Babies are constantly learning and parents strive to give them an environment and resources that will help in their development and teach them new skills. Everything, from the toys or the clothes or even the crib, plays a role in their development and it is important to be mindful of everything that we do for our child.
If you are a new parent, you must have come across many terminologies related to the developmental changes of a baby. Even for something as simple as toys, you hear about terms like Fine-Motor skills and Sensory skills. But what exactly are these skills? What is the difference between Fine Motor and Gross Motor skills? Sounds similar though.
It is normal to get overwhelmed by too much information and influencers. With many brands vying for your attention with jargon, you alternate between fear of missing out and ignorance. Moreover, the same skill could look different for babies of different ages.
Worry not, for we are here to help.
In this blog, we have covered ALL that you need to know about skill development in babies in a simple way. This will help you take informed decisions and offer a balance of resources to help your child in their formative years.
While children develop all these skills at their own pace, knowing about these skills and being aware of the child’s growth helps parents encourage them in the areas they might need support and help. It also helps you avoid spending your hard-earned money on unnecessary things due to FOMO.
We give an overview of the different skills a baby develops over time and how parents can identify each developmental milestone their child achieves through observation and play.
The key terms you need to know about are:
- Sensory development
- Gross Motor Skills
- Fine Motor Skills
- Cognitive skills
- Social skills
- Emotional Development
What are Sensory skills?
We have five senses that help us understand the world, namely Smell, Taste, Touch, Sight, and Hearing. These are not fully developed when the child comes into the world, but they catch up really fast as they grow.
Hearing is one of the first senses that a baby develops and that too even before they are born. A baby's hearing develops around 24 weeks in the womb, which allows them to learn the sound of their mother's voice and be able to recognize her native language. So when the child is born, talking to them, and singing to them helps the child recognize the mother’s voice and find refuge in the new world.
You must have noticed, babies love splashing the water in their bathtub, or have a wonderful time playing with a simple handkerchief. That's because babies get an understanding of different textures through playing with water and clothes. In the olden days in India, families used to make a Swing Cradle with soft and used sarees of the mother to comfort the baby while sleeping. From their swaddle cloth to their mother’s dress, they feel and explore their senses of touch and feel.
In the first two months, babies are just beginning to focus and learn about seeing objects clearly. 90 % of Baby’s visual development happens in the 1st 5-6 months. During this time, babies can only see high-contrast objects and colors like black and white.
Smell & Taste –
Babies have a great sense of smell, that is how they recognize their parents when they can’t see well. They love putting things in their mouths. This helps them make sense of tastes and smells, and establish associations and likes and dislikes.
What are Gross motor skills?
Gross Motor skills are simply the ability of a child to do an everyday activity like standing upright, walking, or even running that involves large muscles (core muscles) of the body. It also involves hand-eye coordination of the child, for example, when they are playing catch. The kid needs practice and focus to see the direction the ball is coming from and the grip to catch the ball.
This is evident as the child grows from milestone to milestone, turning over and starting to Crawl- to sitting Upright by itself- to be able to Stand- shows the Gross Motor Skills of the baby. And as they grow, they learn to balance their body while wearing clothes, sitting in a particular position in a school for a long time or simply getting better at any sports activity.
What are Fine motor skills?
Fine Motor skill is the ability to do day-to-day activities, involving the smaller muscles of the hands, wrists, and fingers. Simply put, when a baby wants to chew a toy, the Fine motor skills of the baby help it pick up the teether through grip and grasp, Hand-eye coordination, and, well, chew to its heart's content.
For preschoolers, opening a tiffin box or tying a shoelace are everyday tasks where they need fine motor skills. Picking up food with the spoon to eat, using scissors, or brushing their teeth, all these activities require coordinated efforts between their fingers, hands, and eyes. Improved Fine motor skills help them in activities like Pre- Writing skills, coloring, painting, and self-care tasks like buttoning their shirts or putting belts on their pants.
What are Cognitive skills?
Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. They have more to do with how we learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention, rather than with any actual knowledge.
Cognitive development means the learning process of memory, language, thinking, and reasoning and in babies, learning language is more than making sounds (“babble”), or saying “ma-ma” and “da-da”. Listening, understanding, and knowing the names of people and things are all a part of language development. Identifying the parents and responding to them is one way of showing cognitive development in babies.
What are Social skills?
Social skills are the ability to communicate needs, wants, and feelings and also the skill to interact positively with others. It starts early, with babies interacting with the family members by clapping, playing peek-a-boo, and responding to distinguished friendly, angry voices and facial expressions. Things like these are all social milestones that most babies express and explore by a certain age.
As they grow, there are 7 social skills for kids namely- Sharing, Cooperating, Listening, Following Directions, Respecting Personal Space, Making Eye Contact, and Using Manners.
Kids learn social skills with time and the key to refining these skills is to demonstrate rather than direct. Like, instead of forcing them to say sorry in the playground, make sure you apologize whenever you might have done a mistake.
What are Emotional skills?
Emotional skills refer to the ability to recognize, express and regulate your emotions. They are the foundation of mental health and are often the least developed in our children. As the child navigates the world, it is the emotional skill (EQ) that helps them keep their balance rather than intelligence (IQ).
While most children can develop most skills on their own, sometimes, they may need help. Especially with skills like social and emotional development which require a lot of human interaction. When you have this list as a reference, you can assess how your baby is advancing and where they need some help. If you want to know how exactly you can help with developing a particular skill, we will cover that too in our next post, coming very soon.