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Baby milestones: Factors that affect babies' development

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mum and baby
According to psychologist Richard Woolfson, there are several factors that can affect your baby's development. These include:
  • Birth position: Firstborns often learn to talk earlier as they're surrounded by adults, while subsequent babies may reach their physical milestones earlier because they have siblings to copy.
  • Environment: Your child will learn according to the opportunities he gets, so make sure he enjoys a variety of activities and gets to experience new surroundings.
  • Personality: Some babies just sit there, taking it all in, while others won't stay in one place long enough to hear what you've got to say. Just like adults, babies all shine in different areas, depending on temperament, likes and dislikes.
  • Gender: Research shows that boys often reach physical milestones earlier, while girls tend to learn to speak at a younger age and have better fine motor skills.

Another thing to remember is that development doesn't happen at a steady pace, but in peaks and plateaus: your child may seem to make huge progress one week and then spend a while perfecting his new talent before moving on to something new. Also, premature babies may reach their milestones several months later than their peers.

Is my baby's development normal?

The moments of pride you feel in your child's achievements will be mixed with times of worry that he's not developing as fast as he should be. If your anxieties are prompted by comparing your child with other babies, then try to ignore them - your little one hasn't read the books and magazines you have and doesn't know the precise date at which he's supposed to reach each milestone!

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Instead, he'll do things in his own time and according to his own interests and personality, not a timetable describing an 'average baby'. However, if you do feel that he's not developing at the rate you expected, talk to your health visitor or GP. Your baby will have checks during his first year anyway, but you can contact them at any other time if you're worried.

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