Let’s look again at that developmental elevator. A baby reaches each developmental floor equipped with certain competencies. How these competencies flower into skills depends upon interaction with the care giving environment baby finds on that floor. If the interaction is responsive and enriching, Growing Together: Enjoying Your Baby’s Developmental Stages – Part One Articles baby gets back on the elevator with more skills, and the ride up to the next floor is much smoother. Because baby reaches the next floor with more skills, the interaction on the next level of development is even more rewarding.
The approach in the following chapter is to focus not only on the growth of the baby but also on that of the parents — the growth of a relationship. Infant development and the modern cliché infant stimulation mean not only what the infant does and what parents do for the infant, but what baby and parents do for one another. They grow together as a family. Here’s how it happens.
As you travel through the first two years of development together, something good happens to both of you. You become more sensitive to each other.
As you and your baby become mutually sensitive to each other, you begin to shape each other’s behavior., Mutual shaping of behavior is well illustrated by the ways parents and baby shape one another’s language. On the surface parents appear to undergo a regression to the level of the baby. They act, talk, and think down at the baby’s level. The parents first become like the baby in order that the baby can more easily become like the parents — all developing communication skills that none had before. This concept of mutual shaping is one of the most important ways parents and baby learn how to fit together.
As you and your baby become more sensitive to none another and shape one another’s behavior, you develop competence. Your baby gives a cue. You watch, listen, learn, and respond. Because of your keen perception and quick response, baby is more motivated to continue giving cues.