Category Archives: Physical

Motor milestones: Head control

Do you remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? Probably an experience you will never forget, right? Surely you remember your doctor, nurse, or mom telling you to be careful with his/her head. All newborns have little control of their heads because their neck muscles are weak and they haven’t developed the motor skills that will help them support their head. After a few months your baby will acquire this key ability!

One of the first and most important physical challenges your baby will face is learning to support his head and develop the neck muscle to do it. The acquisition of this skill is crucial since it will lay the foundation for other physical milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling, and walking. Moreover, your baby needs to be able to support his head before you introduce solids to his diet.

We know that each baby develops at their own pace and head control without a doubt will be a skill that your baby will acquire at his own time. However, it is important to understand the development of this ability and be able to identify any possible delays in his development. Continue reading

Motor Milestones: Learning to sit independently

Watching your baby begin to develop independence can be exhilarating. Your baby enjoys this process too since he is able to explore with a different perspective the world that surrounds him.

One way your baby begins to gain independence is learning to sit on his own, but this does not happen overnight. First, a series of steps and motor skills are required for him to master this milestone.

Being able to sit upright means your baby’s neck and back muscles are strong enough to carry their weight in an upright position and he has gained control of his head.

According to Pediatrician Melissa Goldstein M.D. a baby’s development starts from the head down. At 4 months old babies are able to sit down with support from a caretaker or furniture. By 5-6 months old most can sit by themselves in a tripod position in which they position their hands on the floor in front of themselves for reinforcement. At 7 months old they will probably sit on their own for some seconds with no support and free hands to explore and grab objects around themselves. At this point they might even be able to sit up from lying down on their tummy by pushing themselves up from the surface with their hands. Finally, by the age of 8 or 9 months they are likely to sit steadily on their own for some time. Continue reading

The Nature and Nurture of Motor Development

“Once your baby has mastered his reaching abilities, he is taking his first step into exploring the physical world”

The rate in which your infant acquires his motor achievement has little relevance to his IQ score or any cognitive performance, as long as he lies in the normal range. Motor skills involve much more than just movement, these skills lead to an understanding of the social and physical environment. Once a baby masters his motor milestones, his experience will become broader and his perception of the world will drastically improve. Acquiring these skills comes in hand with a sense of independence, a higher self-esteem, stronger muscle growth and better coordination of neural circuits.

What motivates these developments? It was thought to be just nature’s job but it seems that nurture also plays a role as reinforcement. It is a combination of a programmed sequence of neural maturation and consistency in daily exercise. The neuromuscular maturation is indeed “hard wired” and its pace determines this progression. If there is no neuromuscular maturation then practice will not influence the development at all. The motor cortex is one of the first areas of the brain that shows electrical activity but it takes a while for it to fully mature.

Once your baby has mastered his reaching abilities, he is taking his first step into exploring the physical world. Grasping actually occurs before birth, though this is purely reflexive and it ends at 2 months. The babies enter into this phase called the fixed extension, which involves an extension of the arm but their fists tightly closed. Normally, successful reaching is achieved around the 4th month and by the 6th month; the act is smooth, accurate and very much controlled. How is this skill mastered? There is a blend of corticospinal fibers innervating the arms and muscles, motor cortical areas innervating the hand and myelination of fibers and vision that allows us to be able to accurately reach the target. Limbic and motor planning play a role here too, where experience gets to play a role in this achievement.

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Why babies crave repetitive motion

Balance, the ability to sense and adjust to gravity and perceive any kind of acceleration is a fundamental sense. But if this sense is fundamental, why is it often ignored?

Known as the vestibular system, this sense functions below the level of our cerebral cortex and we often take it for granted. The vestibular nerve is the first fiber tract in the brain to begin myelination (a process by which fatty layer accumulates around nerve cells—enabling transmission of faster information for complex brain processes). By only 5 months after gestation, the vestibular apparatus is ready and the vestibular pathways to eyes and spinal cord have begun the process of myelination so the entire system works effectively. Continue reading

5 Things you didn’t know about your baby!

You surely have noticed that your baby can do many amazing things at such a young age. Babies are full of surprises! Read these interesting facts and solve some of the mysteries that surround your little one!

  1. If your baby is having trouble sleeping and you take him for a car ride, do you notice that almost magically your little one sleeps? The reason for this is that the vestibular system (in charge of balance and spatial control) tells your baby’s brain that he’s moving. Since your baby can only see the inside of the car, the visual system is sending signals to the brain that he’s standing still. This confusion causes your baby to go to sleep. Even though this method is effective, it is not recommended because your baby probably won’t get deep, restorative sleep.
  1. Have you asked yourself why your baby creates a scene every time you leave the room even if it’s just for a little while? Or why does peek-a-boo amuse your baby so much? This happens because your baby doesn’t understand object permanence yet. This means that if something is out of your baby’s sight, he will assume it doesn’t exist. Babies gain the ability to know that something exists whether it is in their field of vision or not, before they turn one.
  1. Have you ever wondered how your baby managed to live 9 months underwater? During pregnancy and the first 6 months, humans have the diving reflex, allowing babies to remain underwater longer than an average adult can. When a baby is underwater, they immediately stop breathing while their heart rate decreases by 20%. Also, their glottis (opening that allows air to pass to the lungs) closes, causing water to go to their stomach instead of damaging their lungs.
  1. Have you asked yourself how many neural synapses your baby has compared to you? On average, newborns have 100 billion neurons, that’s approximately the same number of stars in the Milky Way! The number of neurons remains the same in adults. However, the number of neural connections or synapses is higher when your child is 2-4 years old. The neural network is prepared to learn anything, like languages, playing instruments, and sports. When your kid becomes an adult, the number of synapses reduces to one third of what they were because only the remaining ones were reinforced.
  1. Have you wondered how your baby recognizes you if his vision hasn’t developed yet? Before your baby is born (at around 7 months of pregnancy), your baby starts hearing your voice, and that’s why they’re able to recognize you since day one! Also, your baby starts recognizing your scent after only 3 days of being born. Not only can your baby recognize your smell, it’s his favorite one!

 


Want to learn more about your baby? Check out these links:

http://www.parenting.com/article/what-your-baby-knows-about-you

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x1048249/is-it-true-that-babies-are-born-with-the-ability-to-swim

http://psychology.about.com/od/oindex/g/object-permanence.htm

http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/brain-development/faqs-on-the-brain.html#experience

Crawling 101- FAQ answered

Seeing your baby grow and achieve all of his milestones can be so exciting! But the moment you see your little one start crawling you know that the real fun has begun! As you experience all of this excitement, some questions may come up!

Here are our answers to FAQ about crawling:

When should my baby start crawling?

Typically babies crawl at around eight to ten months, but at around six months most babies start trying to move around. As babies figure out how to do that arm-leg-arm-leg crawling movement, they sometimes go backward first and then learn how to crawl forward.

It’s important to remember that all babies are unique and will develop skills at different stages, some more quickly than others. (Note: If your baby is premature he or she will probably take longer than other babies to start crawling.)

The process of learning to crawl is actually pretty complex. Babies need to coordinate their arms and legs and develop muscle strength in their arms, shoulders, and legs to support their weight. But learning to crawl will not only take gross motor skills, by crawling babies develop different abilities and skills like balance, spatial awareness, coordination, and confidence.

Is it alright if my baby crawls different from other babies?

Actually, experts say there is no “right” way to crawl, the process of learning to crawl differs between each baby. Just remember your little one will find his or her unique way to do it and the important part is that he or she is able to move around and explore his or her surroundings.

Here are four different crawling styles that your baby may experiment with:

  • “The classic”crawl- your baby moves one arm and the opposite knee forward at the same time.
  • “The crab”crawl- just like at the beach, the crab bends one knee and extends the opposite leg to scoot forward.
  • “The belly” crawl- your baby moves his body forward while dragging his belly against the floor.
  • “The rolling wonder” – your baby rolls from one place to another, because who needs crawling when rolling can get you where you need to go, right?

My baby hasn’t started crawling. Should I be worried about it?

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Learning to walk: Your FAQ answered!

Your baby will achieve tons of milestones, but his first steps will definitely be one you won’t forget! Walking is a mayor achievement in your baby’s physical development and if you are like most parents, you may be anxious about when it’ll happen and how you can encourage it.

 

When is my baby going to start walking?

Generally babies take their first steps between 9 and 15 months, but remember that babies develop at their own pace. So be patient if your little one is taking his time, some babies start walking later on, at around 18 months, and it’s fine!

Did you know that babies are born with an innate knowledge of the movements needed to walk? They just lack the strength in their legs to do it. If you hold your baby in a upright position you will notice he instinctually moves one foot in front of the other in a walking-like motion. This is called the stepping reflex, which disappears at around 4 months.

How can I know if baby is ready to start walking?

There is not one universal sign that indicates that your baby is ready to take his first step. But most babies accomplish these physical milestones before walking:

  • By 7 and 10 months most babies learn to crawl (although some babies never crawl before walking).
  • By 9 and 12 months babies learn to stand up by themselves. Just remember he may be using some furniture as support, so make sure to baby proof your home!
  • Once your baby masters how to cruise between furniture he will venture to practice his first steps by himself.
What about baby proofing?

As your baby starts to take his first step you will feel tons of joy to see your little one starting to gain his independence, but also you’ll probably feel anxious as you see how every object can become a hazard! You probably baby proofed your home when your baby was learning to crawl, but keep in mind that now he will be able to reach higher objects so just make sure to check again.

The most effective way to ensure your baby’s safety is to take a baby’s-eye view of your home. Get down on your knees and see how things look from down there. This will help you figure out which cupboards, drawers, and other spaces your child might get into.

How can I help my baby take his first steps?

Walking is all about confidence and balance. So the best way to help your little one is by praising and encouraging him every time he tries to walk. His first steps will mean a lot to him so when he reaches this monumental milestone, make sure to make a big deal about it.

You can find tons of activities in Kinedu to encourage and practice this skill! Remember practice makes perfect, so the more he practices the better he will become, and before you know it he will almost be running around!

Here’s one of our incredible activities:

 

Looking for more information? Try these links:
 http://www.babycenter.com/0_toddler-milestone-walking_11739.bc
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002010.htm

 

 

The first few years: visual development

Visual development is a sub-domain of the Physical Developmental Area!

Your baby was born with a 20/400 vision – or the equivalent of being legally blind. But not to worry, your baby’s vision will gradually improve. His vision will actually be one of his main tools for learning by taking in all sorts of information about the world around him. Problems with eyesight can cause developmental delays – so make sure your doctor checks your baby’s progress at every visit.

While he can only see out of the periphery in the first few days after birth, your newborn’s not-that-great vision actually serves to protect him from overstimulation. At one month, he will only be able to focus on objects less than 12 inches away! This is about how far the face of the person holding him is, which is mainly what he’ll be interested in anyway. So give him tons of face time, and watch him smile every time he catches a glimpse of your eyes! It is also normal for a baby’s eyes to be crossed the first two months – but eye movements should be coordinated by month three.

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The first few years: auditory development

This article discusses the development of your baby’s sense of hearing  – a sub-domain of the Physical developmental area!

Your baby was born with an excellent sense of hearing – almost as good as an adult’s. He has actually been eavesdropping on your conversations since his 20th week in the womb! So by the time he is born, not only can your baby hear your voice clearly, but he can differentiate between several tones you use, even if he can’t quite understand what you are saying yet. All that practice listening to your conversations has paid off!

Hearing will be important in the development of linguistic, social, and cognitive skills, so checking your baby’s before leaving the hospital is recommended. If you don’t get the chance, look for the Moro reflex by startling him with a loud or unexpected noise before the two-month mark, when the reflex disappears.

One of the earliest auditory skills developed by your baby will be localization – or the ability to pinpoint a sound’s source. During his first year, listening skills will be refined – which you will be able to notice by observing your baby’s attention shifting to the phone ringing, pots clanging, a door slamming – or just someone talking.

You can work on your baby’s audition by playing or making music together, reading to him, and talking to him on a day-to-day basis. Phase out the baby talk gradually, and start providing more opportunities for him to babble, and later speak his first words. Between age one and two, his vocabulary will be growing at an incredible pace, tripling every six months. And by the time he starts school, your now-preschooler will understand nearly everything that is said!

Every child develops at his or her own pace. However, there are things you can do to help his development along. Here’s a Kinedu activity that works to strengthen audition!

The first few years: motor development

Motor development is a sub-domain of the Physical Developmental area – look out for the rest of the area’s articles!

Motor skills, like everything else – are learned, and practice is key.

In order to develop her motor skills, your baby needs opportunities to strengthen her muscles, and coordinate her actions. In her first few months, this will come down to getting enough “tummy-time”, which will strengthen upper body muscles. When lying on her back, your baby may start to lift her head momentarily, and turn her head from side to side. Test her grasp reflex – you can place your finger in her hand, she’ll automatically curl her fingers around it!

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