Expert Q&A: Baby Development
An interview with Jeremy F. Shapiro, MD.
What are some of the first personality developments in babies?
The first year of a child’s life is truly a magical time, something I try to remind parents of every chance I get. And although you may be losing sleep those first two months, I tell parents that just around the corner is that first social smile, when the baby smiles in response to your smile. About that same time, your baby will begin to coo and watch your movements very closely.
At four months of age, the cooing turns into more vocalization, almost harmonizing, and the smiles expand to laughter. It takes a lot to make babies upset at this stage -- if they’re crying, there’s usually a very good reason.
It’s such a fun time. I tell parents to really enjoy it to its fullest and to make the most of it. Having three children of my own, I know so well how fun this time can be.
What exciting baby milestones can parents look for during the second half of the year?
At about six months of age, infants may start rolling around, trying to sitting up, as they want to see the world more clearly. When you’re sitting upright you can see so much more, so they wonder, “Why should I be lying on my back?”
At about nine months, separation or stranger anxiety may set in, and babies will look to their parents for reassurance. Usually about this time, they’ll also be uttering their first consonants, usually “da-da-da.” But don’t worry, moms, that’s only because it’s easier to say than “ma-ma-ma.” Your baby knows who you are!
Also at around nine months, babies start picking things up with a modified pincer grasp. Now’s the time to be sure things are baby-proofed because what they pick up usually goes in their mouth.
What baby developments can parents look forward to around their child’s first birthday?
At about a year, maybe some babies will be walking and maybe others will be feeding themselves. The first sense of independence starts to come -- and before too long, you realize they’re ready to move on and head off to college!
They’re all special years, but a baby’s first year is truly magical because of all the developmental milestones he’ll reach. It really is such an incredible time.
What can parents do to help stimulate their baby’s development?
I recommend talking and singing to your baby as much as possible from day one, as it helps stimulate the brain and neurological development. Encourage the laughter when your baby starts laughing and always, always, interact with your child. When your baby is awake, it’s time to bond and play. It’s rewarding for you and helps his development as well.