Growing up: Wow, I’m growing up

Everyone has been a baby once and has experienced growing up firsthand. That’s why most people feel like they can have a say when it comes to how children grow up. Everyone has something to say about how children grow and what is good for them during this growth process. Many people believe that if a baby cries a lot, you should not keep picking him up, otherwise he will take you for a walk. Or they say, “He must be teething.” But is this really true or are they fables?

Personal experiences versus knowledge

Sometimes it’s nice to get good advice from everyone about your newborn or toddler, but sometimes it’s downright annoying. Everyone knows best and expects you to follow all that well-intentioned advice. Whether you like this advice or not, no statements can be made based on personal experiences that apply to everyone. People who are professionally concerned with human development, such as psychologists, use various development lines. Certain knowledge of some lines of development is often useful in everyday life. If we know how a child develops mentally, we also know at what age a child is able to cope with a certain situation. We can take this knowledge into account in a decision, for example whether the child is already able to go to school alone or go shopping alone.

Upbringing or aptitude

One of the first questions that arise when monitoring the development of a young child is: what do children need to learn and what do they receive from birth? Not all babies are the same, some babies laugh a lot or are irritable and others are active or very calm. The extent to which someone is active is strongly influenced by genetic predisposition, but exercise, experience and education also play a role. From birth, children experience extremely rapid development, skills and knowledge increase every day. There are two opinions on the question, ‘nurture or aptitude?’ One group holds the view that a large part of human development is determined by innate predispositions. Another group of researchers believes that a baby is a blank slate and that everyone is born without any knowledge or skills and that people are only shaped by upbringing and experiences. Yet most behavioral scientists today agree that environment, upbringing, and genetics play a role in shaping human behavior.

The body develops

A baby cannot do much on its own yet. When baby was first born, he couldn’t hold anything with his hands yet. Once baby started reaching for certain objects that were attractive to him, he couldn’t even determine the direction properly at first. For example, baby could reach for a beautifully colored block but could not come close to touching it, let alone grabbing the block. Only weeks later will baby be able to place his hand over the block and a few weeks later he will be able to use his thumb so that he can actually grab the block. At twenty weeks a child can grasp an object using the hand as a whole. After thirty-six weeks, when the baby is already able to move his thumb and fingers independently of each other, the four fingers still move as a whole. It turns out that a child does not grow gradually, but in jumps. A good example of this is when we have not seen a child for a few weeks, only then do we notice how big he has become. A fun experiment to do yourself with your baby, so that you can see how much he has grown, is the following: From birth, take a portrait photo of the baby every week and stick these photos in an album, a photo on each page . After a year, leaf through the photo album and see how the baby has grown every week.

Growing by leaps and bounds

Skills increase by leaps and bounds, suddenly you notice that the baby can pick up the toy. But the brain in particular grows in leaps and bounds. The number of nerve cells increases dramatically during pregnancy. The most important three jumps out of the countless jumps that the baby’s brain makes during pregnancy are as follows.

  1. The nerve cells that are important for breathing and blood pressure develop first.
  2. When the pregnancy is six months further, the synapses develop, these are the spaces between the nerve cells in the brain that transmit ‘messages’.
  3. When the baby is almost full term, the connections between the synapses are established. These connections allow us to think and make plans.

Growth does not stop with birth, the development of the connections between the synapses continues to increase for years after birth. It has been shown that the dramatic growth of the brain and the leapfrogging of a child’s knowledge and skills are closely linked.

Difficult for the baby

When new connections suddenly arise in the brain, it is often difficult for a baby. Suddenly, baby can see clearly over a greater distance, recognize patterns and coordinate his movements. Imagine developing a skill overnight without having to do anything. We adults would be happy about that, but a child doesn’t know what’s happening. You can imagine that these sudden developments have a major influence on a child’s behavior. These are the moments when the child can sometimes be annoyingly present. It cries for reasons that are inexplicable to us and seeks its safe haven, in this case its mother or caregiver. It turns out that there are a dozen of these difficult periods, which occur in the first twenty months of every human life. The timing is slightly different for each child, but these difficult periods are approximately the same time. Sometimes these periods only last two days, but they can also last two weeks. The first peak is around the fifth week, when the child can suddenly see further than eight inches. Then there are peaks around the eighth, twelfth, seventeenth, twenty-sixth, fifty-second, sixty-first and seventy-third week. As a mother or caregiver, it is important to recognize these peaks, because when you know that a child is in a transition phase, you do not have to worry unnecessarily when a child is inconsolable. Then it is clear that the crying fits are related to the developmental phases.

read more

  • Growing up: The baby phase
  • Growing up: Psychological development from zero to fifteen
  • Growing up: The adolescence period
  • Growing up: Physical development in the adolescent
  • Growing up: Middle age

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