Witnessing the miracle of life is precious. The development of human life in the utero is wonderful: tiny limbs, a complicated digestive system, incredible brain connectivity, and a precious heart.
On top of that, expectant women also grow physically and emotionally during pregnancy. The mother's belly is growing to accommodate her fast-developing baby, which is simply divine.
Let's not forget that babies continue to develop straight after birth. In fact, postnatal development is more than exciting. Although human beings are born helpless compared to other animals, child development is incredible and each newborn grows at a rapid pace. A baby’s first smile, their first step and their first "mama" or "dada" - all those first baby moments are simply precious!
When it comes to child development, parents and experts agree that each child is unique. Yet, pediatricians and researchers have categorized some basic theoretical stages of child development, known as developmental milestones. Milestones are different for each age range and may vary between preemies and full-term babies. Basic milestones for infants include smiling, gazing, rolling over, crawling, sitting up, grabbing, standing, and even playing peek-a-boo. Children can hit a new milestone simply by playing.
Keeping track of a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development can help parents give their little one an amazing start in life. As a matter of fact, children acquire new skills be imitating and experimenting.
From clapping to throwing tantrums, here are 15 signs which indicate that a baby is developing perfectly fine (and five signals he or she may need a bit of time or support).
20 Healthy Eating & Child Development
From seeing your belly grow to witnessing your little one achieve major milestones, child development is a magical process. Babies develop at a rapid pace, so healthy habits can only support a baby’s physical and emotional growth. When it comes to intake of food, doctors agree that gaining weight is an indicator of a child’s healthy development.
It’s interesting to mention, though, that both formula-fed and breastfed newborns might lose some mass in the first few days of life, which is perfectly normal.
According to americanpregnancy.org, encouraging healthy eating later in life is essential. Pediatricians claim that parents should start introducing solids and a wide variety of nutritious snacks around six months of age. Rashes can occur, which is quite common and normal. Fruits and veggies matter!
19 The Importance Of Smiling And Drooling
A child’s smile is like a magical well full of innocence and joy. Even after a sleepless night or hours of crying, a baby’s smile can make one’s worries and exhaustion melt away.
Funnily enough, it’s normal for newborns to smile in their sleep. Researchers reveal that this sweet phenomenon can be simply a sign of passing gas.
Babies usually develop their first social smile around 6-8 weeks of life. As a matter of fact, smiling is an important developmental milestone. Smiling and laughing show that your little one is emotionally able to express their needs, joy, and love. So, just giggle and smile back, mama!
18 Turning Head Towards Sounds And People
Children are like curious explorers who are fascinated by little insects, plastic bags, and funny noises. We should note that eye movement and head-turning are important markers of a baby’s healthy development. When a child turns their head in the direction of a new sound, they simply express interest in their surroundings, which boosts their cognitive development.
Nevertheless, young kids learn to use their hearing abilities with experience and time. For instance, between one and four months of age, a baby may not be very coordinated or experienced, which is completely normal.
Just express interest in your baby's experiences, mama, and listen to the gentle rain tapping on your window!
17 The Importance Of Diaper Time
Despite all the social taboos societies worldwide face, there’s no doubt that the human excretory system is one of the most important systems in the human body. So, it’s no surprise that experts emphasize the importance of changing diapers. According to verywellfamily.com, the first days after birth are known as the meconium phase in which babies have around five dark stools over a couple of days.
Over the next six weeks of life, it's normal for babies to have 2-5 stools a day.
Diaper times are also a great bonding opportunity. Peek-a-boo games, for instance, can help babies learn about object permanence and make diaper changing really fun.
16 Medical Checks And Support
Parenthood comes with lots of responsibilities. One of the most important things moms and dads can provide is access to healthcare. Regular check-ups can help parents track their child’s physical and social development.
Although each kid is unique, we should mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following medical check-ups: at birth, at 3-5 days after birth, and at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 24 months of age.
Even if your baby is developing perfectly fine, remember that colds are common in childhood. If your little one gets sick, don't panic; just call your doctor and give plenty of fluids.
15 Little Athletes: Crawling, Running, Talking,
Child development is a fascinating topic. Some kids might start rolling over at four months, others might get their first tooth at twelve months, and so on and on.
Some of the major developmental milestones are rolling over, sitting, crawling, walking, and talking. Yet, there are no strict guidelines. Some children might start crawling around 6-12 months, others might skip crawling and start pulling up. Usually, children can walk well at 12-17 months of age. We should note that baby massages and gymnastics can boost a child's physical development.
When it comes to speech development, fluctuations are also normal. As long as parents respond to their baby’s talk, things are perfectly fine.
14 Play Is Vital For Child Development
From teddy bears to tablets, play is vital for your child’s development. By playing, kids learn about object permanence and their surroundings. Play also helps children develop vital emotional and motor skills. For instance, playing alone teaches kids self-regulation skills, while team games boost social development.
Just don’t worry if your little one is not interested in educational or expensive toys. Age plays a crucial role. Parents should let infants and toddlers play with everyday things, such as spoons and keys, to boost their learning skills.
In addition, experts claim that many toys limit creativity, so it’s better to let kids use their imagination in order to invent new games and gadgets.
13 Fine Motor Skills And Waving Bye-Bye
Our world is like a bouncy castle – colorful, fun, and unpredictable. Therefore, it’s not surprising that infants love exploring their surroundings. Interestingly, tactile learning is one of their favorite things.
Nevertheless, fine motor skills are hard to master, so don’t worry if your little one can't hold a bottle yet. Parents can encourage such behaviors, tough. For instance, they can show their baby how to wave and clap (around 7-9 months).
Expert Dyan Hes told thebump.com, "Once you show them, then they get excited about it and start doing it themselves… If at 9 months a baby also isn’t picking up little pieces of food and feeding themselves… that could be a sign of low motor skills."
12 Self-Soothing And Independent Sleeping
Sleep is an essential component of a child’s development. Between three and six months, some infants might start getting around 6-8 hours at a stretch. Other kids, though, need more time to learn to sleep without feeding and rocking.
We should note that self-soothing is an important technique to help kids fall asleep without rocking or patting. According to thebump.com, parents should back off. A baby should learn that if they wake up, they don’t need Mom or Dad to put them back to sleep.
Bedtime routines are also needed to help infants calm down and get the sleep they need to flourish and learn.
11 Separation And Stranger Anxiety
The emotional bond between parents and their little bundle of joy is special. It’s not only about meeting a baby's basic needs, such as food and shelter. Children need emotional support and communication to thrive.
When a child learns they can trust their caregiver, they establish a secure attachment style and a relationship based on love.
Therefore, it’s normal for your happy baby to act wild when you leave the room or someone else comes near them. Both separation and stranger anxiety are normal. In fact, they benefit a child's development. Note that separation anxiety can be observed early, around six months of age.
10 Cries And Emotions
Babies are creative. A baby's ways to communicate their needs and frustration are precious. Crying is common. Infants cry when they're hungry, tired, scared, or simply bored.
Interestingly, babies often cry due to colic, which is normal. If a healthy baby cries for more than one or two hours a day, more than three days a week, and for more than a month, they might be experiencing infantile colic. We should mention that anti-colic massage techniques can be helpful.
At the same time, babies have a colorful spectrum of emotions, coos, and facial expressions. So, don’t worry, mama: your crying baby is developing perfectly fine!
9 Copy-Paste Behavior
Children are like cute sponges, they learn by imitating and mimicking. From observing behaviors to picking up bad language, your little clone is copying everything they see and hear. In fact, Bandura’s social learning theory reveals that children learn from other people, by mimicking, observing, and modeling.
In addition, research shows that babies copy behaviors of people they consider reliable and trustful; often their primary caregiver and peers.
So, if your mini-me repeats every single word you say or try to breastfeed their favorite doll, don’t worry, mama! You baby’s copy-paste behavior is a normal part of child development.
8 Little Rebel
Babies are smart and curious. Their baby ways to communicate are amazing. We should mention that some babies might start cooing at two months of age. Expert Hes says, "Between 6 months and one year of age, some babies start developing words, and some don’t. Some babies at 9 months might say 'dada' or 'mama' because we say it to them. But it’s non-specific, they’ll just say dada for everything."
By four years, though, all speech should be clear and intelligible.
With time, kids will start using their favorite word: "No!" Your little rebel will try to express their needs by provoking you. So, No’s are normal. In fact, it something that gives kids a sense of control and self-worth.
7 Tantrums And Egocentric Thinking
Children learn at a rapid pace. Handling emotions and understanding social norms are part of the learning process. If your angelic and happy kid is having tantrums, don’t worry. Tantrums are normal for kids between 1-3 years of age. They may vary from crying to kicking.
Breath holding is another odd behavior which, believe it or not, is normal.
Tantrums can be explained by the fact that toddlers struggle to understand different points of view. According to Piaget, an egocentric child believes that other people relate to his or her desires. Nevertheless, this phenomenon differs than selfishness and it’s a normal part of child development.
6 Favorite Toys And Imaginary Friends
Play can shape a child’s future. As explained above, play can boost a child’s development. For instance, Lego blocks can benefit a child’s spatial skills, and Barbie dolls can improve their emotional intelligence.
Often, a child might choose a favorite toy, which can help them calm down or spark their imagination.
Talking about imagination, imaginary friends are also common. It might be surprising to see your cutie talking to an invisible spot in the house, but there’s no need to worry, mama! Studies show that children with imaginary friends have better social skills and are good at making friends.
5 Lack Of Eye Contact
Gazing at a child’s eyes is magical. Children are a source of joy, innocence, and inspiration. As a matter of fact, eye contact is vital; it can help babies establish a secure attachment style, communicate their needs, and develop essential social skills.
Experts claim that around three months of age, babies begin to make eye contact.
Lack of eye contact may indicate some developmental problems. Children who do not establish eye contact with their parents may lack social skills and be diagnosed with ASD. If your baby refuses to make eye contact with you, consult a specialist.
4 Old And New Skills
Children are little geniuses who learn new skills every day. Fine motor skills, for instance, are essential. Expert Tanya Altmann says, "At 6 months of age, babies can bring both hands to their mid-line… But it’s not until about 8 or 9 months that they use a pincer grasp, using their thumb and forefinger."
We should note that although there’s a wide variety of lost and gained skills, healthy children acquire new skills every single day.
Nevertheless, if a kid starts losing more skills that she or he has already gained, this might be a sign of a developmental problem.
3 "No" To Instructions
Children are inborn rebels. Being free-spirited and independent gives kids a sense of self-worth and self-love. Why would someone eat their broccoli when they can simply throw them on the floor and make a point? After all, your baby is the boss, mama!
What’s more, experts say that many boys and girls repeat resistant behaviors in order to test if they can trust their caregiver and their love.
Yet, when young children do not react to basic instructions or do not respond to their name, this might be a possible red flag for a developmental problem or social delays.
2 Boredom And Emotions
Emotions are like colorful patches on a gray day. Scientists believe that even newborns can experience a wide range of emotions and moods. Interestingly, family psychologist Kathryn Smerling told romper.com, "It’s important to remember that emotion doesn’t tie into a baby’s constant smiles. Up until recent research revealed otherwise, we’ve always assumed that babies smiled in response to a genuine emotion they were feeling."
So, it’s normal for babies to feel bored, sad, and frustrated. Letting your child find their own entertainment can only boost their self-regulation skills and creativity later in life.
In fact, constant smiling can be a sign of an Angelman Syndrome and social problems.
1 Each Child Is Unique
In the end, seeing a new life grow is incredible. Each child is unique, with their own pace of learning and acquiring new skills. Kids grow so fast, so following a strict set of milestones is impossible.
In fact, every child hits milestones at a different pace. As expert Altmann says, "If it’s just one milestone that your child is a little behind on, you can mention it to your pediatrician, but chances are, everything is probably fine. However, if your child isn’t hitting multiple milestones across the board - not smiling and not rolling over, for example - then I’d be a little more concerned."
Just don’t worry - your little one is developing perfectly fine!
Sources: americanpregnancy.org, babycenter.com/baby-milestones, cdc.gov, parents.com, romper.com, thebump.com, verywellfamily.com