Sunday, October 18, 2009

Development in the First Six Months

In the first six months of our baby’s life she racks up a great list of accomplishments. These accomplishments can be thought of as markers to our baby’s development. Dr. Harry Ireton took these markers and organized them into a map of five developmental areas: 1)social skills, 2)self help skills, 3)gross motor skills, 4)fine motor skills, and 5)language development. We will look at this Developmental Map from Dr. Harry Ireton and to see how growth in each areas is intertwined with the growth in other areas and how this all works together as baby’s physical self grows. As Mr. Rogers would say, “everything grows together because we’re all one piece.”

Let’s begin with social skills. At birth, our baby can see very close up. Have you ever noticed the way we hold our newborn when we interact? We bring our face close to our baby’s face. Babies appear to recognize the importance of faces and research has shown that babies spend more time looking at simple face drawings than any other drawing. This internal brain wiring helps our baby develop her social skills. Dr. Ireton lists the markers to development in social skill from birth to 6 months: quiets when fed, makes eye contact, will give us a social smile, recognizes mother, then recognizes other familiar adults, interested in her image in a mirror, reacts differently to strangers, and finally reaches for a familiar person.

Self help skills follow a similar path. We all know that newborns sleep a lot; more interesting is how alert they are when awake. They are taking it all in and showing us by their movements and behaviors how they are learning to take care of their own needs. The developmental map lists this alertness and interest in sights and sounds as the first marker in the development of self help skills. Following this we see our baby react to the sight of the bottle or breast. She doesn’t yet have the motor skill development to be able to reach and hold her bottle, that skill will show up in fine motor development a little later. Next in the growth sequence we see an increase in activity when we show her a toy. Just think what this leads to. Soon she will be able to occupy herself with interesting objects she can learn from. By four months she will be reaching for objects and by six months she will be looking for objects that disappear from her sight such as the toy falling from her high chair tray.

The first six months of gross motor skills begin with our baby wiggling, kicking, and thrusting her arms and legs in play. Remember the social smile in the 2nd month? In gross motor development our little one is actively holding her head up to look around. There’s something out there to smile about!

The progression of the markers in development of fine motor skills begins with focusing and then following a desirable object with her eyes. She will clutch at objects, hold them briefly in one hand, and by 6 months, she will transfer an object from one hand to the other. A lot of those objects will go into her mouth!

In the area of language development, our little one goes from undifferentiated cries to crying when she is hungry. Around 2 months she will be making cooing sounds, laughing aloud, or squealing in delight. By six months she will be very interested when mommy talks to her and will begin talking back in her own language—baby babble!
Development is all inter-related and our task is to engage our infant which will support the growth in all areas of development. Next week we will look at the markers of development that occur from 6 to 12 months.

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print

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