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Parenting Advice – Baby’s First Year

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

As a working mother of a busy eight month old daughter, the one thing I do not have much of is time. The NYU Child Study Center (www.aboutourkids.org) published a great 12 page article about the first five years of childhood. My aim is to condense the material about the first year in an article for the time-challenged. In the first five years a child learns language, motor skills, complex thinking, and develops socially and emotionally. LANGUAGE Language skills develop rapidly in children. A one month old child can respond to voices. A three month old will coo, and a four month old is able to turn toward noise in a room. Between birth and four months a child with intentionally make sounds, such as laughing out loud. By three months most babies can distinguish between the voice other their mother and another female. The five to eight month old is able to string sounds together such as dadaba. She will “talk” to get the attention of a caregiver and wants to interact with familiar people. Between nine and 12 months, she is able to call Mama and Dada by name. She will be able to link names to objects, and can follow simple commands such as “where is your nose.” MOVEMENT In just a short year’s time, a child goes from having little control over her movements to being able to crawl or walk. Between birth and four months a baby can hold her head up for 10 seconds and will push up on her hands while laying on her tummy. A child five to eight months old can move to objects she wants and will be able to pick up small items such as food or toys. Between nine to 12 months, she will be able to walk by holding onto furniture and even stand alone. THINKING It does not take long for a baby to start thinking about her surroundings. Between birth and four months she will turn her head toward sound and start to follow objects with her eyes. It is normal to explore by putting things in her mouth. (It also helps with teething.) The five to eight month old will discover her body such as her feet. She will be learning cause and effect by dropping objects and pushing buttons. She will also look for hidden toys. By nine to 12 months she can imitate actions. She will notice when someone leaves the room and will anticipate his return. She will be able to say “no” and “bye-bye” while making the appropriate gestures. SOCIAL Newborns are ready for social interaction from the start. In the first year, children are able to play interactive games, respond to “no,” and will search for people or pets if mentioned by name. EMOTIONAL Each child has her own personality. When the child and the caregiver are in accord, a safe and secure base is formed to allow the child to grow emotionally and socially. Between birth and four months a baby will smile and laugh when spoken to. She will know her caregiver’s voice and face. The five to eight month old child will show pleasure and anger. She will begin to prefer familiar people and will start to show an interest in other children. Between eight and 12 months, she will respond to her own image in the mirror. She will test rules, and will probably fuss when confined in a small place such as a play pen. Five major developments: language, movement, thought, and social/emotional skills, in one short year. Take the time to be amazed at all your child learns.