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Is My Baby Normal?

Updated: Dec 1, 2018



As parents we often worry whether our children are developing ‘normally’, and question to what degree their early experiences shape their personality, interests and level of intelligence.


This week the BBC aired the first of a three-part series entitled: ‘Babies: Their Wonderful World’, in which developmental paediatrician Dr Guddi Singh helps us to understand that what happens in the first two years of life lays the foundations for everything else to come.



The Basis of Our Personalities

It is thought that personality is shaped by our basic temperament: calm, excitable or cautious. This basic temperament starts to show itself in babies as early as 6 months old. So, we can see from the way our babies react to certain situations what their temperament is likely to be later in life.


It is also interesting to note that as parents we can help to influence or soften these temperaments slightly. For example, if we see our baby is very cautious about meeting new people, we can try to introduce them to people more regularly and get them used to social interactions, rather than exacerbating this cautious temperament by keeping them out of social situations.



Talk, Talk, Talk!

At 18 months of age there is an explosion in language learning. On average babies learn a new word every day between 18-24 months. As parents we are able to influence the speed at which our babies learn those new words and the breadth of their vocabulary, by simply talking to them more.


The words they learn and the vocabulary they are exposed to between the ages of 0-24 months reflects the breadth of the vocabulary they will have in later life.




Practice Makes Perfect

For those of us who would love to nurture the next sporting star or musical genius it seems that there is some merit in encouraging our babies to repeat activities which they are drawn to at an early age. Repeating the same activity strengthens pathways in the brain and so practice really does make perfect.




How Do We Choose?

It was no surprise to learn that babies, like adults, prefer what is familiar to them. This is how we have survived as a race; our instincts tell us to trust those who look the same as we do.


Along side this we saw babies asked to make a moral decision and choose between right from wrong; something they all managed easily. What was most interesting though was combining these choices and seeing what babies deemed most important – morals or familiarity. In this case the comfort of familiarity prevailed each time.


So, as much as babies are capable of making moral decisions, they instinctively choose what makes them feel more comfortable.




The End of Gender Inequality

It was incredible to see how our current generation of babies has been impacted by the changes of gender inequality that have evolved over the last 20 years.


There are now more women going back to work instead of staying at home with the children. As such we see more and more men are now taking an active role in parenthood, as well as roles around the house such as cleaning and cooking. Everything from changing nappies, doing the bedtime routine and being the stay at home parent are all the norm for Dads. Mums are also more involved in activities, sports and outdoor play.


This current generation of babies have picked up on a more balanced distribution of roles between ‘Mummy and Daddy’, whereas historically they saw a division of roles.


This is a wonderful insight into how perceptive babies are and that gender equality is set to stay.




Do iPhones Slow Development?

Our modern days lives are constantly facilitated by the use of technology through our phones and tablets. Giving these to our young children is often a quick and efficient way of giving you some instant peace, at least long enough to make a cup of tea.


The impact of this on our children however, is something we are unsure of and have limited knowledge of, given it’s infancy.


One of the experiments conducted in the programme looked at certain physical skills between children who use tablets and phones and those who don’t. It suggested that babies who use technology have advanced fine motor skills such as picking up small objects and drawing a straight line, possibly because the practice that they get tapping and swiping hones their precision and dexterity.

Whilst this suggests that technology is not hindering certain physical developments in babies and toddlers, I, as a parent still have numerous concerns around the use of technology for our young children.


Eye strain and the effect of the artificial blue light are personal concerns of mine, as well as the unknown impact on other areas of development, such as social interaction, communication and problem-solving abilities.




Summary

From a parent’s perspective, it was a fascinating insight into some areas of child development. Understanding just how perceptive our babies are at such a young age has already made me more conscious of how we interact around them and the stimuli they need to nurture their development and passions.


Look out for next week’s episode on BBC 2 on Monday 3rd December at 9pm.


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With love and best wishes,

Phillippa,

The Bamboo Baby Company x

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