ON THE MOVE

Rolling, sit­ting, crawl­ing your baby will be on — his feet in no time. Here’s what to ex­pect…

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Bub’s Development -

When you first set eyes on your scrunched-up new­born, it’s hard to imag­ine him even straight­en­ing his legs, let alone us­ing them to sit, stand and even­tu­ally walk. But soon he’ll be run­ning you ragged be­fore you know it. In fact, ev­ery day his body will be­come stronger and more co­or­di­nated as he meets his move­ment mile­stones.

Pae­di­a­tri­cian and M&B ex­pert Dr Scott Dun­lop says a baby’s phys­i­cal abil­i­ties start to de­velop im­me­di­ately af­ter birth. “Gross mo­tor, fine mo­tor, lan­guage and even so­cial abil­i­ties start to evolve as early as the first six weeks of life,” he says.

Our guide to the first year of your baby’s move­ment de­vel­op­ment high­lights your child’s magical jour­ney to mo­bil­ity.

BIRTH TO 12 MONTHS: YOUR BABY’S PROGRESS

Watching your baby learn to move is an amaz­ing time, but it can also be an anx­ious one. “Par­ents of­ten com­pare and be­come con­cerned when their own child is not do­ing what another is,” says Scott. “But there is a wide vari­a­tion in when chil­dren achieve their mile­stones and most anx­i­ety is quickly al­le­vi­ated as skills are achieved.”

Try to re­mem­ber ev­ery baby will find his own way in his own time. The age at which your child sits or crawls is no re­flec­tion of his in­tel­li­gence, and a ten­dency to ac­quire skills early or late can even run in the fam­ily. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of chil­dren catch up in the end.

There is a wide vari­a­tion in when chil­dren achieve their mile­stones.

0-3 MONTHS WHAT’S HAP­PEN­ING

It takes a while for ba­bies to ‘un­curl’. Peter Walker, phys­i­cal ther­a­pist and au­thor of Devel­op­men­tal Baby Mas­sage (Fair Winds Press, $24.99), says the ball-like po­si­tion in which he’s born is known as phys­i­o­log­i­cal flex­ion. “As bub ad­justs to life out­side the womb, he’ll start to stretch out his limbs,” he says.

A new­born’s head is heavy, wob­bly and needs sup­port. “Your baby’s neck mus­cles will strengthen in the first three months, al­low­ing his head and body con­trol to im­prove,” says Scott. “This will be the foun­da­tion for all his fu­ture mo­tor de­vel­op­ment.”

In­creas­ing neck con­trol al­lows your new­born to turn his head and even raise it when he’s ly­ing on his back from about six to eight weeks. This is the be­gin­ning of learn­ing to sit. Your baby might also lift his head and shoul­ders when ly­ing on his tummy, help­ing him to de­velop the mus­cles nec­es­sary to roll from front to back. As your baby’s hand con­trol in­creases, you might also no­tice progress with his small mo­tor skills.

EN­COUR­AGE HIS DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Re­search shows that a baby placed on his front for short pe­ri­ods dur­ing wak­ing hours – ‘tummy time’ – will roll, crawl, sit, pull up and walk sooner than a baby who stays on his back. “Tummy time helps ba­bies straighten out,” says Peter.

You can help strengthen your baby’s neck and back in the fol­low­ing ways.

Place him on your chest while you lie semi-re­clined or on your back. As your baby gets used to this, you can then move him onto the floor.

Give your baby tummy time each day. Place his hands be­side his head and gen­tly turn his head to one side. Stop at any point if you think your baby’s neck is get­ting tired, and al­ways re­mem­ber to never leave him unat­tended on his front.

Your baby’s neck mus­cles will strengthen in the first three months, al­low­ing his head and body con­trol to im­prove.

3-6 MONTHS WHAT’S HAP­PEN­ING

As your baby en­ters this age bracket, he’ll prob­a­bly be able to lift his head and shoul­ders when on his tummy, us­ing his arms for sup­port. This strength­ens the mus­cles he’ll soon use to sit and crawl. It also im­proves his view.

While by this time your baby might have flipped over from front to back, be­tween four and six months he could also roll from back to front. This of­ten hap­pens when he starts bend­ing his knees, bring­ing up his feet then flip­ping over by ac­ci­dent. Rolling is an es­sen­tial skill be­cause it teaches your baby to trans­fer weight from one side of his body to the other. He’ll also use the same el­e­ments of move­ment to crawl, then walk.

If you hold your baby in a stand­ing po­si­tion, he might bounce on his feet; he’s test­ing out his knees. Into his fifth month, he might also try sit­ting with­out as­sis­tance. He still needs to work out how to bal­ance, though, so make sure he’s sup­ported.

EN­COUR­AGE HIS DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Wig­gle a toy next to the side he tends to roll to­wards the most.

Make ex­cit­ing noises to grab your baby’s attention and change your po­si­tion to en­cour­age him to move.

Join a baby yoga class. Yoga move­ments will give your baby a chance to stretch and twist, help­ing to im­prove his co­or­di­na­tion and pre­pare him for in­creased mo­bil­ity.

6-9 MONTHS WHAT’S HAP­PEN­ING

Over the next few months, your lit­tle bun­dle of joy will prob­a­bly be able to mas­ter sit­ting un­sup­ported, and when he wob­bles he should au­to­mat­i­cally be able to right him­self.

“Be­ing able to sit un­aided means he can now con­cen­trate on other mile­stones, in­clud­ing fine mo­tor skills,” says Scott. Now that your baby is no longer us­ing his hands for sup­port, he’ll start to grab toys. “Sit­ting un­sup­ported is closely linked to your baby’s abil­ity to trans­fer ob­jects from one hand to the other,” says Scott.

You might also start to no­tice some pre-crawl­ing move­ments as your baby pushes him­self up off the floor, rock­ing back­wards and for­wards on his hands and knees. And he’ll prob­a­bly swap bounc­ing on your lap with bended knees for a more ‘tramp­ing’ mo­tion, mov­ing his feet in prepa­ra­tion for walk­ing.

Crawl­ing helps build strength in the shoul­ders and hips.

EN­COUR­AGE HIS DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Put toys be­side him while he’s sit­ting and en­cour­age him to turn from the waist to prac­tise his bal­ance. Leav­ing them just out of reach when he’s on all fours will en­cour­age him to crawl to­wards them.

Check his po­si­tion. Some ba­bies ‘W’ sit (kneel­ing with their bot­tom be­tween their legs). This po­si­tion doesn’t re­quire your child to use bal­ance, so en­cour­age him to sit with his feet straight out in front of him.

Sing ac­tion songs. Pat-A-Cake gets your baby to clap his hands in­stead of us­ing them to bal­ance, while Row, Row, Row

Your Boat teaches him to ‘right’ him­self.

MONTHS WHAT’S HAP­PEN­ING

Most ba­bies crawl be­tween seven and 11 months, but not al­ways in the con­ven­tional style. “Not all ba­bies crawl, and many that do won’t move in the typ­i­cal fash­ion. Ini­tial at­tempts can be un­co­or­di­nated and may see your baby pro­pel him­self back­wards,” says Scott. “If his arms are stronger than his legs, he might ‘com­mando crawl’, or he might shuf­fle on his bot­tom.”

Although some ba­bies never crawl, it’s a use­ful skill. “Crawl­ing helps build strength and sta­bil­ity in the shoul­ders and hips,” says Scott. “But re­mem­ber, if your baby is hit­ting other mo­tor mile­stones, such as pulling him­self to his knees and then his feet while hold­ing the sofa, the ab­sence of crawl­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily a con­cern.”

If bub is stand­ing, he could soon be cruis­ing (side-step­ping while hold­ing onto fur­ni­ture for sup­port). This strength­ens the hip mus­cles to sup­port his legs for walk­ing.

EN­COUR­AGE HIS DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Coax your baby into a crawl­ing po­si­tion by plac­ing him over a cush­ion so his knees and hands are on the floor.

Place a ball by bub’s feet. Sup­port him un­der his arms and en­cour­age him to kick it to en­cour­age the step­ping move­ment.

Play tug-of-war, pulling a towel. This will help im­prove your baby’s bal­ance and strengthen his up­per body for pulling up.

Place toys on the sofa to en­cour­age him to pull up to get them, then move them along to tempt him to cruise.

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