If you have babies, you have questions. In fact, the path of motherhood has far more questions than it has answers. I cannot begin to imagine how parenting looked like before Google and Facebook Mommy Groups. As for me, I am often questioning my approach and hoping that I will find a perfect roadmap to parenting somewhere. The good news is that there is no such thing as a roadmap. Sooner or later we will all get to similar stages and our babies will acquire basic skills at a providential pace. Unless there is an underlying learning difference or disability our babies will eventually, walk, sit, speak and engage in an age-appropriate fashion. Now relax and allow me to share with you six milestones that your baby will most likely reach before he turns six months old.
1. Large & Medium Muscle Strength
Every single day your baby will grow stronger. In the beginning progress is likely to include arm motions squeezing your finger or reaching out to you. By the time your baby is three months old you will notice that their ability to hold their head up will improve and neck strength movements and routines will begin to happen naturally. Your baby will also be able to roll on their own and he or she may attempt to sit. Work on repetition and movement routines that encourage muscle engagement. Teach your baby to pick up things, give them the opportunity to sit with support and play games that encourage rolling.
2. Recognition of People & Emotions
This is one of the most delightful milestones! Your baby will follow you with his eyes, he will smile and will noticeably listen to your voice. Baby will babble when engaging with familiar environments and people. You will notice favorite people as well as favorite objects. Encourage recognition by using word repetition and using baby signs to help your little one make connections between visual input and concepts. One of the drawbacks of this milestone is fear. Your baby is likely to express discomfort with strangers. Take the time to expose baby to a variety of people and situations to increase their comfort with the world that surrounds them.
3. Listening Skills
This is the season where our brain develops the capacity to mimic certain sounds. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to expose your baby to foreign languages and music. Take time to explore the sounds of nature and animals and give your infant the opportunity to attempt imitation. Chances are he or she will simply babble but the real milestone is found in engagement and not necessarily in full use of the spoken word.
4. Improved Sleep Patterns
By the time your baby reaches six months he or she will have longer periods of sleep allowing you to rest. Their body language becomes easier to decipher allowing you as a parent to better manage their times of rest as well as your opportunities to take care of other things around the house. We began to teach our little ones how to use the sign for tired when they turned five months old. By the time our girls were 8 months old they would sign to us allowing us to better manage nap time as well as other behavioral issues related to lack of sleep.
5. Exploring Solid Food & Developing Food Preferences
Right about six months many parents begin baby-led food exploration. There is plenty that you can learn about your baby by giving them options and allowing them to select what and how much they will eat. During this milestone take careful notes and introduce only one new food at the time. This is also a good time to teach your baby the signs for “more” as well as “all done”. We have found that during this learning period there is minimal value in teaching words associated to specific foods. Wait until you identify their preferences and you can then introduce them to the signs specific to the foods they like best.
6. Engagement With The World That Surrounds Them
One of the most memorable milestones you are likely to observe is your baby’s newly found ability to engage with others through expression. You will see smiles, laughs, frowns and possibly hand waves. Take time to encourage appropriate responses by modeling behaviors in appropriate settings. This is a great time to teach songs that incorporate signs and mimicry as well as well emphasized facial expressions. This is also a fantastic time to keep your phone on video setting. You will have many amazing firsts you don’t want to miss.
If your baby is six months or less, or you are currently expecting now is the time to get a hold of your Ultra Baby Sign Language Kit or begin printing and watching our free resources. You will find that pre-verbal communication allows you to better connect with your baby and it can be easily incorporated in any part of their learning and development.