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Expert Q&A: Baby Development

An interview with Jeremy F. Shapiro, MD.
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What exciting baby milestones can parents look for during the second half of the year? continued...

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.

That first year is the time when you want to get down on the carpet and lay next to your baby and create that eye contact that only parents can. Let them really see you and get close to you, because there’s nothing better to give reassurance to the baby and to help stimulate overall development.

Also, as they get a bit older, speak directly and simply to babies. Talk as if you’re actually hoping to convey something in your words. Even if your baby doesn’t know the words, she’ll understand the tone and melody in your speech, which will help her translate what is being said as she gets older.

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