Supporting baby's developmental milestones: 0-3 Months
As a new parent, worrying about your baby's developmental milestones is natural. Of course, you want your little one to grow strong and healthy, and reaching each critical stage is crucial. However, if you feel that your baby is not quite meeting these milestones, there is no need to panic.
You can do plenty of things to support their growth and encourage them before seeking professional support.
To support Language and Communication Development
Responding to loud noises
For babies who show a lack of response to loud noises or avoid eye contact, provide plenty of gentle stimulation and interact with them in a way that feels comfortable to them. Avoid overstimulating them and respect their boundaries.
Ensure you're giving your baby plenty of attention and positive reinforcement. You show them they're loved and supported by responding to their coos, laughs, and cries. Copy their sounds and vocalisations, mirror their gestures and movements, exaggerate them to promote visual cues, and encourage understanding.
Weak or absent crying
Observing their body language and facial expressions is essential as they communicate in other ways.
Talk to your paediatrician about any concerns you may have.
Following moving objects or people
If your baby has trouble following people and objects, playing games that require them to focus on moving things can be helpful. Peek-a-boo games are fun and particularly effective for developing this skill!
Another way to support this skill is moving a toy around slowly to help them practice their eye-tracking skills. You can also hang a mobile above their crib to give them something to focus on.
Have fun with finger games and rhymes!
Transform your finger into an animal or insect and sing popular finger rhymes like "Baby Bumblebee".
For instance, you can use black and yellow tape or pipe cleaners to turn your finger into a buzzing bee and move it in sync with the rhyme. This activity will help your baby learn new words and develop visual tracking skills while following the bee's movements.
Supporting Personal, Social and Emotional Development
To help your baby to smile, try singing or talking in a playful tone to support them in associating positive emotions with human interaction.
It is crucial to provide your baby with cuddles and physical touch to strengthen your bond with them. In addition, spending quality time with your baby is vital in supporting their growth.
Soothing techniques for extremely fussy babies
If your baby is experiencing extreme fussiness, you may want to try different soothing techniques like gentle rocking or white noise.
Swaddling: Wrap your baby tightly in a large blanket. This helps calm them down and provides the feeling of a confined space.
Rocking: Gently rock your baby back and forth in your arms or a rocking chair. This motion can help soothe them and put them to sleep.
Skin-to-skin contact: Hold your baby close, allowing them to feel your warmth and heartbeats. This can help them feel more secure.
White noise: Play soft sounds like calming music, rainforest sounds, or white noise. This soothes their senses as well.
Pacifiers: Some babies find comfort in sucking. So, pacifiers can be a great way to provide that comfort.
Massage: Massaging your fussy baby can be very helpful. Use gentle strokes, especially on the tummy area, as it can help relieve gas symptoms.
Lullabies: Singing a lullaby to your baby can be very therapeutic, as it helps soothe them down with your calming voice.
Warm baths: A nice bath can be relaxing, especially before bedtime.
Dim the lights: Bright lights can overstimulate a baby's senses. Dimming the lights can create a calmer environment.
Safe movement: gently bouncing, swinging, or walking with your baby can be very soothing for some babies.
To support their Physical Development.
Baby who can't latch while feeding
For babies who can't latch while nursing or bottle feeding, provide them with a small teething toy or chewy tube to suck on. This will help them build strength in their mouth and improve their ability to latch. You can also try using a different type of bottle or get a nipple guard to see if that helps with their feeding challenges.
Wake up their mouth!
Here's a simple activity to stimulate your baby's mouth and introduce them to new sensations. It's a great way to show them how their mouth is an essential tool for exploration!
You only need some cold water and two cotton wool balls. Dip one cotton ball in the cold water to gently massage your baby's lips and gums. Wait a few seconds to let them process the new sensation, and then repeat the process with the cotton ball soaked in warm water.
Low muscle tone
For babies with low muscle tone, provide plenty of physical movement and stimulation opportunities. You can also try massage to help improve their muscle tone and motor skills.
Holding their heads up
To support holding their heads up while on their tummy, provide them with plenty of tummy time while supervised. You can also place a rolled-up towel under their chest to give them extra support and make lifting their head easier.
By putting your baby on their stomach, they can build up the strength in their neck and upper body, eventually leading to crawling and walking.
Plus, being on their belly is a whole new way for your baby to explore the world around them!
Tummy time tolerance
Support their tummy time tolerance by providing sensory stimulation; for example, place your baby in front of a mirror, high-contrast colour cards (black, white and red) or different sensory materials.
Remember, every child is different, and there's no one "right" way to hit each developmental milestone. But you can help your baby grow strong and happy with creativity, patience, and love.
Trust your instincts; if you are still concerned, discussing any worries with your GP and exploring additional treatment options if necessary is always a good idea.
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