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Physical Development
Of Infants At Birth

This page presents an overview of the physical development of infants at birth.

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At Birth

New babies curl up with arms and legs bent inwards towards the body. They maintain this position for a while but gradually straighten their arms and legs.

Gross Motor Development

physical development of toddlers
  • Your new born baby lies with the head turned to one side resting on the cheek.
  • The body is in a frog-like posture with the bottom up and the knees up under the tummy.
  • The arms are bent at the elbows and tucked under the chest with fists clenched.
  • Your baby lies with the head to one side.
  • The knees are bent towards the body, with the soles of the feet touching.
  • The arms are bent inwards towards the body.
  • Jerky, random, assymetrical kicking movements can be seen.
  • The head and the legs fall below the level of the back, so your baby makes a complete downwards curve.

Fine Motor Development

  • The fists are clenched.
  • Your baby can focus 15-25 cm and stares at brightly coloured mobiles within visual range.
  • Your baby concentrates on your face when feeding.

Physical Needs of New Born Babies

New born babies are entirely dependant on you to provide for all their physical needs. Their only means of communicating their needs at this stage is by crying.

They need food, warmth, clothing, shelter, high standards of hygiene and protection from infection, and to be physically safe.

The opportunity to move the limbs without being restricted by nappies or clothing is also important for their physical development.

New born babies are sensitive to touch and pain. They enjoy being cuddled and all physical contact with you which helps to increase their security and consistency of care.

Vision of New Born Babies

New born babies can focus on faces close to their own. They have skills of imitation and may try to copy facial expressions and movements, for example sticking the tongue out. These are not deliberate actions.

Eye contact with parents helps to establish interaction. Babies also like to look at brightly-coloured objects – red, green, blue, yellow – rather than the pastel shades which are often for nursery equipment.

Flat pictures will not generate as much interest as three-dimensional, 'real' objects, such as toys and rattles with faces, mobiles and baby gyms.

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