The early years of your child’s life lay the foundation for his future confidence and abilities. By engaging and encouraging him to meet “mini” milestones along the way, you’ll help him become an independent child who is eager to explore his world.
Tarynn McMillan, an educator and BabyGym instructor, says when your child meets his milestones in the correct order, it tells you his development is on track. “Your baby learns through his senses and the brain is wired through movement,” explains Tarynn. “A baby can’t learn or wire his brain if he has no sensory input or experiences, or if he’s in an environment where he is not free to move.”
Here, we look at what to expect between 0 – 6 months, and how you can build your child’s confidence through small achievements that lead to big milestones.
“Your baby is going to go through rapid physical development during this period and most of his milestones, with the exception of walking, are going to be met before 12 months,” says Tarynn. This is an exciting and busy time for you and your baby, and tummy time as well as unrestricted movement will allow your baby plenty of opportunity to explore.
“From two months on, begin to focus on your baby’s body awareness,” says Clamber Club Babies franchise owner Charmaine Papazian. Encourage him to explore by moving his arms, hands, legs and feet. Engage with him by describing his body parts and what they’re used for.
Small babies tend to be quite stiff in their movements, so encourage body awareness and loosening up. “While your baby is lying on his back, gently move both arms outwards and then cross them over again in front of his chest. You can also do a boxing motion by placing your baby’s elbows alongside his chest and slowly bringing one and then the other up and down again,” says Charmaine. Crossing arms over the body midline can encourage the use of both hands, and as your baby gets older he will bring his hands together for play. He may even clasp his fingers together on his own.
Cause and effect
Your baby will be delighted to learn he has control over his environment and that the outside world reacts to what he does.
While your baby is lying on his back, encourage him to kick his legs by placing a brown paper bag at his feet. To the delight of your little one, each time he kicks, the bag will rustle, motivating him to kick again and again.
Tracking and rolling
Rolling is an essential part of your baby’s development, but it can be a struggle for some little ones. Make this time fun with your baby and encourage him to roll over as he follows a moving toy with his eyes.
To make it a little more exciting, occupational therapist and CEO of Clamber Club, Liz Senior advises holding a bell or favourite toy in front of your baby as he lies on his back, and moving it slowly from side to side, up and down, and around as your baby tracks the object with his eyes. Once he has the hang of this, you can take the object right over to the side of his body and he may just roll for the first time as he follows the toy with his eyes. “Most rolling happens by accident,” explains Charmaine.
Marianne is a freelance content creator and copy editor. She has been part of the Living and Loving team in various capacities over the last six years, but since becoming a mom to a boisterous boy, she has found a special interest in parenting issues including discipline, education and early childhood development. When not running after, and negotiating with, her three-year-old, you’ll find her experimenting in the kitchen.