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Developmental Stages

Development 0-6 Months

Your baby is born ready to learn. They want to get to know more about you and other special people in their lives. In the early months they will learn who they can trust and who makes them feel safe. They learn how to ‘tell’ you what they need.

The time you spend just being with your baby is really important, their brain development is stimulated by this time spent together.

As your baby’s ‘first teacher’ you are vital to giving your child the loving positive experiences they need. By responding to your baby and getting to know each other, you will be giving them the best chance to reach their full potential.

The ‘connections’ or ‘wiring’ in the brain are the foundations for building emotional and physical health. The building of this brain ‘wiring’ begins in the womb. Once your baby is born the rate of development increases. The more positive experiences a baby has, the stronger and healthier the wiring in their brain will be.

Dive Deeper

Communication

Babies are born to be sociable and want to communicate with those around them. Babies can show us what they need and how they feel from their earliest days.

Crying

Small babies use crying as one of their ways to communicate with us. It lets you know they need you. The days (and nights!) when they cry a lot are always tough! Remember - all Babies cry, although this doesn't make it easier when your baby is crying, there is advice and support available. 

Read more about crying 

If the crying seems in some way different to you – is high pitched or your baby is making other sounds that you feel worried about then get some advice. Trust your instincts. If you feel worried that something is not right get in touch with your GP or 111 for advice. If their phone lines are busy and you think your baby is seriously ill or getting worse you should call 999.

If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. Emergency SMS is part of the standard 999 service which has been designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech.

Gross Motor Physical Development

Gross motor skills are the movements that use big muscle groups and will eventually mean your baby can roll, sit, crawl, walk, run and jump! 

The gross motor movement development during the first six months is amazing. At birth a baby can not hold their own head up and as the months pass will eventually be rolling and maybe even begin to sit up steadily. 

Giving your baby the chance to develop these skills and build these muscle groups begins with giving them time and space to do so.

  • Let them lie on their back – waving their arms and legs and learning how to move their bodies. They might like short times in bouncy chairs to get used to different positions.
  • ‘Tummy time’ takes some getting used to – but helps develop different muscle groups. Do this for short periods when they are awake – to begin with your baby will feel better if they can see you easily next to them.
  • Put toys slightly out of reach to encourage rolling towards them.

As your child gets stronger you can hold them in a sitting position. Let them sit in the ‘v’ of your legs on the floor to develop their muscles and help them learn to sit.

Always be led by your baby - they will let you know when they have had enough and need a change!

Fine Motor Physical Development

Fine Motor Skills use the small muscles in the hand and wrist. Over time these muscles can allow your child to hold things, feed themselves, build with bricks, draw and write.

It takes time for babies to get the co-ordination to hold and control objects. Until they are around 2 months old babies are not even convinced their hands belong to them! Touching, stroking and showing them their hands and arms helps them begin to get the idea. Your baby will be fascinated and enjoy watching their hands as they realise they are a part of them and that they can use them to reach and hold things.

  • Lie next to our baby and let them reach towards you - it takes time for babies to get the co-ordination to reach for what they want and get it.
  • Let them try and reach towards toys and books that you are showing them – hold things close to begin with.
  • Offer your child rattles and small toys to grab at and hold. Take it slowly, be patient and encouraging. Make the toy make a noise then brush it on their hands and fingers. With practice they will get the co-ordination to hold on to toys and put them to their mouths.

To begin with a baby will grab things with their whole hand. After this they can work towards using a ‘pinching’ action with their finger and thumb.

Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving skills describes babies beginning to think about and understanding their world. To do this they will need to experience new things to see and hear, and try new activities. In time this will help them remember how things work and understand their world.

To help your baby start to use their memory they need things to be repeated over and over. Try and do things in the same way so they know what is happening.

  • One of the first things they might seem to ‘know’ is when they are going to be fed. It might be the way you lay them as you get ready to breastfeed that tells them milk is coming. Or they spot that you shake their bottle before a feed. They have let you know they are hungry and you have responded!
  • It could be your bath time routine – get them changed in the same place, sing the same songs and play the same tickling game.
  • Play peek a boo (nice and gently for little ones). They will start to learn that you are still there and love it when they can see your smiley face on the ‘boo’.

As the weeks go by your baby will love it when they get to understand their world. They will show you they are excited and enjoy knowing what will happen next.

Personal & Social Development

Personal and social development is how we describe a baby’s need to learn about who they. They learn about their feelings and their own likes and dislikes. It is about them developing relationships and learning social skills.

All the things you say and do with your baby lets them know that they are important to you. This is the beginning of building self-esteem. As you help them learn new skills and praise them for trying, you are building their self confidence.

  • Talk to your child about the feelings you see in them - even when they are very small they can tune in to the fact you care about how they feel.
  • Spend time with your baby helping them learn new skills to cope with new situations. Show your pride with lots of praise and excitement.
  • Enjoy the little person your baby is becoming. Remember - all babies are different. Try not to compare them with other children you know.
  • Tune in to what your baby is ‘telling’ you and respond. For example if family have come round for cuddles but you can feel your baby wants to be back in your arms. Trust your instincts of what they need. You can always say ‘he needs a change / feed / sleep' so no feelings are hurt.

Who can Help?

If you are worried you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480 635060.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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