Whether you are a wide-eyed first-time parent or seasoned parent of four, watching your newborn develop from an infant to a toddler in the first year brings about immense gratification and joy.

During this period, your child will chart many significant developmental milestones. And as parents, we will always be our baby’s greatest fans as we root for them by the side.

Development milestones in the first year

During the first year, your baby will chart tremendous growth in more than one way. As parents, we need to accept that every baby grows at a different pace.

Instead of rushing them to achieve these milestones, we should focus on providing them a safe, loving and conducive environment that encourages growth. But what should we expect in the first year and how can we help?

During the first six months, your newborn will catch you pleasantly surprised with his or her outburst of sudden coos, smiles and occasional laughs. Physically, your child learns to move with great ease as he or she rolls over, sits up and reaches for things.

Some even begin to crawl. They also learn to manipulate things with their hands as they explore their surroundings.

From six months onwards, their fine motor skills become better. They are beginning to pull up to a standing position and cruise with some support. Nearer their first birthday, your child may take some small steps. They begin to respond when their names are called. They may even begin to say “Mama” or “Dada” effortlessly. At this point, even though your child appears to be a baby in many ways, he or she is entering toddlerhood.

Nurturing Your Child’s Growth

Children are natural learners from birth to the age of five. During these formative years, your child will learn at the fastest rate in his or her lifetime. And as parents, we play a critical role in their early learning journey.

1. Talk to your baby

Talk to your baby as much and as often as you can. Before birth, your baby was already hearing your voice. After birth, the familiarity of your voice awash your baby with a calming effect. For example, it helps to narrate daily activities such as bathing, changing or feeding your baby. It can also be in the form of reading to help him or her develop an understanding towards sounds and language.

2. Praise your baby for his or her effort

Research has found that praising your baby for his or her effort helps nurtures children who are more motivated. Here, the key is praising for one’s effort, and not one’s ability to accomplish something.

3. Let your baby listen to music

In early infancy, your child is already reacting to music. According to studies, listening to music can lift your baby’s spirit, foster brain development and enhance his or her grasp of a language.

Since a baby’s brain is wired to grasp music and language, early exposure can help accelerate cognitive development.

You can also bond with your baby through music, nursery rhymes and lullabies, especially when accompanied with some movement. This can even spark your baby’s interest in music and dance. Also encourage them to gesture as they listen to music. They may babble for a start, but will eventually use small words after some time.

4. Let your baby take small risks

Many parents are guilty of being too protective. However, your baby has to learn about consequences to build confidence over time. Sometimes standing back to let your baby make small but safe risks can be beneficial to his or her esteem.

5. Share emotions

Your baby’s socio-emotional skills will slowly develop right up to his or her teenage years. In the first year, they do not yet fully grasp emotions. However, they are beginning to associate certain facial expressions and tones with feelings nearing one year old.

6. Learn through play

It is important to allow your baby to learn through play during the first year. For example, a simple game of peek-a-boo teaches your baby impermanence. Exploring textures, shapes and colours can also be very stimulating for these young minds. It helps pique their interest in the surroundings.

As parents, we can support our baby’s growth in many ways. Because we love them, we make an on-going effort to cater to their physical, emotional and social development. Because we love them, we make it a point to plan ahead for them.

If you do not know how or where to get started planning for your baby, speak with us now.

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