If you feel as if you're investing a lot of energy with very little return, this month may turn the tide. The early weeks of parenting can be a very one-sided affair, with lots of input and not much feedback from your little one to let you know how they're doing. Now is the time when your baby will be more animated, and will really start to connect with you.
Seeing your baby smile can melt your heart! Even if you've never had much to do with babies before, you are likely to have some idea of how to talk to your own. If not, rest assured that they won’t be critical of your attempts. Just remember to establish eye contact with them, speak gently and show some animation in your face. As your baby smiles in response to you, you will respond to them in turn. This is known as the "dance" of communication that happens between a parent and their baby. The more you talk to your baby, the quicker they will learn and the more words they will develop as part of their vocabulary. So talk to your baby about everything that you are doing – it is teaching them so much.
Your baby may show increasing signs of hunger this month and demand to be fed more often. Try to follow their lead when it comes to feed times and trust their ability to know when they're hungry. If you are breastfeeding and have only been offering one breast, you may find you need to start offering both breasts at feed times.
Your baby will still need overnight feeds, but they may be having a longer sleep period - perhaps even 5-6 hours between their night feeds. This longer, unbroken sleep can be an ideal opportunity for parents to get some rest, so take advantage of it.
Look out for more patterns of sleep developing this month. Your baby might start sleeping anywhere between 1-3 hours between most of their day sleeps.
They are likely to be showing tired signs 30 minutes to 1 hour after the end of their feeds. This is often the best time to place them into their cots for a sleep. Total sleep over 24 hours varies considerably and any amount between 9-18 hours is considered normal at this age.
Many babies peak in their crying episodes at 2 months, causing their parents to become almost as distressed. There are many reasons why babies cry, even when it seems that all of their needs have been met. Maturation of the nervous system, being overwhelmed by stimulus, becoming over-tired or just wanting reassurance are some of the most common reasons.
In these early months, there will be times when you just need to tend to your baby's needs and follow your instincts on what they desire. If it feels right to just cuddle and soothe them or take them for a walk, then do it.
Your baby's involuntary grasp reflex will disappear around this age, only to be replaced by a deliberate grip. Make sure you have some rattles and small but safe toys which they can entertain themselves with. This is also the time when your baby will discover their hands and feet, and will keep themselves amused for long stretches of time. For now, your baby is still too young to know that those interesting appendages belong to them, which mean they'll be just as fascinated each time their hands and feet happen to cross their field of vision.
Your baby's vision is also developing at 2 months of age and they will be able to follow you with their eyes. Watch them as they track your face and fix on your eyes, then smile in recognition. Hold a toy in their field of vision and watch their eyes work in unison to focus on it. If you notice your baby has a squint or any other problems with their eyes, see your healthcare professional or GP as soon as possible.
Vision development is rapid in the early years and early diagnosis or treatment of such problems generally leads to better outcomes.
Your baby is likely to have a lot of growth and weight gain in the 2nd month, with an average of 150-200 grams per week. Don't worry if they gain a lot of weight one week and not so much the next. Weight gain is only one indicator of growth. Head circumference and length, contentedness and general behaviour are equally as important. Look at their weight and growth over a period of weeks, rather than one week to the next.
This is the age when your baby is due for their second round of immunisations (the first was given to them at 6 weeks). Government clinics offer immunisation services, but you may wish to go to your well baby clinic, pediatrician or GP instead. There will be consultation cost for this as well as the cost for any private vaccines your baby will be needing. Make sure you take your baby’s health records with you so the vaccine dates can be recorded with a reminder for when the next one is due.
Provide your little one with lots of floor time every day. If you have pets, let them interact with baby but make sure you are there all the time to supervise the interaction. Never leave your baby unsupervised on their change mat, on the floor or in any unsafe place. They are still small and can be accidently walked on. Make a point of scanning areas where you place them and look for small objects they could pick up. Make sure the toys in that area are rounded and soft, with no sharp edges. Given time, your ‘safety’ behaviour is going to become as instinctive to you as breathing.
Play and interaction
Watch for your baby’s response to loud or sudden noises. If they jump and become startled, this is a reassuring sign that their hearing is normal. Most babies have a hearing screen at birth and if there were concerns, a re-test is recommended. If you are in any doubt about your baby’s hearing, have them checked by your GP and enquire if a referral to an audiologist is necessary.
What about mom?
Try to spend a couple of hours each week looking after yourself. Do something that you enjoy or something that relaxes you. Now is the time to think seriously about resuming some exercise, so start on some low impact activities that won't leave you too exhausted. Walking, swimming, yoga and light weight training are all good forms that aren't likely to cause you any muscle strain.
If you are breastfeeding, be aware that starting an intense exercise programme could reduce your breast milk supply. If you want to go for a run, you will need to wear a firm, supportive bra that bounce which minimises your breasts from bouncing. If you have had problems with urinary incontinence, jogging or repetitive jarring exercise will not be suitable.
If you have not had your postnatal check-up yet, now is the time. Your vaginal bleeding should have settled by now and your womb and internal organs returned to their non-pregnant state. Some women don't return to have their postnatal check because they don't have the time or they don't see the importance.
Remember, it is as important for mothers to have their postnatal check-up as it is for their babies. It is also an ideal opportunity to discuss contraceptive options with your doctor or midwife.
Some mothers feel as if they are on auto pilot at this stage, especially if they have older children. It is common to feel very tired and drained, even after having some sleep.
Although there are exceptions, it is usually the mothers who are the primary carers in the first year of their baby's life. If you have been used to a busy and organised professional life, then adapting to full-time parenting will mean having to make a significant mental shift. Try not to isolate yourself from your old networks and friends. It is important for you to still have mental stimulation and not feel lonely.
If you notice your hair is falling out, don’t panic. During pregnancy, hair goes through a retention phase and less is shed every day. Hormonal influences and the end of pregnancy-specific hormones mean that you lose more hair than usual. Relax, you are not going bald, it will likely settle down in the next couple of months.
Look after your teeth and gums and don't neglect your oral hygiene. Even if you can't find the time to do lots of other things, giving some special attention to your mouth is important. Parents who have active tooth decay can pass on oral bacteria to their baby through kissing, so it pays to look after yourself.
Your sleep needs
You may find yourself going to bed extra early these days. Night feeds are still a reality so, if possible, aim to also sleep during one of your baby's longer sleep periods. Even if this means letting your own head hit the pillow at 8pm, so be it. Having a few hours of deep, restorative sleep each night can mean the difference between getting through each day, and not being able to manage at all.
Your relationship with your partner is likely to have been on hold for the last couple of months. Recovery from childbirth, physical exhaustion and being solely focused on your baby leaves most mothers with little reserves to invest in much else. If you are both ready to resume your sexual activity, then go for it.
Be aware that just because you have had a baby recently, this does not mean you are infertile. Speak with your GP about contraceptive options that are suitable for you as a couple.