So special ...
Our first year is so special. So much change for both parents and their little one. So many emotions. So many firsts. Here are 10 useful areas of development that can influence our approach:
1. Dependent observers:
Babies innately know that their job is to grow to independence. They will spend the next few years watching the adults around them and learn their definition of success, as they grow bigger and stronger, ready to imitate the important people in their lives.
2. Body Language:
Infants are skilled readers of body language. For the next few years, they will respond to body language before they respond to words. They see and react to meaning behind our gestures and expressions. Actions really do speak louder than words.
3. Sensory dependence:
Babies are born with life-saving reflexes, including rooting (food source) and grasping (holding to prevent falling/injury). They already know the sound of their mother’s voice, her smell and her heartbeat. Sensing the familiar creates a calming effect.
4. Simple gross motor movements:
Apart from grasping, newborn reflexes also include head-turning and stretching out arms and legs in response to different actions. As they pass month 4, they begin to control their movements better, from sitting to moving their arms up and down to shake or tap things.
5.Achievement through repetition:
Repetition is a powerful learning tool. Neurological studies show that repetition strengthens connections, making thoughts and actions quicker and easier to repeat. Infants get a huge amount of satisfaction and achievement from repetition, essential for their development.
6. Individual attention:
Current research shows that babies act out of survival, not manipulation. They learn to expect certain behaviours after they perform different actions, including making eye contact, smiling, laughing or crying. So, getting your attention is not manipulation, but essential to survival.
7. Experimentation through cause and effect:
As babies grow, they learn to interact with their environment. They experiment by seeing responses to their actions, like throwing things or knocking things over. “Object permanence” is one test they use to see whether things return or not, or whether it can be moved at all.
8. Simple physical motion:
Babies use their gross motor control to begin to explore their fine motor control. While they are able to their arms and legs up and down, they begin to move their bodies from side to side, sometimes in response to their regular beat in music, or imitating what they see.
For the next few years, infants will read body language for cues on how to behave. They recognise the importance that words have to adults in order to communicate quickly with people that we don’t know very well, so start to move their mouths to make sounds towards what they hear. And they all develop so differently.
10. Inner rhythm:
Before babies are even born, they are aware of an ongoing beat surrounding them: their mother’s heartbeat. After they are born, they hear their own heartbeat: when they are held close, they hear another heartbeat. This is often the first beat that they match when they sway.
What Makes This Age So Special?
There are so many magical moments, but these are the biggies that set this age apart from the others:
Body language is the first language babies learn.
Introduce music through dance or moving to the beat together.
Babies need attention to learn, to survive.
Sing to restless infants to calm, soothe, and reassure them.
Heartbeats are the first sounds that babies hear.