Your Baby's First Year of Life; 12 Months of Learning
When your baby is born, the world opens up before your eyes. By the time you reach your baby"s first birthday, you will have experienced 12 months full of adventures.
You will see how each month your baby will accomplish great feats, face new challenges and make amazing advancements that show up in small ways, like learning how to smile, reaching up with his hands asking to be held, saying “mom" for the first time, etc.
Your baby"s first year of life is crucial; in fact, studies have shown that newborns learn in an incredible way during their first 12 months of life.
In those first 12 months, your baby will learn, among many other things, two fundamental aspects: How to relate to the world that surrounds her and how to control her body. That learning, although it is progressive, begins at the very first instant that she enters into contact with the world outside of the womb. You will quickly see how your child learns every single day.
During your newborn"s first 30 days, he will adapt to the world around him through his instincts, and his body will respond with essential reflexes. For example, during your baby"s first days of life after being born, you can observe how he moves his eyes towards the light he perceives, or stretches out his arms and legs when he hears a loud noise.
Another reflex that can be observed in newborns is their amazing suctioning ability, which is what helps them grab onto mother"s breast for nourishment. When babies are barely a month old, crying is the only way they have to communicate.
Therefore, they usually cry when they are hungry, cold, hot, or when they feel alone. When this happens, try to take your baby in your arms in order to tend to her needs.
Do this without any fear that you"ll be “spoiling" the baby, as at this age, your baby doesn"t just cry for the sake of crying, but rather to communicate her needs. The challenge, in this case, is for mom or dad to guess what"s wrong.
Learning step by step
During your baby"s second month, he will begin to smile in response to external stimulants, especially when he sees his mom"s face. At two months, your baby will also start putting his thumb in his mouth and gain the habit of sucking on it. In addition to that, your baby will make his first guttural sounds and will know how to get his mom and dad"s attention.
During this stage, it is especially important that you stimulate your baby; hug him, caress him, and speak to him constantly. By doing so, you will be stimulating his senses in a positive way.
Starting around your baby"s third month, he will move his head more and more to show interest in the objects he finds around him.
For example, bright colored objects and those that move will really get your baby"s attention. Therefore, you will likely see your baby playing more and more with his toys and, as if that weren"t enough, he might even begin to babble.
At this age, it is normal for your child to close his fist when you touch the palm of his hand with your finger. This is a simple reflex that will help your pediatrician to evaluate your baby"s psychomotor development during his first months of life.
New adventures begin at month 4
At four months, your baby will begin to hold up her head, stare at her hands, and start to grasp and manipulate objects with a certain amount of dexterity. She will laugh often, show interest in all of the people around her, and she will not like to be left alone.
However, all of these factors that serve as signs of your baby"s learning and development are not exact. Always keep in mind that every child evolves at their own pace, and your pediatrician is the specialist that is responsible for evaluating your baby"s advancements.
During this first year of adventures, your baby will begin to babble quite a bit. She will play around with the sounds she makes, and she will have a lot of fun because she loves hearing herself. Your little one will take any object within reach and put it in her mouth; she will smile when others smile at her; she will dance with joy when she sees her bottle.
At 6 months of age, she will start being able to drink her bottle on her own, holding it with her old hands. Also at six months, your child will start to sit up, turn over in her bed, and little by little she will lose interest in her hands and start paying more attention to her feet – which she will put in her mouth as well.
Your 6-month-old will begin to show preference for the people who take care of her, especially her mother. After about month 6 your baby"s first teeth will also begin to peek through.
By seven months, your child will be able to remain sitting up on her own. From this age, mom and dad will begin to observe how their baby is learning faster and faster, and they will notice that even though their baby babbles words that often don"t make any sense, she understands perfectly what is being said to her, and wants to hear you speak.
Therefore, it"s important that you speak to your baby, and respond when your baby speaks to you.
Around nine months of age, babies normally learn to crawl. If your baby doesn"t crawl yet, you can help motivate him by placing him over a blanket. At a bit of a distance, set down an object that your child likes and will want to grab. This will motivate your child to try to get the object.
After another month, when your baby is getting close to reaching his first year of adventures, he will stand up on his own and grab onto the wall. He"ll already start saying ma-ma, da-da and other words in order to get what he wants.
Your child will know how to wave his hand to greet others, and will have fun making noise by throwing objects and running them across the floor, as well as by ripping paper.
During this stage, it is important that you be extra patient with your baby and allow him to experience through play and by making noise. All of these experiences will serve as learning opportunities which are important for healthy development.
At 11 months, your baby"s body language is so significant that you"ll find it very easy to understand. Furthermore, your baby has already begun to talk a little, saying things like “gimme", “more", and “no". When he hears the word “no“, he waits for an explanation.
At this age, your baby begins to walk on his own, holding onto furniture or an adult"s hands for balance and stability. Your almost one-year-old will learn to walk little by little, and as parents you should be patient and try not to hurry your baby. Remember always to respect your child"s own pace.
In this way, before you know it, and always accompanied by lots of tenderness, your baby will come to blow out his first candle. And now, at age one, your little one will come to leave mommy"s arms in order to begin an even great adventure: Discovering the world while he crawls and walks.