A newborn is not more than a body having bones and muscles. It is as non-living as a bedside table, with the only difference being that it can breathe and drink milk. A child gradually becomes a living being once he starts accomplishing various growth milestones.
Child development milestones sometimes become a stress for parents who lack access to correct information. For example, a baby normally learns to walk when he is between 9 months and 15 months of age. However, parents usually start freaking out if their kid is unable to walk on his first birthday.
This stress is usually a result of the pressure from their societal surroundings wherein there are friends, elders, or neighbors of the parents who tend to set the child development milestones as per their experience.
If you are one of those mothers who wonder if I am raising my child right or not, read on to know more about the types of child development and how you can help your child reach the child development milestones on time.
It is worth mentioning here that a child’s development is dependent on two major factors – his genes and his environment during the growing stage. It is important to note that the environment cannot supersede the ill effects of genes on a child.
If a genetic disorder leads to a neurological issue in a newborn, it may or may not be corrected with the help of treatment. However, the upbringing style of the parents cannot solely alter the disorder in the child. On the other hand, a genetically strong but malnourished child might not have a high IQ because of his underdeveloped brain.
Hence, you can only help your child accomplish his growth milestones on time in a happy and healthy environment if he is not suffering from an otherwise serious genetic trouble.
Five Types of Child Development
Fine Motor Skill Development
A newborn doesn’t even know how to scratch his hand when it’s itching. Learning to use small muscles of hands, fingers, wrist, etc. falls under fine motor skills. A two months old baby licking his fingers or thumb is using his fine motor skills to demonstrate his hunger or thirst.
Similarly, a six months old baby learns to hold his toys or a 15-months old baby tries to hold a spoon to feed himself is using his fine motor skills. In fact, a 5-year-old child learning to button his own shirt or cutting a piece of cloth using scissors is also utilizing his fine motor skills.
Gross Motor Skill Development
– Gross motor skills come into play when a child has to use larger and stronger muscles of his body. A child displays his first gross motor skill development milestone at around three months of age by turning on his stomach and holding his head up.
Further, at around 5-7 months, the child learns to sit, then crawl, then stand by holding a higher firm object and finally walk. Walking, running, jumping, balancing while dancing, cycling, skipping rope are all examples of gross motor skill development.
Social and Emotional Development
Parents would know that I am not wrong if I say that a newborn doesn’t even know the difference between a person and an object. Your baby cannot even make eye contact with a certain person, even if that is his own mother. This is because they have no social or emotional connection with the world.
The social or emotional development of a child or his interaction with his new world starts when he is 6-10 weeks old. This is the age when a child normally starts making eye contact with his caregiver and smile at him or her. Some more weeks later, at around 3 months of age, the child learns to follow the movements and activities of his primary caregiver.
Learning to smile, conveying his emotions of joy, sadness, anger, tiredness, etc. through expressions, waving bye or signaling someone to come closer are all instances when a child develops his social and emotional skills.
A toddler who has recently started his school develops his social skills by learning to play with his classmates, live harmoniously with his peers, taking turns while playing games, bond with his friends, etc.
Babies have a tremendous amount of observation and explorative skills. Each and everything that they learn is by either observing the people around them or exploring on their own. The ability to understand the surroundings and learn the problems as well as their solutions is known as cognitive ability.
As you all might have noticed that a baby always puts almost everything in his mouth. This is because the first thing that a baby learns about his body is his mouth that satisfies him of the discomfort due to hunger. Thus, he learns and explores the objects around him only through his mouth. His mouth is his way of understanding the world and learning about the taste, texture, temperature, and nature of the objects around him. This habit of feeling the objects by putting them inside their mouth starts from two to three months of age and lasts until the child is at least 12-18 months old.
The cognitive skill of a toddler is displayed when he surprises you by understanding basic day-to-day things, the difference between food and beverage or by building simple structures using building blocks when he tries to understand your moods and expressions and tries to calm you when you are sad or uncomfortable.
Speech and Language Development
This is usually the last child development milestone. Words become friends with kids not before they turn one. Until then your child is simply blabbering simple syllables like – ma, ba, da, ta, etc. No matter how hard you try, your baby mostly disappoints you by not saying your favorite word that you are dying to hear from him – mumma.
It is usually between 12-15 months of age that a child understands and says words like – mumma, dadda, etc. A two years old baby is usually capable of naming or at least understanding the names of his body parts, basic objects at home, some animals, his favorite food, etc.
Sadly, you will have to wait till your kid is at least four years old to listen and clearly understand the stories of his school and the problems that he is facing with his friends or studies or in his surroundings. Until then, do not lose your focus on your child’s signaling language.
One thing that you should always remember as parents is that to achieve a child development milestone, your baby needs to tick-off the previous ones. Do not expect your infant to start walking at 10 months if he still finds it difficult to crawl. Similarly, it is futile to anticipate from a one-month-old baby to pick up his rattle and soothe himself
However, if your kid surpasses the window period for a certain milestone and is still unable to achieve it, it is always advisable to consult your pediatrician to rule out any health issues.
Am I Raising My Child Right?
Studies and experiences from the previous generations show that the upbringing style and the environment of a child during his growth years influence a lot in his development. Thus, it is quite logical for a parent to question his or her parenting style.
Well, long thing short, you are definitely doing your best to give the best of everything to your child. However, there are certain things that might modify your parenting style and help your child a long way. If it is possible to mend your ways a little bit to help your child reach his milestones on time and ultimately develop excellent social, emotional, language, cognitive and motor skills, then, of course, why not!
Nevertheless, do not forget that these practices can only help you create the ideal learning and growing environment for your baby. They cannot help your baby overcome the biological constraints that he faces due to his genes.
Simple Physical Activities
A baby’s playtime is basically the time when he develops his motor skills. Keep a thin breathable cloth on your infant and let him pull it down by kicking it through his hands and legs. Give him some tummy time to help him hold his head up.
Hand over small and harmless toys to your baby to help him develop the ability to hold things. Keep his favorite toys in front of him while he is on his tummy to encourage him to move forward. If your baby is able to stand by holding a table corner, keep his toys away from him on the table to motivate him to walk and take the toys.
Let your 15 months old kid help himself to eat. You might have to spend hours in cleaning his mess but your child’s development milestone of fine motor skills will definitely be achieved much faster through this.
A child needs to explore the outdoors as well. Let him understand nature by looking at the grass, plants, trees, birds, sky, etc. This develops his cognitive ability. Moreover, kids feel more energized when they are in the outdoors. Infants try to move on their own to be able to touch and feel the new objects around them. This encourages them to sit up and observe or start crawling.
There have been many cases wherein a child couldn’t learn walking inside the house due to the fear of falling and getting hurt by hitting the hard floor. The same kids learned walking on the grass within a week. The beauty around attracted these kids and the softness of the grass motivated them to start walking.
Kids more than five years of age can also be sent to nature camps or summer camps so that they learn to survive on their own. Whether it is getting ready on their own, washing their own clothes or packing their own stuff, kids learn a lot of motor skills, social skills, and cognitive abilities through such camps.
Let Your Kids Meet People
Many parents feel that their kids will not be as comfortable as they are with their primary caregivers. However, what these parents do not understand is that this comfort restricts your child from the exposure that he needs and deserves at this age.
You understand your baby inside out. You know how he signals his discomfort, hunger, thirst, drowsiness, etc. Therefore, unless you allow your child to meet new people, your kid will not be able to express himself to his secondary caregivers like his grandparents or strangers.
Hence, it is important for your child to spend some time with his grandparents, neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. Do not be overprotective. Take him out to the garden or a mall so that he observes the people around him and understands the need and methods of interacting with other people.
You can encourage your early school going kids to play with their friends after school or plan a play date for him and his peers. Ask him about his day at his school, listen to his stories, tell him stories, and most importantly encourage him to express his emotions like – anger, disappointment, joy, weirdness, nervousness, tiredness, terror, etc.
Play With Your Kids
Enriching your kid’s world with lots of toys doesn’t really help them develop an emotional bond with you or cognitive skills to solve real-world problems. It is actually the time spent by the parents with their kids that they cherish for life.
A one-year-old baby doesn’t have enough cognitive ability to play with the building blocks tactfully. They understand the game only when their parents play with them using those blocks. A toddler who learns the basic counting at home generally does better at Maths in his higher school as compared to his peers who learned counting only at school.
Before going to school, everything that a kid learns at his home is through play only, whether it is math, vocabulary or basic science. Hence, it is essential for his guardians at home to help him learn these basic things through play.
Read to Your Baby
For a baby, anything and everything can be a toy. From toys to utensils and even books are his props to play with. Therefore introducing board books at a young age of 5-6 months to a baby will help them befriend books. Just take a few books with attractive pictures of animals, fruits, flowers or vegetables and start reading to your baby.
The aim of introducing books to them at such a small age is not to teach them anything. However, it is only to familiarize them with books and some motor skills of turning pages. The process of making them well acquainted with books at a very young age helps them understand the need for books and knowledge in their life.
Involve them in Problem Solving
For kids, more than five years of age, involving them in simple problem-solving sessions in your household is a good idea. This practice encourages their brains to process information and hence they try to look for solutions. Even though you cannot expect them to help you with the solutions but you certainly make them comprehend the importance and procedure of analyzing the situation.
For example, while buying something from a supermarket, ask them to calculate the total bill or when deciding on where to head to for your next vacation, ask them to contribute as well. It is important to make them understand why you chose a different solution than what they had suggested. Discuss with them the reasoning behind your decision. This will help him become a better decision-maker in life.
When you send your kids for a summer camp or a nature camp, decision-making and problem-solving skills generate in them automatically. To address smaller issues like not being able to pack their stuff in the luggage bag, your kids would not have anyone to seek help from. Such scenarios will not only make them great problem solvers but also self-dependent.
To understand your child’s growth, it is necessary to know the types of child development. Further, it is even more crucial to know how you can help your child achieve his milestones on time. With some small changes in your parenting style, you can help in providing your child with the right kind of environment to grow substantially joyful and healthy.