By Guest Blogger: Natasha Mathew
Children grow by leaps and bounds in the early years, and you would be amazed to discover something new they can do every few weeks or months! From a tiny infant who could fit in the crook of your elbow, your baby is on his way to becoming an active toddler and then a pre-schooler brimming with energy.
Infant development milestones refer to certain activities and behavioral or physical skills that most children are able to do by a certain age. Some key infant milestones are rolling over, crawling, picking up things, babbling, and recognizing people. With proper attention and guidance, you can help your child reach and master skills at each milestone. Here are a few things to keep in mind through this journey.
- Know which milestones apply to your baby’s age – Being aware of baby milestones by month helps you track your little one’s development and be assured that all is well, and which areas may need your attention. The various developmental skills are further grouped as physical (gross and fine motor skills), cognitive (logic and problem solving), social and emotional (interaction with others and feelings), and communication (speech, language and non-verbal). This knowledge also helps in planning age-appropriate activities that focus on specific skills.
- Engage the senses – A baby’s brain makes numerous neural connections between stimuli through observation, so activities that excite the senses show wonderful results. Even before birth, a baby’s sense of smell and hearing are highly developed. Sing, talk or read to your child from an early age; they begin to register sounds even if they may not respond immediately. Activate the sense of touch by offering textural variation of fabrics, wood, the breeze or water. Choose high contrast picture books for infants to introduce shapes and colors. Firm, gentle massaging strokes help muscle development vital for physical growth.
- Be patient – There are no shortcuts to infant development, and a baby’s brain needs time to process all the new information it is exposed to every day. With so much to observe, babies have short attention spans and may not always be interested. Choose a time when your baby is well rested and alert. Be flexible to vary activities as per situation, and be prepared to repeat an activity over several weeks before your baby can master it. The pride and joy in witnessing those first tentative steps of words will surely make it worth the effort.
- Keep your child’s interest in mind – By the time they are toddlers, children begin to develop preferences. Plan activities according to their interest for more attention and involvement. If your child is fond of animals, choose a storybook about the zoo and discuss animal sounds for language development or use thumb-painting to make animals. Encourage open-ended discussion for developing creativity, social interaction and expression.
- Find learning opportunities in everyday life – You can devise brain-building activities for infants and toddlers without investing in expensive equipment and special classes! Matching pairs of socks while doing laundry, stacking books, nesting bowls in the kitchen, holding a spoon, or pinching and shaping playdough, are all ways interesting to promote fine motor skills and logical thinking. Feel free to use the same activity for multiple learning opportunities, as most developmental skills go hand-in-hand and are not mutually exclusive.
- Resist the urge to compare– Milestones serve as a general checklist of skill development, but they aren’t set in stone! As your child begins to interact with other children, resist the natural parental tendency to compare. Each baby has a different growth cycle, so as long as your child lies within an acceptable range, you shouldn’t worry. Discuss any major deviations with the pediatrician on your next health check appointment.
Watching your precious baby grow before your eyes is an extremely rewarding experience. Just as you provide a safe and loving environment for your little ones to grow into healthy and happy children, guiding them the right way can make this journey engaging and fun for everyone.
Author Bio: Natasha Mathew is part of the content development team at KinderPass, and creates content to empower parents so that they can actively contribute to the development of their 0-5-year-olds. As a mother of two, Natasha writes from her experiences, struggles, and learnings as a parent. In her free time, you can find her doing meal-prep and cooking healthy meals with her kids. She is also an art & craft ninja and an origami fanatic.