Sabtu, 25 Oktober 2008

Healthy Baby Development Milestones for the First 3 Months

Baby development teaches new parents to spot the behaviors that indicate that their baby is on track in terms of meeting specific milestones for growth, bonding and development. If after reading this article, you become worried that your baby is not meeting certain milestones, take action and make an appointment with your pediatrician. Before we talk about the various stages of physical growth and development, let me make an essential point. Beyond satisfying your child's physical needs, such as feeding, changing diapers and providing a quiet environment for restful sleep, what your baby needs most from you is your undivided love and attention. Since a baby's cries and coos are his or her only means of communication, respond to them with tenderness. Don't buy into the old (and neglectful) idea that too much love will spoil a baby. An infant needs and deserves all the love and time you have to give. In fact, this is necessary for healthy development. (If you are responding to your child's physical and emotional needs and your child is not meeting developmental milestones, there may be something else wrong.)

Keep in mind that the follow milestones are guidelines. Each baby develops in his or her own way. Don't panic if you're baby isn't doing everything on the list specified for each month. The key is to look for progressive movements and engagement with the people and world around him.
Baby Development: 1st Month
• Lift his head and start to turn it to the side
• Chooses human faces over other objects
• Turns head when hearing sounds or voices
• Responds or startles at loud noises
• Exhibits strong reflexes
• Eyes can focus on items or faces held about one foot away
• Moves arms
• Squints in the sun and at bright lights
2nd Month

• Smiles at you (your baby's smile will absolutely win you over!)
• Coos and makes sounds (which sound like sounds we make, like "ooh")
• Follows objects with eyes (to encourage this, hold an object near your baby's face and move it to see if he can track it.)
3rd Month
• Lifts head up
• Can raise head and chest when placed on tummy
• Can open and clench his hands
• Can grasp and shake objects
• Reaches for nearby objects
• can kick and flex legs vigorously when placed on back
• Imitates the sounds you make
• Neck is strong enough to hold up head
• When held upright with feet touching a hard surface (like the floor), the baby pushes with his legs
• Shows interest in objects that have patterns
Remember that baby development is individual to each child. Your baby may not grow in the exact same way specified in this article. As I said before, the key is to look for progressive development. If growth stops or regresses, seek the advice of a professional.
About the author: Laura Ramirez is the award-winning author of Keepers of the Children and the publisher of Family Matters Parenting Magazine. She lives with her husband and two boys in the sage-dotted foothills of Northern Nevada.

Senin, 13 Oktober 2008

Learning, Play and Your 1 to 2 Year Old

The majority of a child's social skills come as a result of play. During this stage, through play, your toddler will learn to form relationships and will begin to imitate adult actions and experiment with social activities.
What will my baby learn?
Most babies say their first words by 12 months to 14 months. Between 15 and 18 months, your baby will enjoy language games that ask him to identify things, such as: "Where's your ear?" and "Where is Mommy?" Vocabulary will grow quickly, but pronunciation likely won't keep pace. Be patient and resist the temptation to correct your baby's pronunciation; instead, emphasize the correct pronunciation in your response. Soon he'll try to form sentences and questions with a combination of words and gestures.
At this age, your baby will begin symbolic play for the first time - he'll imitate things he sees you do, and he'll use objects for their intended purpose. He'll attempt to brush his own hair with a hairbrush, or he'll use the phone to "talk" to you.
Your child may fluctuate between wanting independence and wanting to cling to you. This is absolutely normal - children this age are learning about their separateness from you but are still very dependent on you for comfort and reassurance. Give your child as much freedom as you safely can, and be there when he needs to be a "baby" for a while.
What should I do?
Remember that safety is your responsibility. Your baby may be learning how things work and what things do, but that doesn't mean he understands what is harmful or dangerous. Take a look at your house from you toddler's point of view, and periodically check your childproofing efforts.
"Lessons" should be in the form of games to keep your child's interest, and they should be stopped at the first sign of boredom. Removing the pressure from a lesson or playtime will teach your baby that learning is fun, and he'll look forward to the activity in the future.
Your toddler will be very interested in experimenting with social activities and imitating adult actions in make-believe play. Give him toys that encourage symbolic play, such as kitchen sets, dolls, and dress-up clothes. Allow him to "shadow" you as you do chores or everyday activities, and give him some "chores" to do, such as brushing his teeth or putting on his shoes.
Great toys for exploring and experimenting include trains, play garden tools, outdoor toys (swing sets, slides), blocks, large crayons, baskets, and pots and pans. Shape sorters, pegboards, nesting toys and simple puzzles allow your baby to enhance his analytical skills. As always, read to your child. He will now follow along with the story and point out objects and people in the picture.
Your toddler will be fascinated with other children at this age. One or two playmates at a time is plenty. Don't expect your toddler to "play" with other children in a cooperative way or to be enthusiastic about sharing toys; he's not mature enough yet. You'll need to be there at all times to diffuse conflict. Nevertheless, children this age can learn a lot from each other by imitation.
Enthusiasm and applause can be two very powerful tools for stimulating your child to learn. Pay attention to his successes, no matter how small, and he'll be encouraged to try for more.
Learning milestones
Although babies develop at different rates, most babies this age:
• Engage in symbolic play
• Speak at least 15 words by 18 months and use two-word sentences by age 2
• Imitate your expressions and actions and follow your instructions
• Attempt more independent activity
Check with child's doctor if you are concerned that your baby has not reached any of the above milestones.

Senin, 22 September 2008

Learning, Play and Your 8-12 Month Old

At this stage, you'll finally know that your baby was listening intently during all those "conversations" you had with her. She'll let you know that she understands what you say, and she'll respond with some "words" of her own.
Keep those toys and games coming, and encourage your baby's exploration of the world. She is becoming more mobile and independent, but she won't want to be separated from you for very long.
What will my baby learn?
Your baby will be demonstrating her understanding of what you say in several ways. She'll look at objects and people when you say their names, she'll crawl to toys that you ask her to find, and she'll do lots of pointing and gesturing in response to your words. She should already respond well to her own name, and she should look up (and at least pause) when you firmly say, "NO!"
Your baby is continuing to explore the world of objects. Now that she can get around on her own, she'll find objects all over the house to pick up, shake, bang, throw and put in her mouth. Make sure the objects she finds are safe for all of these activities.
While this object exploration continues, she'll now understand the functions of some objects. She will recognize familiar objects and understand their purpose. For example, she might see a washcloth, know that it's for washing and may hold out her hands for it.
Your baby's new mobility is very exciting for her, but she's still learning the principles of object and person permanence, so she probably won't let you out of her sight for long. She'll play her own "peekaboo"-type games: she'll round the corner where she can no longer see you, then peek around the corner to make sure you're still there. Alternatively, she'll round the corner, then make a sound or do something that she knows will bring you to her.
She will know repetitive games like "pattycake" all the way through and will recognize the slightest variation. Her attention span will be short, but when you have her attention, she'll be able to point to a picture of a familiar object in a book when you say the object's name.
During this period, your baby begins to understand that people are unique individuals and separate from herself. This realization usually leads to separation anxiety; you may find that your baby has a difficult time being separated from you during the day and at bedtime. This is a perfectly normal development at this age and nothing to be concerned about - keep your exits short and sweet, and try to enjoy your baby's attachment to you while it lasts.
What should I do?
Your baby is getting around now, and that means she's finding all sorts of things to get into. Make sure your home is a safe place for learning and play by checking your childproofing efforts around the house.
Be sure to supply your baby with toys and household objects that will develop her hand-eye coordination. As you probably know by now, just about anything is a toy to your baby. She is likely to play with egg cartons and empty cardboard boxes with the same enthusiasm she shows for large blocks, balls, stacking toys, and push-pull toys. Give her squeeze toys and cups and containers to splash around with during bath time.
Whenever you can get your busy baby to sit still for a moment, read to her from books with large, colorful illustrations. Encourage her to point out people and objects in the pictures.
Some games for babies in this age group include:
Cover your face with your hands, then remove your hands and say: "Peekaboo, I see you!" Some babies have an insatiable appetite for this game; you may be playing it over and over for a few months.
This Little Piggy, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Pop Goes the Weasel
Babies love to learn these nursery rhymes and anticipate the accompanying movements.
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
A counting game ideally suited for climbing up and down stairs.
This game exploits your baby's understanding of object and person permanence. Hide your baby's toys - or yourself - and encourage her to seek.
Don't place conditions on your baby's play by requiring her to accomplish certain tasks or meet specific goals. If play becomes instruction, your baby may become bored or (even worse) feel that your love or attention is dependent upon how well she performs the task.
Learning milestones
By the end of this period, most babies can:
• Bring two cubes together
• Put objects into a container and take them out
• Poke with an index finger
• Try to imitate words and gestures
There is a wide range of what is normal for babies, and there is usually no cause for concern. But if you find that your baby is not doing these things, discuss it with your pediatrician.

Ages 4 to 7 Months: Cognitive Development

During your baby's first four months, did you have doubts that she really understood much that was happening around her? This parental reaction is not surprising. After all, although you knew when she was comfortable and uncomfortable, she probably showed few signs of actually thinking. Now, as her memory and attention span increase, you'll start to see evidence that she's not only absorbing information but also applying it to her day-to-day activities.
Discovering Cause and Effect
During this period, one of the most important concepts she'll refine is the principle of cause and effect. She'll probably stumble upon this notion by accident somewhere between 4 and 5 months. Perhaps while kicking her mattress, she'll notice the crib shaking. Or maybe she'll realize that her rattle makes a noise when she hits or waves it. Once she understands that she can cause these interesting reactions, she'll continue to experiment with other ways to make things happen.
Your baby will quickly discover that some things, like bells and keys, make interesting sounds when moved or shaken. When she bangs certain things on the table or drops them on the floor, she'll start a chain of responses from her audience, including funny faces, groans, and other reactions that may lead to the reappearance or disappearance of the object. Before long, she'll begin intentionally dropping things to see you pick them up. As annoying as this may be at times, it's one important way for her to learn about cause and effect and her personal ability to influence her environment.
It's important that you give your child the objects she needs for these experiments and encourage her to test her "theories." But make sure that everything you give her to play with is unbreakable, lightweight and large enough that she can't possibly swallow it. If you run out of the usual toys or she loses interest in them, plastic or wooden spoons, unbreakable cups, and jar or bowl lids and boxes are endlessly entertaining and inexpensive.
Discovering Object Permanence
Another major discovery that your baby will make during this period is that objects continue to exist when they're out of her sight, a principle called object permanence. During her first few months, she assumed that the world consisted only of things that she could see. When you left her room, she assumed you vanished; when you returned, you were a whole new person to her. In much the same way, when you hid a toy under a cloth or a box, she thought it was gone for good and wouldn't bother looking for it. But sometime after 4 months she'll begin to realize that the world is more permanent than she thought. You're the same person who greets her every morning. Her teddy bear on the floor is the same one that was in bed with her the night before. The block that you hid under the can did not actually vanish after all. By playing hiding games and observing the comings and goings of people and things around her, your baby will continue to learn about object permanence for many months to come.

Minggu, 07 September 2008

Learning, Play and Your 1-3 Month Old

Your 1-3 month old is more alert and aware of her surroundings than she was as a newborn. She already recognizes her parents' voices and faces, and she might be ready to respond to them with smiles. Your baby is ready to be an active participant in play.
What will my baby learn?
Your baby will carefully watch your facial expressions and listen to your voice. By listening to you, she is learning the importance of speech before she understands or repeats any words herself. She'll also learn during this period that she has the ability to vocalize, too; make sure to answer her coos and gurgles with your own sounds, and she will be more willing to express herself.
Now that your baby's hands are open (and she's discovered them), she'll begin to use them to learn about the world. She'll play with her fingers, bring her hands to her mouth, and try to swing at things within view. In this way, she is learning hand-eye coordination. When lying down, she'll stretch out her arms and legs - soon she will learn to grasp and kick!
You will learn to recognize when your baby is alert and ready to learn and play and when she'd rather be left alone. Sometimes your baby will need to protect herself from overstimulation by "shutting down" for a bit.
What should I do?
Remember that play is not just "play" to babies and children. Play is how they learn, so be enthusiastic when your baby shows interest in playing. Take every opportunity to interact with her - provided she's in the mood. Don't overstimulate her with too many activities at once, and let her tell you when she's bored.
Your baby will enjoy listening to music, the sounds her toys make, and your singing - and she won't care whether or not you're any good. Her eyesight is improving, so she'll be fascinated by brightly colored pictures in books and the mobile above her crib. And she won't be able to take her eyes off herself if she has an unbreakable crib mirror.
As your baby's hands open, offer her a rattle to hold, and watch her search for the source of the rattle's sounds. Give her safe objects of different textures, shapes, sizes, colors, and weights to hold. Dangle objects above your baby and let her swat at them. To get her hands moving, clap them together. Move her legs like a bicycle with your hands. These body games will help her learn to control her movements.
Once your baby can hold her head up, introduce these classic games, or make up your own:
Elevator: Lie on your back and lift your baby up over you. Say, "I'm going to kiss you!" while you lower her down and give her a kiss.
Bouncing rides: Place your baby on your lap and hold her under her arms. Move forward until you're at the edge of the seat, then raise and lower your heels to give her a gentle bounce. Reciting rhymes while you do this will add to the fun and encourage language development.
Learning milestones
Here are some milestones to look for during this period. By the end of three months, most babies:
• Smile at the sound of a parent's voice
• Smile at others
• Reach for, grasp, and hold objects
• Support their heads well
• Make babbling sounds
• Bring objects to their mouths
Babies develop at different rates, and there is a wide range of normal development. It is usually not a cause for concern when a baby misses a developmental milestone, but talk to your pediatrician if your baby seems behind.