If you ask most Stay-at-Home Parents of infants, they search for activities to keep their infant entertained and learning. This crash course in child development: infants will help identify what your baby can do with you to keep growing and learning.
In reality, A LOT of repetition is FANTASTIC for the brain development of your baby from birth to 18 months. Don’t look at this stage of your child’s development as boring, because it is a very peaceful time-toddler hood will arrive before you know it! Don’t be fooled. Infants are learning a lot from their interactions with you, and they will need a lot of cuddling to develop into confident children.
Crash Course in Child Development: Infants
Learning for infants is limited to using the 5 senses and the limited motor skills to explore. The main cognitive (or ‘thinking’) goal is developing the awareness that something exists even if it is not seen. This ability is called ‘object permanence’. Infants only ‘know’ what they can touch, taste, see, hear, or smell.
Around 4-5 months old, an infant develops the awareness that they are separate from you. It is at this young age that the ‘sense of self’ begins to form. It can also mean that your baby will wake up more frequently at night, again. Your child needs reassurance that you are still there. Sleep deprivation in motherhood is hard, but often it is helpful for your child.
Consistently attending to an infant’s needs (feeding, diapering, comforting) in a loving manner, teaches them to trust you and the world apart from them. “Infants need what they need when they need it”(The Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers, p. 33).
If infants do not have these needs met in a loving and prompt manner, they learn to mistrust and doubt. This is not a good track for raising a competent adult. Keep these developmental red flags for infants handy. There is no need to stress. Just be aware. That is the way to be a proactive parent.
Infant Development Tips
A lot of learning blooms around the infants stage between 4-8 months:
-Your infant knows you exist when you are away
-They know they are a separate being…the world begins to become a BIG place. This is what causes separation anxiety to sprout.
-Your baby begins to learn they are not a part of you (physically).
-They know you exist, and when you leave they know you are not with them. Infants feel ‘alone,’ in a sense, when they are unfamiliar with an environment or a caregiver. We adults know we will be coming back, but the child at this age does not.
It is not until your child enters the toddler stage of child development that he/she can maintain a mental image, or memory, of you when you are gone. So, when you are frustrated that ‘crying it out’ is not working well, you can know that your child does not understand where you are and wants the security of knowing you are still around. Promptly and lovingly meeting your infant’s needs teaches them to trust you and trust others.
Check out the Infant Activities page for activities to help your infant develop object permanence and better motor control. There is a variety. The activities are created to emphasize the skills that your infant needs to learn with a lot of repetition!
I also use a developmental checklist to help guide what to teach my infant. It gives an idea of what they can learn during this developmental stage. Use it as a guide, not a Bible for your child’s developmental pace.
I never hear mothers tell me, “I wish I spent less time with my children,” but I always hear the advice: “Soak up this time with them. It goes by so fast!”
Now that my children are all past the infant stage, I agree! The moments of exhaustion pass, but in that stage you develop a bond with your child that will not break.
(Reference: The Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers)
Hi there! Welcome to my little corner of the internet. My name is Jaimi, and I am a mom who love to encourage other mothers in the season of raising children, making a home, and staying focused on the end goals of motherhood.