Quick Tips for Boosting the 3 Most Important First Year Baby Development Areas

First Year Baby Development

First year baby development is a sight to behold for most parents… to see a tiny newborn grow and develop into a laughing, talking, walking and interactive child in just the span of a year.  Growth and development in the first year are the greatest a child will experience throughout his or her life.

That's why the first year of human life is called "The Wonder Year"… because in such a short time, your baby develops from a completely dependent newborn into a learning, exploring, talking and (possibly) walking toddler.

This is also the biggest window of opportunity where you can really enhance the development of your child.

The "wonder year"  

So, what is the best way to give your baby the full advantage of this "Wonder Year"?

Firstly, you need to know when certain developments are likely to take place, and secondly…

Enhance your baby's skills while they are ready to be developed.

But what are the main areas where you should encourage your baby's development?

In my opinion there are 3 major focus areas that definitely need your attention, namely:

  • Fine or small motor skills

  • Gross motor skills

  • Speech development

Let's start off by looking at first year baby development in the area of small motor skills.

First year baby development - fine motor

A fun activities such as stacking wooden blocks is just one of the many great activities to develop fine motor skills.

You need to advance your child's small motor skills in the first year of life.  This means teaching them to develop hand and finger dexterity and skills.

A simple way of teaching this skill is to give your baby small objects to pick up, handle and eat. These can be objects like Cheerios, peas or other small foods.  It also means grasping toys like rattles and hanging toys. Also let them learning to manipulate other small objects like a bunch of keys with their fingers.  

Babies up to a year of age can grasp small objects after about two to three months of age, but unfortunately will usually put them in their mouths.

A handy rule of thumb for ensuring a toy is big enough NOT to pose a chocking hazard: Make sure that all toys are big enough not to fit into a toilet paper roll.  Anything smaller than the diameter of a toiler roll can pose a choking hazard for babies.  The exception is small foods like peas, Cheerios and other small food pieces.  Those can be chewed and swallowed by the time a baby is 7-8 months of age.  

First year baby development - gross motor

Encouraging gross motor skills need not be difficult. Best is to keep things simple... and great fun.

Ok, now we move on to the gross motor skills.

Numerous researches confirmed that large motor skills like sitting, crawling, standing and walking are vital for ensuring optimal overall performance in children.

  • When your baby is about two to three months old, put them in a horizontal position and encourage them to roll over.  They will gradually begin to roll from front to back and then back to front.  Encourage them with toys they want to reach for and they will begin to creep towards the toy.

  • Next encourage them to begin to crawl, sit up by themselves and finally to stand and walk along furniture.  Not every baby can walk by the time they are a year old but many can and those that can't usually are able to walk by the time they reach 14-15 months.

  • You can hold your child's fingers while he or she tries to walk on his or her own so that they can become more confident in being upright and moving around.

These are just a few very short tips to encourage physical development. For more specific tips and techniques to encourage your baby's physical development, especially regarding milestones,click here.

First year baby development - speech

When trying to enhance your baby's speech development there are many easy things you can do.

  • Read often to your child and choose books that are brightly colored and contain just one or two words to a page

  • Say the word and then have your child point to the animal or object so they get the relationship

  • As they get older, you can have them try to repeat the word

  • Children of age one can often speak a few words and understand hundreds of words.  The more you talk to them, the more words they can understand by the time they reach a year of age

  • Talk to your child about what you're doing, what he or she is doing or what is going on around you so that he is engaged with the environment and learns many words and phrases. 

Read more about very specific things you can do to encourage your baby's speech development by clicking here.


For more First Year Baby Development Articles, click here