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Growing Together: Enjoying Your Baby's Developmental Stages - Part Two

This article covers the following topics: How Babies Grow, getting-bigger charts, getting-smarter charts, progression is more important than timing, why infants grow differently, baby's body type, growth spurts, health and nutrition, The five Features of Infant Development, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, social and play skills, cognitive skills. There will be two more parts to this article, be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Let's look again at that developmental elevator. A baby reaches each developmental floor equipped with certain competencies. How these competencies flower into skills depends upon interaction with the care giving environment baby finds on that floor. If the interaction is responsive and enriching, baby gets back on the elevator with more skills, and the ride up to the next floor is much smoother. Because baby reaches the next floor with more skills, the interaction on the next level of development is even more rewarding.


How Babies Grow

Here are some basic principles that will help you understand the enjoy the individual variations of your baby.

Getting-Bigger Charts

At each well-baby checkup your doctor will plot your baby's height, weight, and had circumference on a growth chart. In the most commonly used charts, each line represents a percentile, which means that's where your baby is, compared with hundred other babies. For example, the fiftieth percentile, or average, means that one half of babies plot above the line, the other half below. If your baby plots in the seventy-fifth percentile, he is larger than average. Twenty-five babies plot above your baby, and seventy-five below. Note that these charts are not infallible. They represent averages of thousands of babies. Average growth is not necessarily normal growth. Your baby has his or her individual normal growth. These charts are simply handy references to alert the doctor to any unhealthy trends.

Getting-Smarter Charts

Your baby gets bigger not only in size but also in competence. Developmental charts show the average age at which infants perform the most easily identifiable skills, such as sitting or walking, called developmental milestones. The developmental chart used most by pediatricians, the Denver Developmental Screening Test (DDST), shows that 50 percent of children walk at one year of age, but the normal range for beginning to walk is ten to fifteen months of age. Expect your baby to show uneven development in many of the developmental milestones. He may plot "ahead" in one milestone and "behind" in another.

Progression Is More Important Than Timing

When a child does what is not as important as moving through a progressive sequence of developmental milestones. Your baby will progress from sitting to pulling up to standing to walking. He may accomplish these motor milestones at different ages than the baby next door. B they both will follow a similar progression. Compare your baby only with himself as he was a month ago.

Infants spend different amounts of time at each stage before moving on to the next higher stage. Some infants seem to make a quick stop at one level ant then quickly progress to the next. Some may skip a level entirely. Avoid the neighborhood race to see whose baby walks first. Milestone races are neither an indication of baby's smartness nor a badge of good parenting.

Why Infants Grow Differently

Not only do babies look and act differently from one another, they grow differently. That's what makes them unique. It helps parents to understand the wide variation in normal growth patterns and the way that many of life's little setbacks may affect growth and development.

Not only do babies look and act differently from one another, they grow differently. That's what makes them unique. It helps parents to understand the wide variation in normal growth patterns and the way that many of life's little setbacks may affect growth and development.

Baby's body type.
Your baby is endowed with tall and slim genes, short and wide genes, or in-between genes. Ectomorphs (tall and slim "bananas") often put more calories into their height than weight, so that they normally plot above average in height and below in weight, or they may start out hovering around the average line and eventually begin a stretching-out phase, soaring up the chart in height but leveling off in weight. Mesomorphs ("apples") show a stocky squared-off appearance. They usually center around the same percentile in both height and weight. Endomorphs ("pears") plot in the reverse of ectomorphs, often charting in a higher percentile for weight than height. All of these variations are normal and indicate the importance of looking at your baby (and his family tree) while looking at the chart, and putting the two together.

Growth spurts.
While the chart implies a smooth, steady progression, many babies don't grow that way. Some babies grow in bursts and pauses, and when you plot them on the growth chart, you notice periodic growth spurts followed y periods of leveling off. Other babies show a consistent, steady increase in height and weight over the first year.

Health and nutrition.
Sick babies temporarily divert their energy into healing rather than growing. During prolonged colds your baby's growth may level off. With diarrheal illnesses your baby may even lose weight. Expect catch-up spurts after the illness is over. Breastfed and bottle-fed babies may show different growth patterns, and the growth charts currently in use do not differentiate. Some breastfed babies, especially high-need babies and frequent feeders, may plot high on the weight chart and be unfairly dubbed "overweight." Nearly all of these "overweight" breastfed babies begin a natural slimming process around six months to a year, when breast milk fat naturally lowers. Both breastfed and bottle-fed infants who plot on the overweight side of the first six months normally begin a slimming process that we call "leaning out" between six months and a year as their increasing motor milestones help them burn off the chubby rolls.

The Five Features Of Infant Development

As we travel through infant development from birth to two years, we will group baby's developmental skills into five general areas: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, social and play skills, and cognitive skills.

Gross motor skills.
How your infant uses the larger muscles of his body -- trunk, limb, and neck muscles -- is determined by his gross motor skills. They include such milestones as head control, sitting, crawling, and walking. The progression of gross motor skills from birth to tow years means getting more and more of his body off the ground, moving from head to toe.

Fine motor skills.
Finger and hand skills that baby uses to manipulate toys rely on fine motor skills. Like gross motor skills, fine motor skills develop in an orderly progression, from imprecise punch like reaching to pinpoint pickup with the thumb and index finger.

Language skills.
Here is where your skills as a baby communicator really shine. Parent input can affect language development more than any other of your baby's skills. You may think that babies don't talk much until one and a half to two years. Baby "talk" begins at birth. The cry of a newborn that causes nurses to come running, that causes mother to drip milk and embrace her baby, and causes a parent to bump into furniture during a nighttime sprint toward the 3:00 a.m. summons -- that's language! To a tiny baby, language is any sound or gesture that makes a caregiver respond. During the first year, called the prelinguistic state of language development, baby learns to communicate before she is able to say words. Early in the newborn period a baby learns that her language, the cry, is a tool for social interchange that she can use to get attention and satisfy needs. By sensitively responding to your baby's early cries, you help her refine these somewhat demanding signals into more polite body language requests that are easier on the nerves.

Mothers are naturals at talking with their babies. Language researchers who have studied moths all over the world notice a sort of universal mother language, called motherese. Mothers are intuitively able to speak down to the baby's level, yet they're able to shift to a higher level of communication when their infants are ready.

Social and play skills.
The ways a baby interacts with caregivers and plays with toys make up her social skills. Like language development, interaction with caregivers can profoundly affect social development. In the fun-things-to-do-with-your-baby suggestions for each stage of development, we give time tested play tips to help you and your baby have more fun.

Cognitive skills.
We have frequently watched our babies' facial expressions and said, "I wonder what he's thinking." While you will never be certain what goes on in your baby's developing mind, it is fun to deduce what your infant is thinking by his expressions and the way he is acting. Cognitive skills include the ability to think, to reason, to make adjustments to different play situations, and to solve problems such as how to crawl over obstacles. We will point out what signs to watch for to give you a clue to what your baby is thinking.

Make Your Own Chart

A valuable exercise during the first two years is to make your own growth and development chart like the one shown in this chapter. Using a large poster board, list the area A valuable exercise during the first two years is to make your own growth and development chart like the one shown in this chapter. Using a large poster board, list the areas of development down the left-hand side and monthly stages of development across the top. Divide the sheet into blocks and plot your baby's skills. Concerning cognitive development, fill in what you think is going on in baby's mind. For simplicity, you may wish to combine social and language milestones, as we have done on our chart and throughout. Charting your baby's development not only improves your skills as a baby watcher, it adds your overall enjoyment of growing together.


There will be more articles on infantsFree Reprint Articles, breast or bottle feeding and other related topics to follow. So please keep an eye out for more of my articles.

Article Tags: Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Growing Together, Baby's Developmental, Plot Above, Normal Growth, Developmental Milestones, Grow Differently, Growth Patterns, Gross Motor, Motor Skills, Fine Motor, Language Development

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Here at ring sling baby carriers we know your baby is precious and worth keeping close. Our ring sling baby carriers help you make the most of life while making the most of your baby's. Please visit our website ring sling baby carriers to see our broad selection of Hotslings adjustable pouch, Rockin Baby pouch, Rockin Baby ring sling, Seven Every Day Slings and Lil Cub Hub convertible sling baby carriers and find the right print and style for you and your baby.



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