Growth and Development of Your Child

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1 Growth and Development of Your Child As a parent, you notice many changes as your child grows. Each stage of development is based on the success of the previous stage. Research has shown that during the first 6 years of a child s life, the brain grows and develops significantly. Patterns of thinking and responding established become part of the foundation of your child s life. A good environment for healthy brain development includes: Proper nutrition A warm, responsive and loving family and caregivers Fun playtime Consistent positive reinforcement Engaging conversation Good books to read and to listen to Music to stimulate brain activities The freedom to explore and learn from their surrooundings Additional elements of children s health also contribute to brain development: Language Direct face-to-face communication and reading between parents and other caregivers and their young children supports language development. Early Identification of Developmental Problems Many developmental and medical problems can be successfully treated if detected early. Stimulating Environment Exploring and problem solving in a variety of safe places promotes learning. Positive Parenting Raising a child in a loving, supportive and respectful environment enhances self-esteem and self-confidence, and has a great impact on the child s development. (Caring for Your Baby, 1998) It is important to note that each child grows and develops within a unique timeline, which means that they may fall within the following timelines or overlap in some areas. Saskatchewan Literacy Network 1

2 Age One to Three Months Provide good nutrition as your baby grows; have periodic checkups and timely immunizations from a regular source of medical care. Give consistent warm, physical contact hugging, skin-to-skin, body-to-body contact to establish your infant s sense of security and well-being. Talk or sing to your baby during dressing, bathing, feeding, playing, walking and driving. Use simple, lively phrases and address your baby by name. Be attentive to your baby s rhythms and moods. Learn to read her cues and respond to her when she is upset as well as when she is happy. Babies can not be spoiled. Provide colourful objects of different shapes, sizes, and textures; your face is by far the most interesting visual object at this age. If you speak a foreign language, use it at home. Avoid subjecting your baby to stressful or traumatic experiences, physical or psychological. Make sure other people who provide care and supervision for your baby understand the importance of forming a loving and comforting relationship with your child and also provide consistent care. (Caring for your Baby, 1998) 2 Head is wobbly and tends to be turned to one side. To prevent injury, the head must be firmly supported when picking up the baby. Back firmness will increase. May thrust out arms when the breast or bottle comes forward but will not be able to always touch it. Can push with feet against your hand. By three months, will begin to hold his head up, will move about in a bath and may roll from side to back. The baby can roll off a bed or sofa. Gurgles and coos when responding. Expression: alert face. Makes vowel-like sounds. Responds to selective sounds by stopping activity and listening. Shows awareness of own sounds; takes turns when vocalizing between infant and caregiver. Chuckles. Prefers patterns to colour, brightness and size. Vocalizes to get attention. Anticipates regular occurring events. Looks at an object. Responds to textured items placed on cheek. Brings hands to the mouth and sucks on a finger or thumb. Discovers fingers and hands and many watch movement of hands. Indicates recognition of person by cooing or becoming excited. Shows affection by looking at person while kicking, waving and smiling. Responds to continuous warmth and affection. Responds to the human face: smiles. Responds to bath time with either a positive or negative reaction. Content when nursed or fed. May reflect emotional state of person providing care. Becomes unresponsive if left alone for most of waking hours.

3 Age Three to Six Months Provide a stimulating, safe environment where your baby can begin to explore and roam freely. Give consistent warm, physical contact hugging, skin-to-skin, body-to-body contact to establish your infant s sense of security and well-being. Be attentive to your baby s rhythms and moods. Respond to her when she is upset as well as when she is happy. Talk or sing to your baby during dressing, bathing, feeding, playing, walking, and driving. Check with your pediatrician if your baby doesn t seem to hear sounds or doesn t imitate your words. Engage your child in face-to-face talk. Mimic her sounds to show interest. Read books to your baby every day. If you speak a foreign language, use it at home. Engage in rhythmic movement with your child, such as dancing together with music. Avoid subjecting your baby to stressful or traumatic experiences, physical or psychological. Introduce your child to other children and parents; this is a very special period for infants. Encourage your child to reach for toys. Make sure other people who provide care and supervision for your baby understand the importance of forming a loving and comforting relationship with your child. Encourage your child to begin to sleep for extended periods at night; if you need advice about this important step in your infant s development, ask your family doctor. Spend time on the floor playing with your child every day. Choose quality child care that is affectionate, responsive, educational and safe. Visit your child-care provider frequently and share your ideas about positive caregiving. (Caring for your Baby, 1998) Rolls from back to stomach. Able to hold onto a rattle when placed in his hand. Holds head steady when in sitting position. Sits with slight support. Lifts head, shoulders and chest when lying on stomach or back. Demonstrates first crawling reaction: pushes on hands, draws up knees. Moves body to reach for things. Plays with toes and fingers. Laughs out loud. Talks to toys or people spontaneously. Looks and sucks at the same time but stops to listen. Shows awareness of own sounds; takes turn when vocalizing between infant and caregiver. Recognizes and responds to parent s voice. Studies and plays with fingers and hands. Follows slow moving objects with eyes. Explores objects by putting them in the mouth. Reaches for hanging objects. Responds to a sound that is out of sight. Searches for disappearing objects Creates social contact. Plays with feet, brings feet to mouth. Learns to anticipate that distress will be followed by comfort; learns to trust. Uses gestures to show dislikes. Shows eagerness, pleasure, displeasure, and satisfaction. Smiles at familiar faces. Moves excitedly when sees food coming. Desires attention. Reacts to strangers. 3

4 Age Six to Nine Months Tries to crawl, using both hands and feet. Sits alone for a short period of time. Makes some progress crawling forward or backward. Sits unsupported and reaches for objects. Begins to pull self up at furniture (such as a rail in the crib) to a standing position. Picks up objects such as one inch cubes. Travels by rolling, creeping or crawling. Transfers objects from hand to hand. Responds to changes in speech and facial expressions. Responds to rhythm. Imitates simple nursery games such as peek-a-boo. Vocalizes to toys and mirror image. Responds to expressions of emotion. Uses gestures such as pointing to get wants. Recognizes his name. Begins to imitate sounds (coughs, tongue clicking). Begins to make consonant sounds (da, ba, ga). Uses hands to reach, grasp, crumble, bang and splash. Attentively inspects objects held in hand. Reaches for objects out of reach. Learns about objects by throwing, banging and pounding. Begins to develop concepts of in and out. Searches for a partially hidden object. Anticipates reappearance of an object. Visually follows a fallen object. Responds playfully to mirror image. Plays peek-a-boo. Enjoys being sung to and talked to. Shows an attachment to a familiar person and a fear of strangers. Initiates social play. Enjoys social games that involve rhythm and movement. Feeds self a cracker. Shows likes and dislikes for people, places and objects. 4

5 Age Nine to Twelve Months Talk to your baby during dressing, bathing, playing, walking, using adult talk; check with your doctor if your baby does not seem to respond to sounds or if syllables and words are not developing. Be attentive to your baby s rhythms and moods. Encourage your baby to play with blocks and soft toys, which helps her develop coordination, and fine-motor skills. Provide a stimulating, safe environment where your baby can begin to explore and roam. Give consistent warm, physical contact to establish your child s sense of security and well-being. Read to your baby every day. If you speak a foreign language, use it at home. Avoid exposing your child to stressful or traumatic experiences, physical or psychological. Play games like peekaboo and pattycake to stimulate your baby s memory skills. Introduce your child to other children and parents. Provide age and developmentally appropriate toys that are safe and inexpensive. Teach your baby to wave bye-bye and to shake her head yes and no. Respect you baby s periodic discomfort around people who may not be her primary caregivers. Spend time on the floor playing with your child every day. Choose quality child care that is affectionate, responsive, educational and safe. (Caring for your Baby, 1998) Puts objects into a container. Brings hands together in front of body. Pulls self up from crawling or sitting by grasping onto furniture. Picks up small objects using forefinger and thumb. Crawls on floor and up stairs. Rolls or pushes an object. Begins to take side-steps around furniture. Sits well in a chair. Pushes a car along a surface Makes word-like sounds (jargon). Combines vowel and consonants for sounds like da-da. Has a couple of true words (mama, dada, no-no). Shows recognition of others. Vocalizes playfully when left alone. May carry out simple requests. Demonstrates a longer attention span while interacting with people. Understands the meaning of some words (no, mama) and some directions (Give it to me). Stops activities in response to no. Starts to make arm and hand gestures (waves). Imitates new words. Enjoys putting objects into a container. Uncovers hidden objects. Searches for an object or person out of sight. Explores objects in a number of ways (touch, taste, etc.). Imitates hitting two objects together. Puts down one object to play with another. Starts to develop problem solving skills (will pull the string to obtain a toy). Develops curiosity. Tries to scribble. Looks at pictures in books. Touches an object to cause an action. Likes praise, will repeat an action for praise. Plays co-operative ball play, rolling a ball between themselves and another. Shows affection for others or for toys by hugging. Co-operates when being dressed. Begins to gain some sense of independence; however, need parents to be close by to help them with the things they cannot do. Repeats things that bring response of laughter. Begins to communicate affection. Shows physical expression of frustrations. 5

6 Age Twelve to Twenty Four Months Encourage playing with blocks and soft toys, which helps your child develop eye-hand coordination, fine-motor skills and a sense of competence. Give consistent warm physical contact hugging, skin-to-skin, body-to-body contact to establish your toddler s sense of security and well-being. Be attentive to your child s rhythms and moods. Respond to her when she is upset as well as when she is happy. Be encouraging and supportive, with firm discipline as appropriate, but without yelling or hitting; provide consistent guidelines. Talk or sing to your child during dressing, bathing, feeding, playing, walking, and driving, using adult talk. Speak slowly and give your child time to respond. Try not to reply with uh-huh because your child will recognize when you are not listening; instead, expand upon your child s phrases. Be predictable; establish a pattern for mealtimes, naps and bedtime. Develop word associations by giving word labels to everyday objects and activities. Read to your child every day. Choose books that encourage touching and pointing to objects, and read rhymes, jingles and nursery stories. If you speak a foreign language, use it at home. Play calm and melodic music for your child. Listen to and answer your child s questions. Also ask questions to stimulate decision-making processes. Begin to explain safety in simple terms; for example, feeling the heat from the stove teaches the meaning and danger of hot objects. Make sure other people who provide care and supervision for your baby understand the importance of forming a loving and comforting relationship with your child. Encourage your child to look at books and draw. Help your child use words to describe emotions and to express feelings like happiness, joy, anger and fear. Spend time on the floor playing with your child every day. Choose quality child care that is affectionate, responsive, educational and safe. Visit your child-care provider frequently and share your ideas about positive caregiving. (Caring for your Baby, 1998) 6

7 Age Twelve to Twenty Four Months Wants to move all the time. Can stand alone and may walk alone. Likes to climb, throw, push and pull things. Can scribble with a large crayon. Stacks and balances two small blocks. Can turn two to three pages at a time in a book or magazine. Squats in play. Begins to run. Can kick a large ball. Can walk up and down stairs holding onto someone s hand. Can build a tower of six blocks or more. Learns to jump with two feet. Able to pull or push a toy while walking. Turns knobs on radio or door. Can use a few words to communicate, may ask for more food, more drink. Hums and responds to music. Looks selectively at picture books. Imitates words. Uses inflections in speech. Follows two step directions. Recognizes named objects. Uses jargon and true words to tell about experiences. Puts two words together: all gone, more juice. Speech is very imitative. Identifies parts of face. Identifies articles of clothing. Able to sit through a simple story. Uses pronouns mine or me. Verbalizes needs. Knows what to do with unfamiliar objects. Imitates unfamiliar body gestures. Imitates new actions with familiar object. Imitates household routines during play. Uses an object (like a stick) to obtain another object when shown how. Able to insert a round form in a simple puzzle. Continues to develop problem solving abilities. Climbs onto a chair to get something. Moves around an obstacle to get a desired object. Imitates actions after a short delay. Begins to line up toys (small cars, blocks, etc). May develop an attachment to a favourite toy. Likes to be near people. Shows affection for parents and family. Likes to listen to music and dance. Likes to be the centre of family attention. Appreciates routines. Begins to self feed with a spoon. Shows a variety of emotions including jealousy, anxiety and affection. May have a security toy or blanket. Likes to play alone (solitary play); scribbling, building, looking at pictures. Pretends to dress or feed doll or stuffed toy. Begins to eat with a fork. Fears parents leaving. Helps with simple household tasks. Has a strong sense of mine. Has little patience. Very sensitive. Emotions are easily hurt. Responds to praise. Wants to please parents. 7

8 Age Two to Three Years Encourage creative play, building and drawing. Provide the time and tools for playful learning. Be attentive to your child s rhythms and moods. Respond to her when she is upset as well as when she is happy. Be encouraging and supportive, with firm discipline as appropriate, but without yelling, hitting or shaking. Provide consistent guidelines and rules. Give consistent warm, physical contact hugging, skin-to-skin, body-to-body contact to establish your child s sense of security and well-being. Talk to or sing to your child during dressing, bathing, feeding, playing, walking and driving, using adult talk. Speak slowly and give your child time to respond. Try not to reply with uh-huh because your child will recognize when you re not listening; instead, expand upon your child s phrases. Read to your child every day. Choose books that encourage touching and pointing to objects, and read rhymes, jingles and nursery stories. If you speak a foreign language, use it at home. Introduce your child to musical instruments (toy pianos, drums, etc.). Play calm and melodic music for your child. Listen to and answer your child s questions. Spend one-on-one personal time with your child each day. Offer your child choices in appropriate situations (Peanut butter or cheese? Red t-shirt or yellow?). Help your child use words to describe emotions and to express feelings like happiness, joy, anger and fear. Limit your child s television viewing and video time; avoid violent cartoons. Monitor what your child does watch and discuss programs with your child. Don t use the TV as a babysitter. Promote out-of-home social experiences such as preschool programs and play groups. Make sure other people who provide care and supervision for your childunderstand the importance of forming a loving and comforting relationship with your child. Spend time on the floor playing with your child every day. Choose quality child care that is affectionate, responsive, educational and safe. Visit your child-care provider frequently and share your ideas about positive caregiving. (Caring for your Baby, 1998) 8

9 Age Two to Three Years Walks up stairs alternating feet. May begin to learn to ride a tricycle. Able to walk on tip toes. Jumps up and down several times. Able to throw ball overhead, but without aiming. Likes to fit objects into each other. Able to turn pages one at a time. Makes drawing movements mainly up and down. May start to draw circles. Screws lids on jars. Often asks questions What?, Why? and What s this? Repeats words to name objects. Uses two to three word sentences. Makes a word plural by adding an s. Regularly relates experiences from the recent past. Understands prepositions such as on and under. Begins understanding of size. Developing colour concepts. Understands one, two and many. Able to use three blocks and build a bridge. Matches puzzles. Can take simple things apart and put them back together again. Indicates need to use toilet. As child approaches three, temper outbursts are less frequent. May display fear of the dark or animals. Seeks praise and affection. Needs a loving and consistent environment. Shows sympathy by trying to comfort or help a friend. Takes pride in tasks performed for others. Needs some group experience and friends to play with. At age three, may enjoy nursery school. 9

10 When looking at childhood development and family literacy, it is important to look at parenting techniques and issues and how they affect the parent/child relationship. The parent is the child s first teacher and the most influential adult in that child s life. Children look to their parents for guidance, wisdom, understanding and acceptance. This is why it is important for parents to model the kind of behaviour that they want to foster in their children. Children continually watch their parents and pick up on many of the habits that the parent has. For example, children often mimic the same language that a parent uses without fully understanding what it means, or use the same tones when expressing emotions that the parent uses without thinking about how they are communicating. The earlier that the child picks up these ways of communicating, the more engrained it is into their foundation. The same can be said for building positive self-esteem within children. The earlier that a parent builds self esteem by acknowledging positive behaviour, thought processes, etc, in an appropriate manner, the more positive self-esteem the child develops. This becomes essential when children develop their problem-solving skills. It gives them the tools to rationalize and solve problems in an effective and efficient manner, such as standing up to a bully, dealing with peer pressure or working hard towards something that they believe in. This too becomes engrained into their foundation. Family literacy takes place during all levels of child growth and development through various activities such as reading together, exploring in the park, following a recipe or talking about the day s activities. Through various activities, parenting issues can also be addressed such as expressing emotions, building self-esteem, talking about identity, discussing values, etc. These activities in turn build on the bond between the parent and child which enhances their relationship and creates the strong support system that a child needs for healthy growth and development as they mature from a child to an adult. References Birth to Five Years of Age charts have been adapted from the Healthy Parenting Home Study Program. Saskatchewan Prevention Institute Shelov, Steven P., M.D. and Robert E. Hannemann, M.D. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. New York: Bantam Books Saskatchewan Literacy Network

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