New parents get little rewards for their undivided devotion in those first few hectic weeks, so when your baby does reach her first ‘milestone’, it can be a highly emotional and jubilant time for parents.
Various strategies can be applied to encourage developing your baby’s ‘milestones’.
A baby’s first smile has to be one of the biggest rewards new parents inevitably receive. Parents often mistake a baby’s first smile with a reaction to her passing wind. On average, a baby eventually smiles at approximately eight weeks, when her facial muscles are strong enough. To help encourage your baby to smile, simply smile at her. Babies love to copy, that is how they learn, and so smiling as much as you can at your little one will encourage her to copy your smiley, happy face.
Being in control of her head
A baby’s inability to lift and control their head can be quite daunting for some parents, especially first time parents. Although every baby is different, on average it is not until a baby is 3 or 4 months old that he starts being able to support his own head.
Placing your baby on his tummy regularly can encourage him to lift his head and to develop his neck muscles.
A baby starts to practise moving their mouths, tongues and lips at approximately three to four months when she starts to make ‘babbling’ noises. Babies can be encouraged to make noises and talk by listening to your voice, so the more reading, singing and talking you do to your baby, the better.
At approximately four months old your baby will start to try and grab things that are in his field of vision and by seven months he is likely to be grasping objects firmly with both hands. Placing bright objects in front of your baby and encouraging him to lift them will help him to develop his hand-eye coordination skills.
Once your baby has good control of his head, sitting up will be his next quest to conquer. Some babies master this skill as early as five months and with others it can be as late as 12 months. Encourage your baby to sit up by surrounding him with cushions and pillows so he is sat up. Eventually he will develop the balance and coordination required to sit up by himself.
Some babies are big crawlers, whilst other hardly crawl at all. Babies usually start crawling when they have strong head control and their legs and arms are strong enough to support them, usually at around eight to nine months. You can encourage your baby to crawl by placing her on her tummy and putting an object just out of reach. Give her lots of verbal encouragement as she stretches to reach for the object.
Learning to walk is a combination of confidence, muscular development and motivation. Babies learn to walk at different ages, some as early as nine months, other as late as 18 months. A push a long baby walker can be a great way to help your baby learn how to walk, remember to give him lots of verbal encouragement, and to have a camera at the ready, as he takes those first precious few steps.