Ideas on how to help your baby’s development in the first few months.

 

Raising a baby is no easy feat especially for first time parents. Here are some valuable insights from emergingminds.com.au:

 

The major developmental task of infants and very young children is the formation of an attachment bond with a caregiver’s who is reliable and responsive to the child’s emotional and physical needs. A baby is completely reliant on their caregiver for survival, and later, for physical and emotional comfort as they explore the world and begin to form beliefs about their capacity to influence those around them. At this age, children are learning to trust their caregiver, as well as their own ability to exert influence on the world.

 

Children’s attachment experiences are thought to be the foundation for their later social, emotional and cognitive development. A child’s attachment relationship is shaped by how consistently and reliably their caregiver can respond to them when they signal their needs (McLean, 2016). A positive attachment experience is associated with consistent, reliable, and responsive caregiving (Cassidy, 2008). Through experiencing consistent, responsive and predictable care, a young child learns that, through their own actions (such as crying or holding out their arms), they are able to control whether their needs are met (McLean, 2016).

This formative experience gives a young child a sense of their own agency in the world, and the ‘trustworthiness’ of others – beliefs that become internalised as a ‘working model’ or template. This template in turn forms the basis for the child’s developing self-concept, self-esteem, and emotional, social and cognitive development (DeKlyen & Greenberg, 2008).

Towards the end of this stage of development, a child is beginning to see themselves as a being that is separate from their caregiver, and capable of different thoughts and feelings, although this experience can be fleeting and temporary. Throughout this period of development children remain acutely aware of the emotional state of their primary caregiver, although they will ultimately develop a separate sense of ‘self’.

A basic sense of trust supports a child to engage in learning and exploration outside of their primary attachment relationship, because they are now confident that their caregiver will be there for them when needed. When a child’s attachment has been disturbed or disrupted, it impacts on their willingness and confidence to explore, and therefore affects their social, cognitive, and physical development over time.

The first few years of a child’s life are characterised by rapid physical and cognitive growth and development (Healthwise, 2019). From birth, there is a rapid development in language and communication, as children learn to understand what is being said and what is happening around them. During this period, they go from having very little control over their bodies, to crawling, standing, walking and running.

Here is what Childmag.com.au say about helping to develop skills for your baby at this stage:

You can help your baby get a great start in life and learning by providing an environment that encourages their healthy development. Dr Jane Williams, research and education general manager for GymbaROO, passes on a few tips:

Tummy Time

When awake, place your baby on their stomach as often as possible. Start with a few minutes at a time and try to build up so your baby is comfortable for longer periods. Your baby needs lots of tummy time to efficiently learn how to control their head and neck. If your little one doesn’t like tummy time, they may be experiencing discomfort. If this continues, seek advice from your local health professional.

Infant Massage

Start massage as early as possible. This is not only a time of bonding, but also of sensory stimulation. After the massage, start gentle exercise, moving your baby’s arms and legs in and out. Don’t force your baby’s limbs, after massage they will sometimes slowly open out if you are gentle.

Get Dancing 

Dance with your little one, they love it. Dancing helps develop your baby’s rhythm, balance, vision and muscle tone. Dance rhythmically and gently to music with different beats. They feel the beat through your movements.

Don’t Rush Them 

Don’t try to hasten nature. Just provide an environment that stimulates development of rolling, crawling and creeping.

Offer Obstacles

Provide your moving infant with obstacle courses such as pillows and boxes to scramble under, over and through.

Provide Variety 

Join a toy library or do a swap with friends so you can give your child different challenges.

Take Them For Walks 

Take your baby for walks in the pram. Alter the surface over which you push the pram — rough, smooth, noisy, quiet (grass). Alternate between pushing fast and slow. Pull the pram instead of pushing. The variety of sights, sounds and feelings the baby experiences are very stimulating.

(childmag.com.au excerpt written by Dr Jane Williams).