Understanding Physical Development
From the moment he’s born, your baby starts to develop and is longing to learn. Your newborn uses all his senses – he can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. At age 2 weeks, your baby follows movements, recognises faces, and begins to smile. He recognises the voices of you and your partner and reacts to loud noises.
Development’s rapid and continuous, but your baby will pick up some skills more quickly than others. The development of his body depends on the maturity of his muscles and nervous system: He won’t be able to walk or talk until these are functional. Your baby develops from head to toe, so he won’t be able to sit until he can control his head and he won’t be able to stand until he can sit down.
To gain complete control of his body, your child needs to master the following three types of skill:
· Gross motor skills: These control the larger muscles needed for balance and movement – for example, to walk. Your child develops body control from the top down, starting with his head and shoulders and moving down to the arms and then the legs.
· Fine motor skills: These control the smaller muscles, such as those in the hands and fingers. Your child learns how to use his arms, then his hands, and then his fingers. At age 3 months, your child plays with his hands and fingers. At 6 months, he grasps using his whole hand; by 9 months, he has an inferior pincer grasp (holding things with his first finger and thumb); and at 1 year, he has a primitive tripod grasp (using the thumb and first two fingers). By 15 months, your child uses his whole hand to pick things up. By age 2 years, your child is more dextrous and can hold a pencil and draw.
· Sensory skills: These control your child’s ability to perceive the world through his senses – taste, touch, vision, smell, and hearing. Your child engages all five senses to learn as much as possible about his new environment. Encourage your child’s physical development by playing indoor games to help his fine motor skills. Outdoor play is also very important because it allows him to burn off excess energy.