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Child development and milestones

27 Nov, 2023
Baby | Parenting | Toddler

Child Development is a topic that affects all of us if we have children and babies. It is something that we worry about continually as they grow, and we unknowingly compare to our friend’s children and babies – are they at the same stage? Should they be doing this now? Are they lagging behind? Will this affect their cognitive abilities?

Research has proven that if we identify a child that is lagging in their development early, give them support, their results will be so much more successful and could even bring them into a normal developmental range. Imagine also how this will affect a child’s self-esteem and confidence for the better?

Parental instincts

The most important aspect is for you – as a parent, to trust your gut instincts. Are you worried in any way about your child? Or, have you noticed that your child is “different” in some way, but you just can’t put your finger on it? If you are having these sorts of questions then you need to contact a health professional to get answers and reassurance.

The first step would be to go to your GP and ask for a referral to a Developmental Paediatrician, or another specialist if it is specific, say a Speech Therapist if you are worried about language, your GP will be able to point you in the right direction.

Developmental milestones

The Child and Adolescent Community Health Service, a part of the Health Department of WA has depicted certain ages as being necessary for milestone reviews by your local Child Health Nurse. These are, at birth, 2 weeks old, 8 weeks old, 4 months old, 1 year old, 2 years old and 4 years old. There are certain achievements that your baby and child will need to be doing at each of these assessments.

The Child Health Nurse is a great source of information, experience and resource and can give you advice for questions and offer you anticipatory guidance as you head into unchartered territory! If they have any concerns about your child they will offer you a guide to where you can get support and specialist advice.

Social interaction

So, lets have a look at some of the important things you can do as a parent, helping your child achieve greatness! Social interaction from Day 1 is probably one of the most important things you can do. As you know, babies are born with ALL of their brain cells that they will ever need in life and it’s through experiences and sensations that these brain cells develop and connect into wired motor neurons that ultimately gives your child a higher IQ.

Talking, singing, reciprocating (“serve and return”), expressing and connecting are all things that you can do to engage your child, as well as speaking in “mother tongue” which keeps our babies entertained, as well as others who might be in the room!!

As your baby grows and develops, they will engage you in pointing to things that interest them or make sounds to grab your attention. This is all fabulous communication that will develop into speech as they get older. Try and be descriptive when you are talking about an object, what colour, shape, texture is it? Does it make a noise? and then describe this to your baby so they are hearing these words.

Also start reading to them right from the start – not only is this a good sleep time cue, but research has proven that children who read books regularly have a much bigger vocabulary that makes the job of learning to write so much easier when they recognise the words.

Motor skill development

When your child is playing with toys, notice if they’re using both hands evenly and offer the toy to them in their midline, so they have to reach across the middle of their body to grab it. This is an important part of them developing connection between their right and left hand side of their brain. Crawling on all fours also practices this important skill so don’t be in a hurry for your baby to walk.

As your child gets older, giving them lots of floor time and tummy time is super important to develop their core strength and encourage their curiosity about their environment. From being on their tummies they learn to roll, front to back initially then back to front when they’re a bit older.

A true sit is when they get to sitting by themselves from lying on their tummies and this usually occurs around 8 months of age. Most children on average will start independently walking after their 14th month. There is no need to hasten up this process, and if your child is a bit hesitant to let go of your hand – that’s ok…they will get there eventually!

You will know from your child’s developmental leaps that all children are affected differently from these periods of immense growth and development, some seemingly to last “forever”. With all of these leaps you can help your child by being sensitive and supportive as they practice and learn through your encouragement and positive parenting style, and if you are concerned in anyway, go and seek help!

Article supplied by Baa Baa Baby.

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