Category Archives: Key Milestones

Learning through imitation

Babies learn through imitation; it gives them the opportunity to practice and master new skills. They observe others doing things and then copy their actions in an attempt to do them themselves. For example, it’s how your baby knows, without you having to give him specific instructions, how to hold a toy phone up to his ear! He has learned from watching you talk on the phone!

Imitation can also be considered as a basis for the development of empathy, or having the ability to experience what someone else is feeling. In fact, an infant’s ability to imitate simple actions, like sticking out his tongue, originates from the same part of the brain that allows us to develop empathy. Recent studies have found that imitation is not only one behavioral skill, but it’s more like different ways of combining and using diverse types of knowledge, developing across the first 2 years of life (Jones, 2007). Continue reading

What is object permanence and what makes it a key milestone?

Have you ever heard the expression “out of sight, out of mind”? As adults, when we see an object is moved out of our sight, we know the object still exists, even though we can’t see, touch, or hear it. However, this is not the case for babies. During the first few months of their lives, when an object is removed from their sight, the object ceases to exist according to them!

Nevertheless, around 4-7 months, your baby will begin to understand the concept of object permanence (which is a fancy way of saying that he is starting to understand that when objects are out of sight, they still exist). This is due to the fact that his hearing and vision are almost completely developed!

Why is object permanence such an important milestone?

Understanding the concept of object permanence is a major developmental milestone for your baby because it will help him understand the world and know what to expect next. This means that your baby will learn not to be frightened when he gives something up, like a toy, because he can get it back. Another critical thing is that he will realize that other people exist, even when they leave! Until this point, your baby did not have the ability to keep this in his mind. He thought that when you left, you had disappeared. However, when he reaches this milestone, even though he might not be happy when you leave, he can think about you when you’re gone, and realize you will return. Over time, when you leave, it will not cause your little one as much distress.

Continue reading

Motor milestones: Why tummy time is so important

Did you know that research suggests that babies who spend time on their tummies crawl earlier than babies who don’t? Find out why tummy time is so important for your baby and get tips on how to encourage it!

Why is tummy time so important?

Tummy time will help your baby develop the neck, back, and shoulder muscles needed to accomplish most of his physical milestones, like lifting his head, crawling, and pulling himself up to stand.

While your baby is on his belly, he’ll have to work on some muscle strength because he’ll have to push up, turn his neck, and move around a bit to explore his surroundings. Tummy time helps prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome and twisted neck. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play! Continue reading

Motor milestones: Head control

Do you remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? It was probably an experience you will never forget, right? Surely you remember your doctor, nurse, or mom telling you to be careful with his head. All newborns have little control of their heads because their neck muscles are weak and they haven’t developed the motor skills needed to support their head. After a few months your baby will acquire this key ability!

One of the first and most important physical challenges your baby will face is learning to support his head and develop the neck muscles to do it. The acquisition of this skill is crucial since it will lay the foundation for other physical milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling, and walking. Moreover, your baby needs to be able to support his head before you introduce solids to his diet.

We know that each baby develops at their own pace, and head control will be, without a doubt, a skill that your baby will acquire in time. However, it is important to understand the development of this ability and be able to identify any possible delays in development. Continue reading

Motor Milestones: Learning to sit independently

Watching your baby begin to develop independence can be exhilarating. Your child enjoys this process too, since she is able to explore with a different perspective the world that surrounds her.

One way your baby begins to gain independence is learning to sit on her own, but this does not happen overnight. First, a series of steps and motor skills are required for her to master this milestone.

Being able to sit upright means your baby’s neck and back muscles are strong enough to carry their weight in an upright position and she has gained control of her head.

According to Pediatrician Melissa Goldstein M.D., a baby’s development starts from the head down. At 4 months, babies are able to sit down with support from a caretaker or furniture. By 5-6 months, most can sit by themselves in a tripod position in which they position their hands on the floor in front of themselves for reinforcement. At 7 months, they will probably sit on their own for a few seconds with no support and free hands to explore and grab objects around themselves. At this point they might even be able to sit up when they’re lying down on their tummy and push themselves up from the surface with their hands. Finally, by the age of 8 or 9 months, they are likely to sit steadily on their own for a few minutes. Continue reading

The Neuroscience Underlying Your Baby’s Laughing Response

What does laughing communication reveal about your baby’s brain? 

Have you ever played hide and seek with your baby? What is the sequence of brain understanding in which your baby becomes aware and realizes that you might actually still be there, even though you are out of sight? For the first few months of a baby’s life, if you are out of sight this basically means you don’t exist.

Eye tracking is a process that is developed around 4 months of age. It is when a child is able to follow an object with his eyes. However, a child will not be aware when you take an object away from him because he does not realize that the object is out of sight. Around 4-8 months of age, babies develop a better visual acuity and a more mature motor control. This will lead the infant to reach for objects, regardless of how hidden they are. This is indicative that the child is beginning to realize that the object that is out of sight is still there. Around 8-12 months of age, memory is developed to the point that they can remember the object. If an object is completely out of sight, they will still look for it. This is precisely why they enjoy playing Peek-a-boo and love removing cloths to discover hidden objects. Continue reading

Crawling 101- FAQ answered

Seeing your baby grow and achieve all of his milestones can be very exciting! But the moment you see your little one start crawling you know that the real fun has begun! As you experience all of this excitement, some questions may come up!

Here are our answers to FAQ about crawling:

When should my baby start crawling?

Typically babies crawl at around eight to ten months, but at around six months most babies start trying to move around. As they figure out how to do that arm-leg-arm-leg crawling movement, they sometimes go backward first and then learn how to crawl forward.

It’s important to remember that all babies are unique and will develop skills at different rates, some more quickly than others. (Note: If your baby is premature he will probably take longer than other babies to start crawling.)

The process of learning to crawl is actually pretty complex. Babies need to coordinate their arms and legs and develop muscle strength in their arms, shoulders, and legs to support their weight. But learning to crawl not only concerns gross motor skills; by crawling, babies develop different abilities and skills like balance, spatial awareness, coordination, and confidence.

Continue reading

Learning to walk: Your FAQ answered!

Your baby will achieve tons of milestones, but his first steps will definitely be one you won’t forget! Walking is a mayor achievement in your baby’s physical development and, if you are like most parents, you may have questions about the subject and how you can encourage this milestone.

When will my baby start walking?

Generally babies take their first steps between 9 and 15 months, but remember that babies develop at their own pace. So be patient if your little one is taking his time; some babies start walking later on, at around 18 months, and it’s fine!

Did you know that babies are born with an innate knowledge of the movements needed to walk? They just lack the strength in their legs to do it. If you hold your baby in an upright position you will notice he instinctually moves one foot in front of the other in a walking-like motion. This is called the stepping reflex, which disappears when babies are 4 months old.  Continue reading

Executive function: the most important set of skills we can teach our kids

Early experiences –whether positive or negative– have a profound impact on the developing brain and its basic neural circuitry, which in turn provides the foundation for more complex higher-level skills. Of these higher-level skills, executive function has been gaining a lot of attention lately -and rightly so. Executive function helps us focus on different information at the same time, make decisions, review and change plans as necessary, and control our emotions and impulses. Laying a strong foundation in order to allow the acquisition of these executive function skills is one of the most important tasks of the early childhood years, because they are so critical to adult functioning.

Executive function serves as the brain’s air traffic controller –managing all the different signals, impulses, and desires of the brain. The brain’s prefrontal cortex is critical to executive function, but it does not act alone, as it controls behavior through interactions with the rest of the brain. By the time a child’s first birthday comes along, the brain –which originally worked almost as a set of isolated neurons– starts to function as a large network of interconnected areas. This allows coordinated action and the management of different impulses. As adults, this translates into an ability to multitask, display self-control, stay focused in spite of distractions, and follow multi-step directions –all critical to achieving our goals, getting along with others, and becoming contributing members of society. Continue reading

The first few years: visual development

Visual development is a sub-domain of the Physical Developmental Area!

Your baby was born with a 20/400 vision –or the equivalent of being legally blind. But not to worry, your baby’s vision will gradually improve. His vision will actually be one of his main tools for learning by taking in all sorts of information about the world around him. Problems with eyesight can cause developmental delays, so make sure your doctor checks your baby’s progress at every visit.

While he can only see out of the periphery in the first few days after birth, your newborn’s not-that-great vision actually serves to protect him from overstimulation. At one month, he will only be able to focus on objects less than 12 inches away! This is about how far the face of the person holding him is, which is mainly what he’ll be interested in anyway. So give him tons of face time, and watch him smile every time he catches a glimpse of your eyes! It is also normal for a baby’s eyes to be crossed the first two months, but eye movements should be coordinated by month three.

Continue reading