All you need to know about baby from 0-12 months

To our MiniMia brand, we have been working closely with an OT for months, who has guided us on all things baby and kids, everything to benefit them, using educational toys, as well as necessities to help them develop from birth upwards.

She has written up some advice below:

Birth – 6 weeks:

We’re told to stimulate our babies, but not too much. They need tummy time, but don’t keep them awake for too long. Play music and white noise in the background, give them mobiles, talk to them, sing to them, bath them etc. but they’re so sleepy and so little. What exactly can our new born baby do, see, hear, and feel? You’d be surprised how much they develop in the first six weeks and there’s a lot you can do to stimulate that development and get your little baby off to a good start.

In the first 6 weeks your baby will still be very sleepy and much of your time with your baby will involve feeding, burping, nappy changing, and bathing. Your baby will fall asleep soon after each feed so use your feeding, changing and bath time to encourage baby’s development.

Attachment is a key element of the first few weeks of life. The baby’s parents will be their main source of comfort and the familiar sounds and sensations of the womb, mommy’s voice and her smell will be a comfort right from the start. Use swaddle blankets; carry pouches, and sleeping bags to simulate the cosy womb environment that your baby is used to. Your baby has been rocked and soothed for 9 months, so swaying and bouncing will help to calm him/her. The rocking sleeper will give your baby the movement he/she requires while you get the rest you need. A comforter placed with baby every time he/she goes to sleep, helps baby learn to self-calm later on. Your baby can hear even in the womb and has been soothed by your heartbeat, and the muffled sounds of the world around him/her. A lulla doll, sleep sheep, and CD’s with white noise will help simulate his/her ‘womb space’.

Remember to limit environmental stimuli as much as possible. When you’re out and about (even at nurse’s or doctor’s appointments), cover your pram with a pram cover. Use a dim light at night when you’re feeding baby; this helps baby differentiate between sleep and awake time. A brestfriend cushion for helping you hold baby while you are feeding him/her helps you hold baby in the correct position for feeding while protecting your back.

Your baby can see contrasting colours. He/ she can focus on objects up to 20-25cm away. He/she also enjoys looking at faces. While changing your baby’s nappy you can stimulate his/her visual system by placing black, white and red picture booklets, a baby safe mirror or photos of babies and family members on the compactum. Also place them in his/her cot or pram so he/she can look at them while lying awake and content.

Try to use some of baby’s awake time to spend a few minutes on his/her tummy each time. Tummy time is important at this stage. Your baby has spent 9 months curled up in the fetal position in your womb and now he/she needs to learn to stretch out and strengthen his/her back and neck muscles so he/she can use them to reach his/her milestones. While changing baby’s nappy or bathing him/her, put baby on his/her tummy on the compactum for a few minutes each time.

The books and mirrors you have there will encourage him/her to lift his/her head a little. After feeding baby, lay him/her on your tummy and talk to him/her.

Baby likes the sound of your voice and loves looking at faces, especially familiar faces. Read a rhyming book or sing to him/her to her to stimulate baby’s auditory (hearing) system. You can also use a rattle to stimulate his/her hearing. Your baby won’t be able to hold it yet but he/she can turn her head towards the sound of a soft rattle. A play mat is a must have during the first 6 weeks. After the first 2 weeks, baby gets a little less sleepy and will be awake for a little longer during feeding time. Use your play mat to stimulate baby. Place him/her on his/her tummy for a few minutes each time. Lying on his/her back on her play mat stimulates her visual system. At first she will only look at the toys on the sides as his/her neck muscles aren’t strong enough to keep his/her head in the midline, but as he/she gets stronger he/she will start looking at the objects above him/her as well.

A sensory mat, made out of different fabrics, is nice to have as this will help baby experience different tactile (touch) inputs and will stimulate his/her tactile system.

Bath time should be a calming, bonding experience for the baby and his/her caregiver. Make sure baby’s bath is around 37 degrees celsius (the same temperature as the womb). Use a bath thermometer to check it’s the right temperature. Place a cloth on baby’s tummy to provide calming deep pressure while in the bath. Play lullabies and calm music in the background. Use bath time to give your baby a calming baby massage. Lavender bath products and creams provide calming smells for baby. Wrap baby tightly in his/her towel after the bath and try limiting stimulation so he/she will fall asleep quickly.

Traveling time can be difficult at first, but going to the nurse, doctor and maybe even the shops in a necessity. Try to limit stimulation as much as possible by covering your baby’s pram, using a pram cover, when out and about. In the car, you can place a travel mobile on the car seat to look at while traveling. A baby safe mirror, placed over the head rest of the seat that your baby is in, helps you to see your baby in your rear-view mirror and baby to look at her face which is calming for him/her. Play calm music in the car. A baby neck pillow will help to hold your baby’s head stable while you’re driving.

This time in your baby’s life is so short lived and although it’s often a difficult time for moms and dads it passes really fast. Don’t forget to rest when you can, and give yourself time to recover. A little pamper time for mom is important at this stage. Why not spoil yourself with a CaraMia candle? A happy mommy makes a happy baby. Cherish the moments and store them in a memory box/ book.

Be aware of how you and your partner are feeling, and if you are feeling a little more than just ‘the baby blues’, take this questionnaire

http://www.iepmhc.org/sites/default/files/downloads/Mills%20Depression%20and%20Anxiety%20Checklist_1.pdf

– Mills depression and anxiety symptom/feeling checklist (Liz Mills ©) or the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale¹ (EPDS) and get help if you need to.

This book is an invaluable resource if you are worried that you or your loved one may be feeling depressed after this huge life change. Although your baby is a blessing, it’s an adjustment that doesn’t always go as smoothly as we hoped and getting help as early as possible is essential.

Enjoy watching your little one grow up and don’t forget to cherish each moment. Soon she’ll be smiling at you to thank you for all your hard work and it makes it all worth it.

6 – 12 weeks:

All your hard work over the last 6 weeks is worth it now that baby can finally start responding to you with smiles and gurgles. Baby is now awake for slightly longer periods of time and can handle a little more stimulation during the day. Be careful not to overdo it though – an overstimulated, overtired baby will seem colicky if there’s too much happening around her during the day. Use her calm, alert, awake times to stimulate her sensory systems for short periods each time.

Baby still loves to hear your voice, so stimulate her auditory (hearing) system by singing to her, talking to her and reading to her. She likes nursery rhymes with a line that gives an element of surprise – use a change of voice tone to keep her interested. Baby will start to gurgle and then later (at around 12 weeks) to coo, squeak and babble. Encourage her language development by imitating her sounds. Baby will look to see where sounds are coming from and follow different noises. Get a variety of noisy toys such as rattles, squeaky toys, toys that make music, wind chimes etc. that will stimulate her interest in the sounds in the environment around her.

Baby’s visual (sight) system is developing and now she can see objects a little further away. She can follow objects in an arc 15cm away from her. She still loves looking at faces and she can now maintain eye contact for short periods of time. Continue to provide her with toys that have bright, bold, contrasting colours. Mobiles, travel mobiles, and mirrors are still her favourites as she can look at their colours and begin to try kick and reach for them. Baby should start to show an interest in her hands now. She will begin to notice her hands and look at them and how they move. This is the beginning of eye-hand coordination. You can assist with this by attaching rattles and bright contrasting toys to her wrists (she can’t grasp objects just yet). She will also begin to put her hands in her mouth soon.

Baby is now used to being stretched out and no longer feels unsafe when she’s not in the foetal position. Her motor control is getting a little better and she is beginning to move all on her own. Tummy time is still essential at this stage. Baby should be spending at least 40 – 80 minutes a day (5-15 minutes during each awake period) on her tummy. Start off with shorter time periods and increase the time as she gets stronger. Spending time on her tummy will encourage her to lift her head and develop her back and neck muscles which are essential for head and neck control and will prepare her for achieving motor milestones such as rolling, sitting and crawling later on. Use your play mat, mirror and picture book to stimulate her during tummy time. She should be able to lift her head 30 – 45 degrees while lying on her tummy now. Her tummy muscles also start developing now. While lying on her back, baby is now able to keep her head in the midline. Use a mobile above her that will encourage her to look ahead. Baby will now try to reach objects. Her movements are not yet controlled and she will kick and move her hands all over the place.

Use playmat attachments, mobiles or windchimes that make a noise when she knocks them incidentally. This will encourage her to repeat those movements until they become more controlled.

While lying on her back and moving her legs up and down, baby is strengthening her tummy muscles. Strong tummy and back muscles are important so that baby can start rolling soon. Put bold coloured socks with rattles attached on her feet – this will encourage her to start looking at her feet and kick them thus developing her body awareness and strengthening her tummy muscles. She will start to bring her hands together in the midline now, beginning the development of bilateral coordination (using both sides of your body together).  Use wrist rattles and bright toys on her hands to encourage this. Baby can also start holding her own head up for short periods while sitting on your lap.

Baby’s tactile (touch) system is a key exploratory system at this stage. Use baby massage and deep touch to stimulate her body awareness and provide her with calming sensory input. Bath time is a good time to do this. Let her lie on her sensory mat and provide her with toys with different textures to stimulate her tactile system. Deep touch and massage is calming for baby, while light touch and tickles are stimulating. Only provide light touch when she is calm and alert and watch her signals to check whether she is enjoying the touch or not. Do not provide stimulation that baby is not enjoying.

Vestibular (movement) stimulation helps to alert or calm baby. Use repetitive, linear and bouncing movements, to calm baby or quick, irregular movements     (up and down, round and round) to alert baby. Your baby swing or bouncer chair provides different movements for baby.

Use bath time to help develop her sensory and motor systems. Put bright, squeaky bath toys in the bath that will encourage her to look, reach, kick and listen. Squeeze warm water from a sponge over her tummy for tactile stimulation. Remember to put the cloth on her tummy as deep pressure is calming and sing soft lullabies or play lullaby cd’s while she’s bathing. A massage after bath time wrapping her in her towel and then rocking her to sleep will encourage baby to fall into a deep sleep in the evening. She should even start missing the first night feed giving you a good 6-7 hour stretch in the evening. Don’t forget to use it to catch up on your own much needed relaxing and sleeping time!!!!

When out and about you can start letting baby explore her surroundings. If she’s not tired or hungry leave her pram uncovered and slightly lifted or carry her facing outwards in her pouch so she can see and hear the world around her. Remember, this is for short time periods. You still need to ensure that baby does not get too overwhelmed by the busy world around her.

Don’t forget to check up on your own emotional wellbeing. If you’re concerned about your or your partner’s emotional wellbeing, refer to the checklists mentioned before and get help if necessary.

Enjoy your last few weeks of having a newborn. Soon your baby will be 3 months old and become much more alert. She will be able to enjoy a lot more stimulation now. Let the fun begin!!!!!

 

3- 6 months:

Bonding, babbling and the beginnings of bilateral integration are key to this stage of development. You and your baby are now starting to understand each other a little better. You are getting to know your baby’s different cries and you have a bit more of a routine. Baby is now also beginning to understand your cues. The most obvious milestone of this stage is that communication starts to become 2-way – with baby starting to smile, gurgle, goo, babble, squeal and laugh as well as cry to let you know when his needs aren’t being met. Baby is also beginning to reach some important motor milestones that will lay the foundation for his motor skills in years to come….

Now that your baby has spent a few minutes each day on his tummy, he’s starting to enjoy tummy time and he can spend more time on his tummy while he’s calm and alert. Your baby starts to develop some really important motor milestones now. He can lift his head up and hold it steadily in the middle while he’s lying on his tummy. He is beginning to push up on his arms and will be able to push up on straight arms soon. Weight bearing on his arms will help develop strength for crawling – he may even begin to push himself backwards towards the end of this stage. Put interesting and varied toys in front of baby while he’s lying on his stomach. You can put a roller, a rolled up blanket or towel, a wedge or your leg under his chest while he’s lying on his tummy to support him so that he can reach out to toys in front of him. Roll a ball from side to side while he’s lying on his tummy and encourage him to control his head movements while tracking the ball visually. Place a mirror or toys in front of him while you’re massaging him after bath time. Remember tummy time is still important as he’s still developing his back and neck muscles which are essential for postural control and balance during gross and fine motor activities later on.

While lying on his back baby begins to notice his hands and feet. He starts off bringing his hands into the midline in front of his face, and will begin to reach for, hit and swipe at objects hanging above him. Use your play gym, mobiles and other interesting objects hanging from an elastic above him to encourage this.

If the object makes a sound or lights up as a result of baby hitting it, he will be encouraged to repeat the movement over and over, which will improve his motor control. He begins to kick his feet which begin the development of his tummy muscles. Play gyms with a musical object placed at his feet will help encourage him to keep kicking. Put rattles on his hands and feet as well. Soon baby will discover that he can play with his feet and hands together. Bilateral coordination, eye-hand and foot coordination and motor control are beginning to emerge. When he’s playing with his feet, baby will begin to sway and rock from side to side and will one day accidentally roll right over. He will learn to repeat this movement and begin to roll from back to tummy voluntarily. You can encourage this by holding his right hand and foot in your one hand and his left hand and foot in your other and rock him from side to side.

You can also sit at his feet talking or singing to him (to assist him to tuck his chin in) and lift his one knee over his other leg – baby will try to lift his upper body and should manage to roll right over. His rotation muscles start developing now which lay the foundation for postural control, balance, midline crossing and bilateral coordination. Place toys next to baby to encourage baby to roll over. Don’t forget to roll baby in both directions.

When moving baby from lying on his back to sitting (after changing, when lifting from cot, or when changing positions), don’t just pick baby up. Encourage him to assist you using his strengthening head, neck and tummy muscles. Roll him to his side, and slowly lift him to sitting supporting him at his shoulders or arms. When laying him down again, reverse this procedure. Remember to roll both ways to encourage muscle strengthening on both sides of the body.

Baby will start learning to sit soon. Place baby in a chair, box, or wagon with cushions around him. At first provide lots of support by placing cushions around him and remove cushions as he becomes more stable. Sit baby between your legs when seated on the floor and assist him to stabilise himself with his hands on the floor in front of him. Even when baby is stable, remember to place him on soft surfaces or with cushions around him initially as he will topple over and lose his balance.

Visually, baby can now see things much more clearly. He can focus on objects nearer and further away and can now follow moving objects. Strengthening eye muscles and movements is necessary for tasks later on such as reading, driving, playing ball etc. Place baby in different positions (lying on tummy, on back, sitting) and in different environments (inside, outside, different rooms, different places) in order to practice different eye movements and to keep his focus and interest and enable him to explore all types of environments. If baby is awake when you are out and about, keep his pram uncovered. Moving toys (crawling or moving animals), pop up toys, balls, bubbles, skittles, play gyms, mobiles and mirrors will keep your baby interested. Use your hands and fingers to play games – add puppets and finger puppets for some variation. Lights and mirrors are still a favourite. Baby’s also loves watching people and looking at faces so include him, in your and his siblings’ daily activities. Peek-a-boo games are fun as they keep baby’s interest with the element of surprise and encourage the development of object permanence (knowing an object or person still exists even when baby can’t see it/ him). Dolls or soft toys with distinct faces are also interesting for baby. Remember to decrease clutter and visual stimuli during feeding time as baby may get distracted. Also, limit visual stimuli before sleep time, use dim lights and calming colours so that baby will fall asleep easily.

Baby’s hearing and social skills are developing as well. He is more aware of different sounds around him and is beginning to attach meaning to those sounds. He can also locate where the sounds are coming from and will turn towards those sounds as he is developing better control of his head and neck movements as well.

Baby is becoming much more sociable and is beginning to respond to people as well. He is learning how to make different sounds and facial expressions – babbling, laughing, squealing, gurgling, groaning, crying, coughing, grunting, and smiling. Baby starts off making vowel sounds “aaaaahhhh, eeeehhh, ooooohhhhh” and will begin to add some consonant sounds as he learns to experiment with placing his tongue in different places or move his mouth in different ways. He will usually add ‘g’ and ‘b’ at first.

Talk to your baby, giving a running commentary of what you are doing. When baby makes sounds or facial expressions, imitate him and give him a chance to ‘talk’ back so he learns how to communicate. Use eye contact, change you voice tone and facial expressions and use short repetitive sentences when you’re talking to baby to help baby learn language and social skills. Baby is starting to develop a sense of humour so make jokes and laugh with him.

Talk about his body parts while you’re bathing, dressing, or changing him. This encourages body awareness. Listen to different sounds in your environment and label them so baby learns how to associate sounds and objects. Call and repeat baby’s name often. Read books to baby to encourage development of language and vocabulary. Use different toys that make sounds to facilitate learning about sounds (bells, balls with bells or that make sounds, rattles, music toys, squeaky toys, rain sticks, cd’s etc.) and don’t forget to sing rhymes, lullabies and songs to baby. Even if you don’t like your voice, it’s still your baby’s favourite sound!

Baby begins to use his tactile (touch) system for exploring his world now as well as for bonding and calming. Touch is the foundation of your baby’s emotional wellbeing and fine motor coordination. He is starting to grasp objects and touch them and likes to mouth objects in order to explore their taste, texture, size, shape and smell. The mouth has many more touch receptors than the rest of the body so it’s important not to stop baby from mouthing objects. Be aware of objects that are small or have sharp edges as they may not be safe for baby to put in his mouth. Baby is starting to bring his hands into the midline of his body and will begin to play with his hands and be fascinated by his hands and fingers. This is the foundation of bilateral integration (using both sides of the body together as a team), fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Baby can now reach out to touch and grab objects especially when they are placed in baby’s midline (directly in front of baby if lying on tummy, suspended above baby if lying on back or in front of his tummy when sitting). Place toys, rattles, bells and dolls in baby’s midline. Although baby will begin to grasp objects at will, his release is not yet voluntary so he will just drop objects eventually. Towards the end of this stage, baby also becomes aware of and plays with his feet when he’s lying on his back. Use hand and feet rattles with bold colours to interest your baby and alert him to his hands and feet.

Encourage the development of your baby’s tactile system by providing toys and objects with different textures to play with – brushes, cloths, blankets, mats, rugs, grass, sponges, nets, pot scourers, textured toys etc. Facilitate body awareness by massaging baby and talking about and naming body parts as you touch them during your daily routines (dressing, changing nappies, bathing etc.). Massage and deep touch are soothing tactile inputs and encourage bonding with your baby as well. Hold and hug your baby to calm him.

The vestibular (movement) system can be used to alert and excite baby or to calm him down. It is also the system responsible for muscle tone, balance and awareness of where he is in space. Thus, it is the foundation of motor control. Rapid, rotatory and variations of movement are alerting, while slow, repetitive, rocking movements are calming.

ALWAYS follow your baby’s cues when providing vestibular input. Some babies are more sensitive to movement than others so start off slowly and then increase the speed, amount and variations of positions and movements only when you can see that your baby feels safe and is enjoying the stimulation. If he’s not content and enjoying the movement, stop and try again another time.

Use different positions when providing input (upright, on tummy and on back) as your baby’s balance and vestibular system is in his ears, and gets stimulated in different ways depending on the orientation of his head in space.

Calming movement inputs include carrying, holding, swinging, rocking and bouncing your baby. Repetitive slow up/down, forward/backward or side to side movements are calming.

To alert your baby use songs and rhymes that have an element of surprise and encourage different body movements. Start off with slow movements and then increase the speed as you see your baby is enjoying himself. Use up/ down, side to side and rotatory movements. Dancing with you is fun for baby and encourages bonding as well. Tilt your baby in different ways to stimulate the different semi-circular canals inside the ears. This is important for orientating your baby in space. Bounce your baby to encourage the development of his trunk muscles important for postural control and balance. While bathing your baby sway him forwards and backwards in the water. Roll your baby onto his back and tummy. Rock him on a large ball while lying on his tummy. Use swings, hammocks, wagons, rocking chairs and bouncers to provide different movement inputs.

Most importantly have fun with your baby and do not over stimulate him. Babies need time alone to relax, play alone, explore their environment themselves and develop at their own pace. Enjoy the time you have now that baby can sit independently while you are busy with other things….soon he’ll be moving all over the place and baby proofing your house is going to be top priority!

6-9 months:

Baby is growing at a rapid rate and you probably can’t believe how helpless she was a few weeks ago. She now knows exactly what she wants and is learning to communicate her needs to you in a way that you (mostly) understand. She’s also becoming a little more independent – holding her own bottle, sitting on her own and playing alone for longer time periods. Enjoy the few weeks you have before she becomes mobile – once she can get from place to place you’re going to have to be vigilant around her. If you haven’t started baby proofing your house, this is a good time to start!

Your baby is developing so many new skills in every area of her development. Here are a few milestones that you should watch for in the next three months. Remember, every baby develops at her own rate and although you should watch for the milestones, a few months’ leeway on either side of the norm is within normal range of development.

Baby’s new gross motor skills include rolling from her back to her tummy independently. Place toys next to her while she’s on her playmat to encourage her to roll over to play. She should also prefer exploring her world around her while lying on her tummy as she can now reach and grasp different toys and she can turn and pivot while lying on her tummy, and she may even start creeping forwards and backwards. She will begin to sit in this period, at first supported and later without support. Place toys in front of her that will encourage her to reach, hold, grasp, pinch and release objects of different sizes. This encourages the development of her fine motor skills. One day when she reaches beyond her centre of gravity she will lose her balance and find herself in the crawling position, which she will then repeat. While in this position she will start to rock forwards and backwards, developing the muscles that she needs to crawl. Towards the end of this stage (or even after 9 months), she will begin to crawl on all fours. Use moving and crawling toys to motivate her to crawl after them. When on your lap, she will start to pull herself up into standing position and she loves to bounce up and down learning to weight bear on her legs and feet. This is important to prepare her for standing and walking later. Be careful of placing her into jumpers and bouncers for long periods. Although they have their uses, they should be used for a maximum of 10-15 minutes a day. It is much more important to let baby explore and move independently. Baby is now eating some solid food. You can start giving her finger foods to suck and chew on. This assists her tongue, lip and cheek muscles to develop which are used for speech. Holding different finger foods also encourages her to use different grasps and pinches which assist with fine motor development, and the different textures of foods in her hand and mouth stimulate her tactile (touch) system. Be very careful with foods, especially if she has some teeth and can bite small pieces off. Always watch baby while she is eating. Food nets are helpful tools that assist choking prevention.

Baby’s visual system is still developing. She enjoys watching and tracking objects especially now that she can sit up. Place moving toys around her to watch move in the bath or on the ground. She is also developing object permanence, meaning that she is aware that an object exists even if she can’t see it. Talk to her even when you are out of sight, play peek-a-boo games and hide toys under or behind blankets or other objects for her to look for.

Baby’s language, hearing and communication skills continue to develop in this stage. She localises sounds more easily, turning towards the sounds and looking for the speaker. She begins to respond to her name, a greeting e.g “hello”, “no’ and “where’s mommy/daddy?”. She pays attention to a person speaking to her, and she can distinguish between tones of voice e.g. angry or soothing voice tones. She listens to songs, rhymes and short stories. When babbling, she uses consonants as well as vowel sounds e.g. gaga, baba, dada. She’ll babble to a person and takes turn – this is the start of conversation. She begins to imitate actions e.g. waving, banging, peek-a-boo etc.

She enjoys exploring movement now. She rocks on all fours and pulls herself up onto her knees. She loves bouncing on your lap and swinging in your arms. You can start placing her in different supported swings e.g. hammocks, baby swings and hold her while sliding down small slides or going on a see-saw at the park. Different movement experiences will encourage the use of her trunk muscles which are essential for balance, postural control and motor skills.

Keep having fun with your baby. She is developing at such a fast rate. Cherish each moment as they pass quickly. Remember to record all her milestones and take loads of pictures of each stage of her development.

9-12 months:

This stage is manic as baby begins to move, move, and move. There is a large range of norms when it comes to movement where most babies begin to crawl anywhere between 6 and 12 months, stand between 9 and 15 months and walk between 9 and 18 months and none of this is an indicator of your baby’s intelligence. Each baby is wired to develop at his own rate! If you are worried that your baby’s development is delayed or that he has skipped an important developmental milestone, speak to a professional for advice.

Baby is now moving all over the place – whether he’s rolling, creeping, crawling, cruising or walking, he loves exploring the world around him independently. He can now sit independently and move from lying to sitting on his own. He should start crawling on all fours during this stage. Use tunnels, obstacle courses and playhouses to encourage crawling. Crawling on all fours is an important milestone. It is the foundation for bilateral integration (using both sides of the body together), develops the trunk muscles and while weight bearing on his hands he develops shoulder girdle stability and the small muscles of his hands that are used during fine motor skills. It also stimulates the tactile system while he crawls on different surfaces. His motor planning begins to develop as he works out how to move over, around and through different obstacles. He learns about the space he’s moving through and the size of his body and how they relate to one another beginning the development of spatial awareness and body scheme. Seek professional advice if your baby is not crawling on all fours, or seems to be missing out on the crawling phase altogether. He likes to kneel up to reach higher objects and will begin to pull himself into standing using tables or chairs for stability. Place toys slightly out of reach on the table while baby is standing so that he begins to cruise around the table in both directions. Push along toys, trolleys, wagons, prams will encourage cruising.

He can now grasp and release all sizes of objects at will. He pinches pokes and points at objects. Baby enjoys dropping and throwing objects on the floor over and over again, loving your response as well as his newfound skill of voluntary release.  He passes objects from one hand to the other and bangs objects together developing his bilateral coordination. He loves stacking rings on a stick, and plays with toys more actively, mouthing less and exploring with hands more. Give him toys that encourage different grasps, using both hands together e.g. books to turn pages or lift flaps, pegs, knobs and buttons, hammers, thick crayons, blocks, stacking games, cars, trains and shape sorters.

Baby can see clearly now and enjoys exploring his environment visually. He loves books and pictures and bright toys. Waterproof books in the bath are a nice way to stimulate his visual system while he’s sitting still and relaxed.

Baby becomes more and more communicative at this stage. He imitates sounds such as coughs, squeals and laughs. He starts to say ‘words’ such as mama, dada, gaga – at first without attributing any meaning to them but as he repeats this and watches your reaction he will begin to attach meaning to his babble of ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ etc. baby becomes more affectionate approaching you for cuddles and kisses and he develops a sense of humour – he loves to laugh with you. He begins to use gestures such as clapping and waving or lifting his arms up and begins to use them at appropriate time’s e.g.in a song, when you say goodbye or when he wants to go up. He is beginning to understand language better and responds to simple questions and commands e.g. ‘where’s the light?’ or ‘come here’. He now understands ‘no’ – although he may ignore your warnings. He looks to other family members and familiar toys e.g. ’where’s granny?’ or ‘where’s dolly?’. He may start making noises when he hears music, singing along to the music. Towards the end of this stage he will start saying short words e.g. mama, dada or bo for bottle. Sing to baby, read him books, provide sound toys, puzzles and books and talk to him throughout the day encouraging the use of language and communication skills.

Your baby is now exploring his sensory world using his hands more than his mouth. He loves different textures and getting dirty is fun for him. Provide different tactile experiences for him such as foam bath, shaving foam on the side of the bath, water tables with bubbles, sand trays and ball pools. You can hide different objects in the water or sand trays encouraging him to look for them which stimulates his tactile system, fine motor skills, and object permanence.

Baby now enjoys movement on playground equipment so take him to the park and put him on swings, slides, see-saws and merry-go-rounds.

By the end of this stage your little baby is a toddler, moving all over and leaving chaos behind in his wake. But each night as you watch him sleep, reflect on his achievements of the day – each day he learns and achieves so much- more than any other stage of his life!

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