Week 1: Overview
physical development for the first six months
Children develop at their own pace. As long as your child is developing along the continuum, please don't worry.
The quality of motor progression— not timing or age is what matters most.
Development starts at the head and neck, back and tummy (core), then extends out to limbs (arms and hands, legs and feet).
In the first three months, random movements become more purposeful, functional and more coordinated.
Sequence— from back and belly, side-lying and rolling, to sitting, to pulling into standing, to cruising and walking.
back & HAND skills
By three months, your baby is able to keep his head in midline and bring his hands to his chest or together. Hands are open and free to grasp objects. His ability to voluntarily release objects develops after his ability to voluntarily grasp them.
When playing on back, your baby's feet will touch and from a tactile perspective, this helps prepare the feet for standing later on as well as strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Little hands start out fisted and then, open up and spread. Weight bearing on tummy will help extend the wrists. You can massage baby's palms and fingers to help relax them as well as place small rattles in hand to hold.
At four to six months you will see a lot more reaching up for toys, your face and baby's knees. You may notice your baby get into bridge position (arch belly up). This works on hip muscles that is used for sitting and walking.
Encourage reaching with both arms, across the body and to the sides in addition to upward and forward. All angles are great.
tummy skills: around 2 months & onwards
Good head control is needed and so true propping begins around 8 weeks when your baby can tolerate weight bearing through shoulders and hands.
If your baby doesn't tolerate tummy time for very long, it may not seem like it is necessary or important. However it is essential to your baby's core strength.
Why is it important? This part of development helps prepare your child physically for activities walking, feeding & gross motor skills.
Start with 30 seconds and gradually increase the time.
Provide an incline, roll a blanket under chest, allow to rub face against surface, place mirror and black & white cards slightly to the side. You can also apply gentle pressure on bum. This helps take weight off face and make head turning and lifting easier.
*Repeat several times a day— short and sweet is best
At four to six months the tummy position will look more stable with hips and legs down, shoulders activated and arms extended. Holding toys to the side helps encourage belly pivoting (moving in a circle may not truly occur until 7-8 months). It is important to encourage as it works on your baby's ability to weight-shift from one limb to another, strengthens side trunk muscles and activates head and neck muscles. All prerequisites for crawling.
side-lyding & Rolling
At four to six months maybe earlier, you may notice a lot of side rolling. Especially from tummy to back. The more your baby practices this movement, the more control he will have over initiating the move to the side.
Roll your baby into side-lying and encourage play in this position as it improves balance and control between the front and back muscles. You can place a small stuffy or blanket behind the back for younger babies.
*Falling at this stage is quite common and is ok since baby is playing on a rug or soft blanket. Do your best to remain calm as baby will respond to your cues.
Between four to six months some babies are on their way to sitting alone, while others are stabilizing themselves by using a hand or two.
Baby needs good abdominal, back and hip muscles for sitting.
You can support baby at hips to give more stability and free up hands for play as well as place in laundry basket with pillows to practice sitting.
Lower your hands on his back when holding baby or sitting on your lap.
Please do not focus on standing with baby at this stage or use exersaucers. It is a common myth that this will help with independence and balance.
My baby is not propping, rolling or crawling when the developmental books say she should be. Why? She looks good otherwise. Should I worry?
Although the progression of development is generally the same, the rate varies from one baby to another. All babies sit before they walk, but the age at which they learn to sit and walk varies.
If your baby is not propping on tummy and/or hands are still fisted by 4-5 months and her head control is still poor at 5 months— or if your baby is not crawling by 10 months— you should consult with a practitioner (physician, occupational therapist, physiotherapist).
I do home visits as a regulated occupational therapist. You can reach me here.
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