THE CRAWL­ING MILE­STONE

Crawl­ing plays a sig­nif­i­cant part in the de­vel­op­ment of your baby’s strength, bal­ance, spinal align­ment, visual/spa­tial skills and so­cial emo­tional de­vel­op­ment. Here's how. Weight-bear­ing and co­or­di­na­tion

Parenting - - Hot Tips -

Crawl­ing en­gages your baby’s whole body. As baby crawls she has to use her arms and legs to sup­port her whole body, strength­en­ing her hands, wrists, el­bows and shoul­ders. This weight-bear­ing ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows lig­a­ments to be stretched out, as­sist­ing the de­vel­op­ment of fine mo­tor skills. It also ex­pands the large joint at the base of the thumb into its full range of mo­tion – im­por­tant for draw­ing and writ­ing skills later on. Crawl­ing also plays an im­por­tant role in form­ing the curves in baby’s spine.

Brain de­vel­op­ment

As baby crawls, the right and left sides of the brain and body work co­op­er­a­tively, build­ing a foun­da­tion for skills that re­quire mo­tor co­or­di­na­tion. Nav­i­gat­ing on the ground also helps with the de­vel­op­ment of visual and spa­tial skills, and depth per­cep­tion. Crawl­ing from one place to an­other, baby uses her dis­tance vi­sion to look ahead and set her sights on a toy. She then looks back at her hands which re­quires her to ad­just the fo­cus of her eyes – this is train­ing her eyes, mus­cles and im­prov­ing binoc­u­lar vi­sion (the abil­ity to use both eyes to­gether as a team). This is very im­por­tant for fu­ture read­ing and writ­ing skills.

So­cio-emo­tional de­vel­op­ment

Crawl­ing about in­de­pen­dently gives baby free­dom to set new goals through pro­vid­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties. There are also new pos­si­bil­i­ties for suc­cesses and chal­lenges, af­fect­ing emo­tional de­vel­op­ment, and build­ing baby's con­fi­dence.

Like many other skills, crawl­ing has its own timetable and it is im­por­tant not to push a baby into stand­ing and walk­ing be­fore they are ready. Mov­ing nat­u­rally through fun­da­men­tal movement pat­terns early in life is es­sen­tial for healthy de­vel­op­ment, and we can help by mak­ing sure we give our baby enough time on the floor for un­in­ter­rupted ex­plo­ration and play.

Pauline Allen, Home Grown Kids vis­it­ing teacher

You feel like putting your­self in time out. The feel­ing that you can­not be with­out your tod­dler seems to dim slightly and you start crav­ing some time away. (Is this why we start fund­ing 20 free hours in NZ child­care cen­tres from three years old?).

Com­pro­mise is not an op­tion. Be­fore, you could gen­tly coax or per­suade them into think­ing wear­ing their gum­boots was a good idea. Now it’s an all-out brawl! They end up wear­ing the gum­boots but on the wrong feet be­cause they fight for them to be on the wrong feet. All the while you feel the grey hairs be­gin­ning to sprout on your head.

Easy tasks are huge tasks. Putting a lid on their drink bot­tle has to be done by them, their way, in their time. Half an hour later, af­ter a fit of rage and wa­ter ev­ery­where, the lid is on the bot­tle.

You think you have them pegged in the eat­ing de­part­ment – you feel you know what they like and what they don’t. Nope, it’s like their taste buds change daily and they al­most en­joy not lik­ing any food any­more! They don’t want to walk any­more. What used to be a fierce in­de­pen­dence in walk­ing un­char­tered ter­ri­tory has now given way to wobbly legs and tired­ness. You vow not to carry them since they are so heavy, but as they scream along be­hind you in pub­lic and at­tract sym­pa­thetic stares from on­look­ers, you re­luc­tantly pick them up and con­tinue walk­ing. They win.

Bed­time is a fight to the bit­ter end. They used to love naps and go­ing to bed, but now there is ev­ery ex­cuse in the world to not go to sleep and they will get up nu­mer­ous times (even though they are ex­hausted).

You love them un­con­di­tion­ally and they know it. They know that it makes you im­mensely happy when they tidy up, so just as you are about to lose your cool, they be­gin tidy­ing up their toys with­out be­ing asked. So you scoop them up for a cud­dle to thank them for be­ing so amaz­ing. (Then they tell you not to help as they are tidy­ing their way!).

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