Track your baby's milestones ― Sense of self

You’ll be amazed at how aware bubba is from the get-go. Find out how she develops her sense of self.

Your baby’s sense of self all about knowing that she is her own person, and that there are other people around her. But for a baby, it isn’t that simple.

In her early months, she may even think that she and you are the same person. But as your baby grows and starts to explore the world around her, she starts to attain a greater sense of self awareness.

Here’s what you need to know about your baby’s journey to self-discovery.

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0 to 6 months

* At birth, your infant will identify with his main caregiver most as his primary concern is to fill his immediate needs for food and love. Shower him with attention as babies need loving relationships to develop a positive sense of self.

* By the second month, bubba will become aware of the distance between his body and an object. So, you’ll often notice him trying to reach out and grab an object or a favourite toy that’s in front of him.

* At about 4 months, he’ll assert his budding independence by crying to get your attention. This is one of the first moments he’ll realise that he has an independent will, and his behaviour will impact you.

* Your little one’s connection to culture is an important part of who he is and will shape his identity and self-esteem in a positive way. So, use words for important people, such as his mother, father, grandparents, as well as things (bottle, blanket, pacifier) with him.

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6 to 12 months

* By 7 months, your tot will understand she’s separate from you, which is around the time she’ll develop separation anxiety that can last till she’s age 2. So, avoid sneaking away when her back is turned when you drop her off at childcare. Hard as it is, say a proper goodbye to her.

* At 8 months, she’s more aware of her surroundings and anticipates daily routines ― “when I’m in the crib, it’s bedtime”; “when I sit in the high chair, it’s mealtime”.

* This is also about the time she becomes more observant and realises the relationship between cause and effect ― “when I drop my towel, mummy will pick it up.”

* By 9 months, your peewee will start to take charge of her eating habits. She’ll assert her independence by reaching for her spoon or trying to take food off your plate. It may be frustrating and messy, but letting her do so helps her to develop her fine motor skills.

Click through to learn more ways in which your little one develops his sense of self!


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12 to 18 months

* Expect your once happy baby to show his frustration at around 12 months. It’s because he’s discovered he can explore things by himself, such as climbing the sofa on his own, but will be thwarted by his limitations, like being unable to climb back down the sofa.

* Introduce games like hide-and-seek to show him that even though you’re “gone”, you will come back. Since he’s better able to understand the concept of object permanence (that things exist even when he doesn’t see them), it should help lessen his separation anxiety.

* By 15 months, your tyke understands that the reflection in the mirror is his own when he would once have stared blankly or waved at it in excitement, thinking it was someone else.

* By 18 months, most toddlers would have mastered the all-important skill of using the fork and spoon to feed himself.

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18+ months

* Your tyke now has strong opinions about everything: What he wears and eats, plus an endless list of things he wants done his way.

* Instead of trying to “correct” his ways, let him make certain decisions to encourage his independence. Give him choices like “Would you like to wear the green or red shirt?” His increasing determination is a sign of his developing independence.

* Past age 2, he’ll use words to convey his feelings when he once expressed himself through actions, gestures and sounds. The love and care you show him gives him to the confidence to assert himself.

* Beyond 3 years, he’ll continue his struggle for independence by testing the limits, by wandering away from you, drawing on the walls when you tell him not to, and so on. A common refrain you’ll hear from your little man is “I can do it myself!”. If it’s safe and reasonable, let him. It will boost his self-confidence.

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