by: Michelle VanderHeide, BSW
It seems like only yesterday that I started this series on infant development, and now my baby boy has turned a year old. It’s fun to look back and reflect on how much has changed from one year ago. No year is like the first in the amount of growth and development a child makes, although the next several years are still critical and substantial in human development. Instead of writing about what I saw in his development over the past month, I’m going to reflect back and summarize my son’s development during the past year.
The first month: I was worried about how I could find more love in my heart for another child. The minute you came into our lives that worry was gone – you stole all of our hearts! You are so small, unresponsive, needy, and very fought over. Everyone wants to hold you as you have become a very important part of our family. Basically, all you do at this point is eat and sleep; but you are a very content baby. The joke is that as we carry our car seat from place to place, we are afraid that we are going to leave you behind one of these days because you are so good.
The second month: You began to smile this month! What a beautiful thing. It takes a lot of effort at this point, but it’s well worth the time to get it. Now that I am getting a smile, I’m already anticipating the next thing – a giggle! You are trying to giggle, and will grunt and move around when being tickled; so I know it won’t be long now!
The third month: You smile so much now that you have been nicknamed “guy smiley.” What a joy you are to have in the family! You are obviously very aware of people around you, as the minute you see somebody you give them a huge radiating smile. You are also giggling a lot now, and really love being tickled – especially by daddy. You are picking up on patterns, as you know that once daddy is done tickling you he’ll come back and do it some more. You giggle in anticipation of what is to come. The way you shriek when daddy walks in the door is also evidence of your growing awareness. There is nothing better than daddy coming home! Your sisters also offer a lot of entertainment for you. Watching them play is so fun for you. One will say or do something, and then the other; and you will shift your gaze between them rapidly. You are evidently seeing people as very important elements of your environment and as important learning tools!
The fourth month: You have found your voice, and are doing a lot of playing around with sounds. You have also discovered how to get a reaction out of people. If you don’t like something, you scream in hopes that it’ll stop. If I respond to something you’ve done, you’ll recreate it to continue getting a response. You are also becoming stronger (you rolled over for the first time) and are beginning to reach for toys. You also discovered who you are through some mirror play. Early on, you dismissed yourself as though the reflection were an unimportant person; but later in the month, you realized that what you were seeing was yourself. You found yourself to be quite entertaining. The gaze shifting and emotion sharing that took place between you and me in the mirror was priceless!
The fifth month: You have become quite the little entertainer! You want to be center of attention, and always have to know what’s going on! Feeding you has become a challenge, as you want to see what’s happening at all times – no time to stop for a bottle! You are also more of a pain bring to restaurants, because you want to touch and grab everything in sight. My earrings, saltshakers, grandma’s glasses – you name it – all are considered toys to you, and you want them all! Social routines (such as patty cake and peek-a-boo) are very much a part of your daily routine. Foundational aspects of communication are becoming more evident. You are doing a lot of babbling, especially when laying in bed after you’ve woken up.
The sixth month: It’s very evident now that you love the fast paced, dynamic life. Keeping things the same is boring. Peek-a-boo is so much more exciting when you don’t know what to expect. Will the blanket come off fast or slow? Will it be on my head or daddy’s? The giggles are priceless! You are also aware of people that you do and don’t know. Watching you interact with another infant is also very intriguing – the two of you have your own little way of communicating by copying each other’s actions and sounds.
The seventh month: You are beginning to initiate play now by taking an action to a familiar routine, and doing it to start the game. Humor is also more evident; I’ll ask you to do something, and then you don’t do it and laugh – knowing exactly what is expected of you. My favorite part of this month is that when I say “kisses,” you lean over to me with your mouth wide open for a sweet little kiss. This is one of the times you’ll use your humor though, and turn your head away from me or just look at me and giggle.
The eighth month: You are watching everything that we do, and know that other people are a source to learn from and receive help from. You got a ball stuck the other day, and looked right at me for help – clearly gazing between the ball and me. You are also watching what your sisters are doing, and want to do the same thing they are. If they are working on a puzzle, you are trying to play along; and you get upset when you aren’t invited to join. Physically, you are beginning to use the army crawl as your primary mode of movement, and it’s quite effective for you.
The ninth month: You are so interactive now, and it’s more evident that you are crawling with ease. When I come home from work, you immediately crawl up to me for a welcome home hug – which I love! Being able to crawl also means you can be more interactive with games. You now love to play hide and seek – you crawl behind a chair and peek out for my reaction. I love it!
The tenth month: Curiosity is the theme for this month! Now that you are mobile and can pull yourself up, you want to see everything! When I am in the kitchen working, you are emptying drawers. When I am in the bathroom getting ready, you are pulling everything out of the cupboards. You have been appropriately named “little bother” by your sisters, as you are into everything!
The eleventh month: Separation anxiety is at its peak. You want to me be with mom, dad, or one of your grandmas only. Everyday you pick a person to be your favorite, and you will attach like glue. That person needs to be around you at all times; and if s/he has to go somewhere, you have to go along or you are very upset. I’m just glad that you have found such a wonderful bond with all of us!
I have been so honored to have a neurotypically forming child to watch develop over the past twelve months. I have never understood or appreciated the complexities of development as I do now. So many critical and foundational milestones are met during this first year! If, while reading this year in review, you still have questions or wonder if you child is developing along a neurotypical pathway, we would love to sit down and talk with you about your concerns.
About The Author
Autism specialist Michelle VanderHeide, of the Horizons Developmental Remediation Center, provides practical information and advice for families living with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you are ready to reduce your stress level, enrich your child’s development, and improve your family’s quality of life, get your FREE reports now at ==> www.HorizonsDRC.com.