Baby s First Years Get all you need to know on your baby s development and milestones in the first years. Words MIKAELA AMADOR

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1 {DEVELOPMENT} ALL ABOUT YOUR Baby s First Years Get all you need to know on your baby s development and milestones in the first years. Words MIKAELA AMADOR 60 Baby Plus Volume 19

2 Your baby is at his most delicate during the first three years. These are also the formative years, wherein the child develops some essential skills and attributes that will be carried on until he grows up. What do you need to know for the first three years? We consulted with National University Hospital s Dr Alicia Lim, senior occupational therapist with the Women s Emotional Health Service and Rehabilitation Centre and Raffles Hospital s Consultant Dr Veronica Toh, specialist in neonatology and paediatrician Here s what they have to say. crawl, and pull himself up to stand. And just in time for his first birthday, he may be able to walk during his party. Speaking and uttering words such as mummy and daddy also happens in the first year. As the baby starts to recognise the people around him, he will most likely be attached and dependent on them. All babies are born happy. However, as he grows, his mind begins to mature and he can develop a sense of insecurity when his mother or caregiver are out of sight, says Dr Toh. Towards the second month you can expect to see him smiling and trying to engage with his environment as he pays more attention to people s faces WHAT TO EXPECT? According to Dr Toh, the first month will mostly be just the baby sleeping. Yes, you read that right, no playtime yet. The fun starts towards the second month as you can expect to see him smiling and trying to engage with his environment as he pays more attention to people s faces, yours especially. The baby starts to communicate with the parents through cooing. Exciting, right? From six months onwards, the baby starts to get physical as he tries to sit upright, BABY MUST-HAVES What are the things your baby should have at this time? Dr Toh gives a list to start with: Baby cot -it may be more convenient to sleep beside the baby while breastfeeding but Dr Toh recommends this as a precaution to avoid more risks in the future BPA-free utensils -Don t forget a steriliser as well Car seat and baby carrier -go for the ones that last Baby Plus Volume 19 61

3 {DEVELOPMENT} 62 Baby Plus Volume 19

4 CHILD S DEVELOPMENT One of the most important things to do to aid the little one s development is to provide a safe environment. The active baby needs a safe environment to physically explore, says Dr Lim. So mums and dads, start working on babyproofing your home by removing hazardous objects or by covering up furniture that have sharp edges. During the active stages (ages one to three), your baby would begin to explore his world by walking, crawling and moving around the house. This experience would be less stressful if you as a parent don t have to worry about your child being hurt. Help your baby towards development by letting him help himself. Parents are encouraged to provide a justright challenge where they support the baby s journey to explore the physical world, recommends Dr Lim. For example, when your baby tries to climb the sofa, instead of carrying him up, ensure that he has the right amount of space and safety by keeping him at an arm s reach. Make him work for the task so he can develop his skills and strength better. Baby Plus Volume 19 Remember, provide some help to support the activity, but try not to take over the activity! reminds Dr Lim. IT S PLAY TIME! Parents are the best toys, says Dr Lim. At this age, the baby learns most by observation. And what better way to learn than from his parents! Be the person you want your child to be. Dr Toh suggests avoiding letting your baby play with gadgets such as tablets and smartphones. Musical and colorful toys such as coloured blocks, soft playbooks and stuffed animals are some of the nice options you can try. Parents should also review the brand of toys. According to Dr Toh, some years ago, phthalates, a harmful plasticizer, was an additive to some toys. Some toy elements to watch out for: Plastic toys must be durable Mirrors should not be glass but a reflective foil Seams of stuffed toys should not have tears else the beads in the stuffing can be swallowed Small parts of the toy should be secured (e.g. eyes of a doll) Musical and colorful toys such as coloured blocks, soft playbooks and stuffed animals are some of the nice options Another great option for children to learn and play is by exploring the great outdoors. According to Dr Lim, babies at this age would be highly active and curious about their environment, the park pool, or the beach would provide ample space for the child to practice his motor skills. 63

5 {DEVELOPMENT} 64 Baby Plus Volume 19

6 BABY S HEALTH AND WELLNESS When it comes to baby s food, the first year shows how he can transition from liquids to solid food. Soon after the sixth month, your baby is ready to explore solid food as his palate is ready to take on some new flavours and textures. Breastfeeding can also be continued even after the baby has been introduced to solids. When it comes to sickness, Dr Toh says that babies tend to remain relatively immune in the first six months of life, thanks to the mother s transferred antibodies. After the first six months, illnesses may be common as your baby s body starts to develop immune responses to viruses and his environment. It is best to keep your baby s surroundings clean and free of any infection. Also, it is in the first years that the baby starts to grow teeth. Yay! Isn t it exciting? However, teething may be accompanied by a low grade temperature according to Dr Toh. Any temperature higher than 38 degrees Celsius or that persists without any source should be checked out by a doctor. Baby Plus Volume 19 WHAT S BEST FOR YOUR CHILD Parents, especially new ones, can be very meticulous on the baby s first years. Bringing up a baby is not a hot house program, reminds Dr Toh. It s okay to be cautious once in a while but parents should not be pressured into getting the baby s development to be ahead of his peers. Similarly, don t pressure your child to develop right away. He will do so in his own time, you just have to support him all the way. Always consult with your paediatrician to know what s best for your little angel. // BP 65

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