Baby’s development in the first six months

A child's developmental progress refers to the development of his skills in a number of areas including physical/motor skills, intellectual/mental skills, language skills, social skills, and visual skills.

Developmental milestones are the times that a child achieved important skills, eg, first smile, crawling, ability to sit, walking, first words, etc. Most children would achieve these skills within a certain time-span.

Physical skills

At birth, the child’s head will fall loosely if not supported. By three months he will be able to hold his head erect and steady for several seconds. By six months he may be able to lift his head when lying on his back to look at his feet.

The large, jerky movements at birth will develop into smoother, more continuous movements.

In the first three months, baby will be able to open his hands and fist and will hold a rattle briefly. He will also be able to kick vigorously. From three months onwards, he will try to grasp one or both feet and holds his arms out to be lifted.

By three months baby will be able to lift his head up to 45 degrees when lying on his tummy.

From three to six months, baby will roll over from front to back and maybe vice versa. If held in standing position he may be able to bear some of his own weight

Mental skills

In the first three months, baby will recognise parents and respond to their approaches. He will also start to make associations. By six months, baby is aware that people and objects have names, labels, etc.

In the first few months, baby protests loudly if his needs are not met. By six months, he pushes away disliked activities, eg, face washing

He will play with his hands and feet in the first three months. By six months, baby explores things by tasting.

At birth he will look at high contrast pictures; by three months he will like detailed high contrast pictures.

Between three and six months, baby objects if you try to take a toy away. He will try to reach an object just out of grasp. He will look for a dropped toy.

Babbling begins from three to six months.

Hearing and language

The newborn will be startled by sudden loud noises. He cries lustily when hungry.

After about six weeks he begins to coo, and cries when uncomfortable or annoyed.

By three months he will show excitement at the sound of approaching voices, footsteps, etc. He will begin to laugh out loud and squeal in delight.

Between three and six months, baby will turn in the direction of a parent's voice. He vocalises tunefully to himself and others in a sing-song fashion.

By six months he laughs, chuckles, and squeals aloud when playing. He will scream with annoyance. He tries to mimic sounds and will watch a speaker’s mouth closely.

Social skills

A newborn will sleep for the majority of the time.

In the first three months, baby will begin to stop crying when picked up and soothed. He will recognise familiar adults and smile in response to their approaches.

At three months, he will begin to react to familiar situations and routines.

Between three and six months, baby will regard and play with his feet as well as his hands. He will pat the bottle or breast when being fed.

After three months, baby will reach for and shake a rattle. He passes objects from hand to hand.

Between three and six months, baby loves social interactions. He greets parents.

Sometimes, by six months, baby may start to become shy of strangers.

Visual skills

A new baby will focus on mum's face when being fed.

By three months baby is visually very alert.

By three months, baby will recognise his feeding bottle or mum's breast. He will start to be very interested in his fingers and will engage in finger play. He will be able to follow a slowly moving object about six inches away.

Between three and six months, baby is visually insatiable, taking everything in and following the activities of others alertly. Baby will enjoy watching other children at play.

Also during this period, baby can focus quickly on small objects close by. He will be able to follow fallen objects but will forget them if outside his field of vision.

For more information visit www.RollerCoaster.ie, Ireland’s no 1 website for pregnancy and parenting.

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