Category Archives: Key Milestones

The science behind deferred imitation

Deferred imitation is typically defined as a modeled action or series of actions that are reproduced after a certain delay.

The beauty behind deferred imitation is that it can give us a tremendous amount of insight into our little one’s development. It symbolizes an underlying complex cognitive process. It has been theorized, that imitation may also be an important channel for early social learning. It seems that observation has a great effect on skill acquisition and, in some cases, even more so than conditioning or trial and error.

When your baby is be able to imitate what he saw you do a day or a week before, he shows that he has acquired the ability to retain the information, recall it, and reproduce it without a guide later on. Closing a flap, pushing a button, or shaking an object after seeing an adult do so a while ago are simple acts that demonstrate a cognitive task, as well as physical one. Deferred imitation taps more into “recalling” abilities than recognition per se. Your baby must do something more than simply discriminate between a familiar and an unknown object, he must use his motor skills to reproduce the act he saw earlier.

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Against all odds

When a child learns to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks “maybe this isn’t for me”.

You’ll find out soon enough just how persistent your baby can be. However small he may seem, he’s a strong-willed individual who’ll leave you amazed when facing challenges during his development. When your little one finally comes around to taking his first steps and begin to practice walking, there’s more to it than a simple developmental milestone.

To better understand this huge transition, we must first acknowledge that by walking your baby is giving up his “status” as a highly-skilled crawler, leaving his comfort zone, and willingly choosing to be a low-skilled and uncoordinated walker. Being a skilled crawler, your little one can easily move through his environment, explore, navigate, and avoid obstacles. On the other hand, being new to walking, he doesn’t have these perks. For him, every step is bumpy and falling is his go-to those days. So how come your baby persists walking against all odds?

Need for speed

Even from such a young age, your little one realizes that when he walks, despite the constant falls and the bumpy ride, he can cover a greater distance at a faster pace than if he crawled. Moreover, what he gains both in covered distance and reached speed has huge implications for the level of navigation and engagement he has with his surroundings. Continue reading

Motor milestones: Learning to roll

Has your baby mastered head control? He’ll soon be ready to learn how to roll over. This is an important milestone for your baby because it marks his first big movement all by himself. As strength in his arms, back, and neck increases, he will begin to discover new ways of moving his body.

When should I expect my baby to start rolling over?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should be able to roll over in both directions by 7 months. But around 3-4 months your baby will develop enough upper body strength to turn from his tummy to his back. It may take him until he’s about 5 or 6 months to flip from back to front, because he needs stronger neck and arm muscles for that movement.

Rolling over for the first time usually comes as a surprise for you and your baby. It’s a new experience for him, so it may be scary at first, but don’t be surprised if rolling soon becomes one of your little one’s favorite tricks. Continue reading

Baby on the move: Different crawling styles

Is your baby ready for crawling? Around 7-10 months most babies master the hand-and-knee crawling method, but others develop alternative styles of crawling that work so well for them that they never progress to the traditional hand-and-knee crawling. Here are some types of crawling your baby can adopt.

Not all babies crawl in the traditional way -alternating hands and knees-, some babies use their belly to move, others scoot on their bottoms using their hands to propel themselves forward, and some babies use one leg down in crawling position and the other foot in a standing position on the floor to move forward. No matter what method your baby adopts, remember that the important thing is that she is showing a desire to move independently and explore her surroundings.

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Open-ended toys: Why your little one prefers a cardboard box over flashy toys

“Helping children thrive doesn’t mean providing the best toys or the most expensive gadgets. Quite the opposite; learning happens when children create their own play worlds” (Deruy, 2016).

Ever wonder why your child prefers a cardboard box over the flashy toy found inside?

Flashy and fancy toys, albeit very attractive, don’t offer the endless possibilities that the box offers. Your child likes to use all his senses during play. With the box, your little one can make use of his developing motor and cognitive skills to grab, toss, and put things inside! And if it’s big enough, your child might even explore its interior.

Cardboard boxes and other simple objects allow your child to play freely. This, in turn, helps him continue to develop cognitive, motor, and even social and emotional skills. Then, as your little one continues to grow, he will be able to engage in symbolic play, where these same simple objects not only allow for manipulation, but they can become a house, a fort, a spaceship -you name it, anything is possible!

According to Piaget, children ages 0-24 months belong to the sensorimotor stage of development, a stage characterized by the exploration of the environment. Newborns begin exploring objects with their developing vision. Then, as they grow, they continue learning about objects by grabbing them and placing them in their mouth. Continue reading

Cause and effect: Gaining a sense of control over the world

Children have always learned by watching what people do around them; they are born curious explorers. New studies show that even the youngest children’s brains are designed to learn from simply observing and playing in a remarkably sensitive manner. Your relentless researcher is intrigued by the cause and effect phenomenon, and will thus learn the most through play when he can cause things to happen or change.

Early in development, before babies are 2 years old, their curiosity flourishes and they start to understand the world around them as they begin to have new interesting experiences with toys. They learn that if they shake a rattle, they will hear a sound; or that if they throw a ball on the floor, it might bounce back up. The simplest toys can activate a baby’s senses and become a learning tool. Babies realize that they can cause things or reactions to occur, comprehending the cause and effect relationship. Through simple observation, they realize they can make predictions and figure out why things happen. They learn to initiate interactions with others to gain their attention and receive a certain stimulation; and they also learn they have the ability to discourage an interaction by looking away. Continue reading

About developmental delays and red flags during the first year

Are you worried that your baby might be a bit behind? Before jumping into any conclusions remember that each child develops at his or her own pace and the range of “normal” is actually quite wide. However, it is helpful to be aware of red flags for potential developmental delays in children.

What does “developmental delay” mean?

This term is used by doctors when a child has not reached an expected milestone in a certain time period. For example, if the normal range for learning to walk is between 9 and 18 months, and a 20-month-old child has not begun walking, this would be considered a developmental delay. There are many different types of developmental delays in infants and young children, and they can occur in one or more areas such as: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills, self-help skills, social skills, and more. It’s important to mention that if your baby is temporarily lagging behind, that is not necessarily called a developmental delay. Remember that children develop at their own pace, so it’s important to know some of the red flags you should be looking out for.

How can I know if my child has a developmental delay?

A developmental delay is most often a diagnosis made by a doctor based on strict guidelines. Usually, parents are the first ones to notice that their child is not progressing at the same rate as other children the same age. Early intervention can make a huge difference, so if you think your kid may have a delay, you should see your primary care provider, or a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or pediatric neurologist. Remember that it is never a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the normal timeline of your child’s development.

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Language milestones: Your baby’s first words

Much to parents’ delight, babies’ first words are normally “mama” and “dada”. Actually “dada” is typically said first, but only because it’s easier for babies to pronounce! Other than the fact that mom and dad are around a lot, studies have shown that those are the first words babies utter because of the repeating sounds in them. In fact, most languages have very simple words with repeating sounds for naming mom and dad, and sometimes even grandpa and grandma.

Newborns’ brain scans show increased activity when babies listened to made-up words with repeating sounds like “mubaba”. When they listened to words with non-adjacent repetition, like “bamuba”, they showed no distinctive responses. This suggests that babies recognize repetitive sounds more easily, and that’s why words like “mama” or “dada” are easy to learn and vocalize. Continue reading

The first few years: Touch and smell

This article discusses tactile and olfactory development, both sub-domains of the Physical developmental area!

While your baby seems to not do much, other than sleeping, eating, and, let’s face it, pooping; his brain is incredibly active, taking the world in through his senses and learning at a rate that will be unmatched the rest of his life.

Your baby’s senses are his main way of learning about the world around him. Of these, smell is the most advanced at birth –a baby actually begins to smell before being born! This allows your little one to detect your scent, which will quickly become his favorite. Even six days after being born, a baby will choose his mother’s breast pad over someone else’s. Also, babies will also prefer sweet to bitter smells right away, but they might also show a penchant for certain smells depending what his mom ate during pregnancy. So don’t be surprised if your baby shares your love for strawberries, bananas and, later, chocolate! What this means is that you can use your baby’s sense of smell to soothe him when nothing else seems to work. The smell of lavender or vanilla can calm him down, or your own scent because of its familiarity.

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6 ways to boost your baby’s memory and attention

Can you think back to your earliest memory? Chances are it may date back to when you were 3 or even 8 years old. Understanding your baby’s memory, however, is a different story. It develops in stages and, even though it began to develop the moment your little one was born, it works more for recognition and familiarity, giving him a sense of comfort when he experiences something he recognizes.
More specifically, during your baby’s first 2 months, he will be able to recognize familiar faces and voices, especially those he sees every day. In fact, newborns can recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and will also recognize her smell after one week! This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory.There are lots of things you can do to help your baby strengthen his memory and attention skills. Here are some tips and suggestions you can try at home:

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