Welcoming a newborn is an incredible experience that brings immeasurable joy and a sense of wonder. From the first breath they take, infants embark on an extraordinary journey of growth and development. As parent and caregivers, understanding the various newborn development stages can really empower us to provide the right support and nurturing environment that will enable our tiny humans to thrive.
Every infant goes through a series of amazing changes during the first year of life, developing from a helpless newborn to a lively, interactive little person eager to discover the world. Each stage of a kids development introduces new abilities, benchmarks, and difficulties, so it’s only natural that we might want to help them along.
Ways you can support your baby’s development:
Playtime is something that babies do without giving it much thought, and as adults, we frequently dismiss it as something to fill the day. Play is actually essential for their growth and is wonderful for fostering relationships. Babies enjoy doing simple things like making silly faces, singing songs, and playing peek-a-boo with you. As they develop, they will play with and interact with their toys, interact with blocks and musical instruments, hide toys, or pretend to be animals.
To stimulate their senses and promote exploration, offer age-appropriate toys, books, and sensory experiences. Create a serene, orderly environment that encourages safety and enables uninterrupted play and learning.
Get outside and enjoy the great outdoors to up the ante on playtime. Amazing learning opportunities include taking them on walks in the woods or to a park where they can freely explore and scurry about. Discuss with them what they can see, and show them any interesting objects you come across, such as leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers, insects, birds, etc.
Encourage an active lifestyle
Your baby’s growth fundamentally depends on their physical development. Tummy time gives them the chance to develop their motor skills while strengthening their neck and shoulder muscles. Introduce age-appropriate motions gradually, such as rolling, crawling, and ultimately walking. Give them chances to play physically both inside and outside, and to explore their surroundings.
Our kids really do learn everything from us so set them up with positive attitudes towards exercise from an early age by modelling it yourself and encouraging it in them too. Get them involved in a family work out, go for bike rides, play a game of backyard soccer, jump on the trampoline. It’s never too early, even if your baby is only crawling, encouraging them to move helps to develop their muscle strength which they will need as they learn to walk.
Reading is so important and right from day 1 – even if you don’t think they can understand it, they are absorbing everything, trust us! But don’t only read the words, point to and describe the pictures too. This helps develop both their language skills and also their imagination.
When your baby can’t talk back it might feel silly talking to them and having a one-sided conversation but this is actually so great for helping their future speech and communication skills. Talk them through what you are doing, just everyday things around the house – cleaning, cooking, nappy changes, doing the washing – anything. You can also turn it into an activity by walking around the house and pointing things out or grab a bunch of household items and bring them on the floor and let them hold them while you tell them all about it.
A big part of infant development is taking the time to talk to your child, but also giving them time to respond. With time, your baby will start to babble back to you; this is their first conversation. At first, there probably won’t be much more than maybe a coo or a smile, but as they move through the infant development stages, the will start to say more and more. Trust us, they’ll be talking back before you know it!
Let them get dirty
It pains many of us parents (because we think about the washing that comes with it) but letting the kids play in the dirt, getting messy and exploring different textures is so important.
Be a safe space
Be a physical and emotionally safe space for your child. Encourage them to learn and explore, join in some times but also step back occasionally and remember to let them do things for themselves. Some set plans and structured activities are great but also remember to leave space to be led by them, this will help them develop their own interests as well as confidence. And always be there with encouragement or as a shoulder to cry on when it doesn’t always go their way.