Humans at extremes of ages are exceptionally delicate beings. They require utmost care and protection, and it is more so with newborns. The reason for it is that they are solely dependent on their guardians for each and everything. Besides the everyday nursing chores, caregivers have to keep an eye on specific parameters to ensure the healthy growth of their infant. These parameters are called developmental milestones. A brief description of these can be; the ability of a child to perform specific tasks as they grow.
Any delay in reaching these milestones can be an indication of some organic disease. Thus, background knowledge can come in handy for first-time parents to facilitate an earlier diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, it would help to release the anxiety due to prevalent myths regarding the newborn’s upbringing.
First things first
Before getting into the details about growth, let us address an essential and common issue prevalent in infants. It is known as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It usually occurs while the child is asleep, and the exact cause is yet to be discovered. Fortunately, you can prevent such an instance from taking place by adhering to some practical measures. The CDC advises following a safe infant sleeping guide. It includes keeping the baby on their back while sleeping and ensuring no toys, duvets, or blankets are near the baby. Keep anything that can cause suffocation away from the baby’s reach. Additionally, the infant should be put to sleep in a comfy crib and not on the bed. Lastly, keep the baby’s feet touching the end of the crib (this way, there will be more space for the head to move).
However, a non-responding child should be rushed to the nearest medical facility. And for this purpose, keep a record of the medical centers in your vicinity as not everyone is fully equipped and qualified to rescue a newborn. Likewise, a doctor or nurse with certified NRP courses should be your preferred choice. These certifications provide appropriate training and knowledge to handle such circumstances, thereby maximizing the chances of a better outcome.
Now, let’s get into the development part. We will first briefly discuss the importance of a particular aspect of growth. Following it, we’ll explain how parents’ efforts at an earlier age can help their children.
Neurological development starts even before the mother knows about the gestation. From the first week of pregnancy, the brain begins to form, and by the fourth week, it develops fully. What happens after birth is the formation of neuronal connections within the baby’s brain. This nerve wiring is like a roadmap for the future behavior of the newborn. Every interaction your baby has, results in the formation of a novel nerve connection in the brain. It indicates that the kind of environment a baby lives insignificantly affects their future personality.
To ensure healthy cognitive development, parents should get actively involved with their newborns. Various research work like that of NCBI has proved that hearing starts at 17 weeks of gestation. By the end of pregnancy, your baby can hear your voice while being inside your womb. Baby talks are a great way to help your baby develop a sound mind. They tend to react to a change in your voice from loud to low pitch, which is why shouting or fighting around a newborn can produce a stress reaction.
Similarly, ignoring a crying child is never the correct answer. These incidents immensely impact your child’s IQ and EQ. Talking to your baby in soft tones and showering them with love and compassion will positively affect your baby’s mental development.
Social and emotional interaction
A newborn’s social interaction is through a smile or a cry. It then advances to baby cooing sounds, looking around to search familiar faces, recognizing mother’s touch, fearing strangers, and taking time to settle down. Attending to a baby’s emotional needs is as crucial as feeding them well. Doctors recommend smiling at your baby, repeating their baby language, holding them close to you, and cuddling them when they cry. Your tiny human very well perceives all these acts of love. Moreover, it also helps you to develop an endearing bond with the baby.
Motor and sensory development
This parameter covers milestones like neck holding by six months and sitting up with support, then without support by eight months. Crawling, walking, and running are the later stages of motor development. Motor development is concerned with the use of muscle and their growing strength. A helpful method for this is to put the baby on its tummy and encourage them to look up. A jingly toy can be of help to keep them engaged.
Regarding sensory growth, all five senses have been in full play since birth. A newborn can see but with the (visual acuity) VA of 20/200. So, keep your baby close to you. It makes it easy for them to get a clear image. They respond to noises with a startle by six months. Likewise, the sense of touch develops as they feel the texture of things around them. Giving them toys of varying shapes, textures, and colors enhances these senses. But it requires you to communicate with them during playtime. Passive learning is not encouraged at this stage.
Babies begin to talk with cooing sounds, and this takes the form of words with two syllables like “da da, ba ba.” Slowly they start speaking in sentences. Reading to your baby significantly impacts their language development. At around eight months, babies want to hold the books themselves. Providing visually exciting and engaging material at this stage helps develop this habit for the long run. Soon you will notice them read their own stories out of the books (not necessarily accurate). This crucial practice goes a long way to adulthood, enhancing the curious nature.
The physical growth of a baby is measurable in the form of weight and height. This measure directly relates to how well you feed your baby. Undernourished babies fall back in the growth chart. A growth chart is a parameter to measure their proper growth and helps to diagnose malnutrition and overfeeding. And the doctor or a nurse usually fills it out. Based on the results, you will have to change the feeding routine of the infant. Nonetheless, a crucial thing to remember is that genetics also play a significant role in a baby’s growth. Babies tend to have a physique like that of their parents.
Breast milk is the best nutritional source up to the age of six months. After that, start adding soft, easily palatable foods to their diet. A process that we call weaning and which works like an experiment. The baby might not like everything on the plate instantly, so the best method is to re-introduce a meal after some time.
Babies are undoubtedly a huge blessing in our lives. Every parent wants the best for their child. Therefore, knowing about the different stages of growth can be an excellent way for parents to ensure their optimal growth and development. Providing the infant with all the physical and emotional needs at an earlier stage profoundly affects their future development and well-being. Likewise, smiling at your newborn, talking to them, and reading them stories are small habits with significant impacts. Such simple things prove to be incredibly beneficial for the healthy growth of your baby.