An infant is technically the more specialized or formalized synonym for baby, which means the young offspring of human adults. In colloquial usage, the word may be used to describe youngsters of other animals, even insects. However, a newborn is usually, in all practical applications, an infant that is still just hours, even days, old. Generally speaking, a term used to describe a day old in most cultures is referred to as a junior baby or tiny.
In American English, the term “infant” can mean a child below the age of one. In British English, it usually means any baby not yet capable of speaking, learning to walk, or even breathing on its own. In Australian English, however, it usually refers to any young child who needs care and protection from adults, regardless of age. Thus, “a baby boy” or “a baby girl” are expressions used to describe young children in both languages.
A term used to identify the process by which an infant arrives in the world, and thus the term “birth” or “birthday”, is also used to describe the life of a newborn. For example, while the term “conception” usually denotes the event in which conception takes place, “birth” denotes the actual birth of a newborn. Similarly, although “loss” can connote the loss of body parts after birth, the term “infant” does not always mean a baby who has lost its feet or limbs. Most often, the “baby” refers to any young person who is capable of becoming an independent adult, such as a toddler or young child. Some parents prefer to call their newborns “bath babies” or “dummy babies” to avoid confusion with “infants” and “babies”.
Another common distinction between a newborn and an infant relates to the amount of time that a baby needs to grow and develop. Although most agree that babies, unlike toddlers and preschool-age children, need around 6 months of active development before they will be considered children, there is still considerable debate over how long a baby needs to reach adulthood. In the United States, around the age of 2 months is the minimum age for most doctors to begin determining the age of a baby. In other countries, babies may be considered full-term when they reach between infancy and adolescence.
The majority of neonatal intensive care units require that newborns receive a certain amount of physical care and attention, regardless of their age. In most cases, this type of care requires that the parents hold the infant in their arms and kiss them, or other forms of physical touching. This is considered an acceptable practice and even encouraged by many medical professionals, but some hospitals and families feel that holding an infant in their arms is inappropriate for an infant less than 2 months old who is unable to control themselves. For this reason, many hospitals and healthcare providers have begun allowing parents to hold their children in their own arms or between successive feedings. While this doesn’t solve the issue of excessive rocking, it allows the infant’s caregiver – and the infant – to get a better feel for where the baby wants to be placed.
Whether you choose to bottle-feed or breastfeed your newborn, it’s important to provide a steady diet of breast milk or formula. In general, the formula is preferred because it produces a more concentrated nutritional intake and is easier to digest for a small infant. Breast milk has been proven to be extremely beneficial for breastfeeding mothers, as it contains all the necessary nutrients for the young child needs. At around four months of age, solid foods can be introduced if you prefer, but most physicians recommend waiting until the child has started to nurse. As always, consult with your pediatrician and do not hesitate to ask questions. After all, the health of your baby is your