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Babies and Young Children – Growth and Development

August 7, 2017

PLEASE NOTE:

This brief description covers some of the growth and development stages that can be expected of babies and young children. It is not advice. Parents or carers are encouraged to consult their Doctor, Paediatrician, or Child Health Nurse about their baby’s health and development.

From birth a baby can become increasingly aware of her/his immediate surroundings as their senses develop. With cuddling, holding, talking, singing, smiling, and most importantly feeding, a baby will develop a secure attachment to their parents and those close family and friends who are part of its life. A nurturing and safe home environment sets the stage for healthy growth and development.

A baby’s movements will become more coordinated with time as they learn their hands, arms and legs belong to them, and this helps improve muscle strength. From as early as five weeks of age some babies can notice visually stimulating objects with bright and contrasting colours. Their eyes can begin to follow slowly moving objects, and they soon learn to grip and hold small objects. To be effective it is important that any visual stimulation not be overwhelming.

Parenting guidelines generally encourage “Tummy Time” from soon after birth. Tummy Time is a supervised activity where your baby lies on their tummy, initially for short periods, then for longer times as they grow older. By three to four months babies usually learn to support themselves with their arms during Tummy Time, and this helps build strength in their upper body. Tummy Time is important because it takes the pressure off the back and sides of your baby’s head, and if this is not done their head may develop a flat spot (a condition called plagiocephaly).

Tummy Time can be made more interesting if your baby has visually stimulating patterns to look at initially for short periods, and from an age of three to four months safe objects to grasp. A small plastic mirror where they can see their reflection can be fun to play with during Tummy Time. Remember, Tummy Time needs to be supervised by a parent or carer.

As coordination and muscle strength improve, babies learn to turn their head, roll, sit, crawl, and eventually stand. Walking independently can occur before their first birthday, but may not occur until they are a few months older.

Every day can be a learning adventure for you and your baby with new things to experience. Some visual and tactile stimulation is an important part of your baby’s play and development. At Áine & Molly we make a selection of quilts and other items for babies and young children which are visually stimulating and soft to touch, and are also practical for their parents.

Useful links:

  1. www.health.wa.gov.au; Search for “Welcome to your new baby”
  2. www.raisingchildren.net.au; Search for “Tummy time”
  3. www.rch.org.au; Search for “Tummy time”
  4. www.wirf.com.au

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