Category Archives: Physical

Against all odds

When a child learns to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks to himself: “maybe this isn’t for me?”

You’ll find out soon enough just how persistent your baby can be. However small he may seem, he’s a strong-willed individual who’ll leave you amazed when facing challenges in his development. When your little one finally comes around to taking his first steps and begin to practice walking, there’s more to it than a simple developmental milestone.

To better understand this huge transition, we must first acknowledge that by walking your baby is giving up his “status” as a highly-skilled crawler, leaving his comfort zone and willingly choosing to be a low-skilled and uncoordinated walker. Being a skilled crawler, your little one can easily move through his or her environment, explore, navigate and avoid obstacles. On the other hand, being new to walking, he doesn’t have these perks. For him, every step is bumpy and falling is his go-to those days. So how come your baby persists to walk against all odds?

Need for speed. 

Even from such a young age, your little one can realize that despite the constant falls and the bumpy ride, he realizes that he can cover a greater distance at a faster pace than if he crawled. Moreover, what he gains both in distance covered and speed reached has huge implications for the level navigation and engagement with his surroundings. Continue reading

Exactly how big a deal is drawing?

With the sudden boom on computers, tablets, and phones as convenient playtime devices, it seems we’ve lost a little touch of one of the most basic activities that can further develop your little one’s fine motor skills.

Between the age of 12 and 18 months, it’s possible your baby will want to write and draw anywhere he finds, be sure to encourage him to give it a try, directing his attention to an appropriate canvas! There is endless research that suggests drawing, doodling and scribbling play a larger role in child development than we first thought.

What are some of the benefits of drawing? 

  • Further develop your little one’s motor skills such as holding and hand-eye coordination, both of which will ultimately help him dominate writing and drawing on a higher level.
  • Get those creative juices flowing!
  • Even though they’re still young, children need outlets where they can express themselves, drawing is a perfect way to do so.
  • They can learn in a visual and easy way differences and similarities in shapes, colors, and sizes.
  • Understanding that when pen hits paper a mark is made, your little one gets to experience cause and effect first hand.
  • Drawing can serve as a great distraction and has been shown to improve mood.
  • Encouraging your child’s creativity has benefits in their ability to solve problems later on.
  • When kids feel good while creating something totally new it helps boost their self-confidence and later on, will feel the freedom to experiment and create new ways of thinking or doing something.

There are different ways to encourage your child’s creativity, independence and artistic skills. The following are just of a few of the infinite possibilities: Continue reading

The benefits of crawling!

The traditional hands-and-knees or cross crawl is full of benefits. Not only is it your baby’s first official means of mobility and independence it is an important part of your baby’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development! If you’d like to learn some of the many benefits, continue reading:

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The first years: fine motor skills

Your baby will reach countless milestones during his first year. The most noticeable and exciting will be gross motor skills like turning, sitting, crawling, standing and maybe even those first steps! But don’t look past your little one’s fine motor skill development, or his hand and finger skills – they’re quite significant as well.

Fine motor skills require the use of small muscles in the fingers and hands. They refer to the ability to make precise movements with the hands like buttoning up a shirt, picking up a cereal flake off the floor, or writing. The development of these might be harder to notice if you’re not focused on them – but they are just as exciting as gross motor skills because they lead to exploration, independence and learning.

When your baby was born, you probably noticed his hands were clenched tight most of the time. If you placed something like your finger in one of them, he held on tight because of the grasping reflex. After a few weeks, and getting used to being outside the womb, you’ll see your baby open and close his hands. Try placing a small object in one of them and he’ll probably hold on to it, maybe even give it a shake by three months. Continue reading

Baby on the move: Learning to stand up

Has your baby mastered the art of sitting and crawling? Then he will probably be ready to stand on his own feet soon! Learning to stand up will be a major milestone on the way to your baby’s first steps.

Before your baby learns to stand up he will need to gain muscle strength and coordination, and first be able to roll over and sit. Once your baby has mastered these skills he will be ready to stand up, which will require more muscle strength in his legs, for him to learn how to bend at the knees and be able to shift his own weight.

When will my baby learn to stand up?

Around month 4 and 7 you will notice that your little one starts to spend more time trying to sit up, this is a great moment for you to help him try and stand up for the first time. While sitting down gently pull him up from the arms, you will notice your baby may stand up, needing lots of help and support from you. Around month 6 your baby may be able to bear weight on his feet and bounce up and down actively, so try practicing this on a hard surface like the floor.

Between month 6 and 9 your baby might try to pull himself up and succeed for only just a few seconds before he falls backwards. Remember to keep an eye on your baby during this phase; although he might learn how to stand up fairly quickly, sitting back down again is another matter. You may find your little one clinging on to furniture and even crying because he can’t work out how to sit back down again. Help him during this transition, instead of picking him up and sitting him down again, show your baby how to bend his knees. Then encourage him to try again and reassure him that it will be ok.

By the time his first birthday comes along, your baby will probably be able to stand up by himself and will be ready to take his first steps. Always remember that babies develop at different paces, if you are concerned about your baby’s physical development make sure to talk to your pediatrician about it.

How can I help my little one learn to stand up?

  • Give him safe furniture to pull up with. Remember your little one will try to help himself up with anything he can reach, so make sure the furniture at home are sturdy pieces he can hang on to without it falling over. Prevent accidents, baby-proof your home.
  • Use the stairs to teach balance. Learning to stand up is all about confidence and balance! The short height of a step makes it the perfect spot to practice pulling up. Place your baby in a sitting position next to the step and encourage him to pull himself up by using the edge of the step. Make sure you are always supervising this activity.
  • Place his toys up high. Encourage your baby to stand up by placing some toys on the sofa; when he pulls up on the sofa, he’ll be so intrigued with the toy that he’ll remain standing there for a long time, helping him practice balancing.
  • Bounce your baby up and down. Place your little one standing up in front of you so he can bounce up and down while you hold his hands. This activity is fun for both you and your baby, and will help him strengthen his leg muscles and learn how to bend his knees.

 

If you’d like to learn more, visit these web pages:

https://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/baby/pages/default.aspx

http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/standing-up/

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a25012679/developmental-milestones-standing

Motor Milestones: Learning to roll

Has your baby mastered head control? He’ll soon be ready to learn how to roll over, this is an important milestone for your baby because it marks his first big movement all by himself. As strength in his arms, back, and neck increases, he will begin to discover new ways of moving his body.

When should I expect my baby to start rolling over?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should be able to roll over in both directions by 7 months. But around 3-4 months your baby will develop enough upper body strength to turn from his tummy to his back. It may take him until he’s about 5 or 6 months to flip from back to front, because he needs stronger neck and arm muscles for that movement.

Rolling over for the first time usually comes as a surprise for both you and your baby. It’s a new experience for him so it may be scary at first, but don’t be surprised if rolling soon becomes one of your little one’s favorite tricks. Continue reading

Baby on the move: Different crawling styles

Is your baby ready for crawling? Around 7-10 months most babies master the hand-and-knee crawling method, but others develop alternative styles of crawling that work well enough for them that they never progress to the traditional hand-and-knee crawling. Here are some types of crawling your baby can adopt.

 

Not all babies crawl in the traditional way- alternating hands and knees- some babies use their belly to move, others scoot on their bottoms using their hands to propel themselves forward, and some babies use one leg down in crawling position and the other foot in a standing position on the floor to move forward. But no matter what method your baby adopts, remember that the important thing is that he or she is showing a desire to move independently and explore his or her surroundings.

 

These are the different styles of crawling according to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics):

Classic hands-and-knees or cross crawl.

Your baby distributes her weight on her hands and knees, then moves one arm and the opposite knee forward at the same time. This is the most common type of crawling.

Bear crawl.

It looks like the classic crawl, but your baby keeps his or her elbows and knees straight, walking on hands and feet like a bear.

Belly or commando crawl.

Your baby moves his or her body forward while dragging his or her belly against the floor. This can be an efficient way of moving around but it will definitely result in dirty clothes!

Bottom scooter.

Your baby scoots around on his bottom using his arms to move himself forward. This type of crawling will never be as fast as the classic hands-and-knees crawl, but it gets the job done. Bottom scooters are also often babies who have really resisted tummy time.

Crab crawl.

Your baby will move backward or sideways like a crab, propelling herself with her hands. This type of crawling usually occurs when your baby is just learning to crawl. This phase usually doesn’t last longer than a week or two. 

Rolling crawl.

Your baby gets to his or her destination by rolling from one place to another. While not strictly crawling at all, some babies become so efficient at rolling that they never really develop the crawling stance because they simply roll over and over until they get to their destination.

 

Take in consideration that atypical crawling patterns do not necessarily indicate a problem, but asymmetry in crawling can be a red flag so if you have concerns about the way your baby is crawling, talk with your pediatrician or have your baby evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist.

 

If you’d like to learn more about crawling, visit our blog Crawling 101 or the following sites:

 

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Crawling-Styles.aspx

http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-milestone-crawling_6501.bc

http://www.kidspot.com.au/baby/baby-development/milestones/baby-development-all-about-crawling

 

Mouthing: Why does everything end up in my baby’s mouth?

Does your baby put everything (or almost everything) she can find in her mouth? And you can’t get her to stop? Well actually, you won’t be able to and you shouldn’t! Mouthing is an essential part of your little one’s development and exploration.

Oral exploration is a key developmental stage. It allows your baby to discover the taste and texture of the different objects that surround her. So when your little one grasps an object and then brings it to her mouth, it means that she wants to explore it further “Is it soft or hard? Can I eat it? Does it make a sound?”

Keep in mind that mouthing won’t be the only way your little will explore her world, in the first years of life babies explore their surroundings through all their senses – seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting- and the more they are able to explore, the more they will learn.

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The first few years: touch and smell

This article discusses tactile and olfactory development – both sub-domains of the Physical developmental area!

While your baby seems to not be doing much, other than sleeping, eating, and let’s face it – pooping – her brain is incredibly active, taking the world in through her senses, and learning at a rate that will be unmatched the rest of her life.

Your baby’s senses are her main way of learning about the world around her. Of these, smell is the most advanced at birth – a baby actually begins to smell before being born! This allows her to detect mom’s scent, which will quickly become her favorite. Even six days after being born, a baby will choose her mother’s breast pad over someone else’s. Also, babies will also prefer sweet to bitter smells right away – but they might also show a penchant for certain smells depending what her mom ate during pregnancy. So don’t be surprised if your baby shares your love for strawberries, bananas, and later, chocolate! What this means is that you can use your baby’s sense of smell to soothe her when nothing else seems to work: the smell of lavender or vanilla can calm her down – or your own scent for its familiarity.

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Motor milestones: Why tummy time is so important

Did you know that research suggests that babies who spend time on their tummies crawl earlier than babies who don’t? Find out why tummy time is so important for your baby and get tips on how to encourage it!

Why is tummy time so important?

Tummy time will help your baby develop his neck, back, and shoulder muscles needed to accomplish most of his physical milestones, like lifting his head, crawling, and pulling himself up to stand.

While your baby is on his belly, he’ll have to work on some muscle strength because he’ll have to push up, turn his neck, and move around a bit to explore his surroundings. Tummy time helps prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome and twisted neck. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play! Continue reading