Bay Post-Moruya Examiner

When do babies start learning?

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Picture Shutterstock

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From the moment they are born, babies are not just passively observing the world-they are actively learning from every interaction and experience. As parents, understanding when and how babies start learning can be crucial in supporting their developmental milestones.

The early stages of a baby's life are referred to as the "Golden Period." During this special time, a baby's brain is incredibly receptive and malleable-more than one million new neural connections are formed every second - a pace unparalleled at any other time.

Developmental milestones during the Golden Period

0-3 months

  • Begins to smile at people and follow objects with their eyes.
  • Coos and makes gurgling sounds.
  • Can hold head up and begins to push up when lying on tummy.

4-6 months

  • Recognises familiar faces and begins to babble, imitating some sounds.
  • Reaches for and grasps toys, experiences rolling over.
  • Shows curiosity and desires to explore with hands and mouth.

7-12 months

  • Learns to respond to own name, and begins to sit without support.
  • Starts to crawl and may begin standing with support.
  • Understands simple words and commands and begins using simple gestures like waving goodbye.

13-24 months

  • Begins to walk, can speak a few words, and rapidly expands their vocabulary.
  • Starts to run, climbs stairs with assistance, and shows signs of potty training readiness.
  • Engages in simple pretend play and points to objects or pictures when they are named.

2-3 years

  • Forms simple sentences, follows instructions, and begins sorting objects by shape and colour.
  • More advanced motor skills like jumping, running, and beginning to pedal tricycles.
  • Shows more complex emotional understanding, such as sympathy and concern for others.

3-4 years

  • Can speak in multi-word sentences, understands and tells stories.
  • More precise fine motor skills, can use tools like scissors.
  • Plays cooperatively with other children, shares toys, and takes turns.

Maximising learning during the Golden Period

Babies learn a lot by simply interacting with their parents and playing. Simple daily activities like talking, singing, and playing not only help babies understand emotions and relationships but also boost their thinking skills. At the same time, when they play with toys that have different colours, shapes, and textures, it helps them make sense of the world around them. These everyday interactions and playful experiences are key to helping them learn and grow during these early years.

To further enhance this learning, engaging in activities that challenge their problem-solving abilities, like stacking blocks or matching simple puzzles, can significantly develop their cognitive skills and encourage creativity.

Five engaging activities to play with your baby

Peek-a-Boo: This simple game teaches object permanence and helps your baby develop trust and understanding of the world around them.

Singing and clapping games: Songs with clapping, like "Pat-a-cake," improve coordination and rhythm, while the repetition of words and melodies boosts language skills.

Textured toy exploration: Provide toys with different textures to explore during tummy time to enhance tactile senses and motor skills.

Colourful books: Reading books with large, colourful pictures stimulates visual recognition and can help develop an early love for reading.

Bubble play: Blowing bubbles during playtime encourages babies to track the bubbles visually, which helps improve their eye coordination and motor skills as they try to reach out and pop them.

Picture Shutterstock
Picture Shutterstock

Being your child's first teacher

Every parent is inherently their child's first and best teacher. The way you play and connect with your baby directly impacts their brain development. By being actively involved in your baby's playtime, you are not only fostering a stronger bond but also enhancing their learning capabilities.

For more structured activities, consider exploring educational baby classes which can further enrich this developmental journey and complement your efforts by providing a diverse range of learning experiences. These classes are designed to reinforce and expand upon the skills your baby learns at home, further enriching their developmental journey and offering them new challenges that stimulate their growth in unique ways.