Tips for tracking your child’s development
- Don’t overreact. Each child is different and your child may reach some milestones earlier or later than his peers.
- Ask your doctor. If you are concerned, speak to your child’s healthcare provider. He/she can help you to determine if there is an issue that needs to be addressed further.
- Get a checklist. Familiarize yourself with a developmental milestones checklist. Charts are also available at cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones.
- Keep track. Take note of your child’s progress towards milestones.
- Play and interact. Play with your child in ways that are compatible with his current stage of development.
Play time is the key
At every stage in a child’s development, play time is essential. As a parent, you are your child’s first playmate. Think of play time as your babies “work.” Play time contributes to social development, emotional bonding and attachment. For infants, play is about back and forth interactions. Playful and meaningful experiences can be had during everyday activities like changing a diaper, bathing, or feeding. These experiences help your baby learn and develop a healthy attachment to you.
Tips for playing with your baby
Try the following tips from West Virginia Birth to Three when playing with you baby:
- Offer interesting objects for your baby to look at. He/she may track the object back and forth.
- Hold your baby in a position that allows him/her to kick or hit a mobile or rattle. Your baby will begin to understand the concept of cause and effect as he/she learns that noise is the result of hitting the object
- Make everyday routines playful. For example, you can add a massage for your baby after baths or before bedtime. This helps her feel bonded to you, and also helps her understand that her body belongs to her (body awareness).
- Share books together. You can read books to your baby or just let her gaze at the pictures.
As your child becomes a toddler, he/she will be able to participate in more active play time. You may notice changes, such as your child wishing to play the same “game” over and over. It is important at this stage to provide a safe and stimulating play environment and to follow your child’s lead.
When playing with your toddler, remember to:
- Go slowly. It is ok to show a child how to use a toy. But, avoid doing it for him. Strive to provide just enough help to keep frustration at bay while motivating your child to learn new skills.
- Read your child’s signals. Take note of the signals your child is giving you that he is getting frustrating. If you sense a tantrum is approaching, move to a new activity.
- Evaluate your play space. Make sure your child has a safe place to explore and participate in active activities like running, throwing balls, or painting.
Developmental Milestones. (2014, March 27). Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/
Tips on Play with Babies and Toddlers. (2014). Retrieved from www.zerotothree.org/child-development/play/play-tips.html
Playing with Babies. (2014). Retrieved from zerotothree.org/child-development/play/playing-with-babies.html
For more information: Contact Lauren Prinzo, M.P. A., WVU Extension Service, Families and Health Agent – Marion County at Lauren.Prinzo@mail.wvu.edu.