Whatever your plan to keep up with particulars on your child’s physical and emotional growth, check out these developmental tidbits and supporting activity suggestions for ages zero-through-four.
Infants are as different as snowflakes and each develop at a unique rate. They learn through touch, sight, sound, taste and smell. They begin to learn about relationships and trust through their experiences with those around. An early sense of trust can help infants experience positive relationships throughout their lives. Conversely, if frequent anxiety or irritation is displayed while feeding, burping or diapering baby, he or she could develop a dislike for, or have difficulty relating to others. Remember that while crying may be a warning sign, normal physical development requires baby’s tearful wails. It actually helps strengthen the heart and lungs. While a major reason for crying is to announce needs, crying can express fear, anger or pain. Infants will typically cry less when parents evaluate and react to basic needs in a sensitive way. Meeting comfort needs like food and diapering promptly can strengthen baby’s sense of trust.
- Newborns cannot lift their heads so they need gentle neck and head support.
- By 3 months most infants probably are sleeping through much of the night.
- By 3 or 4 months infants make sounds like "ooh" and "ah."
- By 3 or 4 months baby will start to look around and twist when rolling from stomach to back, and back to stomach.
- By 4 to 5 months, baby will attempt to grasp objects and watch his or her feet wiggle.
- A sudden twitch or jump may signal being startled.
- Physical development happens quickly -- what couldn’t be done yesterday may happen today.
- To baby "out of sight" means important things or people are gone forever.
- By 8 to 10 months baby will look at the right person when hearing "mama’ or "dada," wave bye-bye, hold something in each hand at the same time, and stand while holding onto a support.
- At 11 to 12 months baby picks up small things using thumb and forefinger, says "mama" and "dada" to the correct person, shakes his or her head "no," and begins to respond to simple directions.
Supporting actions and activities:
- Talk or sing to baby while feeding, burping, bathing and diapering, and imitate baby’s sounds.
- Make eye contact and always talk to baby to introduce ways of communicating.
- Shake a rattle behind baby’s head to prompt turning and grabbing.
- Provide opportunities for touch, patting and grasping to help develop early motor skills and strength.
- Provide safe, clean, colorful toys – especially ones that clink and squeak.
- Physical contact should be gentle – avoid even playful shaking or throwing.
- Provide routine symbols like soft voice tones, smiles, and playing lullabies at naptime.
- For a sense of security when you’re "out of sight" provide familiar objects for comfort.
- Rock and hold baby when upset.
- Change toys often to prevent boredom.
- Provide containers that can be easily and safely filled and emptied.
- Read from books with big pictures and point to the pictures.
- Childproof your home (for example, cover electrical outlets and stair gates) for safety and to make exploration a positive experience for all.
- To establish good sleep patterns provide a consistent bedtime schedule, give a warm bath, and provide familiar objects or stuffed sleeping buddies to hug.