Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Developmental Map, 6-12 months

The key markers in development from six months to one year that are most memorable are in the area of gross motor development. Our baby sits alone on the floor without being propped up; maneuvers himself on his hands and knees; and begins to toddle around on two feet holding onto furniture or our fingers.

The social skill markers listed in Dr. Ireton’s Developmental Map are the ones we find most endearing. In these skills the personality of our little man begins to unfold. At 7 months, he shows by crying that he is upset if we leave him alone and by eight months he begins to enjoy ‘peek-a-boo’. In a few short months he will wave ‘bye-bye’ and play ‘pat-a-cake’. The crowning achievement at the end of the first year is his ability to imitate simple social play such as hugging a dolly.

Some independence in eating can be observed in his self-help development. These markers include feeding himself a cracker and holding onto a spoon and even getting some of the food on the spoon into his mouth! The start of ‘It’s MINE!’ appears as our little man resists having things taken away from him. At 12 months, he will even help us when we dress him, by holding his arm just right and pushing through the sleeve opening.

The developmental markers in fine motor development include being able to hold two things, one in each hand at the same time. This skill appears around the 7th month. He begins to use his fingers to poke at or into objects and with his finger and thumb picks up objects for closer examination. At eleven months he will have good time dropping these objects into a container. At twelve months his fine motor skills take him on a literacy track: he turns the pages of a book.

The markers in language development begin with playing with sounds. In the first six months, the developmental milestone was baby babble. Now we hear vocal play as he changes the consonant beginning the sounds he makes. We hear sounds like ma, ba, da, ka, and ga. Very soon, maybe a month later, we hear repeated sounds like ‘ga-ga’ or ‘da-da’ and a month later he will imitate some sounds we make. He will give meaning to some of these special sounds (ma-ma and da da) as we celebrate his first birthday. However just before that point he will show us he understands our language, especially in the much-used phrases such as ‘all gone’ and ‘NO-NO’.

If you look at one developmental area next to another, you can see how everything grows together. Our young man would not be able to achieve the self help skills in eating if it were not for the development in fine motor skills, giving him the tools to hold that cookie or spoon. Conversely, without the motivating cookie, the reason to hold things in his hand would not be there. Next week we will see where the language of ‘no-no’ takes us from age one to age two.

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