North East Victoria
Baby to Toddler
Tastes of our Region
Baby to Toddler : Baby to Toddler 2009
Baby to Toddler 2009 The Border Mail 30 A baby’s development in the first six months is remarkable and parents can derive a great deal of pleasure from watching their young one grow. the first 6 months Soyou’reaIt’sallnewandwonderful BY three months babies become more visually alert and are attracted by nearby objects that move or are brightly coloured. Curtains, leaves, shadows, mobiles, etc, will be studied intently for a few minutes. You will notice that they now put their hands together over the chest and study them thoughtfully. They will then put them into the mouth for further exploration. At about the same time babies will begin to produce more saliva and dribbling will increase. Progressively they become aware of, and explore, other parts of the body — chest, genitals, knees, toes and such. Slowly they learn ‘what is me and what is not’. Some time during these months, babies will learn to turn over from tummy to back. Imagine their delight when, after practising for weeks, they finally succeed and the entire view of their surroundings changes. The ability to roll over and move will develop more quickly (and safely) on a firm stable surface such as the floor rather than a bouncy soft bed. At first they may cry for you to help turn them back, but they soon learn to do this for themselves and can move very quickly. Most babies of this age will sleep less during the day than they did previously, but probably for longer periods at night. Teeth Teeth are beginning to form in the baby’s gums well before birth. Eruption times, sizes and shapes of teeth are determined by inherited make-up. Babies may be born with a tooth, or may be still toothless at 12 months and, whichever way, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the exposure to any sweetened fluid or food such as honey, condensed milk, sugared fruit juices, sweet biscuits or sweetened milk, etc. These foods favour development of acid in the mouth, which can attack tooth enamel and is the major cause of early dental decay. Babies are conditioned by what they are given to eat and drink. These early feeding patterns tend to remain throughout life. For example, if all the fluids are sweetened, babies cannot be blamed for preferring them to water. Baby as a social being Most babies will be starting to develop their own distinctive personality by now. They may be placid, impatient, easygoing or demanding. Most parents find that they feel differently towards each of their children. Possibly to some extent this is because each child is different and responds in an individual way. It is important to realise that babies bring their own personal contribution to the baby-parent relationship. Probably the most outstanding characteristic is their friendly, social behaviour towards everybody. So sociable are they that some- times babies of this age seem almost to prefer playing to eating. Somehow they never come to very much harm and in the quieter hours of feeding take enough food to maintain good nutrition — though weight increase may slow down for a few weeks. If their experience has been consistent with prompt response to their cries, they will have learnt that they get fed when they are hungry, cuddled when in need of comfort or reassurance, and so on. Four-month- old babies may stop crying and even smile when parents are seen or heard approaching, knowing that their needs will be attended to, and so begin to develop a sense of trust. Learning through play What is fascinating about being a parent is watching and helping babies to learn about themselves, their surroundings and what can be done with them. Most babies, provided they are given the opportunity, will show determined repetition of any new activity until its possibilities have been exhausted. Was that a smile? There is lots of evidence to show that babies are born with an innate desire to communicate with other humans, and that they interact with us long before their first proper smile. From very early on they can imitate the facial gestures of their parents by, for example, moving their tongue and widening their eyes. They are, in fact, programmed to join in the “social dance” by meeting your eyes in a mutual gaze and by taking turns with these facial gestures. As you probably already know, this behaviour is very effective in attracting and holding your attention! A baby’s first proper social smile generally occurs at about four to six weeks, though it may be seen earlier and dismissed as wind. Some psychologists say that, as newborns, boys tend to make less eye contact and to smile less than female babies.