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Growth and Development

Babies grow a lot in their first year of life and learn lots of new skills. Understanding the changes they're going through will help you better adjust to life with a new baby.

  • Crying

    It's normal for a baby to cry more often and for longer periods of time at certain points in their life. Here's what you and anyone caring for your baby should know about infant crying. Most babies:

    • Will start to cry more often after two weeks of age
    • Crying will peak at six to eight weeks of age, after which time crying will begin to decrease
    • Will cry often and for 20 to 60 minutes at a time
    • Cry for up to two to three hours per day
    • Cry more at night, sometimes for an hour or longer
    • Have at least one fussy period each day, often in the evening
    • Will communicate through crying. This can be positive.

    In the first five to six months, it's normal for a baby's crying to increase in intensity, and the baby may not be consolable. If you feel your baby is unwell, follow up with your health care provider.

    Sometimes there's no reason to explain why the baby is crying, and there's often nothing you can do.

    Tip to Help your Baby Stop Crying

    • Learn to read your baby's cues and respond before they start crying
    • Go to your baby as soon as they start crying
    • Check to see if your baby is hungry, wet / dirty, warm, cool, sick or in pain
    • Try gentle rocking, soft singing, a warm bath or going for a walk to soothe them
    • If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, put your baby in a safe place, such as a crib, and step away for a minute. Call someone for support.
    • Have someone you trust come over and look after them for a while to give you a break
    • Calm yourself by exercising, reading a book, having a cup of tea or taking a hot shower
    • Talk to someone about your feelings

    Listening to a baby cry for long periods of time can be very frustrating and upsetting for parents and caregivers. It's the most common trigger for shaking a baby. For help managing your baby's crying contact Niagara Parents.

  • Feeding your toddler or preschooler (one to five years)

    Meal and snack routines are important for young children. Eating every two to three hours a day gives your child time to feel hungry and be interested in eating.

    Limit the amount of time for meals and snacks to about 30 minutes to ensure there's enough time between meals and snacks. Once a meal or snack is over, do not offer food or drinks in-between set times, offer only water.

    Feeding tips

    • Use Canada’s Food Guide to plan a variety of healthy and nutritious meals and snacks
    • Offer child-sized portions and use child-sized plates, cups and utensils
    • Serve finger foods such as sandwiches, cut-up vegetables and fruits
    • Offer a new food with familiar foods
    • Offer new foods regularly with no pressure to eat them. It may take up to 15 times for your child to like a food. Start with small amounts to limit waste.

    Enjoy family meals

    The best and safest place to feed your child is at the family table. Offer meals and snacks when your child is comfortably seated and supervised. Make eating a social and enjoyable time.

    • When children are hungry, they focus on eating. When children are full, their attention turns elsewhere. Let your child eat until they're full. Your child might eat a lot or a little. Children are born with the ability to know how much food to eat for their own growth.
    • Children who eat meals with their family are more likely to eat more vegetables and fruit and have better nutrient intakes. Children learn to like foods if they see their family eating and enjoying them.
    • Serve meals and snacks family style. This means food is offered in larger serving dishes at the table and everyone eats together.

    Avoid

    • Asking children to eat more
    • Offering rewards or bribes for eating
    • Making children try "one bite" of a food
    • Allowing children to eat anything they want to make sure they eat something
    • Chasing after a child with a spoon to get them to eat
    • Criticizing or over-praising about how much or what types of foods are eaten

    Resources

    Talk to a registered dietitian

    For free and confidential information on nutrition and feeding (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.), call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

  • Oral health

    Teeth will usually appear in the first year of a baby's life. Looking after teeth even before they appear is an important part of a baby's routine.

    You can wipe your baby's gums in the morning and night (or more often) with a clean wash cloth. Once your baby’s teeth appear, keep your baby's teeth and gums healthy. Good oral care will make sure that your baby’s mouth and speech develop properly.

    Register for a dental clinic

  • Screen time

    It's not recommended for children under two to have any screen time. This includes watching TV, tablets and movies. Babies and toddlers learn best from face-to-face interaction with people.

    Instead of screen time, play with your child with age appropriate toys and read to them often. Reading or singing to a baby will help them learn about speech and language. Babies love to look at pictures, and will enjoy turning the pages when they are able to do so.

  • Sleep

    As your baby grows and develops, their sleep patterns will change. It's important to understand what to expect for infant sleep from your baby's second night to their first six months, and what you can do to help your baby learn safe sleep habits.

    Register for Baby's Sleep classes

  • Vaccinations

    Vaccinations are the safest way to protect your child. In Ontario, routine vaccinations start when your child is two months old. You can get your child vaccinated at:

    • Your child's health care provider
    • A walk-in clinic
    • Public health

    Each time your child receives a vaccination:

    For questions about vaccines, have an open discussion with your health care provider, or give our public health nurses a call at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7425. You can also visit A Parent’s Guide to Vaccination.

Ontario's Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit

Eighteen months is a milestone in your child's development, and the last regular check-up before your child starts school. It's important to plan a visit to a family doctor or other health care provider and take the time you need to:

  • Ask questions about your child's physical, emotional and social development
  • Learn about specialized community supports and services
  • Get a regular checkup
  • Get caught up on your child's immunizations

Use this easy 18-Month Well-Baby Visit planner to help you think about items you may want to discuss about your child's development with your family's health care provider.

If you don't have a doctor, learn about doctors and community health centres who are accepting new clients.

For more information, visit Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit.

More information

Parent Resource Guide: Birth to Two Years
Whether you're a mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparent, step-parent, friend or family member, you have an important role to play in a child's growth and development. This guide covers everything from your baby's health and safety to self-care and helpful resources.

Play & Learn
Activities to help your child learn, grow and thrive.

Early Years Check-In
Complete the questionnaire to identify concerns about how your child is developing.

Looksee Checklists
Checklist to provide a snapshot of your child's development.

Nutrition Screen
If you're a parent or caregiver for a toddler or preschool child, use Nutri-eSTEP as a fast and simple way to find out if your child is a healthy eater.

Libraries - Parent Direct Niagara
Libraries offer various programs to encourage positive interactions between children and their families while developing early literacy skills and fostering a love of reading.

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