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Babies grow at a very fast rate during the first few months of their lives. Learn about the developmental milestones they should achieve between 4-12 months, in terms of behavior and learning words and concepts.
A newborn baby is like a visitor from a foreign country. She is unable to speak and understand your language. But she is a fast learner and uses her power of observation to learn new things.
0 – 3 Months
The first few months of a newborn’s life are the toughest for parents as they struggle to communicate with the child. Research suggests that babies start recognizing their parents’ voice right from the time they are in the womb. Babies are fast learners, and within a few months, they recognize faces and start to express themselves, their happiness and displeasure, through their body language and gestures.
4 – 7 Months
Between four to seven months, your baby will learn to recognise and turn towards loud noises. He will also have started tuning into your voice. He will begin to pick up signals from the tone of your voice. He will react happily if you sound friendly, and might cry if you express anger. As you talk to him, he will be able to coo back at you.
He will learn to differentiate between familiar faces and strangers. As early as six or seven months, he might not like being held by strangers and might cling to you, or cry if you try to hand him over to a person not familiar to him. He will start to communicate his likes and dislikes. He will try to ‘tell’ you what he wants using his body language and hand gestures. For instance, he might lift his arms to tell you he wants to be picked up. He might kick out, or offer resistance if he is made to do something against his will.
What You Can Do to Help
Since your baby has started responding to you, try to connect with him. Smile, cuddle and respond to his babbling. Also, make sure he has a proper routine. Incorporate feeding, napping and playtime in his routine. Give him age-appropriate toys which he can play with while on his back. You could also read to him and point out objects as you read.
8 – 12 Months
Between 8 and 12 months, your baby will begin to convey simple requests. For instance, he might be able to ask you for more food, or shake his head for ‘no’. He might learn to wave his hand as a bye-bye gesture, clap his hands when he is happy, or even blow a kiss. He will also comprehend simple instructions like ‘come here’, ‘give it to me’ and ‘no’. He will recognize his name, and will turn towards you when you call him. His speech and language skills are evolving, and his random babbling will decrease, as he begins to form real words. From mere cooing, he will try to speak simple words like da-da, ba-ba or ma-ma.
What You Can Do to Help
Keep reading to your child. Name objects in the book or around the house as you go about your daily tasks. Play simple games with him like pee-ka-boo or hide and seek. Since he would have started to crawl, childproof your home to ensure it is safe for him to move about. Get him toys, but also allow him to play with pots and pans and wooden spoons or whatever else takes his fancy, as long as it is safe. Encourage him to explore. This is also the time to begin setting limits, although gently. Start off by saying ‘No’ to unacceptable behavior while rewarding good behavior.
Seek Expert Help if
- Your baby doesn’t babble to imitate a conversation.
- He doesn’t show excitement to see someone familiar.
- He isn’t anxious when you (or his regular caregiver) is not around.
- He is not curious about new things.
It is important to remember that these milestones are meant to serve as broad guidelines. All babies grow at different rates, and it is perfectly normal to show marginally delayed development in certain areas. A consultation with your doctor might lay to rest any doubts you have about your baby’s growth and development.