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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Early Developmental Milestones: The Two-Month Shift

I received the following query, but somehow it did not get published here on childmyths, so I am posting and answering it here. This message brings up a topic that I’ve been meaning to mention, as well as some other issues.


I love to read your posts in your blog.Thos e are really helpful.I am a mum of 5 week's child.He hardly gazes at me while breastfeeding or while craddling.I am worried unless that he is a very active child and doctor told me.he is doing well.So.please tell me.the milestons in the following months.It will be so grateful if you lwt me know..Thank you in advance..
Send from my vivo smart phone________________________________________

 Thanks for your question! These points you mention are concerns for many young parents who expect to spend a lot of time in mutual gaze with their baby. But in fact young babies (in the first few months) do not gaze at people for very long at a time. They are interested in faces, but they don’t look for a long period of time, the way we look at them. They also have trouble looking at things that are not brightly lit, so if you are cradling the baby and your face is in shadow, the baby may not be able to see you as well as you can see him.

Breastfeeding is an especially difficult situation with respect to a young baby’s ability to look at a person. For one thing, young babies are ravenous when they are hungry, and they are interested in nothing but getting that milk. They usually close their eyes tightly and their faces turn red with the effort of sucking, then they fall asleep when full, or let go of the nipple only to be changed to the other  breast. For a second thing, breastfed babies take the nipple right into the center of their mouths, and this means that they turn the face toward the breast and cannot see much other than the breast even if they open their eyes. A bottle-fed baby (a little older) may turn to look and keep the artificial nipple in the corner of the mouth, but a breastfed baby cannot suck if he does that, just because of the way the mother’s nipple works.

A breastfed baby of 7 or 8 months may let go of the nipple to look up at the mother, or may just hold the nipple loosely in his mouth while looking around, then may go back to sucking. He may also put his hand up to explore his mother’s face and put a finger in her mouth or (sometimes painfully!) up her nose. Mother and baby may look at each other at those times, but don’t forget, nursing mothers may be doing other things at the same time as breastfeeding—drinking a cup of tea, talking on the phone, or reading to an older child. Breastfeeding is a lovely experience, but it is not always the exclusive focus of the mother and baby.

There are a lot of developmental milestones ahead of you, and you can look these up easily if you have Internet access. I just want to point out to you a developmental step that is coming along soon. At about two months of age, most babies become much more easily interested in other people and the world in general. This change has been called the “two-months shift”. Before it happens, it is quite hard to get a baby’s attention. Occasionally the baby may look at you and even smile, but at other times he or she seems to look everywhere else. The baby smiles “at the angels” sometimes, at you other times, and sometimes not at all, even when you do all the baby-pleasing tricks like opening your mouth and eyes very wide. Years ago, before the diagnosis of autism was created, people used to call this a period of normal developmental autism; the baby was focused almost completely on herself or himself, which is what “autism”means.   

Please keep in mind that like other developmental milestones, the two-months shift does not occur on a specific day of life, but just somewhere around the age of two months. For some babies, the change is abrupt and noticeable. For others, it is gradual and may not appear in the same way from one day to the next. However, generally speaking, from around the age of two months you will see that the baby looks at you more, smiles at you more, is more likely to get quiet and listen to your footsteps approaching, and so on. You will get much more of a feeling of successful communication about things other than feeding. Just like an adult, though, the baby will not always look at or listen to you or smile when you smile—but these things will happen often enough that you will feel your relationship developing.


  1. My daughter, as a young infant, was wildly enthused to look on the faces of my nurse friends who held her when they paid me a visit. I think that the contrast of colors -- their black skin and white eyes/teeth -- was the reason. They were also very engaging ladies.

    1. I've always wondered whether high contrast was the reason Andrew Meltzoff was able to get newborns to imitate his facial expression. He had dark eyes, pale skin, very black eyebrows (probably not so much contrast now, all these years later!). Someone recently published a failure to replicate that work. Does it all depend on the researcher's coloring, perhaps?

      Ha-- maybe mothers of young babies should wear lots of make-up! Here's a chance for an entrepeneur:, offering cosmetics that increase contrast differences in your face. (Don't blame me if someone really does it.)