Babies: from birth to 18 months


The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has articulated Life Skills as a subject that exposes children and youth to “a range of knowledge, skills and values that strengthen their:

• physical, social, personal, emotional and cognitive development;
• creative and aesthetic skills and knowledge through engaging in dance, music, drama and visual art activities;
• knowledge of personal health and safety;
• understanding of the relationship between people and the environment;
• awareness of social relationships, technological processes and elementary science


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Problem Solving

  • From birth, babies solve problems of hunger and discomfort by crying for help. The baby is expressing themself the only way they know how to.

Tip: Speak to her gently and hold her upright, close to you. She may even make an “ahh” sound when she hears your voice or sees your face.

  • Baby’s vision is still quite fuzzy. In fact, their range of vision is only 20cm – 30cm – the length of a ruler! Babies are also sensitive to bright lights which often makes them frown or blink but they are fascinated by shadows on a plain wall.

Tip: Try amusing her by placing an unbreakable mirror near her to focus on. She may not recognise herself yet but it will sure grab her attention and keep her delighted and stimulated for a stretch of time.

  • From four months onwards, babies set out to solve problems of sitting, crawling, standing, walking and running by experimenting and taking risks (finding creative ways of moving).

Tip: Set out many different objects for the baby to come get from you or go pick up from another location. She will put everything in her mouth so remain hygienic and safe.



  • Babies cope with only one sense being stimulated at a time, such as vision or sound, rather than both together which may lead to over-stimulation. Confusion, boredom or over-stimulation is expressed by yawning, averting her gaze, arching her back, turning her face, fussing, or crying.

Tip: You may notice short periods of time when your newborn is quiet and alert. This is prime time for playing and talking with your baby. When the behaviors above are exhibited, it is time to change what is being done.

  • At six months, babies will love turn-taking games, especially ones that involve sounds, talking, or singing.  This is a good way to teach the baby and to make them laugh at the same time.

Tip: Make a sound for her to imitate. You can make animal noises, such as quack-quack and moo or silly sounds playing with your tongue.Better still, let her be the leader sometimes, and you mimic her babbles and noises!

  • At 12 months, baby has perfected the art of picking up and manipulating small objects with her hands, she may be interested in more energetic play to strengthen her arms and legs.

Tip: Push, throw, and knock everything down games work best. This can be done even with household items like bowls, pots and pans whereby she can put little pots or bowls inside bigger ones, and get a thrill out of the loud sounds they make when banged together. A less noisy option could be playing with building blocks.

Visual Arts

  • New babies are captivated by high-contrast patterns. Black and white toys, mobiles with strong colours, and colourful pictures books with strong line drawings may fascinate your baby.

Tip: If you can, have interesting toys for baby to watch, swipe at and listen to, to will allow her to practice her arm, hand, and finger coordination skills. You can also draw pictures using high-contrast colours and regularly show them to her. All these ideas make lying down seem less boring for her.

  • At eight months, their developing sight is also helping their exploration skills. They can now spot something that tickles their fancy. They may point and coo to show their delight or crawl towards it if they can.

Tip: Keep hazardous objects at bay but provide a variety of clean, safe toys and/or household items for the baby to explore.

  • After a year old, it is best to expose baby to touching things of different textures such as sand, water and paint. Babies love making marks in sand and in mud with their fingers.

Tip: Prepare sand in containers for children to draw in by using their fingers.


Music, Dance and Drama

  • Lullabies have a proven track record for soothing infants and also help with bonding.

Tip: Sing to the baby and do simple movements such as clapping and swaying to the beat.

  • As babies get older, they love making noise and playing instruments.

 Tip: Offer musical and dance activities as often as possible during the day especially whenever babies need to be soothed or stimulated. Also regularly give them home-made or shop-bought rattles or a drum and watch them enjoy the sound. You can also put on music with a strong beat so they can move to it.