch-n-feel books. Look around the house for different baby-safe items to play with. Go to the fabric store and select a range of colored and textured fabrics.

Week 19 (Five Months Old)

  • Awareness of Body: Hold baby over a floor and let them practice standing, bending their knees and locking them.

Week 20

  • Awareness of Body: Help baby practice rolling over!
  • Sound: Name things in baby’s environment. Shoes, ball, puppy, window, etc.

Week 21

  • Sound: Dance with baby! Hold baby in your arms and bounce around the room.
  • Touch: Help your baby learn to clap along with music and children’s rhymes.

Week 22

  • Sound: Narrate everything you’re doing. “Mommy’s putting on your coat. Do you want to go outside? Let’s go play in the leaves!”

Week 23 (Six Months Old)

  • Cause and Effect: Stack up blocks for your baby, and let them knock it down.
  • Morality: Give positive feedback when your baby is being good.
  • Sight: Blow bubbles for baby to look at and try to catch.

Week 24

  • Awareness of Body: Point to and name all of their body parts, eyes, ears, nose, tummy, etc.
  • Taste: Your baby is ready to expand their taste palette! Introduce new foods one new item per week. (I am told it is wise to go slow in case there are allergic reactions. You should be doing your own reading on best-practices for feeding your baby.) Here are a few recipes to get you started!
  • Touch: Bounce baby on your knee. Say a little chant like “Giddy-up horsey, go to town. Giddy-up horsey don’t fall down!”

Week 25

  • Sight: Take baby to the store and look at all products. Describe the items, color, size, texture, shape, and function.
  • Touch: Play with your baby in the shower with the spray of the water.

Week 26

  • Cause and Effect: Select three small toys that baby can grasp in their hand. Hand them the first one, and then the second, and then offer the third. They must decide to drop one to take the third. Repeat.
  • Sight: Do laundry with your baby. Let them touch the clothes, play peek-a-boo, and describe the colors, textures and patterns as you put away the clothes.

Week 27 (Seven Months Old)

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 28

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 29

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 30

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 31

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 32 (Eight Months Old)

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 33

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 34

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 35

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 36 (Nine Months Old)

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 37

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 38

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 39

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 40 (Ten Months Old)

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 41

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 42

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 43

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 44

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 45 (Eleven Months Old)

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 46

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 47

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 48

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 49 (Twleve Months Old)

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 50

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 51

There’s nothing here yet.

Week 52

There’s nothing here yet.

Image source: My photographer


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