The first year of a child’s life is very important for their development – there are so many milestones your baby will reach in their first 12 months. This week’s blog focuses on a few of the fun milestones your baby may reach by their first birthday and ways families can help encourage their children to achieve them.
Especially in the first few months, it may seem like all your baby does is eat and sleep, but every day they are using their senses to begin to understand the world around them. In the first month or so your child will communicate with you by crying, they will react to familiar sounds, and they are comforted by your touch. Families can stimulate their child’s senses by carrying them around the house in a sling or carrier or taking them for walks. This allows your baby to experience sound, sight, and touch in new ways.
As your child approaches three months old, they will become more engaged with their surroundings. They will start to make eye contact and will begin to track object with their eyes. Learning to track moving objects is one of the first ways babies begin to learn about hand-eye coordination. Using a musical or light-up toy and moving the toy from side to side is a great way to practice tracking objects. The music and lights will draw your child’s attention to the toy and encourage them to follow where the toy goes. Your child will also begin to recognize faces, voices, and objects and may smile when they see familiar people. Having different members of your family or friends visit your chil to play, sing songs, or read to them will help build strong relationships and promotes a sense of community for your child, which is one of Educational Playcare’s core values.
As your child enters the three to six-month age range, you will notice that they will reach more physical milestones. Your child will begin lifting their head and chest during tummy time, which strengthens their upper body muscles and is a stepping stone to help babies master additional skills including rolling over, sitting up with and without support and. Though some children don’t mind tummy time, others will become bored with it very quickly. To help minimize their boredom during tummy time, families can introduce sensory activities that will keep their babies engaged. Sensory activities can be as simple as small plastic bottle filled with colored water or objects that have different textures.
During the six to nine-month age range your child will begin to communicate with you more, especially through expression and sounds. Children will often cry and tantrum when they become frustrated that they cannot fully communicate their feelings or their needs. At Educational Playcare, our curriculum includes teaching and using sign language throughout the day to help children express their needs to their caregivers. Babies as young as six to seven months old can remember a sign and by eight months old they can begin to sign single words and imitate gestures. Using sign language is a great way for families to help lower frustration levels and improve child-parent bonding.
As your child gets closer to their first birthday, they will become more independent. They will begin crawling, pulling themselves up, trying (and possibly succeeding!) in taking their first steps. They also will have better control over their hands and fingers and will likely be ready to start eating finger foods and eating with a fork or spoon. Just like any milestone, these won’t be conquered overnight, and your child may need to practice before mastering walking or eating on their own. Families can support their children in reaching these by minimizing how much they assist their child and allowing them to learn by trial and error.
Your baby’s first year will be full of exciting new firsts and though you may not be able to wait for them to achieve each one, families should keep in mind that each child will develop and master their milestones at their own pace.