Parents play the most important role in their child’s learning and development. Early experiences shape the brain’s architecture; millions of new brain cell pathways are made and the underused ones are pruned away when they are not stimulated.
During this time children learn about emotions and how to interact with other human beings. When babies feel loved, cared for and that they matter to the people around them, they develop what is called a “secure attachment” which forms the foundation for all future relationships. When parents and their babies are at odds with each other, the baby may appear depressed, apathetic, may fail to thrive or be delayed in his or her development. The root of many physical and emotional adult conditions can be traced to early childhood experiences.
Early Years matter- play and learning
Enjoy spending time with your baby and having fun- this is how they learn the most about the world and everything in it. All babies love looking at human faces and listening to familiar voices- they will remember your voice from the womb. As they learn to work their body, they start to learn how to smile and will enjoy your touch and take delight in seeing familiar faces.
Gradually they become interested in other objects too, like brightly coloured toys, the movement of a mobile and the sound of toys that rattle and play music. Give them time to explore at their own pace. Movement leads to new possibilities for play and learning, but remember your baby will not understand about danger and will need you to keep them safe from hazards.
Back to sleep, tummy to play
It is recommended that all babies sleep on their backs until they are able to roll over by themselves. However, from birth your baby will benefit from time on their tummy to play. This will help strengthen their muscles and prepare them to move by themselves; it will also give the back of their head a bit of a break as babies' heads can get flat if they are in the same position all the time. The Born to Move app contains lots of advice, tips and games to get babies moving and support their development
Your child will be due two health visiting development reviews in this time; the first just before their first birthday and the second at around two years. These health reviews are offered as part of the Healthy Child programme.
If your child is not developing as expected, speak to your health visitor at any time, do not wait for these health review appointments.
Children with health needs or disabilities
All children are different and will develop at their own pace. Some children's development will be affected by health needs or disabilities and they will reach their potential with different types of support. Having a child with additional needs can be difficult; we are here to help you navigate your way through what can often feel like a complex system of health and social care. We are also here to help parents adjust to the different demands and emotions that this can bring.
Contact a Family is a national charity for families with disabled children or children with complex health needs. They provide information, advice and support. They bring families together so they can support each other and campaign to improve their circumstances. Parent Voice is an information and advice service for parents and carers of disabled children aged 0-25 in Hampshire.
Hampshire Local Offer provides helpful information and advice on services for children with special needs or disability in Hampshire.