When you are new to parenthood, you might frequently end up asking yourself whether your child is reaching the expected developmental milestones or not. You probably wonder whether children who are the same age as your child act similarly. If you have other children, nephews or nieces you might also end up comparing their development. Doing so, might give you reassurance or lead you to become worried that something is wrong with your child. These feelings are common because you want the best for your child and would like them to develop without any difficulties as much as possible. However, you need to remember that not all children develop and grow at the same rate and some children might need more time to reach certain developmental milestones. Children learn and develop through playing, exploring, being active, creativity and being asked questions to help their thinking. The following are some guidelines of what you might expect your child to be doing during their first year of life.
Personal, social and emotional development
Babies like to be around other children and adults. They can copy movements another person makes such as, sticking out their tongue. They laugh when they are happy and can use their voice to get the attention of someone else. When feeling upset, babies likes to be held, rocked and spoken to in a calm voice. They are also able to smile back at grown ups when they smile at them.
As the first few months start to pass by, children start to hold their head up. They turn their head and body when they hear noises, see things or people. Babies can roll over from their back to their tummy, reach out and touch things that are close by and like to explore things by putting them in their mouth. When they start crying they are most likely to be feeling hungry, tired or upset about something.
Communication and language
Babies start to learn what their name is. When they hear their name, they stop what they are doing and look at the person calling them. They understand action words such as waving whilst saying goodbye. Making different noises is common at this stage and these noises help with the development of language. They will imitate sounds and noises they hear, so talking to babies is very important.
Literacy and numeracy
Although you might not be a very good singer, babies love to hear songs, rhymes and enjoy listening to stories. Read books to them which can provide a multi-sensory experience such as, books which can make noises or cloth books which can provide sensory stimulation when they touch them. Babies are also able to notice when there is one thing or many things in a bowl. To help them develop basic numeracy skills, hold your child’s hands and help them to clap in time as you sing songs to them.
4Children. (2015). What to expect, when? Guidance to your child’s learning and development in the early years foundation stage. Retrieved from www.4Children.org.uk
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties.