A BABY’S first smile is a magic milestone that most parents will never forget.
But there are many more important milestones for social development in the first year of life, some of which can be subtle.
Here’s a guide of what to look out for and how you can best support your baby’s social and emotional growth.
Face-to-face time is crucial in the first year of life. Listening to voices, recognising faces and responding to the emotions on a person’s face are all important in a baby’s development.
Babies who miss out on these important face-to-face interactions can be at risk of delayed or disordered social and emotional development. Although it’s tempting in this day and age to check your emails, phone or other screens during baby/parent time, it’s important not to forget these simple but crucial interactions with your baby.
Singing, talking, rocking your baby and looking into your baby’s eyes are all positive interactions that will aid in your baby’s development.
Here’s a guide of social and emotional milestones to look for in babies:
• By 6 weeks, babies will generally be smiling;
• By 7 to 8 weeks, babies often discover their own voices and making cooing sounds or open vowel sounds;
• By 8 to 9 weeks, babies will generally hold still and look at you while you talk to them, as if they are listening to what you are saying, and then take turns to “talk” back at you, making noises and using their body to communicate;
• By 6 to 9 months, babies will generally recognise important, familiar people in their world and will become sensitive to strangers;
• From 9 months, babies may go through a ‘clingy’ phase. They may cry for mum or dad, making it difficult to pass them over to someone unfamiliar. While this step may prove challenging, it is important for bonding and can be a precursor for early language development;
• From 9 months, babies often become noisier. They practice “talking”, banging and casting objects. Babble begins to sound more like words, with both consonant and vowel sounds; and
• Around 12 months, a baby’s true first word will appear – definitely a treasured moment.
Dr Lana Bell is a paediatrician at Joondalup Health Campus and on the scientific committee for The Origins Project.
The Origins Project – a collaboration led by Telethon Kids Institute and the Joondalup Health Campus – is the largest study of its kind in Australia, following 10,000 families over the next decade to improve child and adult health.
To learn more or to join the project, visit The Origins Project.