First 5 Solano offers a few tips to help parents and caregivers foster healthy child development.

Start a Conversation

Develop your infant’s language skills by talking with him or her often. Not only is language the foundation for your child’s thinking and communication skills, it also helps to nurture bonds of love and trust between parent and child.

·         Encourage your baby to make sounds and be sure to respond.
·         Talk, sing and rhyme to your infant – it helps him or her learn new words.
·         Read daily to your baby and repeat stories to stimulate language and listening.      

 Make the Most of Teachable Moments

Whether you’re running errands or driving to school, make the most of opportunities all day to teach toddlers and preschoolers new lessons.

·         Involve your child in activities like shopping at the supermarket – learn shapes when choosing fruits and vegetables in the produce section.
·         Point to signs and traffic lights to teach words and colors while you’re driving.
·         Guide your child to say “please” and “thank you” when asking for help at the library or checking out books.

 Encourage Curiosity and Creativity

Being curious is important because it’s how children learn new ideas. By asking questions and finding answers, kids discover ways to solve problems and how the world works.

·         Ask your toddler questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer – this fosters thinking and communication skills.
·         Play with your child and encourage imagination.
·         Try new activities, like gardening or cooking, to stimulate children’s minds.

 

It’s time to change how we view a child’s growth.
From CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD: BIRTH TO AGE 5 by Steven Shelov, Robert E. Hannermann, © 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As they grow, children are always learning new things. These are just some of the things you should be looking for as your child grows. Because every child develops at his or her own pace, your child may reach these milestones slightly before or after other children the same age. Use this as a guide, and if you have any concerns, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse.

 By the end of 7 months, many children are able to:

  • turn head when name is called
  •  smile back at another person
  •  respond to sound with sounds
  •  enjoy social play (such as peek-a-boo)

 By the end of 1 year (12 months), many children are able to:

  •  use simple gestures (waving “bye-bye”)
  •  make sounds such as “ma” and “da”
  •  imitate actions in their play (clap when you clap)
  •  respond when told “no”

 By the end of 11/2 years (18 months), many children are able to:

  •  do simple pretend play (“talk” on a toy phone)
  •  point to interesting objects
  •  look at object when you point at it and tell them to “look!”*
  •  use several single words unprompted

By the end of 2 years (24 months), many children are able to:

  •  use 2- to 4-word phrases
  •  follow simple instructions
  •  become more interested in other children
  •  point to object or picture when named

 By the end of 3 years (36 months), many children are able to:

  •  show affection for playmates
  •  use 4- to 5-word sentences
  •  imitate adults and playmates (run when other children run)
  •  play make-believe with dolls, animals, and people (“feed” a teddy bear)

By the end of 4 years (48 months), many children are able to:

  •  use 5- to 6-word sentences
  •  follow 3-step commands (“Get dressed. Comb your hair, and wash your face.”)
  •  cooperate with other children

 Questions to ask your child’s doctor or nurse:

  •  What can I do to keep track of my child’s development?
  •  What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s progress?
  •  Where can I go to get more information?
  • Can you refer me to a specialist for more information?

 * Baird, G., Charman, T., Baron-Cohen, S., Cox, A., Swettenham, J., Wheelwright, S., and Drew, A. (2000), A Screening Instrument for Autism at 18 Months of Age: A 6-Year Follow-up Study. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 39:694-702.