The development of the child from birth to eighteen months is a significant period that affects the success of subsequent stages. The physical and emotional development of the baby is the most intense during this period. Those who take care of the kid should clearly understand the characteristics of the child’s growth and learning at various age periods. It is essential to know what skills can be developed and what activities the infant needs according to age not to cause exhaustion.
Physical Skills (Gross and Fine Motor)
The physical development of the child from birth to eighteen months takes place in several main stages. Gross motor skills include spatial movements – the baby learns to hold the head, sit, crawl, and walk. Fine motor skills coordinate the eyes and fingers. During this period, the main stages of development are Palmer Grasp – grabbing the object with the fingers and palm without using the thumb, and Pincer Grasp – grabbing with the help of the thumb and forefinger (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). Following these stages of development, selecting the required toys, and organizing space for the baby is necessary.
When a child shows the ability to crawl and walk, it is essential to allow him or her to spend as much time as possible in free movement. Furthermore, it is recommended to minimize the kid’s stay in a baby carriage and other devices that limit the child’s activity. When trying to walk, the child’s guardians need to ensure safety and the ability to cling and rely on something. For the development of fine motors, parents can choose toys that are easy to grab and transfer, for example, cubes. Meanwhile, it is vital to monitor safety and not give toys that the kid can swallow.
The theory of attachment was developed after the years of work of various scientists. Harlow made a great contribution to it but Bowlby formulated the concept (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). It is the bonds and relationships of the child with his or her main guardian – most often, the nursing mother. Through this connection, children feel safe and form a sense of trust to parents. Erickson (1982) argued that trust is the basis for the proper development of a child and affects his whole life (as cited in Lally & Valentine-French, 2019, p.102). All scientists working on the theory of attachment note its importance in the child’s nurture. However, Erikson (1982) claims that when a child begins to study the world and walk, he or she can receive little independence (as cited in Lally & Valentine-French, 2019, p.106). Thus, from the first months of the baby’s life, it is crucial to establish effective emotional and social ties between the child and his mother.
During the studied period, children slowly acquire communication skills – hearing, understanding, and language skills are emerging. It all starts with sounds that children reproduce changing intonation and listening to them. Gradually, by the age of eighteen months, they can compose simplified words, possibly even sentences, and use gestures (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). Simultaneously, the forms and methods of the pronunciation of words may depend on culture – children try to imitate what they hear.
Scientists are making a lot of research work about ways how babies begin to speak. As part of the criticism of learning theory, some studies have been conducted on how deaf children learn the language (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). Its results showed that children do not simply learn the language from experience, but rather succeed when they hear it. According to social pragmatics, language has a social nature and is required for interaction (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). Based on this, one can conclude that to develop the child’s language skills, it is necessary to communicate with him or her a lot, ask questions, voice what he or she sees. At the same time, speech should be slow with understandable facial expressions and gesticulation, but without distortions and errors in words.
Newborns need only acquire basic skills for further intellectual development. According to Piagetian perspective, the period from birth to eighteen months corresponds to the sensorimotor stage, in which the main component is the child’s achievement of the skill of object permanence (Harris, 2005, as cited in Lally & Valentine-French, 2019, p.86). This concept means awareness of an object’s existence, even if it is hidden from the eyes, and children acquire this ability by 12-18 months (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). However, some critics point out that babies can achieve it earlier.
The development of the fine motor skills of the child also can influence the capability of object permanence and the formation of causal relationships. The child begins to understand that if he or she throws a ball on a slide, then it will roll, and if he or she puts the thing in the box and cover it, then it will not disappear anywhere. Adults can help by playing with children, alternately showing and hiding toys from them (for example, behind the back). It is important to pick toys that help the child establish such connections. With such materials, children can often experiment, assuring themselves of the constancy of what is happening and developing motor skills.
Thus, based on the information about the child’s development from birth to eighteen months, recommendations were proposed to obtain the necessary skills for children. The main thing that infants demand during this period is the adult’s attention for emotional, social, and cognitive development. Moreover, it is crucial to monitor the child’s reaction and take into consideration his or her temperament. For physical development, in particular gross and fine motor, it is also necessary to create a safe space for the baby and choose appropriate toys.
Lally, M., & Valentine-French, S. (2019).Lifespan development. A psychological perspective (2nd ed.).Open Education Resource