Newborn into the ‘terrible twos’ – your child’s development over the initial two years will display a tremendous amount of growth and learning, which will both be a wonder and a challenge to parents and caregivers. Thus, it is crucial for guardians to understand how these milestones unfold over the years and how you can provide sufficient support for healthy growth. Month on month, you will witness your child develop over these key areas:
- Physical Development: Learn to roll over, sit up, crawl and walk.
- Cognitive Development: Coo, babble and say their first words, as well as explore their surroundings and begin early problem-solving.
- Social and Emotional Development: Displaying attachment to caregiver, facial recognition, demonstrating a range of emotions and becoming more responsive to social cues.
Physical Milestone Development
The physical development of your child will be significantly prominent in the first two years. From infancy, your child will continually be refining motor skills needed to move and mimic their caregivers. Here are a few physical development milestones for you to pay close attention to:
Lifting of Head
2 to 4 months
Gain sufficient strength to lift their heads while lying on their stomachs, encouraging growth in neck and upper body strength.
4 to 6 months
Begins rolling from their back to their stomach, and vice versa, demonstrating increased control of their physical movements.
6 to 8 months
Develop the ability to sit up with support.
Strengthening of their muscles allows them to maintain a seated position on their own between ages 8 to 10 months.
6 to 10 months
12 to 15 months
May be able to pull themselves up into standing position using support.
May begin taking first steps, walking with assistance initially and eventually walking independently.
Cognitive Milestone Development
Cognitive development in children considers a child’s ability to think, reason, learn and understand their environment. The early years of cognitive development are largely significant; here are some milestones to look for:
6 to 9 months
Begin to understand that objects exist even when they are out of sight.
Ability is developed when looking for hidden toy or person.
Cause and Effect
9 to 12 months
Begin to understand cause-and-effect relationship.
Demonstrated when intentionally dropping or shaking objects to see if they fall or produce noise.
2 to 3 months
12 to 18 months
Make cooing sounds.
Progress into babbling.
Begin saying first words.
Approaching 24 months
May attempt stacking blocks, fitting shapes into corresponding slots or determining how to use simple toys.
Social and Emotional Development
Social and emotional development includes a child’s ability to express emotions, interact with others and form relationships. Here are some notable milestones to keep track of:
Smiling and Social Responsiveness
First few months
Begin smiling socially and responding to guardians’ faces and voices.
Early social engagement is important for bonding and building relationships.
6 – 9 months
Display signs of stranger anxiety resulting in wariness among unfamiliar people.
A normal developmental response as children become more aware of their surroundings.
9 – 12 months
Track someone’s gaze and share attention to events or objects.
Demonstrate development in ability to be socially engaged.
Empathy and Emotional Expression
12 months onwards
Display empathy and understand the emotions of others.
Begin expressing a wider range of emotions through gestures, vocalizations, and facial expressions.
Key Insights and Parenting Tips for Milestone Development
Apart from keeping an eye on your child’s development progress, here are a few points to bear in mind as you monitor and nurture your child’s growth:
1. Development is interconnected
Prioritize activities which promote holistic development, targeting multiple areas of development at a time. E.g. reading improves language development and social interaction at the same time.
Engage in physical play which supports both the physical and cognitive development, such as outdoor activities or playing with building blocks.
Nurture your child’s emotional development through active listening, open communication and validating their feelings.
2. Play is essential for learning
Invest in a variety of age-appropriate toys and items that stimulate imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
Participate in playing with your child to guide their learning and social skills development.
Make time for both structured and unstructured playtime to address different areas of development.
3. Your child’s environment matters
Provide a safe and stimulating environment at home using child-friendly furniture, childproofing objects and areas, and providing age-appropriate toys.
Build a daily routine that prioritizes healthy habits such as regular mealtimes, consistent sleep schedules and designated playtime.
Managing Developmental Delays
Every child is unique. It is important to bear in mind that comparing your child’s development to other children or even the child’s own sibling is not advisable in making an assessment. However, if you observe significant delays or have concerns about your child’s development, here are some steps you can take:
1. Consult a medical professional
Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or a child psychologist or psychiatrist, for a proper evaluation and guidance. Here’s a list of medical professionals you can refer to.
2. Obtain a developmental assessment
Request for a comprehensive developmental assessment by a child specialist if recommended. For your own home observation, use these helpful checklists:
- 10-months to 1-year-old Child Developmental Checklist
- 2-year-old Child Developmental Checklist
3. Seek out early intervention services
Enroll your child for an early intervention program, which include therapies and curated learning sessions, specifically designed to assist children with developmental delay. Seek out a nearby institution or obtain a recommendation from your child specialist.
4. Create a supportive environment
Continue providing your child with an environment that promotes their developmental growth, through interactive play time, reading together, exploring activities as well as opportunities for social engagement and conversations to build their language skills.
5. Connect with support networks
You will need support to journey with your child effectively. Reach out to support networks such as parent groups or online communities who are facing similar circumstances. The sharing of experiences, resources and advice will be useful support for you throughout this journey.
With the wealth of information that we have today, we are able to better assist and support our children’s development, monitoring them wisely while encouraging a healthy environment for growth. Joyous Education aims to equip every parent with the necessary tools and support to give their children the best steppingstone to a fulfilling and healthy life.
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