Healthy Development

First 5 Fresno County > Healthy Development

All children develop at their own pace. Signs of healthy development vary by each stage of growth. While most of us understand the significance of crawling, walking and talking, we may not realize that some of the frustrating and messy moments we experience with our little ones are also important milestones that should be celebrated, rather than discouraged. So, go ahead, dance along with their banging of pots and pans and make silly faces at their spaghetti tossing.

 

Track your child’s development starting with pregnancy and act when you have concerns.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time to prioritize healthy habits like eating nutritious meals, going for walks, getting enough rest and start building a bond with your growing baby. During pregnancy your baby is growing fast and it is important that you keep your prenatal care visits, notice any changes (body, appetite, sleep, mood, etc.) and ask questions.

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For a healthy pregnancy consider the following:

  • Breastfeeding has many benefits for mom and baby. Determine if that is the best choice for your family.
  • Build a bond with your baby by talking, reading and singing to them baby starting at pregnancy.
  • To reduce fatigue and strain during your pregnancy, aim for at least eight hours of sleep a day.

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Infant (0-18 months)

Newborns are discovering the world around them and adapting to their new environment. Although babies spend a lot of time sleeping, they are aware and can feel, hear, see and smell everything around them. Early experiences shape children’s development positively or negatively. Make sure your baby is getting plenty of love from you and other trusted adults.

This is an exciting stage for your baby’s development. She is learning to make sounds, how to say her first words, take her first steps, explore and become curious about her surrounding and make independent choices.

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Support your baby’s growth and healthy development by:

  • Watch and wonder with your baby to sounds and sights around you.
  • Make eye contact with your baby and hold them close.
  • Sing to your baby during bath time, diaper changing and nap time.

Tools & Resources to use:

Toddler (18 months-3 years)

Put on your tennis shoes! Your toddler is busy inspecting every inch of their space. The challenge is to encourage their curiosity while keeping them safe and teaching limits. Toddlers are explorers and great problem solvers. Their interaction with you and others is increasing and they need help to understand and regulate their emotions and reactions.

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Help guide your toddler’s energy with activities that promote learning:

  • Create opportunities for play time
  • Explore books with your toddler
  • Instead of saying “no” to your child, give options appropriate to their age and ability
  • Create safe indoor spaces for jumping, dancing and tumbling. Get active together!
  • Take your child grocery shopping and practice saying all the items on your list – it helps with memory!
  • Make time for your child to have social interaction with other kids
  • Download the ASQ-3/ASQ: SE activity sheet for other ideas

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Preschoolers Age (3-5 years)

Your preschooler will surprise you with their imagination and self-awareness. They will be busy forming first friendships and sharing the skills they’ve mastered. Preschool aged children understand the impact of their behavior on others. Your reaction to their behavior can build or damage their self-esteem and confidence. Be prepared for your child to mirror your behavior.

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Support your child’s social and emotional development by:

  • At dinner or before bed time, talk to your child about their day.
  • Acknowledge when your child is learning or mastering new skills and point out what was helpful or positive about their actions.
  • Encourage safe outdoor play.
  • Take time to talk about feelings with your child every day to help them understand and share their emotions.
  • Cook healthy meals with your child
  • Explain the importance of each activity. For example, when brushing teeth tell them why doing so is good for them.

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