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The Fourth Trimester

Have you ever heard of the fourth trimester? It’s another name for the first few months of a baby’s life; its proponents believe that when human babies are born they’re unprepared for life outside the uterus. For nine months of their development they’ve been warm, naked, curled-up and physically close to their mother. Once born they’re thrust abruptly into bright lights, cold air and strange sounds and smells, dressed and undressed in nappies and babygros. Believers in the fourth trimester think it’s important to keep the first few months of their baby’s life as close to their gestation as possible - without too much stimulation - until they are stronger

This transition into the kaleidoscope of daily life is easier to make to for some babies than others. Babies born into busy households with noisy older siblings may prefer the peace and quiet of their crib for much longer than those first borns who get the undivided attention of their parents from the start.

The important thing is to watch and listen to your baby, and take your cues from them. A high-contrast black and white mobile is a great way to begin to stimulate your baby’s vision while they are small (those nice mobiles in muted shades might look more tasteful over the cot but do very little in terms of developing eyesight). But just because the first things your baby can see are black and white,

high-contrast images, that doesn’t always mean that you should bombard your child with them. A baby with older siblings leaping around the place will likely have enough stimulation already and may show less interest or tolerance for something which interrupts their peace and quiet in the cot.

Having said that there will always be good reasons to surround your baby with interesting and stimulating objects and sounds. Especially as the fourth trimester progresses and your baby becomes stronger and more able to communicate their preferences, you’ll begin to get a feel for the things they respond to, whether it’s time on the play mat or under the mobile. The main thing to remember is that there is no rush and certainly no need to spend fortunes on fancy toys.