Early childhood is the most crucial stage of a child’s life, especially the initial years, where the growth and development is happening at a fast pace and at the same time the child is learning to survive in its environment. That’s why it becomes important for a parent, teacher or caretaker to know the developmentally appropriate practice activities for infants.
Jean Piaget believed the child to be a young scientist and so must be left on their own and understand, whereas Lev Vygotsky emphasized on the concept of scaffolding, a temporary support that adults need to give children in order for them to attain their development to the fullest.
Each and every child is very unique and developed at their own pace. Arnaud Gesell was the first person to study children and explain the developmental milestones, and provided scales with which a child’s development can be ascertained.
The four major developmental areas are: Physical, Cognitive, Language and Socio-Emotional.
In this article, we will have a look at the first two, namely the Physical and Cognitive developmental milestones and developmentally appropriate practices for babies aged anywhere from a newborn to a 1 year old.
In this article:
- Understand the developmental milestones of physical development of a child aged 0 to 1 year.
- Gain knowledge of the developmentally appropriate practices involved for a child aged 0 to 1 year.
- Apply the knowledge gained (as a parent, a caretaker or a teacher) to real-life situations.
What is Physical Development?
Physical development has to be understood from two aspects: Growth and Development.
Growth refers to the quantitative or physical changes that is visible to all, like increase in height weight and size. Development is qualitative and is how a child gains control over their body movements, trying to achieve complicated tasks very easily.
Growth and development are like the two sides of a coin. A child skilled in handling his or her movements and body parts depends on their size and muscular strength.
Physical development is again studied from two perspectives: Gross Motor skills and Fine Motor skills.
Gross Motor skills refers to the skills the child uses to manage the movement of large muscles which is always involving the entire body.
Fine Motor skills refers to the use of small muscles, especially the fingers, which are required to perform small precise movements.
The Importance of Physical Development in Babies
Being physically active is a very important aspect of physical development. Therefore it is very important to engage a child in physically engaging activities to promote optimal physical development. Achieving the developmental milestones while remaining physically active will:
- Build foundation for long-term health and well-being
- Actively engaged child so that the learning is at its best
- Facilitate exploration of the surroundings around them and can practice your skills by being active physically
- Promote self-confidence in a child if he or she is able to achieve your milestones and also
- Interrelated in achieving other developmental areas as well
As an early childhood educator, it is important to know the developmental milestones which will help in planning developmentally appropriate practices.
Let us look at that milestones, stage by stage, as well as a developmentally appropriate practice that would be necessary at each stage.
Also Read | 5 Developmental Activities for 1 Month Olds
The Physical Developmental Milestones in 0 to 1 year Babies
For better understanding and in-depth information, the physical development milestones from 0 to 1 year have been subdivided into 4 phases (quarters) with the objective to cover it extensively.
Baby Developmental Milestones from 0 to 3 Months
- Reflexes like rooting sucking and grasping are used to understand surroundings
- When laid on stomach, can slightly raise the head
- With support the baby is able to hold head up for a few seconds
- Forms a fist when an object is placed in their hands
- Try to hold, tug and pull their own hands
- Continuous repetition of body movements
Developmentally Appropriate Practice Activities for 0 to 3 Months Babies
- Touching or stroking the baby will stimulate the baby to move the parts that is being touched
- Holding the baby kissing and cuddling
- Exercising arms and legs tenderly
- Giving tender body massage
- Placing objects or toys within the reach of the baby to promote curiosity and hence repeat movements in order to reach out for the object
- Nourishing the baby to stimulate reflexes
- Making noises like shaking toys singing cooing to keep the baby alert, so that the baby will make an effort to turn head to look for the source of sound
- Eye exercises by placing colorful objects
- Placing the baby on its tummy for some time, try to talk, make sounds and hold toys to help baby make an effort to lift up the head, which in turn will strengthen the back and neck muscles
Baby Developmental Milestones from 3 to 6 months
- Able to roll over
- Able to pull themselves forward and go in circles
- Will reach out to grasp an object
- Explore the object by holding it to their mouths
- Will be Able to hold, shake and play with object with a firm grip
Developmentally Appropriate Practice Activities for 3 to 6 Months Babies
- Place toys within the reach of the baby and encourage the baby to try to roll over and reach for the toy
- Rock the baby back-and-forth by seating the child in a sitting position on the lap ensure the baby’s foot touches the ground this helps strengthen the muscles
- Provide child safe toys as babies will have a tendency to experience objects orally
- Introduce toys which can enable the baby to feel different textures
Also Read | 8 Developmental Activities for 2 Month Olds
Baby Developmental Milestones from 6 to 9 Months
At this age babies are becoming more mobile and would:
- Crawl, try to sit up
- Grasp objects and pull it towards their body
- Grasp on to supports in an attempt at trying to stand
- Transfer objects from one hand to another
Developmentally Appropriate Practice Activities for 6 to 9 Months Babies
- Provide books, especially cloth books, as the baby will be able to flip the pages over help and fine motor development.
- Place objects within the child’s reach to encourage the baby to crawl
- Encourage rolling activities using colourful balls or soft round small Pillows
- Adults can use their own bodies as a ‘platform’ encouraging to child to climb over roll and play
- Introducing toys of varying sizes, shapes, playing with utensils to make noises
- Encourage throwing objects around
- Encourage the child to hold on to an adult or a sturdy support and stand up
Note: Children’s motor capabilities are advancing at faster rate, and is more advanced during the 6 to 9 months’ stage (one of the reasons being that developmentally appropriate practice activities for infants were introduced right from the newborn stage).
The gross motor skills are advancing as well as their fine motor skills. With mobility, they experience the freedom to explore more.
Baby Developmental Milestones from 9 to 12 Months
- Able to sit and stand up without any assistance
- Walk with support (each child is unique some can walk with support and some without support)
- Crawl up the stairs
- Able to bend big objects and throw
Developmentally Appropriate Practice Activities for 9 to 12 Months Babies
- Keep hazardous objects away from the reach of the child as the child will have a tendency to pull and throw objects that are at his or her reach
- Place objects that are child safe
- Playing hide and seek
- Simple catch and run
- Sing action-based rides
- Introducing building blocks and tricycle, etc.
- Introduce writing materials that is child safe to help fine motor coordination
The physical development from 0 to 1 year happens at a rapid phase and hence it’s very important for a parent, teacher, caretaker or anyone in the field of early childhood to know and understand the developmentally appropriate practice activities for infants in detail.
Having said, just knowing the milestones, developmental areas and activities is only the beginning. It is very important that they help and support their child achieve the developmental milestones. Most important of all, the adults must never expect a child to perform beyond their developmental limit.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.