Cognitive SkillsWhen you brought your newborn home from the hospital, he was a tiny helpless scrap. You held him tenderly, and loved him with all your heart, but at the same time, you wondered when he would turn into a rosy-cheeked, cooing cherub you had dreamed of.

No need to worry. Infants develop amazingly quickly, growing and learning new things every day.

Your newborn infant’s brain and nervous system are like muscles that are weak and underdeveloped. The more the muscles are stimulated and exercised, the stronger they grow. At every stage in your baby’s growth, your child’s nervous system becomes capable of doing more sophisticated things.

Your child’s five senses work together to bring information to the brain, as his developing muscles help him explore and gain motor strength. All these processes help your newborn baby begin to do all the things that babies do.

For example, at age three months, you baby will inspect his own hands, and can move hand to mouth and mouth toys. These activities may seem insignificant, but they are important milestones that a typical baby will begin to demonstrate.

Milestones are important because they are a foundational system for baby’s learning. Without mastering each developmental milestone, your child may have difficulty developing more sophisticated skills later on.

For example, a baby that is not moving hand to mouth at three months, will likely not make efforts to obtain objects at age nine months, another developmental milestone.

You may wonder if it really matters whether or not your child demonstrates these behaviors. You love the baby the way he is. Unconditional love is a good thing, but as a parent you should be aware that every developmental milestone is a precursor and necessary step to further learning of mobility (crawling and walking), communication, play, socialization, drawing, reading and writing. Problems in early childhood or infancy can develop into problems in childhood and adulthood. They should not be ignored.

My purpose here is not to alarm you about the potential problems in your baby. Any mom with a number of children will tell you that every child develops differently, at a different rate. However certain behaviors and milestones are so important, that if they are missing or late in developing, you should speak about these problems with your pediatrician. He may recommend that you contact Childlink to begin to referral process for Early Intervention.

It is worthwhile to become familiar with the developmental milestones related to your child’s age. A complete listing of milestones by age (one month, three months, etc.) can be found here. While it’s never a good idea to be overly anxious or a “helicopter parent”, it is a good idea to be an educated parent. That way, if intervention is necessary, your child can get the help he needs as soon as possible.

No matter what your child is or is not doing; he or she is a precious gift more valuable than the greatest treasure. Cherish your child, bathe in the warmth of his smile, post pictures of every minute of his life. And keep an eye on those developmental milestones. ; -)