The development from 0 to 3 years of age is full of essential changes both physically and cognitively. The newborn comes into a new world to them, however, since the first few months, they manage to capture even the subtle changes of the environment in which they live and the people they live with.
The newborn’s first skill to learn is how to suck and latch to suckle and feed, which is practically an instinct survival skill that turns their need into a skill developed to stay alive. Gradually our little ones learn more of these skills to take care of themselves and have their basic needs met.
At this stage, the baby’s behavior is a pure reflex, not yet rational. They don’t know how to lift their head yet and they don’t have the strength to move from side to side.
They cannot pick up the objects or reach them. They can stare at object and high contrast – black and white – are their favorite.
Their form of communication is to react to stimuli according to how they feel: if they are cold they will cry, if they are hot, they may just lay there quietly, because they feel comfortable.
Sleep patterns vary slightly; however, the baby tends to sleep most of the day so that their organs continue to develop. At this stage, it is imperative to think about creating a sleep routine, as the baby has not yet structured their circadian cycle and does not know how to differentiate night from day. Obviously, they will still not sleep through the night, as it is normal for the first month to have intervals every hour or two for feedings. To successfully implement the routine in the next month, I always advise parents to mark in a diary or app all the baby’s activities, which time he sleeps and wakes up, time of breast and duration, etc., to start understanding your baby’s patterns.
Despite looking a lot at adults, they still cannot express their emotions. In addition, in the first month of life, nothing is more important than mom and dad’s skin and comfort, sleeping well, and eating well to grow and develop other skills.
Two to six months
In the second month, your baby can already perceive everything that happens around them. When talking to them, attention is paid to the features – facial expressions, and every detail of the face of those who interact with them. Thus, little by little, their motor movements are no longer just reflexes and become part of responses to stimuli. Especially affective stimuli, an example is a mother when they talk to the baby excited and the baby responds excitedly by moving their arms and legs. Furthermore, the child’s relationship with people other than the mom can be quite different from the relationship babies have with their mom. Even though they may already recognize the people around them, the family and those who interactive with the baby on a daily basis, it is common and normal for them to still prefer to be with the mother, due to the strong bond created from the moment of birth.
Even though their abilities to pick up objects are irregular, babies can already hold them for a few seconds and take them to the mouth to get to know them better. They will want to play (touch and inspect) with everything they find around them by putting objects in their mouth, because that is how they get to know the object better, through its texture.
During all of this time, they are assimilating, learning new things and discovering the objects and people around them by hand. They are getting to know their own body, what it is capable of and what movements it has the capacity to do. They will put more effort and dedication when they want to reach an object, for example, and they will be happy with their accomplishments, seeing they can get to what you want.
At this stage when the baby is developing between the second and sixth months, they already have well-developed arms and legs and because of that, they can start to moving and changing their position on their own. They can imitate some the facial expressions they see in the people in their lives and also responds to these facial expressions and communicate through sounds. They may even smile at strangers, as they are mainly seeking to receive the attention from the surrounding people.
This is also the stage when their routines tend to consolidate – whether parents have consciously established these routines or not. That is, if you have created a feeding and sleeping routine, your baby will continue to follow these patterns and you may count on its accuracy more than half of the time; if you didn’t intentionally, or consciously established a routine and your baby is still eating frequently or not sleeping properly, know that, from 5-6 months, this pattern – even if you can’t identify it – also became routine for them and from now on, it will be a little more challenging to revert; therefore, it will be a new training in terms of sleeping patterns and not “conditioning” that I prefer to do with the baby from an early age.
Seven months to the first year of life
Already between seven months and the first year, there are very sudden changes. The baby is already starting to sit alone, and can be very mobile, crawling around the house. Here we start the introduction of solid foods, when your baby can already sit up and hold their head and body up. Some will even begin to say a few words and all babies will be paying a lot more attention to people’s behavior. You will also notice here, their strong preference for their biggest task to accomplish in childhood: play! They will most likely choose play over everything else: food, bath, and even the mom. Their main priority becomes play and exploring the world around them.