Encouraging your baby to be a social baby is important - even after just 4 weeks of life babies are learning their first skills in communication. They are hearing conversations, watching people move about, listening to noises and music, feeling vibrations as you talk.
Babies watch adults eyes and faces for cues and can hear different tones of voice when they speak. If you babble with a baby, they will often pause for a reply even though they are not speaking actual words or having a conversation, they have picked up the idea of pauses in conversation and that we take turns to speak.
Smiling is a vital form of communication. If you smile at a baby more often than not they will smile back. If you frown at a baby they are likely to frown back or cry. So, before they even utter their first word they are learning the vital skills of communication through observing and listening to the parents or siblings behaviour.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
As babies get older, tactile and textured toys are a great form of entertainment. Once they can hold and touch things they can learn cause and effect. If they shake a rattle it makes a noise etc. They also get to learn about textures of things and beginning to understand that items feel different. Similarly we can feel different: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes frightened etc.
When they get older and can use words, they can then begin to notice and describe how items feel. A wooden spoon is hard, a cotton wool ball is soft etc. Once they have mastered this, they are more able to explain how they feel inside. They might feel scared or joyful etc and with this confidence they can go on to share that information and communicate how they feel.
It is very important to try and give children the chance to develop their emotional well-being and to have the confidence to share their feelings with others. So, get all sorts of toys and items that feel and look different. Talk about the texture: are they rough, smooth, fluffy, shiny. Then talk about how we all look different and can feel different when we are afraid, excited, happy, sad, worried etc.
How can you encourage a healthy and enthusiastic learner and good personal, social and emotional development? There is so much that can be done in the home and in the childcare setting to encourage effective PSED. Here are just a few ideas that can be incorporated into your typical day.
- Play games; take turns and play by the rules.
- Share things; share out snacks or toys or bricks and encourage little ones to do so as well.
- Go to local places of interest, history museums or galleries.
- Look at programmes from theatre or festivals visits. Or pick up leaflets from places of interest and local history museums. Look through the information/booklets together when you get home.
- Take photos when out and about and look back a the photos together. Recall the day, where you were, who was with you what happened etc.
- Listen to what your child wants to talk about, especially if they are anxious or worried about something. It may seem tiny to us, but a little problem can escalate.
- Encourage lots of questions and exploring when out and about.
Growing up is full of minor achievements but none make a parent more proud than those early defining moments when baby first rolls over, learns to crawl, walk, talk and one day, to write! The first few years of life are filled with milestones when your child achieves something that you've not seen them do before.
There are four main developmental areas, learning control of the body with fine and gross motor skills; personal and social development and language. Here are a few milestones to look out for in your baby's first year:-
0 - 3 Months
- Spontaneous smiling
- Turns towards source of sound
- Tracks an object waved in front of face
- Learns to roll over
3 - 6 Months
- Starts chewing
- Learns to squeal and gurgle
- Looks at own hands
6 - 9 Months
- Feeds themselves with their fingers
- Pulls up to a standing position
- Passes an object from hand to hand
- Starts uttering 'dada' and 'mama'
9 - 12 Months
- Drinks from a cup
- Starts 'cruising' - uses furniture as a support and moves around room
- Begins to use recognisable words
Of course, babies develop at different rates and reaching milestones late may not have any bearing on wider development. They may even skip milestones, for example starting to crawl without managing to roll over, or taking first steps unaided without cruising.
Every child registered in ToucanLearn has a private blog space. Log milestones for each of your children and in time you'll have an invaluable record of their early lives that not only will you look back on fondly, but one day your children might thank you for too!