New Parents: How to hit those Development Milestones (& create an activity fun packed day)

This blog is for the parent who is interested is different ideas to help you reach milestones with your child.

Intro: Explaining Milestones & Weeks vs Months referencing

Ever heard of Development Milestones? Your Health Visitor/Doctor may have mentioned them? Your inbox may be compounded by emails with them! Either way if you haven’t Im going to explain them here…

When you have a child literally from the moment he/she is born they’re expected to meet certain tests. Their first one in the UK is called an AGPAR Score — its a check on babies health…

From then on baby will be referred to as weeks old until a certain point (someone remind me) it switches to months! I think its 26 weeks (around 6 months) up until 36 months (aka 3 years old)! The reason for this is because baby should be able to do certain things by a certain age (based on an average) although some babies achieve either earlier or later – and if you had a prem baby their Development is marked differently until age 1. This is also in relevant to their weight and height development too.

Different Milestones – Warning to the obsessive Alpha Parent!!!

Each child/baby is different and should be treated as such – they should always be commended for their efforts and merit for attaining milestones no matter when they’re achieved

This blog post is to help you with resources not to add pressure – and should only be treated as a general guide.

Milestones

Lets use the following metaphor: Your child as a pie chart with each segment on 0 until you deposit into it giving that segment a value. There spheres you initially have, include physical, emotional, social, motor and linguistic development. As your child gets old the segments become more distinguished and detailed. Below are Development Milestones you may be familiar with or want to explore more:

Physical Development – Weight and Height is charted in the red book based on averages (percentiles) overall – however… upon doing research babies that are breastfed or are formula fed develop physically differently and there are known differences between the two – again on average. This enables you and medical staff to know how your child is doing in terms of Development compared to his/her peers for many many years to come. This is done by the age of the child weeks then months then years. Other influencing factors apart from diet is sleep but we can discuss that another time.

Motor Skills Milestones

Include can baby imitate you by poking out tongue (mine never did – just looked at me to say silly woman what are you doing?), do they respond when being spoken to? Can they smile? Do they lift, then turn their heads? Can they roll from side to side, stomach to back and visa versa?

Older babies – are they sitting up aided/unaided? Standing? Crawling? Cruising?

Pincer movement (hold something between finger and thumb)? Grab something with the whole hand – pass a toy from hand to hand?

Pre toddler/toddler

Walking? Running and stopping? Jumping? Can they do rings/stack blocks? Push? Pull? Put mega blocks together? Line up toys?

Potty training etc

Emotional/Social

Do they start to get distracted? Do they now show you you anger/ interest in what they want to do? Do they point? Do they interact yet by sharing/playing side by side or with others? Do they have a SCHEMA (a thing they’re obsessive with – like dropping things from height?)? are they laughing appropriately in social situations or sometimes inappropriately? Are they able to recognise emotions?

Linguistic/ Speech Development

Begins from just days old with a hearing test. Hearing tests may and should be repeated if there are any issues with your childs’ Speech or Behaviour Development.

Does your child respond when you clap your hands? Or when you call their name? Do they gurgle/ babble make ‘Ah’ ‘Ba’ ‘Fa’ sounds? Do they follow simple instructions? Are they able to say Mama or Dada or Gaga? What was Babies first word? Does yuck count??! Lol!

Creating an action packed day for You and your Child/Baby

Now you know the segments your looking to add value to, your choices in activities can be more informed.

Babies (this depends on age of child)

  • Always support babies head until they can control it themselves
  • Prop baby up in a safe space and walk around in front of them whilst talking and see if baby can turn their head. They may topple over as they try. But just keep trying. This is great to do whilst putting away the laundry!!!
  • Baby Gyms encourage eye/hand coordination but remember to put baby in at different angles and switch around/replace toys for extra stimulus.
  • Tummy time – can be on the floor, playing areoplanes, holding them face down, across your knees. Very important to help build stomach and chest neck muscles up.
  • To get them to roll from side to side use toys by putting them just out of reach
  • Changing a nappy? Finished – sing there were 10 bears in a bed and the little one said roll over rollover – as you roll over baby.
  • Once able to sit (ie support ones head confidently) whether aided or unaided – sit baby at the baby gym or surrounded by toys – put some just out of reach to encourage movement.
  • Bath times with bath toys add to playtime and social interaction- you can sing there was a tiny turtle… Pop!!! And 3 little ducks went swimming one day. Singing also helps speech development
  • Talk talk talk – name objects, sing songs – nursery rhymes and pop songs, dancing with them in your arms (helps them establish rhythm which helps with learning to walk and math skills).
  • Describe items big, small, colour object name – especially when issuing instructions.
  • Go baby sign language classes, messy play, music classes, massage classes for quality time to spend with baby in different ways and develop the above milestone skills
  • Do mouth exercises and sounds at baby every day – eventually they just think ur pulling funny faces but they will copy you
  • Red lorry yellow lorry / She saw seashells on the seashore : tongue twisters are great to help enunciation of words
  • Trips to the park/soft play/zoo/ museums. No art galleries if the baby is super small.
  • Get them to pick things up
  • Introduce topics of development through their favourite characters in stories as well using those stories to increase their vocabulary- such as introducing a sibling or potty training, please & thank yous as well as other behaviours you want emulated or not as the case maybe like not sharing or biting
  • Use TV shows as a different medium for education – babies first sounds through Baby Einstein on YouTube is great! Sesame street, Barney, different music such as relaxation or classical whilst doing quiet activities is good such as painting or drawing
  • Story time via a cd or story book is good too at bedtimes

Resources for this article include subscriptions to BabyCentre emails, Dr Sears, KellyMoms, HealthVisitor, own experiences and Positive Parenting by Alvin Eden MD

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