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    As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, you play an important role in helping your child reach his or her full potential. You and your child will have challenges and accomplishments.

    Babies and young children

    Your child will likely take more time than other children to reach certain milestones. But his or her achievements are just as significant and exciting to watch. Be patient, and encourage your young child as he or she learns.

    • Walking and other motor development milestones. You can help your baby and young child strengthen muscles through directed play. As your child gets older, you can work with a physical therapist and your doctor to design an exercise program to help your child maintain and increase muscle strength and physical skills.
    • Self-feeding. Help your child learn to eat independently by sitting down together at meals. Use gradual steps to teach your child how to eat. Start with allowing your child to eat with his or her fingers and offering thick liquids to drink.
    • Dressing. Teach your child how to dress himself or herself by taking extra time to explain and practice.
    • Communicating. Simple measures, such as looking at your baby while speaking or showing and naming objects, can help your baby learn to talk.
    • Grooming and hygiene. Help your child learn the importance of being clean and looking his or her best. Establish a daily routine for bathing and getting ready. As your child gets older, this will become increasingly important. Gradually add new tasks to the routine, such as putting on deodorant.

    Encourage your child to learn, socialize, and be physically active. For example, enroll your child in classes with other children of the same age. Think of ways you can stimulate your child's thinking skills without making tasks too difficult. But know that it is okay for your child to be challenged and sometimes fail.

    Enroll your young child (infant through age 3) in an early-intervention program. These programs have staff who are trained to monitor and encourage your child's development. Talk with a doctor about programs in your area.

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