Babies – Our Future, a Parent's Challenge

A Baby, a newborn child, brings joy to a family. A new birth is held as a time for starting fresh and as a time when the family unit must pull together to support each other and the new addition.

A human baby usually weighs somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds, and measures no more than 20 inches in length. They are known by the term infant, which comes from Latin and means 'unable to speak'.

A baby is born with a head that is in much larger proportion to its body than an adult. The larger brain size of a human is what causes pain in childbirth. The skull is not fully formed at birth, allowing it to move through the birth canal. The head will initially have soft spots know as fontanels, where the plates have not yet knitted together, but the bones will become solid as the infant grows. A newborn can not see very far, but will respond to cuddling and caressing. They will suck their thumbs as an instinctive knowledge of feeding. They can hear from birth and will respond to a female voice more than a male voice, and have a sense of smell. A baby will usually feed from the mother but can be fed from bottled milk. A baby will soon learn to crawl, but once they learn to walk are usually referred to as toddlers.

Sometimes a baby is born premature, earlier than expected, causing the newborn to be underweight, fragile and in a critical health condition. Some side effects such as mental complications, cerebral palsy, vision loss etc may come later but usually a hospital will take good care of the baby in a special ward. The baby will be placed in an incubator, an enclosed environment that can be controlled and sealed from harmful germs.

Babies have a special place for most people. We spend attention on them, we care for them, and make concessions for mothers with children. Babies are at the heart of a very large industry of baby food, clothing and accessories. Babies are usually spoken to in a high-pitched voice, possibly coming from the fact that they respond to female voice easier than males.