Children grow so quickly and their needs at each stage of development is different. According to experts, the first 4 years of a baby’s development is crucial. So, as a parent, are you able to support their needs adequately? Let’s have a look at what happens to babies as they grow, summarising each of the 5 key child development milestones.
1. Social Development
Social development refers to a child’s relationship within society and the process by which a child learns to interact with others around them. A 25-month-old baby learns the concept of gender, hence develops individual behaviour for men and women differently, while a 4-year-old child begins to show genuine empathy, understanding how other people feel. This feeling will also be reflected in children's games.
Did you know that toddlers around the age of two, also known as “terrible two’s”, is in fact in a child development stage where they actually discover themselves. During this period there are acts of defiance, regular temper tantrums, coupled with stubbornness, but in fact these acts (or behaviours) are not directed toward you. Your child is developing independence and learning to express frustration. During these kind of behaviours (particularly tantrums), it’s absolutely crucial for you to remain calm, making sure your emotions not to escalate, otherwise it will have a negative impact on your child. Simply ignore your child without making any eye contact and wait for them to calm down.
2. Emotional Development
According to child development experts, spending quality time with your child is immensely important. The fast pace of modern day family life can make difficult to spare quality time to spend with your children, but the benefits are immeasurable:
- It builds children’s self-esteem
- It strengthens family bond
- It develops positive behaviours
- It can help your child’s academic performance
- It can help your children be a good friend
- Last but not least, has a positive impact on your child’s emotional development.
According to the above benefits it is clear that our time is the greatest thing we can give to our children. Even if we are a working family, say goodbye to your smart phones in the evening and dedicate 100% of your time to your child. Ask questions to each other, play games, go for a short walk, share favourite hobbies, read a book, watch a movie or any other favourite activities of interest.
Remember, children change and advance differently each month, and to support this transformation you could organise various educational and playful activities (and for busy parents, schedule this into your diary, just like your professional work life).
3. Self-Care Skills
Self-care skills that include basic needs such as washing hands, washing face, self-dressing, eating, and brushing teeth do not develop spontaneously. Even at this stage of child development the child needs your support. In this respect, learning and grasping these skills can be a slow process. If you believe this is the case then give them a help of hand to do it themselves. Buy imaginative/creative products to encourage them to brush their teeth, e.g. colourful teeth brush with a favourite character, including the toothpaste. But the most important thing is to set example by doing it together. The best way to learn is by watching and observing others.
4. Cognitive Child Development
Cognitive development between 0-4 years progresses rapidly. For instance, a two months old baby is able to look and respond to voices, whereas when the same baby gets to the age of 4, they begin to solve all problems intuitively. An 8-month-old baby can hold a toy when handed over, whereas when they get to the age of 4, they typically would have learnt around 1,500-1,600 words (vocabulary). At this age they may have imaginary friends.
Again, around the age of 4 children begin to understand the cause and effect relationship. Children are naturally curious and through curiosity they learn to tell the difference between numbers and objects, and for example are able to relate occupations based on various tools and equipment’s used during playtime, e.g. a stethoscope is used by doctors.
You can play games, such as puzzles, game doughs, or even paint to support your child’s cognitive development. While your baby's cognitive development is changing rapidly, you can do many activities that you can both enjoy, learn and cherish those moments. You could further support your child’s cognitive development with appropriate activity sets for each month, e.g. science and nature kits, pom pom kits, kid’s clay and dough, and many more. It can be a very practical solution for parents who do not have time to do activities.
5. Physical Development
Research on growth shows that there are four distinct periods of growth in children, two slow and two fast. The first 6 months is the fastest growing period for children. Each term does not continue at the same pace. Motor skills from 0 to 3 begins to develop. You can use game doughs to support motor development, work with a small tong to hold objects, and catch a ball or a toy. Gross motor skills development takes place later as children grow. You could encourage your child for a sport activity of their interest, to further support gross motor skills and physical development. Another important thing in physical development (as much as sports) is healthy eating. Make sure your child eats a healthy balanced diet with all the recommended nutrition’s. Read our blog on “what to feed children between the ages of 0-3” for a balanced and healthy diet.