Working With Babies from Birth to 12 Months

E1-Summarise the factors which may influence the health and development of babies in the first year of their lives.

Environmental factors such as not having enough space in the garden for the baby to play and explore will influence their development as they may not be able to expand their gross and fine motor skills. “Generally people with a high level of earnings enjoy a better lifestyle, with better housing, better food, warm clothes and own transport” Meggit. C. (2001:10) Parents may not have enough money to fund for toys and equipment for the baby which means they will not benefit from experiences. On the other hand, babies who are raised in poverty are less likely to receive good nourishment and may live in unsuitable housing. Poverty therefore increases the likelihood of accidents and infections.

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Another factor is genetics which may influence the health and development of the baby. At the moment of conception when one sperm fuses with one egg information that will affect the baby’s development comes together this information is known as DNA (deoxyribonucleicacid). DNA contains information that will influence our physical appearance, pre-disposition to illness. This is because some of the illnesses are inherited through genes for example, Downs Syndrome; this has been resulted from a chromosomal abnormality. This can lead the baby having problems such as heart defects and chest infections.

Illnesses such as meningitis can cause epilepsy and hearing problems. Whilst asthma is long term and the baby may need to have asthma pumps. The baby may have poor appetite, constipation and may be feeling miserable, when they are ill. Their weight and height may be below average, if they have not been developing correctly due to illness. Babies are very vulnerable to infections because their immune systems are developing. Some childhood illnesses such as measles and whooping cough can leave babies with permanent disabilities and in some cases cause stunted growth.

Antenatal factors also influence the development of the baby as during pregnancy the mother may have taken illegal drugs or alcohol. This can cause the baby to have an addiction due to this they will need to be weaned off it. Infections can also pass through the umbilical cord such as rubella, which can leave the baby deaf or blind when born. When the baby is being delivered, there may be complications which can affect the baby’s health such as lack of oxygen. This can be caused by the umbilical cord becoming entangled. As a result of this, the baby can be left with permanent brain damage. Using analgesic drugs during labour is also a risk. The effect on the baby depends on how much and how close to delivery the drug is given to the mother as some babies will show signs of sleepiness after birth and some women may also find signs of nausea and drowsiness.

Finally, nutrition plays a significant role in babies overall health. Babies who are well nourished are more likely to resist infections and develop healthy bones and skin. They will also have energy for play and sufficient nutrients for growth. Some research also suggests that diet can also play a part in cognitive development.

E2-Describe how indoor and outdoor environments can be made safe, reassuring and stimulating.

The indoor environment can be made safe by making sure the children are never left alone, as this can cause accidents. There should always be the correct staff to baby ratio, which is 1:3. Whilst the baby sleeps, the practitioners should be aware of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and keep the baby at the end of the cot. Risk assessments should also be made inside and outside.

“It is important that the environment children are playing in is regularly checked, before and during activities.” Tassoni. P (2007:193)

Outside, the gates should be locked and the practitioner should follow the correct policies and procedures. There should be activities which are age / stage suited and that are supervised at all times.

The indoor environment can be reassuring by having a key person who the baby will bond with. The practitioner can make sure the babies have individual routines, by working in partnership with parents, as they will find out about their child’s personal needs. They can adapt their voice and body language so the baby will feel comfortable. The baby can also have a comforter when they are upset and have gradual settling in procedures. Whilst outdoors, they can be exposed to new experiences slowly. The practitioner can also support the baby if upset by strangers, as they are aware of them from 6 months.

The environments can be made stimulating by having a variety of activities which build the babies sensory development, fine and gross motor skills. For example a treasury basket which has different natural objects in, this will encourage the baby to use their different senses.

“Babies given safe, stimulating and supportive opportunities will use their senses to learn about objects they encounter. In doing so they will enter into a world of discovery, puzzlement, social encounter and communication… As babies suck, grasp, touch and feel objects they rehearse behaviours which foster their earliest learning.” (Goldschmied, E 1989)

The displays can be low down so the babies can interact with them by touch. Whilst outdoors, the practitioner can take the babies to parks or mini zoo’s and let them explore nature. This will bring new natural textures to the baby.

C1 – Discuss the importance of an environment that is safe, reassuring and stimulating.

It is important for the environment to be safe as it is a government and legal requirement. This is because the Childcare Act 2006 affects the “adult to child ratio in rooms, the qualification levels of staff.” Tassoni. P (2007:117) these are embedded in the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.

The environment must also be safe as this prevents the baby having accidents. The parents will feel reassured, if they feel their baby is in a safe environment. This means that they will want to continue to send their baby to the setting.

It will also help the baby’s development, as they will have the opportunities to learn. If not the baby may not develop skills such as fine and gross.

A reassuring environment will make the baby feel secure and settled. As a result, the baby will want to attend the setting. They will also be building up their self esteem which will benefit them later in life. The baby’s social and emotional health will have increased, which will reassure their parents. They will also form an excellent attachment with their key person, which will be an advantage to them as they will plan activities around them. As a result of this their individual needs will have been met.

Having a stimulating environment is important as the baby will be able to develop a variety of skills. They will be able to increase their sensory development by having activities such as treasury baskets and water play. They will feel motivated and will want to explore different outcomes from activities. A stimulating environment can be challenging, however this will encourage the baby’s progression and learning and promote overall development.

E3-Describe the expected stage of development of babies at 7 months and how they can be expected to develop in the next 2 months of life.

Development for babies means the learning of memory, language, thinking and reasoning. Language development is more than uttering sounds or babbling. Babies’ development comes at different ways and times (Sameroff, 2008:49).

When the baby is seven months old the baby may be able to sit without support for little time, whereas when they are nine months, they might sit without support for fifteen minutes.

This is because their balance and gross motor skills have developed more. Moreover at seven months the baby may use the palmer grasp, whereas at nine months the baby may be able to use the pincer grip. Also at 9 months their fine motor skills have progressed as the child “can deliberately release objects by dropping them.” Tassoni. P (2007:41). They can also crawl and use objects to help pull them up to stand.

At seven months, the baby watches objects in their visual field. However this progresses at nine months, as may be able to follow falling objects, which is object permanence. This is due to their intellectual development extending in those two months. Their language development also progresses, as at seven months they may be babbling tunefully. Whereas at nine months it is more complex as they are repeating and imitating.

The baby may also enjoy care routines at seven months, on the other hand at nine months they may be wary of strangers and “shows distress when her mother leaves.” Bruce. T, Meggit C (1999:91). This is due to the improvement of their emotional development.

Moreover, at seven months the baby forms a positive attachment with the adult, but at nine months their social development increases as they may offer toys to others. All babies have different needs and speeds of development, some babies may develop rapidly in an area such as physical and less quickly in language.

E4 -Explain how 2 different play activities/experiences can support the overall development of the baby described in E3.

One activity which can support a seven month baby is using musical instruments. These may include instruments such as a drum, rattle, xylophone and a music box. The baby’s sensory skills will develop whilst using the instruments, as they are using their sight to see the instruments, hearing to listen to the sounds they produce and touch by exploring the different materials on the instrument. Their fine motor skills will also develop as they pick up the instruments and discover them by shaking, pressing or pounding. The instruments also help the baby’s hand to eye co-ordination and concentration. The musical instruments will also help the baby’s language development as they may babble whilst playing. The activity also develops the baby’s emotional development, as they may be feeling agitated so the music will calm and comfort the child. Also their social development will increase as they are bonding with an adult.

“Music is an easy way for parents to relate to their children. When an infant hears you sing to them, you are connecting with them, and they are connecting to you.” www.childcareaware.org

Another activity is using building blocks to support the baby’s development. This is due to the seven month baby using its fine motor skills to pincer grip the blocks when picking them up, and their gross motor skills by picking them up with their hands and arms. They will also develop good sitting skills, as they will be able to balance for longer periods of time when they are playing. As a result, the baby will develop their hand to eye co-ordination from this activity. They will also start recognising different colours, shapes and patterns. Their language and social development will improve as they may babble and bond with the adult.