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Facts about your child’s development


Did you know that much of your child’s learning and development depends on your relationship with them?

It’s never too early to start building that relationship.

Babies’ learning starts in pregnancy

Connecting with your baby is good for their development so take time to focus on them. When your baby kicks you can respond by stroking your stomach and talking to them.

A healthy lifestyle makes a difference to baby’s development and mum’s health so think about your diet and exercise.

It is also important that mums do not experience very high levels of stress during pregnancy for their own health and the future health of their baby.

If you are concerned about your diet, fitness or stress levels while you’re pregnant, talk to your midwife or health visitor.

Unborn babies can hear the world around them

From around 20 weeks a baby can recognise different voices while in the womb. Talking and singing to your baby helps them to recognise the voices of the important people in their lives and can be soothing to them.

Did you know that unborn babies yawn, exercise, sleep, hiccup, suck their thumb and swallow?

Enjoying and feeling close to your baby helps their development

Babies who are handled more in the earliest months of their lives are generally happier, less fussy toddlers as they feel more confident that you are there for them.

Holding your baby when they are crying helps them to feel loved and secure. Cuddling and keeping them close means they will cry less and it is good for their brain development

Don’t worry about giving them too much attention – it is not possible to spoil a new baby.

Brain development

Much of a child’s brain development happens in the first few years after birth.

A baby is born with billions of brain cells and these quickly start to make connections – hundreds per second – as the baby interacts with the world.

Babies love to look at faces and enjoy mimicking interactions even at a few days old.

Take time to tune into your baby and enjoy taking turns with babbling conversations, copying your baby’s sounds and always giving them good eye contact. This really develops their ability to communicate and their social skills.

You can also support your baby’s brain development by holding your baby close, responding to their needs and breastfeeding them.


Babies learn to understand their needs and how to meet them through the care they receive from you

It can be overwhelming at times to hear your baby’s distress so make sure you have support from others.

Sometimes it’s hard to work out what your baby needs and often they just need comfort and to feel close to you.

Everyday interactions are teaching your baby about themselves, relationships and the world around them. This helps them learn how to start doing things for themselves.

You don’t need to be a perfect parent to be a good enough parent. If you are feeling overwhelmed ask for support.

Children with additional needs

Children progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. Your child’s early years are a very important time for their physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. When the health visitor makes a routine development assessment, they might suggest that there could be a problem, but if you have any worries of your own at any time, you should ask for advice right away. 

Some children may have additional communication needs, or need additional support with learning and you can ask for  your child to have a developmental assessment if you have any concerns.  Our service works in partnership with specialist services at Sheffield Children’s Trust and Sheffield City Council. Here are some helpful resources for all parents.

Free books for babies and children

Through a national schemed called ‘Bookstart’, the BookTrust provides free reading packs for children aged 0-12 months and 3-4 years.

The packs are given at two key ages before school to help families read together every day and inspire children to develop a love of books and reading.

These are given in person to families by health, library and early years professionals, who support families, ensuring that every child receives their Bookstart packs.

Read more about what Bookstart can offer you.

Further reading

If you would like to find out more about your baby’s development see:

And you can talk to your midwife or health visitor at any time.

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