What this parenting expert really wants you to know about your baby’s developmen…

What this parenting expert really wants you to know about your baby’s developmen…

The learning begins the moment your child is born.

Seeing everyone’s highlights of parenting on social media can put a lot of pressure on new parents to try and hit milestones according to a schedule, become experts on everything parenting and be happy and in control all the time.

But parenting expert and father of seven Dr Justin Coulson says it’s important to understand that every child learns in their own way and at their own pace*.

In fact, this time should be more about embracing and learning from mistakes, being present, having fun – and seeing the beauty in imperfect play.

Play is how children learn and the learning begins the moment your child is born. Here are some ways to support their journey.

Provide an enriching environment to support sensory development

For a baby, every sight, sound, feeling, taste and smell is new. Try giving them things to play with that have different textures and shapes so when they hit out at them with their hands and feet they will hear different sounds and feel different sensations.

An interactive play gym, for example, is a toy that can grow with your child. For babies who are not yet rolling over, hanging toys are interesting to look at and encourage little ones to reach out. Features that make sounds when knocked or kicked will have them testing out their limbs trying to recreate that interesting feeling or sound they made just before.

As baby learns new skills and starts spending time on their tummy or sitting up, these play gyms have plenty of features to keep them interested and learning.

Encourage movement through active play

Keep them moving as much as possible. (iStock)

By providing your baby with opportunities to reach out, grasp, kick, hold and squeeze things, you will be encouraging gross motor skills, which build the muscles needed to perform everyday functions such as sitting, crawling and walking.

Dr Coulson wants to reassure parents that there isn’t any pressure to control how your babies play with toys and that they are still learning, no matter how they’re interacting with the world around them.

What you want is for them to be moving their little bodies as much as possible.

Your involvement is key

Dr Coulson says parent involvement is the most important thing for a child’s healthy development at this age.

There is no need to feel like you’re in a race to hit your milestones sooner or better than anyone else. Run your own race, be involved, play with your child, encourage exploration and creativity and marvel as they acquire new skills – no matter when it happens.

* You should always trust your gut instinct and contact your paediatrician if you are worried about any of your child’s milestones

Introducing Smilestones. Fisher-Price is here to help you celebrate the little victories, let go of expectations and pick up more positivity. In more than 90 years of helping families, Fisher-Price has learned that every child learns in their own way – at their own pace. Click here to learn more about how you can find the joy in every stage (big and small) for your kid.

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