These days, a new or expectant parent’s best friend is Google. Questions can be asked without fear or embarrassment, at all hours of the day and night! In fact, most modern parents simply can’t imagine what parenting would be like without a 24/7 search engine by their side.
The biggest questions from parents can arise throughout their baby’s early years, when everything is new, and often overwhelming. Not surprisingly, parents are keen to make sure their child’s development is healthy and normal, but can end up anxious or insecure that their child isn’t “keeping up” with others of the same age.
Whilst Google is certainly a helpful tool, and can provide some guidance for stressed and exhausted parents, it’s certainly not a reliable or factual source of information. Parents should be wary of content they find online which can be misleading, incorrect, or irrelevant to their own child.
What parents really need is an expert, and often can’t access one. An expert who can clearly outline the exciting journey, which is the development of their baby (without any ‘shoulds’. ‘musts’, or judgement)!
A crucial time during which many questions arise, is the timeframe of around 10 months to three years old. Child development expert, Dr Scott Dunlop, Paediatrician from Sydney Paediatrics has mapped out the most important developments during this time into four areas: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, and social skills.
- Gross Motor Skills
At ten months of age, the level of gross motor skills can vary dramatically between children. At this age, a child can be rolling, crawling, sitting independently, pulling to stand, or even walking! Dr Dunlop states it is normal for bubs at this age to be doing only a few, or a wider combination of these skills.
By three years old, most children will be well and truly walking, running, climbing stairs (with or without assistance), and possibly starting to jump.
- Fine Motor Development
Fine motor development involves the coordination of small muscles in the hands and fingers, and again, the rate of development is different for every child. Younger babies at around ten months, will begin to reach, grasp and mouth objects to build this skill. By 36 months, they will be showing greater ability in picking up smaller objects, dressing themselves, and using cutlery to eat.
- Language Development
One of a baby’s most exciting and anticipated new skills is, of course, speaking!
In the first year, a parent can expect babbling and some recognisable syllables (such as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’).
At the three-year-old mark, many children will have achieved a broad vocabulary of words and will manage to form sentences. Like other skills at this age, language progress can vary widely and is influenced greatly by factors such as confidence and personality.
- Social Development
Dr Dunlop suggests that by ten months of age, children are ‘usually smiling, laughing and starting to become more aware of strangers’. Over the timeframe of up to three years, there is a significant evolution towards a child who wants to engage with others, seeks out social contact and may have separation anxiety from parents or carers. At this point, depending on social context and exposure to peers, children may also begin to understand the concepts of sharing and taking turns.
It is innate and instinctive for parents to closely track and analyse their child’s skill levels and developmental milestones, but Dr Dunlop wishes to remind parents that it is crucial to remember how greatly progress can vary.
“Children develop at such different rates, that trying to compare similarly aged children is fraught with the risk of disappointment. Whilst one child is going through a burst of language development, another might be advancing their motor development.
Parents should be very cautious not to take too much advice from others, and definitely not engage in endless online researching of information, which will inevitably lead to anxiety.
Ultimately, parents should feel reassured that children develop at very different rates – take a step back, and relax!”
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Encouraging learning through active play and discovery, smarTrike’s clever design nurtures the development of motor and social skills in order to increase confidence, independence, and much-needed peace of mind for parents!