The first two months of your baby’s life are the time of her adjustment in the new environment. She will learn new sounds and get comfortable in her surroundings. This period is also the time for new parents to get to know their newborn.
From the very first days, your newborn knows how to communicate with you with her bodily movements, facial expressions, and sounds. Observe and listen to her carefully, and in a very short time you’ll be able to distinguish a hungry, tired or bored cry. Also, you’ll know when your baby needs a break from what she is doing, as she will look away, arch her back, frown, or cry.
In the first couple of months of life, mutual gaze is a powerful form of socialization. Let you baby watch your face and exchange looks. Show your infant a colorful toy and slowly move it from side to side to allow her to look after the toy. Interaction with you baby will strengthen your bond, as well as help strengthen the eye muscles.
Studies show that reading to you infant from a very young age allows for early acquisition of language skills. Therefore, spend a few minutes every day reading to your baby. You can also talk to her about your day and sing, as it’s a good family time and above all, your child will love to listen to your voice!
At 1-2 weeks of age, your baby should respond to noise, look at your face, and try to lift head when placed on the belly.
At 2 months of age, your baby should make baby sounds, smile back at you, follow people with her eyes, hold head up 45 degrees when placed on the belly
To enhance your baby’s development at this time you can read daily to your baby, observe to learn your baby’s needs, and respond to cries as it teaches your baby trust and that she is loved.
Age 2-6 months
Infants between 2 and 6 months of age are very interactive. They love to imitate what helps them learn new skills. For example, if mom sticks her tongue out, the baby usually does the same. This game teaches the infant the art of communication. Babies this age love to discover their voices, so you may hear your baby coo or babble frequently. As she coos and babbles, talk and babble back to her, as if you both understand each other very well. This exercise also teaches your baby how to communicate, and at the same time lays groundwork for developing extensive vocabulary later on.
At about 3-4 months f age, babies start to laugh out loud, they can sit with support, and grasp a rattle. Soon, at about 6 months of age, they’ll be reaching out for objects. Since infants learn by looking at things, holding them, and putting them into their mouths, keep all small objects out of your baby’s reach. It’s good to remember the toilet paper roll rule: anything that goes through it, including plastic bags and deflated balloons, is too small for children younger than 3 years.
Closer to 5-6 months, babies start to have a better control over their bodies. They will be able to roll over, pull up to sit without a head lag, and transfer objects from hand to hand.
At 4 months of age, your baby should roll over, sit with support (with a steady head), grasps a rattle, laugh out loud, hold head up 90 degrees when placed on the belly, look around 180 degrees.
At 6 months of age, your baby should reach for objects, transfer objects form hand to hand, bear weight on legs when standing up with support.
To enhance your baby’s development, you can talk and babble with your baby back and forth, read daily, lay baby on back and hold brightly colored toy over her chest to promote reaching, and introduce one toy at the time to allow for exploration.
Babies between 6 and 9 months of age are communicators. They start to imitate speech sounds such as “ma-ma”, “ba-ba”, and “da-da”. Often the first sounds are “ba-ba” or “da-da”, because the “m” being a nasal sound is more difficult to produce. At this age, the infant learns how to play peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake, and how to wave “bye-bye”. She may also get upset and cry if left alone, as she may start to understand that you still exist after you leave the room. Also, at about 8-9 months of age infants become aware that all people are not the same, and they may start to experience “stranger anxiety” when approached or picked up by somebody other than the caretaker. Babies start to realize that their relationships with caretakers are special and they become selective about who they will let to pick them up. Stranger anxiety peaks between 12-15 months of age, and then gradually decreases in severity.
At this time of development, motor skills of infants are advancing by leaps and bounds. They can pull themselves up to stand, cruise around furniture, and crawl. Remember that prevention is the best medicine, and create a safe environment for exploration and learning. Block off stairways with baby gates. Also, hopefully by now you have installed latches on cabinets and all chemicals, such as cleaning supplies and laundry soap are placed high up, out of your baby’s reach. Should your baby accidentally ingest anything potentially poisonous, call the Poison Control Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. Currently, it is not recommended to induce vomiting with syrup of Ipecac, unless so instructed by the Poison Control Center.
At 9 months of age, your infant should be able to get to sitting, pull self to stand, cruise around furniture, crawl, imitate speech sounds, and play peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.
Things to do to enhance your baby’s development at this age include: reading daily, creating safe environment for exploring and learning: baby gates, latches on cabinets, plugs in outlets, chemicals placed out of reach, and providing a variety of toys for exploration and experimentation. To ease stranger anxiety: ask relatives and friends to approach your child slowly, talk in a soft voice, and avoid direct eye contact to let your child warm up. To prevent stranger anxiety, introduce your baby to other people at a very early age.
At this age your child’s development excels. She might have already started to walk independently and “get into things”. This curiosity and drive for exploration and discovery are natural ways of learning. Provide your child with a safe environment to build self-esteem and new skills. Repeating tasks over and over again lets your child learn how things work.
Between 9 and 12 months, your child attains new memory skills. She knows that you exist after leaving the room. This new skill may create difficulties such as “separation anxiety”. One variation of separation anxiety is bedtime resistance. Your child may protest at bedtime and cry for you in the middle of the night. To ease your child’s transition form daily activities to bedtime offer her a transition object, such as a baby blanket or a soft toy.
At 12 months of age, your infant should play pat-a-cake, walk well, drink from sippy cup, say mama, dada. She should be able to pick up cheerio with a thumb and index finger (pincer grasp) and try to use a spoon.
To enhance your baby’s development at this age, read daily, provide safe environment for exploration and learning, set water heater to