Introduction

Introduction
Every aspect of a baby’s development occurs faster during his first year than at any other time. At no other time in life do humans undergo so much change.

Every aspect of a baby’s development occurs faster during his first year than at any other time. At no other time in life do humans undergo so much change.

In the early childhood development workshop “Petit Explorateur,” given at the Berceau perinatal centre in Beloeil, mothers are amazed by the giant steps their babies make, all within the ages of three to eight months old.

“We put our babies to sleep at night, and the next morning, they’re standing up in their cribs, grinning from ear to ear, and we realize that we need to lower the mattress!” says Eve Toutant, 8-month-old Ian’s mother.

To fill up his lungs for the very first time, a newborn must take a breath that is 10 to 15 times stronger than a normal breath. This breath is powerful enough to expulse all liquid to the blood and open thousands of alveoli lining the thoracic cavity.

Little 6-month-old Raphaële’s mother, Stephanie, who also attends the workshop, agrees. “The latest development over these last few days has been that she’s able to get on all fours. But that’s it. It’s as if she doesn’t know what to do once she gets into this position! In the meantime, she crawls, though mostly in reverse,” says the Beloeil mother.

The workshop leader, Linda Lortie, never tires of seeing all these changes. One morning per week, for an entire month, she makes parents and their babies take part in motor skill games, sensory exploration activities, nursery rhymes and so on. “It’s wonderful to watch them evolve from one week to the next, to see how they socialize and how they develop different ways of getting around,” she notes.

  • A newborn’s stomach is tiny: it can hold about 30 ml to 35 ml. It doubles in size the first week when the mother’s milk comes in, and by the end of the first month, is already three times bigger.
  • A newborn’s head is heavy and long (it represents ¼ of its total body length as opposed only ⅛ of an adult’s total body length). It contains a huge brain, which, at birth, accounts for 10 % of a baby’s total weight, and at 12 months old, will be 2 ½  times bigger. Newborns burn 80 % of their calories just feeding their brains! It’s hardly surprising that they need feeding so frequently!
 

“From the first day of pregnancy up until your baby is 1 year old, every aspect of development is set in motion: motor, cognitive, pre-language, social and emotional,” explains occupational therapist Patrick Major. Throughout this epic journey, nothing happens by accident. All the puzzle pieces fall into place one after the other. “A child cannot embark on the next step until he has complete control over the one before,” adds Major.

That said, each child reaches various milestones at his own pace and according to his own path. “It’s not a step-by-step progress, but more of a spiral,” adds the occupational therapist. So, if the major milestones (like sitting, standing, walking) need to be thoroughly mastered before developing a new, more advanced skill, this doesn’t prevent a child from continuing to use his first acquisitions (e.g.: crawling even if he knows how to walk). Some children also skip certain steps, like crawling or walking on all fours. “They may enjoy acquiring these skills later, to, say, race on all fours, towards 18 months old,” adds Major.

 During the 9 months spent inside their mothers, babies gain 3 billion times their weight!