The big things you need to know to raise the most special little human.

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Baby development is a remarkable and intricate process that begins in its true sense before it even comes out of your womb. Once the baby is born, their brain and body undergo rapid transformations, leading to future learning, social interactions, and their overall wellness. Understanding the critical baby milestones they usually achieve during their first years provides parents with numerous insights about this unique journey of growth and discovery that their newborns embark upon.

During the first year of their lives, babies experience various changes in their physical abilities. During these initial months, they slowly gain control over the muscles on their neck, so they can lift their heads and look at their surroundings. This is usually followed by rolling over, a milestone reflecting their increasing strength and coordination. Babies can sit unsupported at around six months, which is a significant achievement. This ability lets them engage with their environment from a far more erect position than before. Teething in babies generally starts between 6 and 12 months. However, all of their primary teeth, also called baby teeth, will erupt by age three (1). Another key milestone regarding baby health is the pincer grasp, a fine motor skill they acquire for future achievements like self-feeding, self-dressing, and even learning to hold a pencil (2).

Babies are born with an inherent curiosity. They are always eager to make sense of the world in which they sit, stand, and crawl. Early on, they begin to look out for human faces and voices around them. It indicates their inclination for social interaction. As their cognitive efficiencies improve, newborns start to grasp the cause-and-effect relationships. They love actions that result in interesting outcomes. You may notice that peek-a-boo becomes a favorite game of your little one majorly because they start learning the concept of object permanence. They understand that objects do not disappear completely even if they are out of sight (3). For optimal baby care and development, you can teach them sign language when they are between six and 12 months. Crying, cooing, or grunting noises from babies are not always helpful for parents to understand the reason behind a problem. Baby activities like teaching sign language will help you understand their minds better and respond accurately to what they are trying to communicate.

Emotionally, babies begin forming a strong attachment to their caregivers or parents. Many feel separation anxiety because of the realization of the presence of their primary caregivers. Gestures like smiling, laughing and even crying turn into important tools of communication. At this stage, parents can use various baby activities to encourage smiles and positive actions. But remember that It is through these gestures that they learn to express joy, despair, and pain. It is vital that parents respond sensitively to a baby's emotional signals. Your responsiveness will foster a secure attachment, which acts as the essence of the healthy emotional development of your child (4).

Fear of strangers in babies starts when they are 5 to 6 months old. Stranger anxiety becomes more intense when the infant reaches 7-10 months of age. This anxiety can go on for a few months or continue for a greater period of time. It usually starts receding somewhere between 18 months and 2 years (5).

The journey of baby development and growth never follows a standard or linear pattern. It is a highly nuanced process and a whirlwind of discovery. From mastering physical feats to learning the variations of language and emotions, newborns achieve multiple milestones in their first year. They serve as a building block for their learning and interactions ahead. At the same time, they shape their cognitive, emotive, and social growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is baby led weaning?

    Baby-led weaning means that parents allow their babies to feed themselves finger foods as and how the children show signs of readiness to feed themselves. It entails following the baby’s lead instead of feeding them purees. Moreover, it also means that baby food becomes mostly solid (6).

  • Why can't babies have honey?

    If your baby is younger than a year, you should not give them honey. Honey has a bacteria called Clostridium that leads to infant botulism. This causes muscle weakness and decreased muscle tone (7).

  • When do babies say their first word?

    When a baby turns 4-7 months old, they will make repetitive sounds like 'bah' or 'dah.' At 6 or 7 months of age, they start to say simple words like mama or dada (8).

  • When can babies sleep with a blanket?

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is unsafe for babies under a year old to sleep with a blanket. It is because it can increase the potential for accidental suffocation. Also, including soft items in the crib, such as a blanket or a pillow, can increase the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (9).

  • When can I start feeding my baby rice cereal?

    Solid baby food like rice cereals should not be given until your baby reaches 6 months of age. After 4 months, the baby's body requires nutrients like iron and zinc so you can start giving them rice cereals at this time (10).