Our babies arrive in this world pretty much blank. Other than some genetically inherited traits, a lots of influence in terms of babies developmental skills comes from their surrounding environment. While it is absolutely possible to hone good genes further, it is also possible to hinder the skill set growth by providing lack of adequate opportunities to the child. So, we can not completely rule out either of these two possibilities.
Before you jump into a routine and scheduled activities for your babies or before you end up buying random toys from the stores, it is very critical to understand what set of activities or toys will aid what skill set.
This post aims to discuss and clarify a variety of skill sets which are essential for a baby’s development, in a simple, easy to understand layman lingo. Interestingly, the best part is that for a healthy development of these skills, most of the babies (except for those with special needs) do NOT need a specialized environment. You as a mom can work out to develop these skills from home, using basic day to day household items and by getting a little creative. The skills which a child develops from 0 to 5 years of age go a LONG way in life and and act as foundation stone towards achieving more complex skills as they grow, so it’s EVERY BIT WORTH your time, care and efforts.
A baby starts using his senses as soon as he enters this world (and probably even before that). Sensory skills include vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, vestibular system (balance & movement) and proprioception (sense of self from muscles and joints).
Sensory skills lead to an output of motor skills, so both are inter-related. In simple language, if a baby lags behind in receiving any of the sensory input, he might also have a delayed motor output. The kind of sensory experiences given to a baby stimulates his brain function similarly. Although a healthy normal baby starts using these skills early on, a lots of activities and sensory experiences provided to him/ her can boost the skill set.
These skills are related to the muscle movement and coordination inside the body. They are generally categorized into two types which are:
- Gross Motor Skills: These involve large muscle movements like that of legs, arms and body. These gross movements result in your baby’s well coordinated and balanced walk, jump, run, sitting posture etc. How well your baby will do in sports and other physical activities in life depends a lot on their gross motor skill development.
- Fine Motor Skills: These are small muscle movements which involve hands, wrists, fingers, feet etc. These result in a lots of important skills in your life like writing, eating, putting a thread in the needle, shoe-lacing etc. It gives you dexterity to perform a lots of art, craft and creative skills a baby might have or need in school/ college.
Hand- eye (or eye-hand) Coordination
You can think of it as a sum of the above two skills; vision from sensory and hand from motor skills, which is why it is also called visual motor integration skill.
When a child sees an object, his brain processes that information and will give an output through hands. How well coordinated this process is leads to a good and balanced hand eye coordination skill and this skill leads to a lots of important day to day activities like writing skills or even many sports activities like cricket. A good sixer when a batsman sees a ball is an ideal example of an excellent hand-eye coordination skill (no kidding :p )
Speech & Language Development
Babies develop their language skills by listening to their surroundings. They gain vocabulary and develop speech as they grow. This process starts from the day one as they are listening to different tones, voices and sounds and eventually learn to distinguish between them. When the cooing and babbling begins, that is where their attempts to communicate with you start too.
We highly recommend to talk and read to your baby as it is a great way to add on to their vocabulary and encourage them to speak more words.
Cognitive skills are all about how a baby will learn and solve problems. We do know for a fact how babies very little start observing and exploring their environment. Sensory input is very important here as it leads to exploration and boosts cognitive skills.
Provide them with a lots of cause and effect items, introduce them to different materials, textures and nature of things, give them choices and small age-appropriate challenges as they play.
Social and Emotional Skills
Remember that friendly little baby you saw who was all smiles in your arms? Also, remember when your little one went through a period of separation anxiety and would cling to you the whole day and night? Babies learn to be comfortable with other people with time. They also start responding to other’s feelings, learn to control their own emotions and take instructions.
What is most important to understand is that not only all these basic skills are very important for our babies/ toddlers/ kids, they impact greatly on other skill sets too which are critical as our children will grow. Most of the skill sets developed early on build a very strong foundation towards a strong personality traits later on.
So Moms, lets pledge to start on early and provide our little ones the right tools and opportunities to hone their skills 🙂