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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Life :: Baby Development (Guest Post)

Here is the thing about babies that I have noticed in my 20 years of childcare : There is a LOT of judgment out there. I feel like it's increased in recent years, or maybe social media and the internet has put all the opinions IN YOUR FACE! Or maybe I've just gotten older and noticed stuff. Not sure, but I hear a lot of judgment and I have sat on a couch and talked to friends for HOURS about all things baby, watching them be able to speak with freedom and relief, because I'm not a judger.

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So, I think it's time to give a basic course in baby development and let you know some of the things that should happen. At first, I had planned on finding a basic timeline of infant development from birth to 18 months and wanted to link it. I had hoped there would be useful information on the internet, but I have found that it's all very biased to current thoughts on child development and is not clear. So, I'm just going to give you a very basic timeline for infant development:

Between the ages of birth - 18 months, your child should accomplish rolling over from front-to-back and back-to-front, sitting up independently, raising on all fours, crawling, coasting, walking independently, verbal cues and "words," recognition of self and others. In this time, your child will accomplish varying levels of recognition, from basic facial recognition to recognition of specific others (mom and dad or other caregivers) as well as recognition of self. Your child should go through various fine motor functions from grasping things to the ability to drink from a cup. All of these small steps lead up to the bigger steps I mentioned in the timeline.

As for when and how...there is a common thought in American society that parents and caregivers should encourage children to reach developmental milestones. There is a lot of talk about "tummy time" and strategies like placing toys just out of reach to encourage the child to roll over. There are tools to help encourage development, like Bumbo seats. And so on.

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Personally, I don't believe in the race to develop. You child is not in competition with other children. Tv watching or not will probably not significantly improve or hinder your child's developments. Keeping a notebook of your child's words will not make your child form new words sooner. (And by "words," I mean sounds with vowels and consonants and syllables, not necessarily recognizable by all adults.) Child development tends to happen very slowly and then all at once, and it is ok if your child does something faster or sooner than another child. You cannot force your child to develop.

I do want to mention the Educaring Resources available and the philosophy of child development from Magda Gerber. The basic belief is respectful caring for a child and not forcing it to do anything it can't do on its own. This means not doing tummy time and not using tools designed to encourage physical development. Personally, after caring for children for years, I really believe in this method. I see a world of racing to force children to get somewhere they're going to be anyway. I see children frustrated and uncomfortable because they don't want to be lying on their tummies. That bugs me. So I wanted to mention that there is another option out there.

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HOWEVER, whatever you decide, whether it be with Magda Gerber's ideas in mind or not, I want you to know that your child is going to develop beautifully into a wonderfully individual person who has loving and caring caregivers to support him or her! There's no need to race or worry or to be in competition with other mothers (or even your own mother). Relax, because everything will happen as it will happen and your love is the most important thing!

Fenna Blue is a NEOhio native. She's an avid geocacher and photographer. Her favorite pastimes are snuggling with her fluffy kitties and cussing like a sailor! She writes for her personal blog, The Honest Badger, and TV review blog, Gotta Watch It.
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