The P-A-S-T-E Rule For Boosting Infant Development
The various stages of infant development are complex. They are practically inseparable, but are often split into 6 different development areas. These are…
By studying many thousands of children researchers have come up with lists of milestones that they would expect the average child to reach at certain ages and stages of development.
Infant milestones are oftentimes used to measure your baby's development progress
But unfortunately, this measurement can create a lot of unnecessary confusion and worry if you don't use it correctly. This typically happens if you find that your child isn't, for instance, trying to walk by 18 months or putting two words together by 14 months.
Just remember that these timelines & milestones are guidelines. Babies do not come programmed to follow these guidelines to the letter. This simply means that almost everyone is either faster or slower to reach them.
If everyone in your family is over 6 ft tall then your child is most likely to be taller than average and the reverse is also true - short parents tend to have short children.
And progress can be erratic.
I once saw a child who hit every milestone exactly on time. She was even exactly average in both weight and height at birth. Her older sister was, and is, a very different kettle of fish. She is always way ahead or well behind on every chart and test whether we're looking at weight, language or whatever. Both girls are now adult and doing fine.
The lists and charts do serve a purpose however, because any possible problems will come to light. These records are merely scientific tools to track progress. It's a tool for measuring infant development progress. Their biggest advantage is to spot problems well in advance… when there's still enough time to correct the problem area.
A child who doesn't turn towards a familiar sound by 8 weeks old may have hearing problems for instance. This is the kind of situation where intervention as early as possible is for the best.
There's one area where many parents underestimate the value of measuring against these stages of infant development.
You can stimulate and encourage infant development. Stated differently, it is scientifically proven that you can do something to speed up and advance your child's development progress when measured against these scientific guidelines. And what I personally like is then to use these tools to "measure" how well my efforts and input help.
We can go into a lot of detail about how to best encourage and stimulate your child's development. But, I've found a simple 4 part rule that works well without fail.
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My Simple PASTE Rule For Boosting Overall Infant Development
Playing games & playing with toys
Playing peek a boo with a child from about 5 months old teaches him that things have permanence - that is that they don't disappear altogether when he can't see them. It also teaches him other things - how much fun playing can be and such things as the beginnings of taking turns; a necessary skill in conversation.
When your child is a little older, play active games… even if it means that you need to get on all fours and crawl on the floor. It's a very effective and fun way to teach various learning and motor skills. By the way… do you see why being an older therapist has definite disadvantages? Some evenings I feel as if I've run a marathon, especially after crawling, bending, sitting and rolling on the floor all day!
A favorite game that will promote their imagination skills, especially when your baby is a little older, is to make a house out of a very large cardboard box - the kind the new washing machine came in for instance. You have to do little more than create a doorway and perhaps some window openings. It can be a house, a cage, a castle and so on. A number of perceptual skills and concepts like "over", "under", "in" and "out" are learned this way. Of course, there are a number of excellent playthings you can buy today that work equally well.
Also, another favorite stimulation technique of mine is using educational toys. Although this does not necessarily involve your direct input, learning toys are scientifically designed to stimulate and encourage various aspects of infant development that are easily taught with the right toys.
Encourage too some of the things that most professionals do not measure - being aware of the surroundings. Put a bird feeder in the garden or go on a country walk or even to a city square and teach your child about nature and his environment. Make him aware of what happens around him… not only of the obvious things like buildings and trees, but also of birds, bugs & butterflies.
Singing songs & rhymes
Singing rhymes which involve clapping teach rhythm and co-ordination for instance. All babies have some instinctive skills, but also ones that need to be developed. Babies learn by moving as well as by listening so play games with him that encourage movement. Touch your baby's finger to your nose and then to his nose for instance. Hold his hands and play clapping to songs. Support him under his arms and bounce him so his feet touch the ground. Hold his hands in yours and clap them together. If baby is smiling and co-operating he is enjoying the experience.
One of the biggest stages of infant development is learning a language. Language skills are most effectively learned from others. That simply means you have to actively talk to your child. Substitution with the television won't work. I'm talking about ACTIVE talking here. The fastest way your child will learn a new language is if you actively spend time talking to her.
Teaching a child new words in context, as when you point to various foods or the parts of her body and name them, is a vital part of learning a language. You need to talk to your baby long before you can expect to have a 'proper' conversation with him. His smile at 6 weeks old when you say 'Hello' is a conversation in that he acknowledges you and responds in a positive way. From such small beginnings future orators are made.
As your child gets older try activities such as looking at a family album in which individuals are named clearly in large letters. This is something they can look at together with other family members, but also by themselves.
Encourage, fuss & thrill
Researchers have shown that a positive, confident and emotionally strong child will often outperform another more talented, emotionally weaker one.
It has been said that your baby's emotional skill is more important determining her future performance than her intellectual abilities.
So, the last step in the PASTE rule is to deliberately stimulate, encourage and boost your baby's emotional development. Make a fuss over her every achievement... however small. Create a secure environment where she's happy, confident and emotionally secure.
What to do if progress is not what it should be?
Knowing that your child is developing is probably more important than noticing whether or not he has 15 words at a certain age.
But, if you have real doubts about any aspects of your child's progress, especially if you measure against the so-called "scientific stages of infant development", get a realistic view of how your baby is really doing by looking at theBaby Development Chart guidelines. If you find your baby is really falling behind, only then seek help as soon as possible.
The professionals at your local baby clinic see many hundreds of babies and will soon be able to tell if your worries have any real basis. And if so, they will also know what can be done to help.
Lots of things can cause hiccups along the way, a short illness, the absence of a parent for a period and so on. But in almost all cases things can be evened out and your child will both thrive and make you proud whether or not they raced past every milestone or took them rather more slowly on occasions.
I suggest you have a look at our article, 5 Stages of Development You Should Focus on for Optimal Baby Development for a more detailed description of the areas of development you should focus on.
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