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How Your Baby Grows


Your baby will cross numerous milestones in the first crucial first year. he first year of your child's life is an enormously exciting time because your new baby will be developing at an astonishing rate. Hang around and you will be able to witness your little one attain numerous developmental milestones. These refer to a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.

Doctors often use them to check if a baby is developing on track: The developmental milestones typically cover motor skills, language development, cognitive skills which spans across areas such as problem-solving, reasoning and memory, as well as emotional and social development.

For parents who are naturally concerned if their baby is growing well, here's a stage-by-stage guide on how babies develop during the first year. Knowing what to expect of your child's growth helps you pick up any problems early. However, keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. Babies develop at their own unique pace because each child is special.

Avoid getting overly anxious if your baby hasn't displayed a certain skill yet. Your doctor will be able to advise you if your child's development is within the normal range of variations. And, remember that achieving developmental milestones isn't a competition. Being able to do a certain task earlier than other kids has no bearing on your child's future success!

0 - 3 Months

Physical Development

Your newborn gains weight steadily. His muscles strengthen and he is able to straighten his legs and move his arms together. He can also wiggle and kick with his limbs. He will grasp a rattle held out to him. When lying on his stomach, your baby is able to turn his head from side to side. He progresses to being able to raise his head up at 45 degrees. Although his neck muscles are stronger, you'll still need to support his head which will bob forward when he is held upright.

Mental Development

Your baby can identify his mother's smell. He can recognise different voices and tastes. His hearing is fully matured by the first month and he responds well to sounds, such as when you shake a rattle. Young infants are able to turn their heads towards bright colours and lights. Although near-sighted at birth, your baby will be able to discern a moving object or person with his eyes.

Language Development

Newborns cry to communicate their needs. As your baby grows, he will attempt other forms of self-expression, namely cooing and gurgling to show pleasure and contentment. By the third month, he begins to babble.

Social-Emotional Development

Even as newborns, babies show preference for human faces over objects. Your baby's social side really comes forth by the second month. He brightens up when he is talked to, and may smile back at you. He may show his anticipation of being picked up by waving his arms and kicking his legs.

4 - 6 Months

Physical Development

At four months' old, your baby will be able to lift his head up 90 degrees when on his stomach. Some active babies are able to roll over at the end of four months. Most will roll over at least on one side easily by six months, so avoid leaving your baby unsupervised on raised areas such as the changing table.

By six months, your baby sits up well but you'd need to prop him with cushions because he may topple over sideways or backwards. Baby can also bounce when held in a standing position. He grasps objects well and shakes them. He may be able to transfer objects from hand to hand.

Mental Development

Your baby's hand-eye coordination is more developed. He now is able to reach out for objects which he explores orally by putting them in his mouth. Do keep items that are dangerous and can pose choking hazards out of his way. A baby who has started on solids learns very quickly to open his mouth for the spoon. He also learns to differentiate new tastes and textures and to move small quantities of food around the mouth before swallowing it.

Language Development

Your little one is increasingly vocal. He makes more sounds like "ah-goo"; babbles sing-song sounds and makes a razzing noise. He laughs when he's is happy, squeals in delight and screams when he is upset.

Social-Emotional Development

The range of emotions your baby displays is certainly more sophisticated. By six months, he starts to learn how to manage his feelings. From your example of soothing him, he is learning to how to handle distress which will eventually help him acquire self-control skills, like calming himself when upset.

He is interested in the happenings around him and enjoys looking around from his bouncer chair. Now that he can see better, he can make out faces at a distance and may try to engage people into interacting with him. He can recognise familiar faces and is able to turn to look at the person speaking to him. You will find your baby trying to imitate familiar actions of yours, such as copying some of your facial expression.

7 - 9 Months

Physical Development

Your baby can roll over both ways, from stomach to back and back to stomach. He is able to sit up well unsupported. He starts crawling around the seventh month. In the following month, he may be able to stand holding onto someone or a prop (eg. table). By the end of this stage, he is able to get into a sitting position from being on his tummy, as well as pull himself up whilst holding on to a furniture. He may even start  cruising; which refers to an early form of walking using furniture for support.

Upon seeing small objects (eg. raisin), Baby rakes and picks it up in his fist. By the ninth month, however, he acquires the `pincer grasp' and can pick tiny objects with any part of the thumb and finger. A note of caution here: be extra alert because Baby will pop all small things, be it coins, stones or dead bugs, into his mouth. His motor skills will be developed enough for him feed himself finger foods, such as baby biscuits and cheese strips.

Mental Development

Your baby begins to understand that an object out of sight may be hidden, and enjoys finding them. Peek-a-boo is hence a fun game to him. He also starts looking for a dropped object. He may even drop objects himself repeatedly from his high chair or stroller, much to your exasperation. That's your baby's way of learning about outcomes.

Language Development

Your little one will charm you as he starts to imitate many sounds, including the ones you make to him. Using his voice, he expresses his emotions (eg. happiness, annoyance, etc). He babbles using several different consonants. He responds to his name, and knows the meaning of familiar words although he may not be able to speak.

Social-Emotional Development

He shows different reactions for different family members, such as displaying affection for a familiar adult. He begins to be wary of strangers and may cry when removed from his parent or caregiver. This `clingy phase' in which your baby just wants to stay close to you is a normal development.

10 - 12 Months

Physical Development

Your baby improves in cruising and by the 12th month, may be able to stand alone momentarily. Some babies start to walk unassisted. With more precise finger control now, he is able to pick tiny objects up neatly using the tips of his thumb and forefinger. He also uses his finger to poke or point.

By the end of the first year, your child can drink from a cup with some help from you. He may show his desire to feed himself by pushing your hand away or grabbing the spoon during feeding. Allow him to give it a shot, for the practice helps him build up the motor skills required for self-feeding.

Mental Development

He grasps the concept of object permanence. Should you remove a beloved toy, be prepared to hear your baby protest. Exploration is facilitated by his new mobility. Your highly curious baby will crawl and cruise around, opening and closing drawers and cupboard doors. At this stage, your baby can also understand the function of certain objects and uses them correctly (eg. cup is for drinking)

Language

He understands simple words, including "no" and may use gestures such as shaking his head to express his wishes. He may even understand some simple commands, such as "wave bye-bye" or `give that to me': He can say "ma-ma" and `da-da" discriminately, and perhaps another two to three more words. His `talk' comprises gibberish jargon that sounds vaguely like statement and question.

Social-Emotional Development

Emotions are expressed in sounds like laughter, angry wails and excited squeals. As your baby approaches his first birthday, his play starts shifting from shaking, dropping and banging to play that imitates adults, such as conversing on the phone or combing his hair. He continues to be shy and even anxious with strangers. By the time your child hits his first birthday, there will be lots to celebrate because the tiny baby who once fit into the crook of your arm snugly, has really come along way!

 

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