Monitoring Your Baby's Emotional Development: 16 Key Milestones for the First Year of Life by Susan Hawkins
Posted Nov 01 2008 10:44pm
If you think that six-month-old staring at you from her crib doesn't have a clue as you and Daddy make mad, passionate love, think again! New research is telling us otherwise, and earlier beliefs about the emotional and intellectual abilities of even very young babies are being replaced by a much different view. Infants are not the blank slates who grasp only the most basic emotions - happy, angry, or sad. Science now shows that long before their first words or even sitting up, they're already feeling jealousy, empathy and frustration.
Babies are also more intellectually sophisticated than we once believed. Even four-month-olds have powers of deduction and can decipher intricate patterns. Their visual palette is detailed to the extent that they can notice small differences, particularly in faces, even better than adults and older children. And surprisingly, babies have long memories - maybe teenage rebellion is payback for something you did to him at seven months old, like make him wear a lame, little piggy Halloween costume that you thought was too cute for words. Keep that in mind when October 31 rolls around.
Because research has shown that there's a lot going on inside those little heads, doctors are now using a system of milestones to determine if the learning, behavior and development of a baby are on track. Though children develop differently, some pronounced differences may be cause for concern. As a parent, you should be aware of these milestones and watch for them during baby's first year. Your child should:
At 4 Months: Follow and react to bright colors, movement, and objects Turn toward sounds Watch people's faces Return your smiles
At 6 Months: Relate joyfully to you Smile often when the two of you play Coo or babble with happiness Cry when sad
At 9 Months: Smile and laugh when looking at you Exchange smiles, loving faces, and other expressions with you Exchange back-and-forth sounds with you Exchange back-and-forth gestures with you, like giving, taking, and reaching
At 12 Months: Use gestures to get needs met, like giving, showing, reaching, waving, pointing Play social games like peek-a-boo and patty cake Make sounds, like "ma," "ba," "na," "da," and "ga" Turn to the person speaking when they call his/her name Keep these milestones handy and pay attention to your child's abilities at these key times during the first year. Discuss them with your pediatrician, and let him or her know if you notice a deficiency or a lack of ability in a certain area. The good news is that, because of this research, babies with early symptoms of emotional disorders like autism may benefit by developing their powers of observation and emotional interaction.