Nursery® welcomes all expectant and new parents to the most amazing journey of a lifetime. Our new health section offers information and insights we hope you enjoy in the precious months ahead – during pregnancy and after
your baby arrives.

Ages & Stages

New parents have the greatest gift, opportunity and responsibility of all: a new life to love, care for and guide into the next generation.

The first three years of your baby’s growth and development unfold at an astonishingly rapid pace. You play a crucial role in providing a safe and secure environment for all of the major milestones ahead.

Newborn growth & development, 0–3 months

Ah, those first smiles! Parents and babies share mutual joy and wonder as they gaze into each other’s eyes. Newborns yearn for these close interactions to build trust and begin to discover the world around them.

Babies are fascinated with their moms’ and dads’ faces. See what happens when you shift your head from side to side and their eyes begin to follow: They soon recognize you and nearby surroundings.

Reinforce these early, visual experiences by playing tracking games. At one month, infants can see best close up. So start by waving a safe, soft object in a back-and-forth motion within a range of two feet or less.

Newborns also love their parents’ voices and are able to distinguish them from others even from a room away. They delight when you engage in “baby talk” and soon will begin to babble back with those first precious coos.

It’s never too soon to read to your baby. Regular story time is a wonderful routine to establish early and often.

Help your baby reach, stretch and touch. During the first 3 months, babies begin to bring their hands to their mouths, stretch their legs and kick, use their arms for support and raise their heads. Place them on their tummies for a few minutes every day to offset the time they spend on their backs when sleeping.

Infant growth and
development, 4–7 months

This is when your little one truly starts to charm. During this stage, your infant will reach out, roll over and sit up!

The floor is the safest place to encourage these activities. Spread a blanket or colorful mat and help the baby practice tummy time to build upper body and neck strength.

Your infant will begin grasping for objects beyond reach, picking things up and switching them from one hand to the other.

There are pillows specially designed to help support and surround babies as they learn to sit. But always stay close by to brace them for the inevitable topples.

And begin watching for that first tooth! Keep a teething ring handy – important for play and soothing swollen gums.

At this age, your newborn develops the ability to see things farther away, better eye tracking and full-color vision. They are beginning to take in the world around them. Enhance their wonder by getting outside; birds, breezes and blue sky are all new sensations they are experiencing for the first time.

Verbal skills are developing quickly. Notice as your infant learns to imitate sounds, respond to the word “no” and laugh out loud.

Infant growth & development 8–12 months

Little ones get their first taste of independence as they learn to go mobile. Get ready! The baby is on the move:

infant growth and development 8-12 months cruise

Cruise control

Babies sit up without your support and then crawl. Many pull themselves up and hold onto furniture to move from place to place. By the end of this stage, little ones point, gesture and move toward what they want. Some take their first independent steps before the age of 1.

infant growth and development 8-12 months cereal

Pass the o-shaped cereal

Infants pick up small objects with their thumbs and fingers – what’s known as the pincer grasp. As they learn to use their hands, babies delight in repeatedly dropping and throwing things. Objects often end up in their mouths, so it’s time to make sure the house is childproofed for safety.

infant growth and development 8-12 months stranger anxiety

Stranger anxiety

Around this time, babies get anxious when parents leave. This is normal. A good way to exit is to give a hug and kiss and say goodbye quickly. Infants might cry for a few minutes, but most stop once a caregiver is able to distract them.

infant growth and development 8-12 months chatter

Escalating chatter

You’re about to hear those first priceless words, “mama” or “dada.”

infant growth and development 8-12 months interaction

Playful interaction

Babies love peek-a-boo, patty-cake and the sound of your voice. Talk to your infant and ask questions throughout the day. Read, look at picture books and sing songs. Hug and continue to hold your little one skin to skin. Your love and attention offer a sense of wellness and security.

Your baby at 12–24 months

What remarkable changes you’ve witnessed. Soon (if not already) your baby will be walking, talking and eating real food! It’s time to focus on good nutrition and hydration for your little one on the go.

Introducing solid foods

Where do you start? It’s not just baby cereal anymore. Puréed or mashed soft fruits or vegetables are fine. Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Offer one food at a time to rule out allergies.
  • Understand that your baby’s tongue thrust reflex is normal and does not mean the baby doesn’t like the food.
  • If the little one strongly rejects a certain food, wait a few weeks, then try again.
  • Select or prepare foods that are pure and do not contain salt.
  • Pull the high chair up to the family table and share meals together.
  • Never leave your child unattended while eating to avoid choking hazards.

Early oral health

Most parents don’t realize that the number one childhood disease (under the age of 5) is tooth decay. Left untreated, childhood caries can destroy tiny teeth and lead to needless pain, suffering and infection. With good early oral health habits, it is preventable. Here’s how:

  • Keep in mind that acid-producing, cavity-causing bacteria can pass from mother to baby (or caretaker to baby) through saliva. So it’s important to avoid kissing your baby on the mouth, sharing utensils, blowing on food or cleaning a pacifier with your own mouth.
  • Begin brushing the baby’s very first tooth.
  • Take your baby to the dentist in the first year of life.
  • Remember the slogan: 1 baby tooth + 1 dental visit = 0 cavities.

The importance of water

To help build and maintain strong, healthy teeth, avoid juices and other sugary drinks. Introduce water when it comes time to transition from the bottle or breast.

  • Encourage water as the beverage of choice early on.
  • Have water handy after meals to rinse when unable to brush.
  • Offer a water-only sippy cup; add an ice cube to turn it into a rattle.
  • Pack water as the choice for hydration on the go.
  • Get guidance on water fluoride levels and supplements.

Nurse Linda Ciampa on having a baby and a toddler in the house

Until now, your firstborn has been the center of attention. Now, a new baby is coming home and things are about to change. Children react differently depending on age, but a sibling is a gift and an opportunity to learn about sharing and patience. Here are a few ideas to help your toddler adjust to the new arrival:

  • Provide picture books that involve sisters, brothers, babies and families. Explain how important it is to be a “big brother or sister” and that the new baby will be part of the family.
  • Buy your toddler a shirt, bracelet, cup or plate that says “big brother” or “big sister.” The key is to make the child feel important.
  • Spend some one-on-one time with your toddler before the due date and then shortly after the return home. Plan a special outing with your spouse or the grandparents during this time.
  • When the newborn arrives, have a gift “from the baby” for your toddler at the hospital. This helps ease the initial stress and paves the way for a smooth introduction to a new sibling.
  • Have patience with your toddler. At first, the older child may regress with baby-like habits. Alert your pediatrician if you have ongoing concerns and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the added responsibilities.