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Your Baby’s Development: 2 to 6 months (December 2014)

Julia Mitchell-Hoffman, ECE Behaviorist

What is going on?

Babies are very interactive at this age. They use their new language and communication skills as they smile and coo back and forth, and enjoy babbling, starting with “ohs” and “ahs” and progressing to P’s, M’s, B’s and D’s. Your baby may babble and then pause, waiting for you to respond.

They also love to imitate, which helps them learn new skills. For example, mom sticks out her tongue, baby imitates and mom does it again. This also teaches them about the back and forth of conversation.

What can you do?

● When your baby babbles, both talk and babble back, as if you both understand every word. These early conversations will teach her hundreds of words before she can actually speak any of them.

● Engage in back-and-forth interactions with gestures. For example, hold out an interesting object, encourage your baby to reach for it and then signal her to give it back. Keeps this going as long as your baby seems to enjoy it.

Questions to ask yourself:

● How does your baby let you know what she wants and how she’s feeling?

● How do you and your baby enjoy communicating with each other? What do you say or does that get the biggest reaction from her?

What is going on?

Babies this age love to explore. They learn from looking at, holding and putting their mouths on different objects. At about 3 months, babies begin to reach for things and try to hold them. Make sure all objects are safe. A toy or anything else you give her shouldn't fit entirely in her mouth.

What can you do?

● Introduce one toy at a time so your baby can focus on, and explore, each one. Good choices include a small rattle with a handle, a rubber ring, a soft doll and a board book with pictures.

● Lay your baby on her back and hold brightly colored toys over her chest within her reach. She’ll love reaching up and pulling them close. You will start to see what most interests her.

Questions to ask yourself:

● What kind of toys or objects does your baby seem most interested in? How do you know?

● How do you and your baby most enjoy playing together? Why?

What is going on?

Babies have greater control over their bodies. By 4 to 6 months, they may be able to roll both ways, become better at reaching and grasping and will begin to sit with assistance. They also begin wanting to explore their food and help feed themselves. Touching and tasting different foods is good for learning and for building self- confidence.

What can you do?

● Place your baby in different positions—on her back, stomach, and sitting with support. Each gives her a different view and a chance to move and explore in different ways.

● Let your baby play with your fingers and explore the bottle or breast during feedings. As she grows, let her handle finger foods and help hold the spoon.

Questions to ask yourself:

● How does your baby use her body to explore? Which positions does she like the best and least?

● How would you describe your baby’s activity level? Does she like/need to move around a lot or is she more laid-back?

Tips: (The Science of Early Childhood Development)

● Your relationship with your child is the foundation of his or her healthy development

● Your child’s development depends on both the traits he or she was born with (nature), and what he or she experiences (nurture).

● All areas of development (social/emotional/intellectual/language/motor) are linked. Each depends on, and influences, the others.

● What children experience, including how their parents respond to them, shapes their development as they adapt to the world.