Take a look at some baby clothes. See how tiny the arms are on shirts. Imagine getting your feet into baby-sized socks. Once, your feet did fit into such tiny socks. You wore clothes that small when you were a tiny baby. Every human being is born as a tiny baby.
HOW ARE BABIES BORN?
Babies grow inside a part of the mother called the womb or uterus. The growing baby is called a fetus. First the heart, brain, arms, and legs of the fetus form. It takes about nine months for a fetus to grow into a baby that is big enough to be born. Some babies are born earlier than nine months. Doctors must give these babies special care.
When the baby is ready to be born, the mother goes into labor. The mother’s uterus pushes the baby out through a passage called the vagina or birth canal.
NEWBORNS ARE HELPLESS
Newborn babies, or infants, spend most of their time sleeping. They are not strong enough do anything for themselves.
Parents or other grown-ups must feed newborns. The infants eat by sucking liquids. Many infants drink their mother’s milk. Older infants drink milk or baby formula from a bottle.
Infants wear diapers. They cannot control when they poop or wet themselves. Grown-ups must change their soiled diapers and give them baths.
Newborn babies cannot talk, so they cry when they need something. They cry when they are hungry or their diapers are wet. They cry when they are too hot or too cold. Parents or big brothers and sisters have to figure out what a crying baby needs.
BABIES USE THEIR BRAINS
After about three months, babies start to notice things around them. They may watch colorful toys or turn to look for what makes the sound of a rattle. Before long, infants can smile. Look at some pictures of you as a baby. Are you laughing, smiling, or frowning?
Babies also learn who they are. They love to see themselves in a mirror. You probably noticed yourself in a mirror by the time you were six months old. By 18 months, you could look in a mirror and know, “Hey, that’s me!”
BABIES GROW UP
Babies grow very fast in their first two years. They get bigger and taller. They grow teeth, and their muscles get stronger.
First they get strong enough to lift their heads, roll over, and sit up. Then they can stand, crawl, and walk. Every baby learns to do these things at a slightly different age. You probably learned to walk when you were between 13 and 18 months old.
You probably could talk a little bit by the time you were two years old. At first, babies just babble. They say “goo” and make other sounds that don’t mean anything. Then they learn to say words such as “mama” or “dada.” Babies can usually say simple sentences by the time they are two.
Babyhood is over at about age two. The next stage of growing and learning, childhood, begins.