During the first year of a child’s life, their social development is through interaction with mostly their main carer. The child is only focused on their own needs for warmth, food, drink, etc. They play mainly alone and may need to be led in activities by an adult. They are reassured by a close adult presence and they begin to respond to familiar faces.
A child’s physical development during the first year is very rapid. They sleep a lot and grow very fast, developing gross motor skills first (rolling over, sitting) and some fine motor skills as they approach a year old. They enjoy games involving their hands and will explore their surroundings by putting everything in their mouths. They will play with activity mats, soft toys and will take pleasure in play during bath time with water toys. The development of hand-eye coordination starts with them passing objects between their hands and putting objects into containers.
Children are born with no understanding of their environment. Their intellectual development in the first year is mainly about learning about their surroundings and people close to them. They will begin to recognise people who they see on a regular basis as they become more familiar with them. They are very inquisitive and will enjoy books and toys with bright colours and some sounds. As they progress through the first year they benefit from being spoken to by adults so that they begin to understand words and their meanings. Their thought processes are based on what they can see/hear in front of them at that moment so a varied amount of interactions will be very beneficial.
Babies communicate their needs through crying and babbling. Their main carer will soon be able to distinguish the different types of crying that a baby will make depending on their need. As they approach one year old, they will be able to understand a few simple words, although speech will more than likely still be babble. They will point at an object to indicate a desire for it, and may wave goodbye to familiar people.
Babies up to a year old have no concept of anyone else’s feelings or emotions. They are egocentric, being that everything is focused on themselves. They respond to displays of emotion, they will smile when someone smiles at them, or laugh when people are laughing although they do not understand why.
Babies have no concept of right and wrong and during the first year are only focused on their own needs and feelings. Attention seeking can be discouraged by leaving the child to amuse themselves on a play mat or in a cot with a mobile of visual stimulus as long as they are safe. They are exploring their surroundings and should be encouraged to do so.
Child Aged 1-3 Years
Children in this age range are still very much only focused on themselves and will play alone or alongside other children, which is called parallel play. They may play similar games next to each other, but will generally not play together. They don’t understand yet about sharing and may argue over possession of toys with other children. They generally enjoy the company of adults or older children and they will copy behaviours that they observe.
At this age, children will be walking and exploring the stairs well. They will be learning to jump, run, kick a ball, climb and all sorts of other fun activities. Their fine motor skills will also begin to develop and carers should encourage them to try and hold a pencil or crayon and start to scribble, or to build towers with blocks. They can also begin to try feeding and dressing themselves, although they will need help with it to begin with. Toilet training can also begin when the child becomes more aware.
Carers will find that...