Have 6 months come and gone and your baby still isn’t sitting up? Does he or she seem content to just veg out on the floor and not even try to crawl?Or maybe the first year has come and gone and there are still no signs of those first steps.
Parents, especially new ones, read all about what to expect in baby books and magazines, and then get understandably worried when their child seems to be falling behind. And looking at what all the other children around you are doing compounds the concern even more.
Thankfully, most doctors (and veteran parents) will tell you that there is a wide range when it comes to what’s normal when it comes to sitting up, crawling and walking. After having 8 children, I’ve personally witnessed a lot of variation among my children when it came to meeting milestones.
Is Your Child Having Trouble Meeting Milestones?
Our third son walked at 10 months and he was very small for his age, so we were quite impressed. Imagine how concerned we became when our fourth son reached 15 months without showing interest in taking one step. In fact, he continued to “cruise” (walking while holding on to furniture) until he reached the ripe old age of 18 months. We nicknamed him “the slug” because he took so long to get moving! But his delay turned out to be completely normal, for him. And I was surprised to learn that late walkers tend to be less accident-prone later on.
Why do some children take their sweet time?
- Psychological/Emotional Factors: Stress, emotional upset and big changes in the family may affect when your child reaches a milestone. Our late walker took his first steps on the day his baby sister was born. This is no mere coincidence; my pediatrician said he was most likely “holding out” during the pregnancy to some vestiges of babyhood. The day he became a big brother he decided to do another big thing – walk.
- Physical: Sometimes a simple matter of biology can cause a delay.
- Personality: It’s not a hard and fast rule, but a more laid-back child may be less motivated to crawl or walk than a go-getter. Curious children and those who like challenges also tend to get moving more quickly.
- Lifestyle: Has anyone ever joked about how their little girl waited to walk because her feet never touched the ground? It does happen. Take, for instance, the baby of the family that lovingly goes from one pair of arms to another – mom, dad and older siblings. Why walk when you can be carried everywhere?
Here’s something that will put your mind at ease. Progress is generally more important than timing. For an average child (without any known health issues that could compromise development), be encouraged by any type of improvement rather than just focusing on numbers. If your baby starts to lift his body off the floor one month, and then rocks back and forth in place the next month, that’s perfectly normal. Crawling is just around the corner. Or you may have one of those very unique children that skips crawling altogether and goes right to walking!
Here are a few ways you can encourage your baby to meet milestones. However, be careful about pushing too hard. The idea here is simply to be a facilitator, not a physical therapist!
- Hold young infants in an upright seated position with support.
- Adequate tummy time helps your baby utilize and strengthen the muscles that will be used later for sitting.
- Toys that dangle for a baby on his back to reach for can help to exercise and strengthen the upper body.
- Give young babies something to move across the floor towards (a new toy, a snack, a parent or sibling lying down across from them)
- Let your child walk between two people with hands held for practice.
- Limit the time that your baby spends in “exersaucers” or other devices that keep him in a standing position
- Slowly move apart those two pieces of furniture that your cruiser has been relying on.
And, as always, bring up any concerns that you have with your baby’s doctor.
Do you have any advice or experience to share when it comes to baby milestones?
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