A Complete Guide to Infant Development and Tips

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Infant Development and Tips

In the first year of life, the baby will have dramatic transformations that are more easily noticeable than the first month. During the infancy period, the baby will develop skills that they will use in their lifetime. We will break the normal growth and development into five areas; physical, cognitive, social and emotional, sensory and motor, and language development areas.

Generally, they grow taller, make advances in learning and memory, start showingInfant Development and Tips emotions, learn language and gain strength to crawl, sit and take their first steps. Each baby grows at their own pace, and you may also notice that they may do better in some areas, but lag behind in others. Therefore, there is a wide range of what is considered as “normal growth and development.”

If you are worried about slowed development, we shall be informing you about the red flags that should get professional intervention.

The Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones are the set of behavioral or functional skills (such as taking the first step, first smile or gaining head control) that most babies can perform within a specific age range. They are meaningful ways to assess developmental progress in the very critical areas.

[Read more about neonatal developmental]

1. Two Months

The Developmental Milestones

By the end of two months, the baby will have the following changes

Social and emotional development

  • At six weeks they will begin smiling at you and other people
  • Brings the hand to the mouth and makes suckling movements especially on the fist or fingers. This is a way of comforting themselves. The suckling reflex gets stronger, so if you do not latch the baby properly to the breast, you may end up with cracked nipples.
  • Looks at the parent and moving objects

Language development

  • Most of the communication is through crying
  • Coos and makes gurgling sounds in response to your voice or when alone
  • Can turn the head towards soft and high-pitched sounds and voices

Cognitive development

  • Begins to pay attention to faces and not just staring
  • Follows objects and faces with their eyes
  • Can recognize close people at a distance of up to 18 inches away
  • Acts bored if they remain in the same position or activity for too long

Physical development

  • Holds the head up
  • Can push with the tummy
  • Makes some movements with the arms and legs. Some can even kick and stretch the legs when you put them down.

Sleep pattern

The Developmental Milestones

At two months the baby will still be sleeping for 15 to 16 hours per day, but with awake breaks in between. Put the baby to sleep in the supine position, to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, tummy time should be done in the prone position.

The red flags

You should act immediately by the end of the two months the baby;

  • Does not respond to voices or sounds
  • Does not follow objects or faces as they move
  • Does not smile to you or other close people
  • Cannot reach the mouth using the arms
  • Cannot hold the head up when in the prone position

Mummy and Daddy tips for caring for a two-month-old

By the age of two months, the baby is usually predictable, and you will be learning what calms and whatever triggers their fussiness. Here are some tips to help in their growth and development.

  • They may not be ready to play with toys at this point, but you can get colorful ones for them to study and get familiar with
  • Talk, smile and read to the baby. When they respond by smiling back, cooing and making gurgle sounds, react positively by either making similar sounds or by using clear language
  • Start establishing a sleeping routine
  • Enjoy tummy time; it will help in a long way in developing muscle strength
  • Encourage the baby to lift the head by holding a colorful toy slightly higher than the head
  • Continue with skin to skin contact, stroking, cuddling, massaging and rocking
  • Introduce mirrors for the baby to learn their face, appearance, and movements

[Recommended: baby growth spurts]

2. 3 to 4 Months

The Developmental Milestones

Alongside physical development, the baby will also continually be learning communication and language. Other than mummy’s face, the child will start showing interest in other human faces. The smile becomes something more of a bubble and a laugh, the extra crying and fussing reduce, and they start reaching out to objects.3 to 4 months

This is what you should expect at the end of four months

Social and emotional development

  • Smiles spontaneously at other people, not just mum and dad
  • Copies your facial expressions
  • Loves playing, so make maximum use of play and tummy time
  • Cries when playing stops

Language and communication

  • Makes bubbling sounds
  • Tries to copy sounds that they hear
  • Have different cries for different needs
  • Loves to express their emotions through smiles, laughs, gurgles, bubbles, and coos

Cognitive development

  • Can coordinate the hands and eyes
  • Starts recognizing familiar faces at a distance
  • Studies faces closely
  • Can follow moving objects with the eyes from side to side

Physical development

  • Reaches for an object with one hand
  • Has better control of the head and neck movement
  • Raises head and chest when in the prone position
  • Can roll from the tummy position to the back, so you need to watch the baby very closely
  • When feet are placed on a firm surface, the baby tries to push down
  • When on the tummy, can push down with the elbows
  • Can hold a toy and shake it
  • Can bring an object to the mouth
  • The birthweight will have doubled
  • You may notice the first tooth
  • Is ready for solid foods but exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months.

The warning signs

See the baby’s doctor early if the baby does not;

  • Follow objects or people with eyes as they move
  • Does not have a social smile
  • Cannot support the head
  • Does not make any sounds
  • Cannot bring an object to the mouth
  • Cannot make pushing movements with the feet
  • Has a problem moving the eyes in both directions

Tips for enhancing learning and growth

  • Put the toys near the baby so that they can try reaching them. Since the baby can move objects to the mouth, you should be aware of choking hazards. Buy toys that are safe, bigger than the mouth (or toilet paper tube) and do not have small parts. Do not also leave any small items near the baby.
  • The baby’s vision will have sharpened to 20/40, so you can choose bright colors for toys, clothing, and books.
  • If you were not successful in establishing a sleeping routineat two months, continue trying. At this age, the baby can sleep for seven continuous hours. So, if you train them on the day and nighttime sleeping, both of you can enjoy a night of sleep.
  • Learn the meaning of their different cries according to their needs.
  • Imitate their sounds
  • Sing, talk and read books to them. Choose books with bright colors, fun shapes, and interesting patterns.
  • Increase tummy time duration
  • Their hands will be busy grasping almost everything including your hair, necklace, and earrings. Consider removing any accessories that may cause pain to you.

3. 5 to 6 Months

By now, the baby will have grown so much hat you can clearly see the difference from the neonatal period. The baby is usually more active, has made emotional attachments with not just the parents but also other caretakers and can even make simple sounds like ‘baba.’

Social and emotional development

  • Knows familiar faces and reacts negatively to strangers
  • Begins to interpret non-verbal communication and different emotions
  • Admires their face in the mirror
  • Loves playtime

Language and communication

  • Responds to voices though with simple vowels, smiles, coos, and bubbles
  • Can respond to their name
  • Can cay both consonant and vowel sounds
  • Expresses joy and happiness by making jabbering sounds

Cognitive development

  • Shows curiosity and eagerness to explore things that are nearby
  • Can coordinate to pass things from one hand to the other
  • Uses the eyes to guide the hands’ movements
  • Begins touching and tasting objects to learn

Physical development

  • Bangs and shakes toys to learn how they work
  • May sit with or without some support
  • Can roll on all sides (sideways, front and back)

Spot the delays

You should consult the doctor if the baby does not;

  • Try to reach out for objects
  • Show affection to close relatives and caregivers
  • Respond to sounds and moving objects
  • Roll, make vowel sounds or cannot move an object to the mouth

Mummy and daddy tips

At six months, you are already halfway through the year. The baby has been showing rapid growth and development in the past few months, but after six months it slows down. The baby at this age will start paying attention to details, so, you may begin naming items for them. Continue tummy time to strengthen the arms and legs. They may feel affectionate to the close caregivers, but stranger anxiety is still an issue.

  • Get ready to start the baby on solid foods. Start with iron-fortified cereals mixed with breastmilk or formula. As they adjust to the solids, you can then move to fruits and vegetables, but one at a time, watching how they respond to each.
  • Place toys away from the baby to encourage crawling.
  • Keep talking to the baby, no matter how strange it may feel. Their simple vowel response helps in language development in a big way.
  • Show the baby pictures, and name them one by one.
  • Allow some “alone time” when they get to play on their own. It will help them to learn to amuse themselves. However, you should not be far- keep a close eye.
  • Introduce stacking of blocks or objects, to help with the developing hand-eye coordination.

4. 7 to 9 Months

the development stage of kids

Between the fifth and seventh month, you will see the first tiny tooth buds emerging from the gums. If teething, the child will be fussier than usual and will also have drooling. You will also notice that the baby starts becoming independent and gaining a personality of their own. They start controlling their environment, and so, stimulation using mobility and creativity works well for this age.

Here is what to expect

Social and emotional development

  • Have stranger anxiety
  • Remains clingy with just you and familiar people
  • Develops likes and dislikes (you will notice that they like a particular toy)

Language and communication

  • Understands simple commands like ‘no’
  • Does not just make simple vowel sounds like ma-ma but makes prolonged mamamamama
  • Copies sounds and gestures of others
  • Uses fingers to point at things

Cognitive development

  • Can pass objects smoothly from one hand to the other
  • Picks up small objects with index finger and thumb
  • Indicates when they want something but with gestures

Physical development

  • Can stand while holding onto something
  • Crawls well, in a coordinated manner (can even crawl while holding a toy)
  • Can pull to a standing position
  • Loves to empty and fill containers
  • Can easily change positions

 [Related: Best learning toys for baby]

The warning signs

Seek professional advice it the child does not;

  • Bear their weight with the legs
  • Sit properly
  • Babble vowel sounds
  • Play
  • Respond to their name
  • Recognize familiar people
  • Pass an object from one hand to the other

Parenting tips

 Infant Development and Tips

  • At this stage, your little one will be exploring pretty much of everything, so you should be very careful. Childproof your home and remove anything that may be of danger from their way.
  • Help the baby to master walking by supporting them to a standing position, hold both of their hands and help them make simple steps towards you. Let the baby go barefoot around the house until they are walking on their own. It makes it easier for them to master walking and feel different textures.
  • Provide plenty of room for the baby to move
  • Put the baby close to things that they can safely use for support when they want to pull to a standing position.
  • Along with stacking blocks, also provide toy buckets for filling and pouring.
  • Keep the baby in a familiar environment while introducing them to new people, to deal with stranger anxiety.

[Relevance: Monitor Your Child’s Growth]

5. 10 to 12 Months

The first birthday makes a huge difference, and we are double sure that you have really been waiting for it. You cannot hide the joy, and the celebrations will be memorable. Here is what to look forward to as the little one turns one.

Social and emotional development

  • Still anxious about strangers
  • Cries a lot when dad or mum leaves
  • Imitates other people when they play
  • Shows specific preferences to people and toys
  • Tests parental response to their behavior
  • Extends arms or legs to help with dressing

Language and communication

  • Pays attention to speech
  • Can respond to simple verbal requests
  • Uses simple gestures like waving goodbye, shaking the head to mean no
  • Uses exclamations like “ah”
  • Tries to imitate words and animal sounds
  • Connects names with objects

Cognitive development

  • Explores objects by shaking, banging, throwing and dropping
  • Can imitate gestures
  • Looks at the right object when named
  • Can use object for the right purpose (cup for drinking, brushing from hair, dialing a phone)
  • Can easily find hidden things
  • Puts things in and out of a container

Physical development

  • Walks holding onto furniture
  • May independently walk two to three steps without support
  • Sits without help
  • Can bang two objects together
  • Can poke with the index finger
  • Can scribble on paper
  • Can pick an object with a pincer grasp
  • Will have triple the birth weight
  • In height, the baby will have grown 50% more than the birth height
  • Will have one to eight teeth

Delays to watch out for

  • Does not crawl
  • Drags one side of the body when crawling
  • Does not search for hidden objects
  • Cannot stand with support
  • Does not say simple vowels like dada
  • Does not point to things
  • Loses skills that were already acquired

Mama’s tips

  • Start dental care as soon as the baby starts teething. Baby teeth are vulnerable to cavities, so they need proper care. Also, by the time the baby is 12 months, you should have made the first visit to a dentist.
  • Encourage the child to gain confidence to walk without support by cheering and guiding them slowly
  • To deal with separation anxiety, do not sneak away. Instead, establish a goodbye routine and stick to it.
  • Consider introducing whole milk into the child’s diet, but with the go-ahead from your doctor. Start by mixing it with some breastmilk or formula then watch for the response.
  • Continue reading for the baby, to help with language, communication, and cognitive development.
  • Change from bottle to a sippy cup. If the baby rejects it, keep on trying at different times.
  • Set boundaries for bad behavior and give praises for good behavior
  • Give crayons and paper for the child to draw freely
  • Provide a safe environment for movement and playing
  • Give books with large pictures and let them flip through
  • When reading a book for the child, mention the name of a picture and let the child point it out.

It is important to note that development milestones exist as a continuum, with considerable differences in between children. There is a wide range of what may be considered normal, but pediatric experts say that certain milestones must be reached by a certain age, which is what we have marked as red flags or warning signs. In case you notice any signs of delays, it is best to speak up early.

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