Birth to 3 Months
Although your new baby can’t seem to do much, he (she) can actually take in volumes of information through his senses. A newborn can’t see objects which is more than 3.8 centimeter away, and may not recognize your face, but his other senses are at work. He knows your smell, your touch, and the sound of your voice!
His muscular control is also slowly and surely developing. In his second month, his closed fist may begin to open. If you put any toy in his hand, he will likely close his fingers around it. Soon, he will try grabbing at objects. He will swipe at stuff you dangle at him! This is the beginning of his ability to use his hands to bring objects into his world.
He is also beginning to socialize. He will look intently at you when you talk to him. He has a range of cries which is his way of communicating with you. When he’s six weeks old, he will also be cooing, gurgling, and smiling.
At this stage, playing is about sensory exploration. Bring objects to your kids that he can watch, listen to, or touch. To help you and your baby create a loving bond with each other, sing to him or rock him, or play interactive games like making funny faces for him to imitate or helping him do baby sized sit-ups.
Remember also that babies can be overstimulated! Sometimes, the amount of stimulation is too much for his nervous system. He will tell you this by crying, turning away, closing his eyes, or falling asleep.
Respect your baby’s unique needs as this is important to his sense of trust.
3 to 6 Months
Your baby can now hold his head up and turn it to follow your voice. He can wave his fist, kick his feet when excited, shake his body, grin, giggle, grimace, coo, and of course, cry to express pleasure and displeasure.
He is stronger and more active and can use his hands to reach out and get objects – turning, dropping, shaking, or putting objects in his mouth as a means of exploration.
You are now more familiar with your baby’s moods, expressions, and sounds. You can also make her smile with a playful “hello”. You feel more confident about your ability to take care of him and play with him.
Since your baby can now sit up and roll all the way over, you have to watch for his safety. Without warning, his mobility improves, and you never know when she may roll off a table or wiggle her way under the couch.
Now that your baby is a little stronger, he will enjoy play that uses his whole body. He will enjoy songs with basic hand and body movements, knee and ankle rides, active tickle games, and crawling to grab objects just out of his reach. He will also enjoy silly faces, brightly colored toys, and the sight of your face. And he’ll express his appreciation with a variety of vocalization!
6 to 9 Months
Your baby can now laugh, call out, and smile to get your attention and a response. He can creep, crawl, roll over, scoot, or pull himself up to get what he wants. This signals the development of his ability to recognize an intention, make a plan, and carry it out. This is an important ability for him to develop at this stage because it gives him a sense that he has some control over his actions and his world.
He enjoys his developing fine motor skills. He brings his thumb and forefinger together, fiddles with labels or crumbs, and strokes your hair.
He loves playing emptying and filling games with his morning cereals or the stuff in his drawer.
At this stage, he learns object permanence – the idea that an object exists even when it is not visible. Previously, when you cover a toy so he cannot see it, he thinks that the toy disappeared. Now, he may look for objects that he drops rather than just forget about it, or he may actively search for his favorite toy in the toy chest.
Socially, he is much more aware of his relationship with others. When you call his name, or mimic his expressions, or tickle his belly, he gets the idea that the world is a fun and loving place. This reassurance is important to his developing brain.
9 to 12 Months
Your baby is starting to become a toddler!
The rapid growth slows, his face becomes leaner, and his ability to assert himself, move, and communicate gets stronger.
He now loves to move and use his gross motor skills – crawling, climbing, and pulling himself up to stand. Fine motor skills are also important to him. He wants to turn the pages of a book or stack up a pile of blocks.
Your baby loves to do what grown-ups do.
He experiments with cause and effect and manipulating toys. Give him a push mower, a cook set, or moving toys that are right for his size. Successfully manipulating these toys gives your baby the pride of accomplishment and builds his secure sense of self-esteem.
He may use a few words like “baba”, “mummy”, or “dada”, or he may have his own language and gestures (like pointing and head shaking).
He understands the association between your words and gestures – a shaking head means “no”, clapping and cheers means that you are praising him.
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