Infant Development Q+A
What infant milestones really matter?
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Most new parents closely monitor their infants to ensure that they hit those ever-important milestones. But what milestones really matter?
Milestones are benchmarks for development that help new parents anticipate what to expect; they are not set in stone. They tend to happen in a particular order but sometimes not. As parents, you know your child best, and if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s development, the best thing to do is call your pediatrician.
At Kiddie Academy, we have a proprietary infant curriculum for babies from 6 weeks to 12 months that focuses on developing their social, emotional, cognitive, fine and gross motor, and communicative skills. For example, when a familiar teacher walks into the infant room, a baby will react by smiling or kicking his legs in excitement. There are many seemingly small things like this that happen throughout your baby’s day that are really signs of developmental progress. You may be surprised to find that when your baby drops her bottle from the high chair again and again she is actually learning about cause and effect relationships; part of her cognitive development.
Is missing these milestones anything parents should worry about? What could missing these milestones imply?
The best reassurance for parents who have any worry about their child’s development is their pediatrician.
As part of our infant curriculum, teachers use observation and a developmental checklist to track your baby’s development over time. For example, is he wrapping his fingers around an object placed in his hand? Is she sitting up with assistance or on her own? We also provide parents with a Developmental Checklist for Families to record their own observations at home. Ensuring our parents and teachers maintain constant and open communication is in the best interests of the baby.
And in contrast, which milestones can parents let slide?
No two children are the same; if another child is meeting textbook developmental milestones it does not necessarily dictate that your baby is behind. Your child may pull himself up one day, but not do it again for days. Learning is a process; not every skill develops at the same time. In a Kiddie Academy infant classroom, we often see two infants of the same age who are practicing different developmental skills. They are both on track, but they are learning different skills.
Kiddie Academy’s New Beginnings infant curriculum is designed to develop and reinforce each infant’s individual needs focusing in six areas of development: Cognitive, Communication, Emotional, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, and Social Skills.
- Cognitive Skills Infants are building memories, learning to develop words, and recognizing familiar sounds, such as mom’s and dad’s voices. Infants are exploring with their hands and mouths.
- Communication Skills The development of communication skills is the way in which infants express their wants and needs to others.
- Emotional Skills Emotional development can be thought of as infants’ feelings of safety and security in their environment and their feelings of security with the important adults in their lives, such as parents, grandparents, and teachers.
- Fine Motor Skills Fine motor development is the development of the small muscle groups, such as the muscles in our fingers and hands.
- Gross Motor Skills Gross motor development is the growth and development of the large muscle groups of the body, specifically the muscles of the legs, arms and trunk. Gross motor skills for infants include holding up their heads, rolling over, crawling, and pulling themselves up.
- Social Skills An infant’s social skills consist of smiling, making eye contact, imitating other people’s facial expressions, and wanting to be close to other people.