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Up and On the Go: Help Baby Achieve Physical Milestones

by Katlyn Joy | August 2, 2010 12:00 AM
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Up and On the Go: Help Baby Achieve Physical Milestones

Baby goes from wriggling to running in a blink, or so it will seem in retrospect. However, all parents want to know when baby should do what, and how to help him get there.

Rolling

Typical time frame: Most babies roll over at 6 months

Red Flags: Not rolling over by 9 months. Also if head isn't stable in sitting position, or limbs seem stiff or floppy, or the baby favors one side of the body.

Tips: Give baby plenty of tummy time, placing favorite toys just out of reach. While baby is on tummy, blow bubbles just over her head to encourage her to lift her head. Play with baby by placing him on a blanket on the floor and gently roll him over by pulling on the blanket.

Sitting

Typical time frame: Most babies sit alone by around 6 months

Red Flags: Not sitting independently by 8 months, a rounded back and inability to use arms well while sitting.

Tips: Prop baby when she's first learning to sit alone, or place blankets or pillows around to soften the landing for those inevitable tumbles. Play patty-cake while baby sits, or read a colorful fun book to her. Keep plenty of fun toys at varying distances and heights to give baby practice reaching and balancing.

Crawling

Typical time frame: Most babies crawl between 9 and 12 months.

Red Flags: Baby isn't creeping or crawling at all by one year. Baby keeps legs stiff all the time, or seems to be losing skills he once had.

Tips: Create a baby obstacle course, complete with tunnels (maybe just a blanketed coffee table) and pillows to climb over. Be sure to keep floors picked up and cleaned or your baby will become a living vacuum cleaner.

Standing

Typical time frame: Around one year of age.

Red Flags: Only using arms to pull to standing position. Inability to bear weight on legs, or difficulty pulling to a stand due to toes pointing in or continual awkward stance.

Tips: Put on the music and dance with baby. Provide baby with study push toys to build confidence as well as stability. Provide a clear path for standing and cruising along furniture.

Walking

Typical time frame: Around 12 to 15 months of age.

Red Flags: Baby isn't walking by 18 months. Baby isn't pulling to stand at 15 months. Never crawled and isn't able to stand even with support at 12 months.

Helps: Cruising helps baby build walking skills, so set up a nice area where baby can comfortably cruise like along the sofa. Hold out your arms to baby a few steps away, and gradually increase the distance. Teach baby to kick a ball. Give baby splashing lessons in the tub, using those leg muscles.

Running

Typical Time frame: At 18 months rapid walking, and by age 3 a toddler should run smoothly and confidently.

Red Flags: Still walking in an unsteady manner, or requiring support. Excessively clumsy. Inability to maneuver stairs by age 3. Trouble with other skills like eating or speech.

Tips: Toddlers love and need plenty of gross motor play. Outings to playgrounds and parks are excellent ways to foster this development. Let baby climb ladders, slide down the slides, swing and climb and run. Take walks as a family, and get baby a riding toy appropriate to her size and developmental level.

Milestones are developmental guidelines. Children have individual timetables, and often unique patterns of growth. For instance some children skip crawling altogether and go straight to running. Others develop a crazy style of creeping, maybe even backwards for awhile. The important thing is that they continue to build on the skills and develop new ones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive regular developmental screenings since most children develop in bursts and then may lag before another developmental jump. Regular screenings give an overall picture of the child's development.

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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