Newborns’ health and development

Properly care for your newborn beginning on day one.

Newborn babies require special care for their health and development. | MSU Extension
Newborn babies require special care for their health and development. | MSU Extension

Newborn babies, ages one to two months, require special care for their health and development. Among others, one area for parents and caregivers to be aware of is a newborn’s skin. In a previous Michigan State University Extension article, bathing recommendations for newborns were provided. In addition, parents should know it is recommended that a baby’s skin not be exposed to the sun or sun screen until they are at least six months of age, as the effects of sunscreen on an infant’s skin are still not known.

Other skin ailments that can effect newborns including baby acne/pimples, which can be developed anywhere from two weeks to two months of age and could last until four to six months of age. It is also common for some infants to develop Cradle Cap, which is a dry, flaky scalp condition that usually goes away on its own after several months. If you encounter this, you will want to wash the baby’s scalp with water or gentle shampoo. Brushing the hair regularly can also help but if the condition seems severe, you can consult their doctor.

Aside from skin conditions, other newborn conditions to be aware of include colic, which usually sets in between two weeks and three to four months of age. An infant with colic is healthy baby that will cry consecutively for more than three hours a day, at least three days a week for more than three weeks.

To console a colicky baby:

  • Let them suck on a pacifier, hand or bottle
  • Rock and swing the baby
  • Take them for a drive in the car or stroller
  • Swaddle your baby by wrapping them securely in a blanket (the body, not the head)
  • Stay as calm as you can, as the baby will feel your tension
  • Create shushing sounds or white noise to soothe your baby. Examples might be turning on a fan, running a hair dryer or vacuum or playing a tape of the wind or water.

Be sure to let your doctor know what is going on with the colic. Give yourself a break whenever possible and don’t feel bad about asking for help. This is a very stressful time for you and your baby and you both need to take a break. Just remember that this will pass!

In addition to these basic care recommendations, parents and caregivers should also be aware of the following newborn milestones. Milestones within baby’s first month include:


  • Makes jerky, quivering arm thrusts
  • Brings hands up to mouth and eyes
  • Moves head from side to side while lying on stomach
  • Has strong reflex movements


  • Focuses 8 to 12 inches away
  • Eyes wander and may occasionally cross
  • Prefers human faces to patterns


  • Has fully matured hearing
  • Recognizes some sounds

Milestones in the baby’s second month would include:

  • Smiling at you
  • Crying to let you know s/he is hungry, cold, scared or tired

Let your doctor know if your baby does not exhibit these milestones, particularly if s/he does not notice their hands, doesn’t smile at the sound of your voice, doesn’t follow moving objects with their eyes, or doesn’t respond to loud noises with their eyes.

For more information on your child’s development, go to If you have any concerns about your child’s health, contact your pediatric doctor’s office

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