Your child is between the0 to 6 months
A baby’s development during the first stage
Children develop of their own accord, but they do need those around them to provide them with experiences and the right kind of guidance. In this timeline, you will get to know the milestones related to motor skills, language development, social and emotional and cognitive/sensory development, and personality development. You can also read about how Kindergarden sets up the children's environment to help them develop optimally. We make use of the “recurring” moments in which we’re tending to them individually, such as while dressing and undressing them, changing their diapers, or putting them to bed, to give them a little extra one-on-one attention. This turns an everyday care moment into a special development moment.
For example, did you know that babies learn to start repeating behavior from as early as two months of age? And that the clingy stage often kicks in later in boys than in girls?
Development occurs during the interactions between the children themselves, and their interactions with the childcare staff and the environment. Our horizontal groups enable us to provide guidance appropriate to the different developmental stages. In doing so, we are guided by the pace and preferences of the children. After all, children are individuals and experience their milestones at a time appropriate to them. This timeline indicates the things you might encounter during the first important years of a child's life, but we also allow the children the space to reach their own milestones and develop at their own pace!
Motor development (physical development)
We help babies develop their fine and gross motor skills at Kindergarden by putting toys slightly out of their reach and encouraging them to grasp.
Up to eighteen months, they exhibit spontaneous, uncontrolled movements, also known as “baby reflexes.”
Babies learn to move their fingers, clench their hand into a fist, and then release their hands again. Their grasp reflex then develops further from the age of 3 months.
Early hand-mouth coordination. Babies learn to use their coordination skills when picking up objects and can move objects from one hand to the other, giving them greater control over their bodies.
A baby’s neck muscles are firm enough at this stage for its head to stop bobbing. Babies can lift their head, look in all directions, and follow your movements as you walk past.
Babies can roll over on their own after around 6 months.
How does Kindergarden support children in their motor development (physical development)?
Reaching, grasping, and kicking
It is important for the development of babies’ fine and gross motor skills that they are regularly given the opportunity to reach, grasp, kick, and clutch. We do this by giving children room to move around and explore their surroundings, like on the play rug. We leave the children free to move around as much as possible, limit the use of rocking chairs, and never leave kids in the playpen too long. It is both enjoyable and educational for children to see and experience the room from different angles.
Placing toys slightly out of children’s reach
We place toys slightly outside children’s reach, so they need to grasp to grab them. We make babies reach out to grab toys. Show on one side and put down on the other side. To be able to reach out and grab an object, children use the same motion as when rolling around, which develops both their fine and their gross motor skills. We don’t offer too many toys at once, as this makes children restless.
Don’t leave babies in their preferred position too long
We regularly change children’s position so they can experience the differences between lying on their back, side, and stomach. Children don’t become aware of their bodies until they are about four months old, and will simply forget that certain body parts are there if they don’t see them. Various exercises also help to reduce the amount of time children spend in their preferred position. We approach them alternately from the right and the left to encourage them to use both body halves.
Social and emotional development
Our childcare staff make a point of sometimes keeping away from the children for short periods of time, as children do not need adults for everything to go through the various stages of development.
Until they are about six weeks old, babies really only respond to their parents’ voices, smells, and facial expressions.
Baby’s first “social” smile Babies tend to respond to all smiling faces: not just those of their parents, but even those of people they have never seen before.
Babies reach out their arms because they want to be picked up, and they learn to cry in different ways to communicate a variety of emotions and needs. Babies interact with a variety of people.
At the age of 3-4 months, babies start recognizing more of their environment and become increasingly curious about new places and new people.
Around 5-6 months of age, children can clearly communicate their likes and dislikes and can cling to their parent or caregiver when the latter is about to walk away. This phase, known as the “clingy stage,” can take several months. When it starts depends on the individual child; it tends to kick in later in boys than girls – around 8-9 months.
How does Kindergarden support children in their social and emotional development?
According to the legislation and regulations, there is a maximum number of regular faces that a child may see per week. We have a permanent team of staff who care for the children in each group.
Basic childcare principles
We approach each child in a positive way by speaking to them softly and wearing a friendly facial expression, talking to them at eye level, and explaining our actions. By wearing soft-soled shoes, we avoid making a lot of noise while moving around, and we always approach children from the front so we don't startle them.
Keeping a distance
Our childcare staff make a point of sometimes keeping away from the children for short periods of time, as children do not need adults for everything to go through the various stages of development. This encourages them literally from a distance, which helps to build their self-confidence. Allowing children to do things themselves also stimulates their cognitive and sensory development, as well as developing their personalities. Children – no matter how young – tend to get a thrill out of learning and discovering things independently.
Feeding on your lap
We feed children on our laps whenever possible. As a result, the child receives personal attention, feels cared for, and is often satisfied afterwards. They can then go on to entertain themselves for a while. An added benefit of this approach is that children take a more active position if they’re fed while sitting on an adult’s lap, as well as being better able to observe their environment.
Babies haven’t yet started communicating with words but are already listening selectively: their preferred sound is human voices. This is why we spend a lot of time reading to the children, even to the youngest ones.
Laughing and crying
For the first two months, babies cry in a specific way, laugh without making a sound, and are able to hear voices.
Around 6 weeks of age, babies start recognizing their parents’ voices, and around 8 weeks old they start responding to them by following the voices with their head. At 2-3 months, babies start producing different noises on their own, which is when they learn to vocalize (“babble”).
Babies keep repeating the same syllables, become aware of their own noises, imitate other noises, and “talk” to their toys. Extension of vocalization stage.
Babies now have 4 ways of expressing themselves: crying, making noises and sounds, making facial expressions, and gesturing.
Babies’ language development takes a tremendous surge forward when they are aged between 4 and 8 months. This is when babies learn to distinguish rhythm and sounds, which is how they learn to talk. Babies love hearing a familiar voice (this can also be comforting).
How does Kindergarden support children in developing their language skills?
Love of singing
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star...” “Did you ever see a lassie...”, “Row, row, row your boat...” We like to sing similar children’s songs in Dutch with the kids often, and always do so at a slow pace, with high tones and exaggerated tone, so the children can hear the sounds clearly. At this age, virtually all children love to sing.
Reading to children
We spend a lot of time at Kindergarden reading to the children, even the youngest ones. Babies are pre-verbal (i.e. they haven’t yet started communicating with words), but they make noises, gestures, and mimic others. They are also already listening selectively: their preferred sound is human voices. This is important for their personal language development. During the pre-verbal stage, children vocalize in various ways.
Self-expression fosters self-confidence
Music is an important part of our educational program: in addition to singing, we play classical music in our baby group. Each child is free to express themself in their own individual way, as self-expression fosters self-confidence.
We talk to the babies a lot and make eye contact with them as much as possible. When we are tending to them, we tell them what we are doing. Babies listen mainly to a person’s tone of voice and hear differences in the way people speak, so we make sure to speak in reassuring, soothing, and gentle voices. We give children the opportunity to react, and they become increasingly responsive: this may range from cooing and crowing to laughing.
Cognitive and sensory development
Babies have already learned to grasp objects but lack the control to explore objects with their fingers, which is why they tend to put everything into their mouths: this is something they can control.
Whereas during the first month babies still respond instinctively to events or their environment, it isn’t until the next three months that they start developing their adaptive skills. For example, babies who are hungry stop crying immediately as soon as they see the bottle.
During the first few months, children learn by feeling, grasping, tasting, looking around, or hearing. They don’t only use their eyes and hands to discover, but (especially) their mouths as well, by getting a taste of new shapes and learning what certain objects feel like.
Cause and effect
Babies learn to repeat certain actions and behavior and discover new things. For example, if they accidentally knock against a music box and repeat this a few times, they know that this will produce sound. This is when babies learn to identify and separate cause and effect.
How does Kindergarden support children in their cognitive and sensory development?
Space and variety
Motor and sensory development are the basis for cognitive development. Babies observe their environment through their senses: hard, soft; rough, smooth; cold, warm; large, small. In terms of cognitive development, this is when they first learn to process information and observe the characteristics of different objects, animals, or people. We give children lots of room to move around and explore, and offer them a variety of materials with different textures, including fabric, plastic, wood, and bamboo.
The world in black and white
The contrast between black and white is the first thing that children can see. When most babies come to us, they are also very attracted to this contrast. Extra colors are gradually added, but continuing to offer the black and white contrast as well helps the children to start recognizing shapes and stimulates their senses.
Stimulating all the senses
From around the age of four months, it is good to stimulate all of children’s senses. Babies explore fabrics and materials by observing, feeling, and tasting them. They have a need for toys with clearly defined shapes, sounds, and colors. However, since children have limited attention spans, we look closely and respond to signs that the child has had enough (in fact, children are very good at communicating this themselves at this age).
Since babies are very curious, we make sure to keep our branches clear of any objects that could potentially cause harm to them. Note that up to around seven months, babies can’t really feel anything with their hands. While they have already learned to grasp objects, they lack the control to explore objects with their fingers.
The physical and emotional safety your child experiences at this age will help them later on to form relationships with others and develop a sense of self-worth.
Babies also develop self-confidence during these first few months by bonding with their parents and caregivers – a process that is stimulated by fostering a sense of safety and trust, and through encouragement.
Discovering their bodies
Babies learn to discover their own bodies, including their hands, feet, and mouth.
At around 4 months of age, babies realize that their behavior has an impact on their environment and that they can imitate other people’s behavior. They observe people’s facial expressions and attempt to mimic them.
How does Kindergarden support children in their personality development?
Start of identity awareness
We regularly put children down in front of a mirror. After a while, they become aware of their reflection and actually touch this in the mirror. They enjoy watching themselves and often let out little squeals of delight.
Your face is essentially a mirror to your baby as well.
Children learn a lot through imitation, which includes mimicking the facial expressions of their caregivers and parents. Try putting on a pouty face or stick out your tongue, and you’ll find that your child will do the same. Some kids also love raising their eyebrows: you’ll see that their whole face will start moving when they do this!
Hugging is fundamental
Hugging and touching promotes bonding between parent and child and between caretakers and children. Tactile sense is particularly important for young children. Feeling physically and emotionally safe will help your child to form relationships with others and develop a sense of self-worth, as well as being better able to handle stress, anxiety, and feelings of unsafety later in life. Our genuine attention and loving care will help your baby develop into a healthy child.