In Their Faces

A one month old looks passively around the exam room and finally meets my eyes. He stops and stares with wonder.  He found something he enjoys looking at – an oval face.

A two month old takes a shorter time to search the room and  find my face. He doesn’t just stare, he smiles and coos –  as if he has things in his head to say but doesn’t know how  to get the words out.

A four month old looks right at me and smiles and coos.  Sometimes he screeches out loud to get my attention. He  doesn’t want me to talk to his mother he wants my total  attention.

At six months of age, a baby looks at me with a frown at  first. He tries to judge my emotion. If I turn to him and  frown, I could make him cry. But I never do that. I know  what he is looking for. As I go over to the exam table I  smile widely. My little friend responds with a beaming  smile and a gurgle.

It gets harder at nine months because at that age they  don’t like any smiling faces, they prefer the faces they  know and love – mom and dads. But that’s okay with me  because as they cry in response to me in the office at  nine months of age, I take comfort in knowing they are  developing well.

I am so lucky to have a job where every week I get to  experience babies. I love to see the changes in their  responses to me as they develop.

Watching children develop is such a joy. I never tire of  seeing it happen. It is something we should all enjoy and  take interest in.

The development in children in the first five years is  absolutely fascinating. They start with responding to  faces with smiles and coos. They progress to knowing their  parent’s faces and preferring those faces to others. They  start learning words in order to interact better. They  fear strangers yet act like the world is theirs to explore  When not getting their way with the world, they start  having temper fits. But as language and understanding  improve the fits go away and sharing begins. Through  sharing and interaction more words and language come. And  when learning more about that language a fascinating world  of the alphabet, letters and labels becomes awakened.  Before we know it, our child is ready for kindergarten.

The first years of our children’s lives are precious  because of this amazing development that occurs. Ninety  percent of their brain development occurs in those first  five years. But they cannot develop alone. This is why  we need to pay attention to our children. They need us  because they can only develop in these vital years through  interaction with us. We need to remember to turn off the  distractions – the TV’s, the movies, the computers – and  stay in our babies’ faces. By being “in their faces” they  develop the skills they need to interact. And by being  in our children’s faces we get to witness it all unfold.  Parents shouldn’t forget this lesson just because our kids  get older. Almost at any age our children can learn from  us. In order to do that they need to interact with us.  This is what family time should be all about – interacting  and watching them grow before our eyes.